§ House again in Committee (according to Order).
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGEMORE in the Chair.]
§ Discussion on Clause 11 resumed.
Page 14, line 6, after subsection (2), insert the two following subsections:
("(3) The Irish Senate may originate any Bill which, if the subject-matter thereof related exclusively to Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, the Senate of Southern Ireland or the Senate of Northern Ireland would be competent to originate, and such a Bill if passed by the Irish
Senate shall be submitted to the Houses of Commons of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, and if passed by both the Houses of Parliament of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland on receiving His Majesty's Assent as provided by this Act shall have effect as identical Acts passed by the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.
(4) Bills which relate to matters affecting interests both in Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland in any case where the matter—
§ The noble Lord said: By favour of the House I have put down an Amendment in lieu of that which I moved last night, and which I did not press. I should say that there is a matter for which I am not responsible. The printers have printed the Amendment that I did not want to move—the one I was to withdraw—on top of the one which I do actually move. All that is necessary is for your Lordships to draw your pencil through the subsection beginning (3) which has no business to be there.
§ The Amendment is now perfectly clear. It may be right or it may be wrong, but there is no complication about it. With your Lordships' permission I will explain what it is. The clause which gave the Council of Ireland certain powers dealing with private Bills and certain other matters was necessarily removed having regard to the Resolutions of the House with respect to the other sections dealing with the Council, but the powers which the Council has have rationally and naturally to be transferred to the Joint Senate which your Lordships have approved—that is to say, the Senate of the North and the Senate of the South sitting together. I desire that there should be no misunderstanding. The effect is not to impose an 917 outside authority upon the North of Ireland in dealing with its own affairs.
§ In order to make security doubly secure, that safeguard has been expressly inserted in the draft. It now reads shall have power to deal with Bills which relate to matters affecting interests both in Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland in any case where the matter (a) is of such a nature that if it had affected interests in one of those areas only it would have been within the powers of the Parliament for that area; and (b) is a matter to effect which it would, apart from this provision, have been necessary to apply to the Parliament of the United Kingdom by petition for leave to bring in a Private Bill. Your Lordships will see by a reference to the Paper how the proposal goes on. So far from seeking to impose any obligation on Northern Ireland, or to coerce Northern Ireland in any way by external opinion, this section safeguards the North. If the joint body seeks to impose under this clause anything on Northern Ireland that Northern Ireland does not like, it must fail to do so if Northern Ireland rejects it. With regard to matters coining within the purview of the Northern Parliament, the Northern Parliament will be absolutely supreme. This clause would only come into effect when it is sought to do something in the nature of a joint arrangement.
§ That is the Amendment which now stands in my name, and which I submit is not revolutionary, is not contrary to the principle of the Bill, and in no way seeks to coerce the Northern Parliament. It certainly is not intended for that purpose, and submit it does not do that. I am not responsible in any way for what might be the future composition of the Senate in Northern Ireland or the Senate in Southern Ireland. The Senate of Southern Ireland as such is embodied in the existing Schedules of these Amendments, though not actually moved now. With regard to Northern Ireland it is left a blank. It is said that Northern Ireland is so democratic that it might object to a Senate on the same principle. I do not intend in any way to tilt against that proposition, but there is nothing difficult that I can see in the Northern Parliament having the most democratic Senate that they please, and that at the same time that Senate should meet with the Southern Senate whether it is democratically elected or not. In one way the difficulty is a matter of sentiment 918 and, perhaps, only a matter of sentiment. For my part I entirely yield to the sentiment. If there is to be a Senate for Northern Ireland, as I take it there is from the Resolutions as they stand, that Senate can be as democratic as you please, but it will not prevent the operation of this subsection as I read it. I beg to move.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 14, line 6, after subsection (2), insert the following new subsection.
(4) Bills which relate to matters affecting interests both in Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland in any case where the matter
§ TEE LORD CHANCELLOR
I gather that subsection (3) was given birth to by the printer, and in some obscure fashion found its way upon the Paper. I need, therefore, deal only with the proposals which are contained in the new subsection (4). I understand that this subsection is intended to be an adaptation of the provisions of Clause 8 of the Bill which gave the Council of Ireland power to deal with Private Bill Legislation affecting the North and South. I cart only say of the procedure which is proposed by this new subsection that it is so complicated that I am quite sure the promoters of such Private Bills would find it far more convenient to adhere to the existing practice and come to the United Kingdom Parliament.
Consider what the course of business must be under the terms of the subsection proposed by the noble and learned Lord. A Private Bill under this proposed subsection is to be passed first by the Irish Senate. Then it must go to the Northern and Southern Houses of Commons, and 919 will not become law until it has been passed by both those Houses. Under the terms of the Bill the Irish Council consisting of forty people representing the North and South would have been in a position to deal with the matter in all its stages. In at least one clear and uncontroversial field in which all parties in Ireland, and I think I may add all parties in Scotland, have been asking for remedial legislation for many years, it was our hope that we had found a tribunal which every one would have admitted to be very suitable to deal with Private Bill legislation. I doubt whether any promoter of Private Bills will be willing to avail himself of the methods which the noble and learned Lord has proposed in this new subsection.
I do not understand why he has inserted in his Amendment the provision that these Bills shall originate in the Irish Senate. That would seem to prevent the initiation in any circumstances of such Bills in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. So that the simplification of procedure which we had hoped for will not eventuate if this subsection is adopted, because as I have already said a Private Bill has to be passed first by the Irish Senate and then by the Northern and Southern Houses of Commons and will not become law until it has been passed by both those Houses. That is an arrangement which I venture to think is infinitely more cumbrous and infinitely more complicated but not less expensive than the circumstances which have excited so much complaint to-day.
§ LORD PARMOOR
Within the terms of the noble and learned Lord's Amendment it would be perfectly easy to obtain a much less expensive and less cumbrous form of Private Bill legislation, and I do not think his Amendment would interfere with that. I understand that though he has suggested one method of dealing with it, any other less cumbrous method that could be devised would probably have his approval.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I am speaking from having had a great deal to do with Private Bill legislation, and I think it might be easy to devise some less cumbrous form, and that the noble and learned Lord would be prepared to accept it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I can only say that if the noble and learned Lord wishes to pursue what I should certainly have thought was not a fruitful line of inquiry I shall be very pleased, as is my duty, to give consideration to his proposals.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
then put the Question whether the proposed new subsection shall be here inserted; and said: I think the "Contents" have it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I hope I was not so obscure. I was under the impression that the noble and learned Lord, after the debate, was not going to press his Amendment, and I am afraid I did not challenge. But I am sure that noble Lords opposite will not press the point.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I can assure the noble and learned Lord that we are prepared to offer considerable further arguments in favour of the Amendment.
§ On Question, whether the proposed new subsection shall be here inserted?— Their Lordships divided: Contents, 52; Not-Contents, 55.921
|Argyll, D.||Midleton, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Dononghmore.)|
|Crewe, M.||Wicklow, E.||Anslow, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Ashton of Hyde, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Allendale, V.||Askwith, L.|
|Bangor, V.||Avebury, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Bryce, V.||Barrymore, L.|
|Kingston, E.||De Vesci, V||Bellew, L.|
|Mayo, E. [Teller.]||Harcourt, V.||Buckmaster, L.|
|Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Holm Patrick, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Crofton, L.||Inchiquin, L.||Parmoor, L.|
|de Mauley, L.||Islington, L.||Queenborough, L.|
|Decies, L.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Denman, L.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Farnham, L.||Killanin, L.||Shandon, L. [Teller.]|
|Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||Kilmaine, U||Southwark, L.|
|Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)||MacDonnell, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Hemphill. L.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.||Vernon E|
|Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Farquhar, V. (L. Steward.)||Ernle, L.|
|Sandhurst, V (L. Chamberlain.)||Harris, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Cave, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Churchill, V.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Finlay, V.||Phillimore, L.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M.||Haldane, V.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Knollys, V.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Peel, V.||Redesdale, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Rotherham, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Abinger, L.||Ruthven of Gowrie, L.|
|Drogheda, E.||Annesley, h. (V. Valentia.)||Saltoun, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Armaghdale, L.||Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]|
|Fortescue, E.||Atkinson, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Lovelace, E.||Balfour, L.||Stuart of Wortley, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Boston, L.||Sumner, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Clwyd, L.||Treowen, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Colebrooke, L.||Wavertree, L.|
|Roden, E||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Deramore, L.||Wyfold, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Resolved in thenegative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Amendments moved—
§ Page 14, line 7, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 14, line 12, leave out ("Council of Ireland") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 14, line 25, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 14, line 26, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate")
§ Page 14, line 36, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate).
§ Page 14, line 39, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate")
§ Page 14, line 42, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 15, line 6, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 15, line 11, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 15, line 18, leave out ("Council of Ireland") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 15, line 20, leave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 15, line 22, leave out ("Council of Ireland") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 15, line 25, lave out ("Council") and insert ("Irish Senate").
§ Page 15, line 31, leave out ("Council of Ireland").—(Lord Shandon.)922
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I must trouble your Lordships with a few observations owing to the entire misconception with regard to the Division which has just taken place. We fully understood on this side of the House that the Lord Chancellor, while objecting to the Amendment, did not propose to contest it. I am sure I am in the recollection of everybody in the House also when I say that after the Lord Chairman had given it that the "Contents" had it, we did not understand that that was challenged. But had we known that the Lord Chancellor wished to take the sense of your Lordships on the subject we should have been forced to point out that the proposal which is not now in the clause was the only one which could possibly be regarded as acceptable in the changed conditions. Take the case of a Private Bill having application to the two parts of Ireland. The Bill would have been initiated in the Senate and, if passed by the Senate, would have been sent to each House of Parliament for ratification. We venture to think that the proposal of the noble and learned Lord was a far more democratic proposal than the original proposal in the Bill and was in all respects consonant with the usual practice in this country, and I think, if we had had the opportunity of pointing that out to your 923 Lordships, probably the very small majority which was obtained against the Amendment—which I know was obtained entirely by inadvertence, because we were led to believe there was no further need for discussion—would have been altered.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Earl grudges us even the scanty triumphs that we gain in the course of this debate. But I certainly was of opinion that I had indicated very clear grounds of opposition to the view put forward by the noble and learned Lord, and I did not think I could have made it plainer—unless I used the actual words that I proposed to divide the House upon it—that the proposal was not acceptable; and the intervention of Lord Parmoor (joining, I thought, in the condemnation on the technical side of these proposals) fortified me in that view. But I admit I think I was wrong technically in not challenging, because I had assumed, apparently quite erroneously, that the noble and learned Lord was not going to proceed further in the matter. But I think we shall all agree that a very important change has been made in the Bill—whether it survives our ultimate discussions or not I do not know, and I attempt no prediction upon that point; but certainly on the Report stage on either hypothesis (whether the noble and learned Lord's proposals are maintained or whether they are not) undoubtedly a great deal of redrafting will have to be done, and especially in relation to this new Senate, which really has not up to this point been sufficiently thought out. I will not, of course, challenge the main decision, but I am assuming for the moment that it stands. I suggest that a convenient course would be that the noble and learned Lord and his friends should consider the matter before the Report stage—any assistance which the draftsman can give him, without assenting in any way to the principle, will be forthcoming—and I think that before the Report stage some Amendment will have to be put down.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
After what the noble and learned Lord has said it would be very ungracious to press it, but we were left in some confusion by the absence of a challenge from the Government. But I agree with the Lord Chancellor that there is a certain amount of difficulty about this question. There are two matters really involved in this question 924 of the Senate. There is the question of whether each Parliament should have a Senate. That was decided by your Lordships by an enormous majority, and I earnestly hope that your Lordships will see fit to adhere to that, which is demanded by every instinct of justice. But there is also the question of whether these two Senates should act as a joint Senate in lieu of the Council which is provided in the Bill. That is a difficult matter. I shall not anticipate what decision your Lordships will finally come to upon it, but it arose in a very acute form in the Amendment on which we have just decided. I personally did not take any part in the Division, but for my part I feel that there is a great deal to be said on both sides, and I earnestly hope that the course to which the Lord Chancellor has alluded of a private conference will be followed, so that we may arrive at an agreement before the Report stage.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I quite agree that the course which the noble and learned Lord opposite has suggested is the only one that could properly be taken. I think there was confusion existing in the minds of sonic noble Lords owing to the quite inadvertent manner in which the question was put before its time. I cannot help thinking that sonic noble Lords conceived that all Private Bill legislation in Ireland was to go to the Joint Senate. That is not the case. The origination in the Joint Senate is only for those exceptional cases in which both parts of Ireland are affected. The North and the South of Ireland will each have control over its own Private Bill legislation— at least I assume so. I think some noble Lords imagined that this Joint Senate was going to take charge of all this Private Bill legislation in the way it was proposed the Council should. The matter will, of course, be cleared up before the Report stage.
§ Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 12 and 13 agreed to.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNEmoved, after Clause 13, to insert the following new clause:—
14.—(1) The Senate of Southern Ireland shall be constituted as provided in the First Schedule to this Act.
(2) The Senate of Northern Ireland shall be constituted as provided in the Second Schedule to this Act.")
(3) The provisions contained in the Third Schedule of this Act shall have effect with respect to the nomination, election, and term of office of members of the Senates of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The noble Lord said: These Amendments were put down at an earlier stage of the Bill, but; on the suggestion of the Lord Chancellor I postponed them until this period, as he said they would be more suitably inserted here. I propose to put down clauses dealing with all these matters. They are important matters which your Lordships may like to have time to consider before coming to a decision, and I therefore think the course I suggest will be a conveinent one. They will appear in the Schedule, and there will be ample time to consider whether they are such as will recommend themselves to your Lordships.
Amend snout moved—
After Clause 13, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Oranmore earl Browne.)
THE LORD HANCELLOR
I had been hoping that it might have been in the power of the noble Lord to tell us in detail, or at least to give us some general idea of, the scheme which, as he told us last night, he intends to put down as the basis for the constitution of the Senate of Northern Ireland. I quite understand that time has been short and that it may of have been possible for him to meet those members of this House who specially represent Ulster. I shall not divide against this proposal, but I must point out that it involves a rather anomalous consequence. It may be a necessary one, having regard to the decision that has been reached, but it is anomalous. We are now inserting a clause which provides that the Senate of Southern Ireland shall be constituted as provided in the First Schedule of this Act. We discussed a little last night how the Senate of Southern Ireland was constituted in the First Schedule, and I do not propose to add much to the observations I made then. But it is pertinent to bear in mind that at the time that scheme was adopted by the Convention the proposal was that there should be a united Ireland, and an attempt was being made by general consent to discover a form of Second Chamber which in order to give security and obtain assent of the united Ireland would be likely to lead to agreement. Of course, the only objection to it is this, that the scheme which is now 926 in its main features produced in the Schedule of the noble Lord has never received the assent of anybody in Ireland who so far as I know has been returned to Parliament since. It is an academic scheme, and no one who reads it can feel the least doubt that it is entirely an academic scheme. I cannot believe that such assent, under the changed conditions of this Bill which are wholly different to those contemplated by the Convention, can survive for a week or a month.
I agree with Lord Atkinson that if this Senate were to interfere with a Bill which carried with it the overwhelming support of a body fresh from the constituencies elected on the present basis it could not last for a month. It will indeed enjoy a wealth of sacerdotal and literary experience which is unusual in a deliberative assembly, but whether this will afford a barrier I am a little in doubt. I am always loyal to decisions which the House has given of course, but I must say a word with reference to the second subsection of the proposed new clause. It says that the Senate of Northern Ireland shall be constituted as provided in the Second Schedule to this Act. I am in a little difficulty, and surely the House is in a little difficulty too. We trust the noble Lord a great deal, and we are prepared, apparently, to agree that the Senate of Southern Ireland shall be constituted as provided by the First Schedule. The First Schedule is there. Now he asks us to agree that the Senate of Northern Ireland shall be constituted as provided by the Second Schedule. There is no Second Schedule in existence. He has told us that he anticipates he will become a parent in the course of the next few days' discussion, but at the present moment there is no Second Schedule there at all. It is not often that I am tempted to give an anecdote, but I am tempted on this occasion to recall a story I heard of an American who went to visit the Miracle play at Oberammergau, but having misunderstood the precise moment at which the performance was to begin he arrived at a time when the audience was completely non-existent. There was only one person on the stage. That person was Adam, waiting to be created, and it seems to me to bear a strong resemblance to the present situation.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am afraid I cannot compete with the Lord Chancellor in humorous anecdotes, but there was an important Bill before your Lordships' House a few years ago—the 927 Reform Act—and in the course of its progress an Amendment in favour of proportional representation was inserted. That involved a Schedule, but at the moment it was passed the Schedule was blank. That precedent is I think quite sufficient.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
I have tried to make it perfectly clear that in proposing a Senate for Northern and Southern Ireland all I asked the House to assent to was the principle of the proposition. I carefully avoided dealing with particulars of the Senate which should be set up, and I hope at a later stage to be able to define it and to show that it is not such an unreasonable body as the Lord Chancellor thinks. In the course of his remarks, yesterday and to-day, the Lord Chancellor has dwelt not so much on whether a Senate is or is not in itself a good thing but whether the particular Senate which I propose is one which should recommend itself to the House. I think noble Lords clearly understood that they were asked to consider the principles of the Senate. As to their being no Schedule setting out what the Senate of Northern Ireland is to be my noble friend Lord Salisbury has given a very good precedent for that. I may assure the Lord Chancellor that I am doing my very best to confer with noble Lords and members of another place from the North to see if I can propose a Second Chamber for Northern Ireland that will be acceptable to them.
§ Clause 14:
§ Constitution of the parliaments.
§ 14.—(1) The House of Commons of Southern Ireland shall consist of one hundred and twenty-eight members returned by the constituencies in Ireland named in Part I. of the Second Schedule to this Act, and the number of members to be returned by each such constituency shall be the number mentioned in the second column of that Part.
§ (2) The House of Commons of Northern Ireland shall consist of fifty-two members returned by the constituencies in Ireland named in Part II. of the Second Schedule to this Act, and the number of members to be returned by each such constituency shall be the number mentioned in the second column of that Part.
§ (3) The members shall be elected by the same electors and in the same manner as members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, except that at any contested election of the full number of members the election shall be according to the principle of proportional representation, each 928 elector having one transferable vote, as defined by the Representation of the People Act, 1918, and His Majesty in Council shall have the same power of making regulations in respect thereto as he has under subsection (3) of section twenty of that Act, and that subsection shall apply accordingly.
§ (4) The House of Commons of Southern Ireland and the House of Commons of Northern Ireland when summoned shall, unless sooner dissolved, have continuance for five years from the day on which the summons directs the House to meet and no longer.
§ (5) After three years from the day of the first meeting of the Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, that Parliament may alter the qualification and registration of the electors, the law relating to elections and the questioning of elections, the constituencies, and the distribution of the members among the constituencies, provided that in any new distribution the number of the members shall not be altered, and due regard shall be had to the population of the constituencies other than University constituencies.
§ LORD KILLANINmoved, in subsection (3), to leave out all words after "Parliament of the United Kingdom" to the end of the subsection. The noble Lord said: My object in moving this Amendment is to secure that elections to Parliament in Ireland shall be managed on the same basis as elections in England, Scotland and Wales, and not by the method of Proportional Representation. I know that some of your Lordships have great faith in the efficacy and usefulness of Proportional Representation and I confess that on paper and in theory, as a piece of mere abstract reasoning, a very good case can be made out for it. But I also submit, from my observations of the working of Proportional Representation, that it does not secure the aim which it has in view and that it is in other ways very injurious to the best interest of public life.
§ What is the aim of Proportional Representation? It is to find a constituency for the minority man. In order to do this you have to go very far afield. You have to incorporate a large tract of country into one constituency, probably including what was formerly no fewer than three or four constituencies, and by the time you have secured this large district in which you think you will return a minority man, you have completely destroyed the possibility of success of one class of candidate to which I wish to draw attention—namely, the local man, who lives in his own part of the country, who is known to his neighbours and is trusted by them, and who is thoroughly familiar with all their affairs and interests. By being placed in this 929 vast region this candidate is completely swamped. He has to pay attention to a number of strange concerns over this wide area, about which he does not and cannot know. He may endeavour to cope with them, but while he does so his own stronghold is neglected by him and is attacked by the innumerable candidates that Proportional Representation brings into the field. Between all these the original strength of the local candidate—and I am talking of that class of candidate—is diluted and destroyed. I suggest to your Lordships that that is a pity. The local man who is chosen by his neighbours and the residents of the place in which he lives is a valuable factor in our public life, and your Lordships ought to be careful before you inaugurate any system that completely obliterates the chances of the local candidate in Parliamentary elections.
§ Who takes the place of the local man? We are told that the minority man is going to take his place. Who is he Who must he be? It is absolutely essential that he must be a sheer Party man. He is appealing to a large district where he cannot be known. He does not know its interests, but he has to appeal to this minority in the district. On what ground? On the ground that he is labelled as a Party man with their views. His label is his only introduction to the electors. He cannot and does not know their interests, but he comes as a nominee of a political Party. That is the only form of introduction that there can be for such a man in the large area to which he has to appeal. I think it is a great pity to abolish the local candidate and to replace him by this ultra-political—because he is bound to be ultra-political—nominee of an organisation—an extreme politician. No one else has a chance of appealing to the minority spread over this large tract of country which becomes a constituency under Proportional Representation.
§ Furthermore, will the minority man get in? I doubt it very much. My observation in Ireland is that he will not get in. He does not get in for these reasons. The very fact that he is a minority man means that he has not got the same organisation behind him that the other side possess, and when you have this large area it is the best organisation that carries the day. The district is so large, and the expenses are so great of canvassing, and travelling, and printing, and of having your polling 930 agents in the immense number of polling booths that there are in such a district, that it is impossible for the individual man, or even for a small organisation, to deal with the situation. The result is that the big organisation completely carries the day because it has the supporters and the money that can deal with this large tract of country. For these reasons—and I am not going into others to which I could refer—I am entirely opposed to the principle of Proportional Representation. I think also the multiplicity not only of candidates but of people who can be elected confuses matters very much. In the case of Ireland in the local government elections, I do not think there was much confusion over the actual voting, but there was great confusion over the fact that a large number of candidates from each place could be elected and over the large number of names before the electors.
§ I wish to say also that the supporters of Proportional Representation attach great importance to the transferable vote. That was completely eluded in Ireland. There was hardly any transfer of votes from one side to the other. The organisation ordained that its side should only vote for the men of its own party. As a matter of fact there was very little change in the various counts, and the transferable vote, which was supposed to confer a great advantage on the minority man, was perfectly useless. I have therefore no faith in the method of Proportional Representation. I do not think it meets the objects it has in view, and I think it has other very serious and very objectionable results. I would specially say that it is unsuited to rural districts, which are so large and impossible to cover on account of the sparseness of population. The district has to be made so large that really candidates cannot attempt to cover the ground. Ireland being almost purely a rural country, I think this system of Proportional Representation is particularly unsuitable to the conditions which prevail there. I would myself, from what I have heard, concede that it is possible that Proportional Representation does work in urban areas, where, in spite of the fact that you have enlarged the area, you have all the inhabitants in that area living in a fairly compact district, and being in a town they have more or less identical views. But it is a very different story if you have to travel across the county and endeavour to follow the affairs and con- 931 cerns of so large an area. For that reason I move the Amendment standing in my name.
§ Amendment moved—
§ Page 16, line 29, leave out from ("Kingdom") to end of line 36.—(Lord Killanin.)
§ LORD PARMOOR
Perhaps before the Government answer I might say one or two words in reply to the argument used by the noble Lord who has moved this Amendment. I think he has forgotten the very large experience of the use of the principle of Proportional Representation which we have had during recent years. At the present time it applies to every country in Europe except France, and it is said that France is likely to adopt it at the next election. It has been applied in every case in which we have had new constitutions-created during recent days. For instance, it is proposed to be applied in the constitution which we are about to give to Malta. I do not want to go generally into the matters to which the noble Lord has referred but I think all experience shows that the fears which he anticipated do not culminate in fact when the experiment is tried.
I should like, however, to say a few words as regards recent experiments in this country. One of the earliest experiments, as the noble Lord knows, was in Sligo, where the experience was in every way satisfactory, and where practically a bankrupt corporation became a corporation solvent in character, because instead of being in the hands of one party all citizens were fairly represented upon the new corporate body. When the principle of Proportional Representation was applied throughout the boroughs of Ireland, on every ground and from every side one heard that the experiment acted admirably. It prevented, in Sinn Fein districts, their being the only body represented, and in every single case there was a considerable minority, whereas on the other hand in Belfast it has also shown that there was more than one body as regards municipal matters. I quite agree that when the matter came to the country districts in Ireland the conditions were such that no proper election could be held at all, and the people who really opposed Proportional Representation were the Sinn Feiners, with the result that they obtained a representation on the county councils in Ireland out of all proportion to their true numbers.
932 They succeeded by terrorism in making Proportional Representation practically inoperative. I may speak confidently upon that, because Mr. Humphreys, the Secretary of the Proportional Representation body, went over to Ireland to assist the Government in the county and borough elections. In the borough elections everything went satisfactorily, but in the county elections, owing to Sinn Fein, Proportional Representation had no opportunity at all.
I hope that the noble Lord will also recollect the enormous advantage of its use as regards the education question in Scotland. The adjusting of the education question between Roman Catholics on the one side and various Protestant communities on the other, was a very difficult question, yet from end to end of Scotland the system acted admirably. It has been successful not only in the representation of minorities—I think that is a wrong way of putting it—but by giving all parties an effective voice as regards the important matters in which they have a common interest. That is brought about by really a very simple process. Proportional Representation gives an effective power to the individual vote which an individual vote cannot have under any other conditions, and it is because each individual vote can be used in the most effective manner that you get a true representative vote. I do not propose to go into the questions of general principles, but I can think of nothing more disastrous for a Bill of this character than to exclude the principle of Proportional Representation which is now incorporated in it.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (THE EARL OF CRAWFORD)
I think Lord Killanin made quite clear what he desired. I will, however, in opposing this Amendment, remind your Lordships that the Irish Convention adopted this system of Proportional Representation and the single transferable vote in constituencies which return two, or it have been three, Members; and, furthermore, that Parliament has applied this system to local elections in Ireland, as we have been reminded by the noble and learned Lord. In the recent elections the system was worked, it is claimed, with success.
It is quite true that criticism exists, and broadly speaking it is based upon the reasons which we have just heard from Lord Killanin. He says that the local candidate is knocked out. I have no 933 objection at all to the local candidate, but the local candidate is not necessarily the best candidate. The noble Lord says that he will not be able to give attention to local politics. Perhaps that is rather a good thing. Where he sits for a single constituency, as so many of your Lordships know who have sat in the other House, a Member is always obliged to concentrate too much of his attention upon purely local questions, which are really questions of local government rather than for the Imperial Parliament. The bigger the constituency the more difficult does that become. The larger the aggregation of constituencies the more impossible does it become. Therefore the greater the physical difficulties of covering the ground the greater is the chance of polities being of an imperial rather than a parochial character.
The noble Lord says that having to appeal to large districts will prevent local interest. I do not think so; I believe it will stimulate rather broader views. And when he says it will exascerbate the tendency, no doubt deplorable, for candidates to be mere nominees of a Party caucus, I differ entirely. It does not mean that the local political caucus is without power. If the constituency is the aggregate of two or three or more separate constituencies you are not necessarily going to increase the power of the political Party caucus, and in some ways I think you would tend to reduce it. So I urge the Committee not to accept this Amendment: Proportional Representation is working in Ireland already; it was recommended by the Convention, and it was in the Act of 1914, framed by the Liberal Party; and if Ireland as a whole finds that Proportional Representation, as laid down in this Bill, does not work successfully, there is the remedy in subsection (5) of this clause, which entitles the Irish Parliament to alter the system of election on the expiration of three years from the date of the first meeting. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will support the Bill as it stands.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
I should like to support this Amendment, because I have for many years been considered one of the Australian authorities on Proportional Representation. I often hear it said that Proportional Representation represents minorities. That is incorrect. It neither represents minorities 934 nor majorities. In our constitutional elections we found that we never got a majority of more than two or three on one side of the House or the other and for eight years out of ten the Cabinet could be put out of action by one independent member crossing the floor of the House. Another great disadvantage was that it entirely disfranchised the agricultural districts. I think it is well to explain these points to your Lordships.
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
We in the North of Ireland who are a majority do not like Proportional Representation. No Irishman has ever asked for it, and there is absolutely no demand for it. We dislike it in the North, and we do not understand why the Government should want to try it on us. It is really a case of "trying it on the dog." It is very expensive, as has already been pointed out, and it is very difficult to work. Take for example my own town in County Down. There are 9,300 electors, and any candidate contesting an election there is put to the expense of sending a leaflet to each elector. It almost makes it impossible for any one except a wealthy person to stand as a candidate.
Proportional Representation was originally introduced in order to stem Sinn Feiners. What has been the result? On the Mayo Council every seat is held by Sinn Fein, and the same applies to Roscommon, while South Tipperary and several other councils are mainly Sinn Fein. Proportional Representation simply delivered the country over to Sinn Fein. It was also said that by Proportional Representation you would get more efficient people to stand for the county councils. Nothing of the kind has happened. It was also supposed that one of the results would be that the rates would go down. What actually happened was this. Since Sinn Feiners have had charge the rates have risen from 16s. 11d. to 22s. 6d. The Derry Corporation, which had a very small Unionist majority, became Nationalist, and the first thing it did was to raise the rates by 7s. in the pound.
Proportional Representation is extraordinarily complicated. People who can just read, and who have no education, find it difficult to understand, and when they see a long list of names which they cannot remember they give it up and do not vote at all. The school board elections last 935 year in Scotland afforded an example of what takes place with Proportional Representation. In Edinburgh, out of 130,000 electors only 24,000 went to the poll. In Glasgow with about 446,000 electors only 121,000 or 37 per cent. went to the poll. In Aberdeen, which had always prided itself on the number of its electors who went to the poll, the record fell to 14 percent. The result in Scotland was this. So far from Proportional Representation giving representation to minorities, the minority practically became a majority. There is this further point. If a member of a Council dies the wretched man who comes forward to offer himself for the vacancy has to make his appeal to the whole of the constituency. I ask your Lordships to imagine the expense of that. I do not know what my noble friend, Lord Midleton, feels upon this matter, but we in Ulster have no reason for feeling very kindly towards him for the way he is trying to destroy our aspirations. I hope that he will remember that we voted for him last night because we wanted to do good to the South, and I trust that he will to-day vote with us in order to help the North.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
It really is too late in the clay for my noble friend who has just spoken to tell this House that Proportional Representation is a difficult and an obscure system to work. It is working in almost every part of the world except in this country, and it is working in every single case, except Tasmania, with marked and acknowledged success. The very case that the noble Lord cited, that of Scotland, would have shown him, had he taken the trouble to ascertain the views of Scots on the results of their elections, that he is wrong in his view of those results. So far as I could judge from the Scottish Press, and also from discussing the matter with my Scottish friends, the result of those school board elections in Scotland was almost universally acknowledge to be an extraordinary success. As for not being able to work the system, it was worked even in Ireland with success the other day. My noble friend shakes his head, but I am not making a point as to whether it is a good system or a bad one. What I am saying is that there was no difficulty in working it at these elections.
If you want a real argument in favour of the proposal of the Government, it is to be found in what the noble Lord has just said about the county council elections 936 in the South of Ireland. Under the single-member constituency system Sinn Fein would have had every seat for a certainty, and without taking any trouble in the matter. It was because they saw under the system of Proportional Representation, with its transferable vote, that they were going to lose the monopoly of representation and that minorities were for the first time going to have a look in that they swept forward in all their military organisation and terrorised the electors. There could not possibly be given a greater testimonial of the virtues of Proportional Representation than Sinn Fein gave on that occason. During the whole of my political life since Home Rule became a burning question I have been a warm friend of Ulster, but I think the Natonalists are entitled to their share of representation in the Ulster Parliament, and they cannot get it except from some such system as that of Proportional Representation.
Your Lordships will, perhaps, forgive me if I remind you that in this matter you hold a rather proud record. You had a difference of opinion with the other House in the last Parliament, and in that I say this House was emphatically right and the House of Commons was emphatically wrong. What was the consequence of the House of Commons rejecting the Amendments of the House of Lords on the Franchise Bill? That the Coalition Government obtained a majority far in excess of their real strength in the country; the Liberal Party was nearly wiped out, and the Labour Party received only a very small proportion of its due representation. In my humble judgment a very large proportion of our political and social troubles since have arisen from the fact that neither Liberals nor Labour have proper representation in the House of Commons. I beg your Lordships to remember this, and to give support to this principle.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I am not going into the whole question of Proportional Representation, because my experience is that to attack or even to appear to have any doubt on that subject is as dangerous as to embark on the question of liquor or of ecclesiastical law. I only wish to make it clear that if some of us do not go into the lobby with my noble friend it is not because we believe that any good will be done by Proportional Representation in the counties of the South. I think that in the boroughs—indeed I 937 thought it about the boroughs in this country—for the very reasons mentioned by Lord Killanin there might have been some advantage, but in the counties I believe that what he says about local candidates is absolutely correct.
As regards the particular minority with which I am connected, it is quite obvious that where you happen to be only 350,000 out of 3,000,000—one in ten—no system of Proportional Representation will give you any advantage. I recognise what my noble friend Lord Selborne has said with regard to the North, and I shall not be prepared to vote for my noble friend's Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CLANWILLIAM
I was a member of a County Council in the North of Ireland and saw some of the workings of the system of Proportional Representation. I can certainly bear out what my noble friend has expressed in many of his criticisms. It is a very complicated system. Instead of having one man to vote for and knowing exactly for whom you are going to vote, you have a list of seven or eight, and those who are not very literate meet with considerable difficulty in understanding for whom they are voting. There is an enormous amount of arithmetic connected with it, and I do not understand yet exactly how it is done. You vote for one man and if he does not get in his votes are added to some one else or they are subtracted from those of some one else, and heaven only knows who gets in.
The other criticism made by my noble friend is that it would be very expensive, and certainly there is a considerable amount of expense connected with the election of a county council on that system. You have to write letters to many hundreds of electors; you have to issue posters; you have to get a secretary and to spend money in many more directions than was the case formerly. Then there is of necessity a considerable amount of labour connected with it, in writing letters and going round the country. Those things are all right for Parliamentary candidates and those who are prepared to sue for the suffrages of their fellow men, but there are many of us who are not prepared to do that. While quite prepared to stand for a county council and to work in the county they are not prepared to go round the country and sue for the suffrages of the 938 electors in the same way as Parliamentary candidates. Just before the last council election in my county several members said that they were not prepared to undertake all this unnecessary labour in order to continue to be members of the County Council. Some said, "If they want me I am quite prepared to be a member, but I am not going to take up all this additional work in order to remain a member of the county council."
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD MAC DONNELLmoved, in the first line of subsection (5), to leave out "three" and insert "six." The noble Lord said: It has been an interesting experience for me to find the principle of Proportional Representation questioned in this House. My mind goes back to the month of May, 1914, when that question was fully discussed here in a series of debates resulting in a division which was no division. A division was challenged, but when the time came for going into the Lobby a teller could not be found on the side of the opposition. Therefore the questioning of the principle of Proportional Representation in this House after a lapse of six years is an extraordinary instance of the fluctuation of political thought. I am extremely glad that the result has been such as it is. I was particularly pleased with the speech of the noble Earl, Lord. Selborne, especially with his remark regarding the operation of Proportional Representation in Ulster.
§ The Amendment which stands in my name is naturally connected with that matter. The question really is whether a voter, from the fact of his voting for the first time under the system of Proportional Representation, is able to understand its full bearing. I wish to urge upon your Lordships that he cannot at the offset understand the system, and that a certain time should be given—that is to say, two elections—before the Bill comes into force and it becomes the privilege of the Northern or Southern Government to put an end to the system of Proportional Representation.
§ We have heard to-day from some of the noble Lords from Ulster how Proportional Representation is regarded in that Province. In the Lower House the point which I bring to your Lordships' notice attracted the attention of the supporters of Proportional Representation and they 939 proposed that the Act should come into operation only after the second election; that is, after six instead of after three years. The Government in another place favoured that suggestion; but under the influence of the representatives of Ulster it was left to be dealt with by a vote of the House. Unfortunately a division was taken in a very sparse House and went against the supporters of Proportional Representation. I wish to ask your Lordships to reverse that vote in this House and to give a chance to the voter to understand what he is doing, and not to be excluded for ever from the advantages of Proportional Representation because of his initial ignorance. I beg to move.
Page 17, line 1 leave out ("three") and insert ("six.")—(Lord Mac Donnell.)
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
I oppose this Amendment. Surely, if you establish a Parliament, three years is quite long enough to give it time to look round to see how the Act works. It is not fair to us in Ulster to impose Proportional Representation for six years.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I am very sorry to appear to oppose any of my noble friends from Ulster, but I think this a very reasonable Amendment. I do not think three years is long enough to enable a fair judgment to be based on a new system—and a system especially which meets at the start with prejudice in many people, arising from ignorance. The Government in the. House of Commons were very willing, I am informed, to accept this Amendment, and I sincerely hope they will not turn an absolutely deaf ear to it on this occasion.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I do not think the Government desires to turn an absolutely deaf ear to it, but, on the other hand, there is a good deal to be said in favour of the limitation to three years, as proposed in Clause 14. Lord MacDonnell, I think, based his objection to the period of three years chiefly on the point that the electors cannot understand the system, and that three years is therefore insufficient to give it a fair test. But we have just beard from, I think, Lord Selborne among others that the Irish people are already working local elections under this system, and that they do understand it; and Lord Clanwilliam is wrong in saying that the responsibility rests upon the electors of 940 doing all these complicated computations. It is the returning officer and his staff who have to perform that function. I should have thought myself that, if we set up Parliaments on broad grounds, the best thing is to allow them to re-arrange their electoral system, should they so desire, as soon as they so desire. I do not attach first-class importance to this Amendment; but my inclination certainly is to recommend your Lordships to support the three years as against the six.
THE EARL OF DESART
I hope that the Government will reconsider their attitude. It seems to me that in effect what is proposed in the Bill is that in three years they should pass a Reform Bill, and if you look back to the history of Reform Bills in this country, and the long intervals that have supervened between one Reform Bill and another, considerable time does elapse before people slowly realise what the defects of their system are. And, though it may not be of very great importance whether it is three or six years, it seems to me that six years is a more reasonable time. I doubt whether in three years you would realise whether some reform—this or any other—was necessary or not.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I agree with the noble Earl opposite that this cannot be treated as a matter of first importance, and, so far as it refers to proportional representation, nobody I suppose, conceives that that system will have a very great numerical effect on the composition of the Houses in Ireland. It will have some effect, as I firmly believe, but it will not have anything like a revolutionary effect. And therefore the matter is one which has to be regarded as a balance of advantage and disadvantage.
I confess I should have thought that there was a great deal to be said for the longer period. It would mean, I suppose, that one election is likely to occur before any change can be made. That seems to me a decided advantage. If the first elected House desires to make a change it is surely just as well that such a change should be submitted to the verdict of the electors. It is also, I think, desirable that the minds of the first elected House should not be diverted to this question of machinery at all, and that whatever is agreed as being the best machinery to begin upon should have a chance, at any rate for the term of the first Parliament.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
After what has fallen from Lord Crewe and other noble Lords I will undertake that Lord MacDonnell's proposal shall receive sympathetic consideration by the Government before the Report stage.
LORD MAC DONNELL
Perhaps I may be permitted to say that yesterday our attention was called to the fact that in the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone there was a very large predominance of the Catholic population. They will require protection. They will require from the system of proportional representation such protection as they may be able to derive from it in order to send their representatives to the Parliament. I beg that that also may be considered. But in view of what the noble Earl has said, I do not insist upon the Amendment now.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 14 agreed to.
§ Clause 15 agreed to.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNEmoved, after Clause 15, to insert the following new clauses—
16. A member of the House of Commons of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland shall be incapable of being chosen or elected or of sitting as a member of the Senate of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, and a member of the Senate of Son thorn Ireland or Northern Ireland shall be incapable of being chosen or elected or of sitting as a member of the House of Commons of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland.
17.-(1) Bills imposing taxation or appropriating revenue or moneys shall originate only in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland. But a Bill shall not be taken to impose taxation or to appropriate revenue by reason only of its containing provision for the imposition or appropriation of fines or other pecuniary matters.
(2) The Senate of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland may not amend any Bills so far as they impose taxation or appropriate revenue or moneys for the public services of the Government and may not amend any Bill so as to increase any proposed charges or burdens on the people.
§ The noble Lord said: The Lord Chancellor has once or twice complained that sufficient details were not given as to the composition of the Senate, and this Amendment is put down to a certain extent to do away with that objection. The new Clause 16 which I propose would make it impossible 942 for anyone to be a member of both Houses. I think that that would meet with general approval. With regard to subsection (1) of my new Clause 17, my legal advisers have told me that that is a common clause to be inserted with regard to a Money Bill; and as regards subsection (2), I understand that that follows the usual form with regard to Money Bills.
§ Amendment moved—
§ After Clause 15, insert the said new clauses.—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Some such clause as the noble Lord has moved would undoubtedly be necessary upon the establishment of the two Senates. Clause 16 is a reproduction of Section 12 (4) of the Act of 1914, and Clause 17 is a reproduction of Section 10 (1) of that Act. I certainly am not going to offer any opposition to this proposal. It is for the noble Lord to develop the symmetry of his own scheme.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
Has the noble Lord considered this proposition? Why should not a member of the House of Commons be chosen for the Senate? May he not be a desirable person to be on the Senate? If the noble Lord would say "shall be incapable of sitting" it would be another matter; but if a member of the House of Commons is incapable of being chosen or elected a member of the Senate you would exclude from the Senate some one who is already a member of the House of Commons. Surely it would be enough to provide that he should not sit in both.
§ Clause 16 agreed to.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNEmoved, after Clause 16, to insert the following new clause—
.—(1) If the House of Commons of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland pass any Bill, and the Senate of Southern or Northern Ireland rejects or fails to pass it or passes it with amendments to which the House of Commons will not agree, and if the House of Commons in the next Session again passes the Bill with or without any amendments which have been made or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it or passes
it with amendments to which the House of Commons will not agree, the Lord Lieutenant may during that Session, convene a joint sitting of the members of such two Houses.
(2) The members present at any such joint Session may deliberate and shall vote together upon the Bill as last proposed by the House of Commons and upon amendments, if any, which have been made therein by one House and not agreed to by the other, and any such amendments which are affirmed by a majority of the total number of members of such two Houses present at such sitting shall be taken to have been carried.
(3) If the Bill with the amendment, if any, is affirmed by a majority of the members of the two Houses present at such sitting it shall be taken to have been duly passed by both Houses.
§ "Provided that, if the Senate of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland shall reject or fail to pass any Bill dealing with the imposition of taxation or the appropriation of revenue or moneys for the public service, such joint sitting may be convened during the same session in which the Senate so rejects or fails to pass such Bill."
§ The noble Lord said: The first two subsections provide what is to happen in the case of the House of Commons of Southern or Northern Ireland disagreeing with the Senate in that part of Ireland in regard to an ordinary Bill. In that case the Bill would not pass that year, but the following year, if it was re-introduced and passed the House of Commons but failed to pass the Senate, the two Houses would sit together and it would be decided by a majority of the votes whether the Bill should or should not become law. The last subsection refers to money Bills, and as that may be rather controversial I had better say a few words about it. The proposal is to give the Senate power not to amend but to reject money Bills, but in the case of the Senate so rejecting a money Bill the two Houses shall at once sit together in the same session and shall then decide, after debate, by a majority of the members of both Houses present whether or not the money Bill shall pass into law.
§ This provision is based on the recommendation of the Convention. I really am rather afraid of saying anything in favour of the Convention because so much cold water has been thrown on its suggestions by members of the Government with the one exception of Lord Crawford, who gave some praise to its recommendation with regard to proportional representation. It seems that because he Convention did not succeed in coming to a settlement of the Irish question; and the Nationalist members consequently were snowed under at the next General Election that its conclusions are of no importance; that it was composed of men whose views are not worthy 944 of consideration. That is not my view at all On the contrary, I look on the Irish Convention as one of the most remarkable assemblies of Irishmen since the time of the Kilkenny Council in the 17th Century.
§ I think your Lordships sometimes forget the amount of trouble His Majesty's Government took in forming the Convention. It is thought of as though it consisted only of Archbishops and Peers. There were a great many people there. Invitations were extended, and to a great extent accepted, to Chairmen of thirty-three County Councils, mostly representing the lower middle classes, and the Lord Mayors and Mayors of six county boroughs. There were representatives of Ulster, of the Southern Unionists, of the Nationalists—and a good many shades of Nationalist opinion from Mr. John Redmond to Mr. Devlin—the Chairmen of the Chambers of Commerce of Dublin, Belfast and Cork, representatives of Labour, representatives of the banking interests, railway interests and others; and all these men after much consultation came to the conclusion that certain safeguards were necessary for the protection of the Unionist minority, and were ready to afford them. These safeguards included a power of the Senate to deal to a certain extent with money Bills.
I should like to read to the House two extracts as showing the views held on this subject. One is from the Ulster representatives, and it is interesting to know what they said. It was at the end of the Convention when they had given up any hope or intention of coming to a settlement with the rest of their fellow members. Mr. Barrie, who made a suggestion of the exclusion of Ulster, said on March 12, 1918—
Such safeguards which the Southern Unionists regard as necessary shall have the support of the Ulster Unionist representatives.
More important are the views which were put forward in a statement signed by all those who were called extreme Nationalist representatives, led by the Bishop of Raphoe. We must not forget that, although they were perfectly loyal to the King, their views were much akin to those of the moderate Sinn Feiner. They were in favour of complete control of Customs, complete fiscal autonomy, and they thought Ireland should have the power of raising a local military force for her protection. This is what they said—
In regard to the safeguards for minorities in Ireland against any misuse of these powers that
they might fear, we have gone to extreme lengths in our anxiety to reach a settlement. We have agreed that an Irish House of Commons at the outset shall have a Unionist strength of 40 percent., and that the Upper House shall consist of nominated andex-officiomembers, of Peers elected by their own order, and of other Members elected by their own class. The two Houses would sit and vote together on questions in dispute between them, including Money Bills. These arrangements are intended to give to commercial and industrial interests, and to Unionist views generally, a powerful voice in the final decision of all legislative questions, including financial measures.
It is all very well to say that these men were swept under by the election of 1918, but after all there is no one to take their place. We hope that they will come to the fore again and become members of the new Assembly, and therefore their views which they put forward ought to carry great weight.
§ The Lord Chancellor, like all advocates, must advocate the whole of the Bill. He naturally is bound to defend the whole Bill and says that if you have faith even to the extent of a grain of mustard seed you will believe that a man will not do wrong. I rather hold the view that it is better not to lead them into temptation, but to put in such safeguards that they will not be tempted to do injustice. I should like to point out again to the House that the Senate will only consist of half the number of members of the House of Commons, and it is very unlikely that they will all hold the same view, as if it is constituted in the way I propose there will be a large number of representatives of county councils and others. Therefore the most the Unionists could hope for in the case of a Money Bill would be that they would be able to put forward their views to the House of Commons and at any rate press them upon the fair judgment of their fellow countrymen.
§ It is also worthy of notice that in nearly every suggestion which has been made—for instance, the reform of your Lordships' House and the setting up of a new Chamber—certain powers have been given with regard to Money Bills. I believe that is the case in Lord Bryce's Report. I know the arrangement was rather complicated, and it would have resulted in the House of Commons having their own way in the long run, but there were consultations of various kinds between the two Houses and considerable conferences by which the House of Commons might be made acquainted with the views of the reformed House. In the same 946 way it is proposed that there should be an opportunity of conference between the two Houses of the Irish Parliament. I hope that this explanation may help to recommend the provision to your Lordships.
After Clause 16 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
As regards the noble Lord's proposal I neither assent to it nor dissent from it, nor do I say anything about it.
§ Clause 17 agreed to.
§ Clause 18:
§ Representation of Ireland in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
§ 18. Unless and until the Parliament of the United Kingdom otherwise determine, the following provisions shall have effect:—
- (a) After the appointed day the number of members of be returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall be forty-six, and the constituencies returning those members shall (in lieu of the existing constituencies) be the constituencies named in Parts I and II of the Second Schedule to this Act, and the number of members to be returned by each such constituency shall be the number mentioned in the third column of those Parts of that Schedule:
- (b) The election laws and the laws relating to the qualification of parliamentary electors shall not, so far as they relate to elections of members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, be altered by the Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland.
- (c) On the appointed day, the members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall vacate their seats, and writs shall as soon as conveniently may be, be issued for the purpose of holding an election of members to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the constituencies, mentioned in Parts I and II of the Second Schedule to this Act.
LORD KILLANIN moved to delete from the clause the first three lines ending with the words "have effect," and to insert—
So long as any of the duties and taxes mentioned in section twenty-one of this Act shall continue to be a reserved matter, the number of members to be returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United
Kingdom, and the constituencies returning those members shall not be altered by this Act, but if and when the powers of taxation and the powers of imposing and charging customs duties and excise duties reserved by this Act shall be transferred to the Parliament and Government of Ireland, or to the Parliaments and Governments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, the following provisions shall have effect unless and until the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall otherwise determine:—
§ The noble Lord said: My Amendment to Clause 18 is put down in order to secure that until a certain stage is reached which is contemplated in connection with this Bill—namely, the handing over to Ireland of the powers of taxation which are reserved in Clause 20—Irish representation in this House of Commons should not be changed. When I say it should not be changed, I am not going into the question as to whether Ireland is over-represented. I know that a great deal can be said about the fact that Ireland is over-represented, and I used to think so myself until a couple of years ago. We had then 103 Members, but the Government brought in a Bill only two years ago raising the number to 105, and that made me doubt whether we ever had been over-represented. I am quite willing to take the figure mentioned by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, in his speech on the Second Reading in his suggestion that the true representation of Ireland at present would be 69. If my proposal would commend itself more to the Government, if instead of suggesting that the representation of Ireland should remain as it is I suggested that it should be changed to the figure of 69 until the event to which I refer, namely the taxation of Ireland, is handed over to the Irish Government, I personally would be quite willing to agree with that.
§ What is the position at present under this Bill? It is true that a certain number of Irish matters which I do not deny are important are being handed over to the Irish Parliaments. So far so good. But as long as the House of Commons is going to retain all the powers of the taxation of Ireland, Ireland is entitled under the old principle of "no taxation without representation" to her proper share of representation in the taxing Chamber, which will be the House of Commons in this country. I submit that that is a perfectly plain statement, and that not to abide by it will create an obvious and glaring injustice in Ireland, one quite out-of-date and quite unfitted in these days of con- 948 stitutional Government. That Irish representation should be reduced to some small insignificant quota, such as 46 in a House of 700, when almost all the powers of taxation of Ireland are being retained in the House of Commons in this country, would create a glaring injustice.
§ Let me give you the figures as regards the amount of taxation that is retained. The two Irish Parliaments will be concerned with the raising of £3,500,000; that is what is handed over to the two Irish Parliaments; but the House of Commons will retain powers of taxation in reference to £48,500,000 of the revenue of Ireland.
§ Six percent of the total revenue of Ireland will be raised by the Irish Parliaments, but 94 percent is to be raised by this House of Commons. Yet you reduce our representation in that Assembly where almost the entire amount of the taxation of the country is to be decided on to the insignificant figure of 46 in a House of over 700. I say if you do not make some change in this Bill you will on this matter be committing a perfectly obvious, glaring, unconstitutional, and out-of-date injustice to Ireland.
§ That is the main point of my Amendment. But I might give one or two additional reasons why Ireland's representation should not be reduced to this imperial quota figure of 46. A number of Irish services are still going to be reserved; all trade matters between Ireland and outside will be exclusively decided in this House of Commons; the control of land purchase and of postal services is left to this House of Commons. The management of the Royal Irish Constabulary and of the Dublin Metropolitan Police will remain in this House of Commons for a time. If these matters are going to be exclusively decided on this side why should we not have a proper representation in this House of Commons? It is almost comic to think of a member of the Irish House of Commons being elected and going to Dublin, as he imagines, to take part in the government of his country. He will have to sit in Dublin twiddling his thumbs while he observes a foreign Parliament over here settling the whole taxation of his country. The position will be monstrous, and quite indefensible in my opinion.
§ In reference to the Imperial contribution of £18,000,000 which is doubtless as the Bill stands a fixed sum, you may ask, What has it to do with the Irish? Has the 949 expenditure of →our →Imperial →contribution →nothing to do with us? You may fix the sum we raise, but do we take no interest in how it is expended? Are we to take no interest at all in future in the military and naval policy of this country to which this Imperial contribution goes? I may tell your Lordships that in the past one of the great grievances of Ireland has been the neglect of any form of Imperial patronage or Imperial expenditure in Ireland. We have never had our share of Imperial expenditure. I might mention a personal incident in reference to that matter. When I was elected some twenty years ago member for the Borough of Galway, having beaten the Nationalists, I thought it my duty when I came to this country to see if I could get any Imperial patronage or expenditure in Galway. I went first of all to the Admiralty Office where I saw two very important officials. I explained that I was Member for Galway and that Galway was on the sea. I said that a British man-of-war had not been in Galway Bay for a generation. I pointed out that as long as the Duke of Edinburgh was living he was rather fond of coming round with the Fleet to Galway, where there is good fishing and a good club. Unfortunately, His Royal Highness had died some years back, and since then not a single man-of-war had been in Galway Bay. A generation had grown up in the west of Ireland which did not know what a man-of-war was.
§ These officials said "You are Member for Galway. Galway! Where is Galway?" And one of them said "Galway is Tarbert," and I said "No, that is sixty miles from Galway at the mouth of the Shannon." He then said "It is in the Killaries," and I said "No, that is fifty miles north. H you get me a map I will point out where it is." I got a map and pointed it out. The result of the representations was that H.M.S. Camperdown, a man-of-war, was sent to Galway where it spent three weeks. There was a full complement of men but no provisions on board. All provisions were bought in Galway. The price of lobsters and chickens went up all over the place. Excursion trains were arranged from Ballinasloe, Castlebar, and other towns to see the amazing thing there was in Galway Bay called a than-of-war. It was old and out of date, but the people had never seen one at all. Five thousand people visited it. That is an instance of the difficulty we have of receiving any Imperial patron- 950 age in Ireland. I ceased to be Member and it was not my business to look after matters, and in the interval until the war still no British man-of-war visited Galway Bay. But I recollect seeing twelve German men-of-war in that bay.
§ hope I have laid before your Lordships the reasons why I consider that even in the distribution and expenditure of Imperial contributions we are entitled to our representation. I repeat that my main point is in reference to the taxation of the country. It seems to me a monstrous injustice that you should reduce our representation—to what? What is forty six? It is Ireland's possible Imperial quota if there was a Federal Government. But why should Ireland be given only the Imperial quota that we would have under the Federal system when England, Scotland and Wales retain their full representation? When they are reduced to their Imperial quotas, we of course will recognise our right to be reduced also. So long as 94 per cent. of the taxation of Ireland is going to be raised and collected by this Parliament it seems the most obvious injustice that. Ireland should not have a fair share of representation which I should be willing to allow to be based on her population.
Page 18, line 32, leave out front the beginning of the line to the end of line 44, and insert the said words—(Lord Killanin.)
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I think this is a question of the very first importance, and those who remember the history of previous Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893 and the Act now on the Statute Book will realise what an amount of discussion has been given to it and what difficulty has been caused. There are two sets of considerations, both, as I think, possessing real validity but opposed to each other, the respective weight of which your Lordships will have to consider.
There are those, as will appear from the Paper, from the identical Amendments of my noble friend and myself, who conceive that if you are passing a Home Rule measure at all the disadvantages attaching to the presence of Irish Members in the House of Commons are so great that their presence ought to be dispensed with altogether. I will not say anything on that because that comes as a later Amendment. On the other hand, there are those, like my noble friend to whose speech we 951 have listened with such delight, who fix upon the principle that taxation and representation go together and therefore demand that so long as a great part of the taxation to be exacted from Ireland is a matter not for the Irish Parliament but for the House of Commons there should be a large and, as my noble friend hopes, if possible a full representation of Irish Members in the House of Commons.
I have merely risen to explain that I cannot support the Amendment of my noble friend, because he proposes that after what he conceives to be a temporary condition when there would be a hundred or more Irish Members remaining in the House of Commons—even after that, if and when these duties, powers of taxation and powers of imposing Customs Duties have been transferred to Ireland—there should still remain the representation provided in the Bill. I really do not very much care, if the Bill is to stand, whether the number of Members is 45 or 69 or 102. I shall be able to explain later the objections which I entertain to the presence of any Irish Members whatever, but in no circumstances, I fear, could I vote for the Amendment of my noble friend, worded as it is.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The Amendment, and the only Amendment, before the House is to the effect that Ireland shall retain her present representation in the United Kingdom House of Commons when Customs Duties and Excise Duties are transferred to the Irish Parliament or Irish Parliaments. I really cannot believe that the noble Lord is likely to find very much support for this particular proposal. It has been a grievance, against which a loud and hitherto vain voice of protest have been raised for generations, that a wholly undue weight has been given to Ireland in the House of Commons. It has been a weight which has been used, as many of us believe, with very great prejudice to the fortunes of British politics, and this solid block of votes has been transferred at times to the great political Parties, not merely in order to give effect to a purpose in which the Irish nation profoundly believes, but to give effect to other purposes as a condition of bargaining, in which it was notorious the Irish nation and the Irish representatives took not the slightest interest.
952 No one, I think, in these circumstances would be prepared to accept the Amendment of the noble Lord in its existing form. The noble Lord, indeed, indicated that he might be prepared to accept a compromise under which some other number might be substituted. That being so, I would venture to suggest to the noble Lord that, inasmuch as his Amendment is immediately followed by one which other noble Lords put forward it might be of great assistance to noble Lords generally if we had the advantage of hearing their views, which would leave it still open to the noble Lord, if he wished to do so after hearing the discussion, to put down on the Report stage, not his present proposal, which I think he recognises as unacceptable, but the alternative figure of 67 or 68. I think the noble Lord will agree that it is an advantage to hear the other case strongly put by those who hold it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
THE EARL OF SELBORNEhad Amendments on the Paper to substitute for paragraphs (a) (b) and (c) of Clause 18 the following—
After the appointed day no member shall be returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
On the appointed day, the members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall vacate their seats.
§ The noble Earl said: I think, notwithstanding what the noble and learned Lord has said, it will be more for the convenience of the House if we take the debate on the Amendment of Lord Stuart of Wortley and then the Amendment of Lord Crewe, which is the same as mine. Therefore I do not propose to move these Amendments.
LORD STUART OF WORTLEYmoved, at the end of clause, to insert the following new paragraphs—
(d) Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom returned by Irish constituencies as hereinbefore provided shall not vote or otherwise take part in proceedings upon Bills resolutions or other questions arising in the United Kingdom Parliament with regard to matters in Great Britain or any part thereof, as to which, if they arose with regard to Ireland or any part of Ireland, either of the Parliaments or Houses or the Council mentioned in clauses one, two, three or four of this Act would have jurisdiction.
(e) Questions as to the ascertainment or definition of the matters or occasions to which the prohibitions and disabilities contained in paragraph (d) should apply shall rest with the Speaker of the House of Commons, subject only to such reconsideration or directions as may be enjoined or given to him by the majority of the members of the House of Commons elected by constituencies in Great Britain.
§ The noble Lord said: If it is your Lordships' pleasure I rise to move the Amendment of which I have given notice. I have endeavoured to draw it in such a manner that it shall tell its own story, to show the mischief at which it is aimed and the remedy it proposes to apply. The mischief at which my Amendment is aimed has already been glanced at in speeches made to your Lordships, but I do not know what the attitude of the Government is going to be. It is open to the noble Lord, the Lord Chancellor, to speak of the circumstances in which, the manner in which, and the lack of authority with which this Amendment is now proposed, and I shall doubtless be reminded that either in 1886 or in 1893 Mr. Gladstone said that to attempt discrimination of functions, such as is attempted in this Amendment, is a thing which passes the wit of man. Your Lordships may remember that Mr. Gladstone at one time made himself responsible for a proposal under which there should be no Irish Members in the Imperial House, and at another time for a proposal that there should be a limited number.
§ In what I should venture to call the somewhat over-fastidious days of mid-Victorian statesmanship it may very well have appeared that definition was impossible, and that the discriminations and demarcations which were desired were impracticable; but my case to-day is that a great deal has happened since then. We have attempted much more difficult definitions. We have put them into Acts of Parliament, and made criminal penalities hang upon them. We have defined not only "hoarding" but have actually 'coined a new word, "profiteering," and not only put it into the English language but into a penal Statute.
§ The mischief at which I aim is to be very shortly stated. We do not like in Great Britain a state of things in which our public houses, our schools, and our Churches can be deprived of their resources or any other of their attributes by persons who 954 are completely strangers to those questions. It is quite true that the Irish Parliaments will not have the power to endow a Church, but, as I read the clause, they will have power to endow one, and very likely they will proceed to exercise that power, and it may be remembered as we remember with great pain that a Church in Great Britain was disendowed largely by the votes of Members of the United Kingdom House who had no concern in the affairs of that Church except what I may tall the indirect influence of political alliance—a power which they ought not to have had.
§ Last night the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, with a sense of proportion which was no more than just, selected the two most prominent counties in England—Yorkshire and Hertfordshire—and said that they were not going to have their affairs dealt with by Irishmen in the Imperial Parliament unless those counties were given a like power of dealing with Irish affairs, which they were not going to have; and he said also that it was impossible to conceive such a state of things being allowed long low to continue. He said that it must lead in the end to federal devolution. But I am not content to have this state of injustice used as a mere leverage for federal devolution. For my part I cannot say that I am in love with the prospect of having to face what Mr. Balfour, I believe, in another place very wittily described as "seeing England cut up into lengths to suit the Irish standard."
§ There is one other recommendation for my Amendment. I think there is a great deal to be said for many of the considerations which were just now urged by my noble friend Lord Killanin. It is clear that if there is going to be a contribution to Imperial expenditure from the Kingdom of Ireland you have to settle in some way or another the relations between the Imperial House and the Irish representation in it. I submit that my Amendment, if it is passed, and if it eliminates these most objectionable matters of controversy and delivers us from the sense of this galling injustice, which is much greater than is usually supposed, leaves us free to make a much closer approach to the strict canons of justice in adjusting to Imperial burdens the representation in the Imperial House in the future. I said something about practicability as distinguished from principle.955
§ Your Lordships will see that I have not shrunk from the questions of definition and enforcement.
§ In making arrangements which must be internal to the other branch of the Legislature one has to approach the matter with very great care and great respect for existing institutions, and I submit that I have done so with all that proper respect. No one can conceive of the decision remaining in other hands than those of the present Speaker of the present House, but when speaking of the practice of angling for Irish votes, which is the source of all the evils at which my Amendment is aimed, you have to contemplate some future day when the presiding officer may be swept away by the old temptation. I have provided that in that case there should be some kind of appeal to the[...]majority of those who suffer from the evils at which my Amendment is aimed, and I submit that my Amendment will for the first time, and by no means too soon, make the members of the Imperial House of Commons really and truly, as well as in form, masters in their own House.
Page 19, line 17, at end insert the said new paragraphs.—(Lord Stuart of Wortley.)
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
The House has listened with great attention to the speech in which my noble friend behind me moved his interesting Amendment. It would be difficult for me not to trench to some extent, in saying a few words upon it, upon the subject-matter of the next Amendment—that is to say, the proposition to exclude the Irish Members altogether—and I hope I may be forgiven if I do so. What strikes me is that my noble friend looked at the matter entirely from the point of view of this country and of the interests of England in the House of Commons, almost one might say as an English Sinn Feiner, and with no reference to what the interests of Ireland might he in this matter.
I have always held that the presence of the Irish Members in the House of Commons under such a Bill as this when it becomes an Act would lead to distinct mischiefs, those on the one hand which Lord Stuart of Wortley has dealt with—that is to say, the obvious impropriety, in the circumstances which would arise, of British matters being possibly settled by Irish votes—and on the other hand there is the objec- 956 tion, which I feel quite as strongly from the point of view of a Home Rule measure, that it is a supreme disadvantage that Irish matters, after a Bill of this kind becomes an Act, should become the subject of discussion in the House of Commons. Against that the noble Lord's Amendment provides no safeguard. On the contrary, it almost provides encouragement, because if Irish Members are to be sent to the House of Commons representing Irish constituencies they will desire to occupy themselves by the discussion of Irish matters, and we shall see, I greatly fear, a repetition of what so often occurred in the past—namely, that a great deal of time is taken up and a great many tempers are lost over discussion on the floor of the House of Commons of some purely Irish question.
I do not know whether it is conceived by some that the presence of Irish Members in another place is going to act as a protection to minorities in Ireland. If that belief is held, I consider it to be mistaken in the hope of its results, and also likely to produce serious mischief. If you are going to start an Irish Parliament or Parliaments you must as far as possible leave it or them alone; you cannot revert to the practice with which you are so familiar of perpetual Irish discussions here. So far as protection of minorities is concerned, if the idea is that some Roman Catholic from Belfast who supposes that he has a grievance can get some Nationalist Irish Member to bring it up in the House of Commons, or that some Protestant in the South of Ireland who has a parallel grievance can get some Unionist Member (if that is the proper phrase) to bring it up, then I venture to think that is a delusion, and can only lead to trouble. Those who had a grievance in the past on the question of Home Rule have always maintained that the sense of responsibility in the Irish Parliament would bring about a sobriety of judgment and of action greater than that which has existed in the past. I am quite content to rely upon that now, either for the Northern or Southern Parliament. I do not want to have Irish grievances dragged up before the tribunal of the British Parliament. Therefore I should greatly prefer to see the Irish Members altogether standing out of the House of Commons, and I hope that your Lordships may be disposed to take that view.
I quite agree that to a certain extent my noble friend's Amendment does meet 957 the case, assuming it to be possible to do now what in the past was considered to be impossible—namely, to arrive at a real and workable distinction between British matters and matters which affect Ireland as well. I cannot think that the task would be quite so simple as my noble friend appears to hope. I do not know what has happened since 1893 to make one suppose that the task of definition will be so much easier now than it was then. I confess that I would sooner see my noble friend's Amendment carried than see the Bill stand as it is now printed, but I hope that your Lordships will not refuse to give consideration to the further Amendment for which my noble friend Lord Selborne and I are responsible.
There is, of course—and one has to face it—the formidable difficulty of the matter of taxation. We should solve that difficulty in a different way by giving Ireland far more control over taxation, but even as it is I venture to say that, pending the time when Ireland can be responsible for her own taxation and has the control over her own Customs and Excise, I would sooner, were I an Irishman, agree to be taxed for a term of years without any representation, rather than send Members to the House of Commons in the circumstances which I have tried to describe. I do not know, for I have not had the opportunity of discovering, what Irish opinion as a whole is on this matter. I cannot believe that Irishmen are particularly anxious to come to Westminster in the new circumstances, and the best talent of Ireland ought to be used in the Irish Parliament. If it comes over here and is tempted to engage in the sterile controversies of this Parliament, Ireland will suffer, and we shall suffer too; and I cannot help thinking that, if one had the opportunity of finding out what Irishmen as a whole think on this matter, they would prefer, even though they cannot get control over their own taxes, to stand away from Westminster for a time until the whole matter can be regularised by giving them fiscal and financial control, when naturally no question of representation need arise.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
The concluding sentence of my noble friend who has just spoken should allow me to put very briefly before your Lordships what seem to me very serious considerations. 958 If the view he has just put forward is adopted we have three proposals before us. The Government proposal to bring 46 Members to Westminster for all purposes; the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Stuart of Wortley, to bring the same number here but to allow them to debate and vote only on Imperial questions which affect Ireland and taxation; and then the suggestion of the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, that for the time they shall not attend Westminster at all although they are going to be taxed. Even if all Ireland said, "We would rather not come to Westminster," I assure your Lordships that we could not make a greater blunder than to supply those who will sit in the new Parliament and who cannot be parties to this arrangement with the first-class grievances that they are going to be taxed without representation.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
We discussed this matter at very great length two years ago. I allude to those discussions because they are the only opportunities we have had for testing Irish opinion, and I frankly admit that the very great responsibilities and important functions of coming to Westminster were not, as far as we could see, properly appreciated by those who had been sitting there in the past. The moment you took that privilege away you would have a complete revulsion of feeling throughout Ireland. We must put into the background, and I am not going to argue it now, the very strong and united determination of the whole of the South that they should have the control of the whole of their taxation. But it must be remembered that the trade between Great Britain and Ireland amounts to £250,000,000 annually, and have heard it said by a first-class statistician, though I have not been able to verify it, that it amounts to something like 40 per cent. of the whole trade of this country. I can hardly believe it, but it amounts to the sum I have mentioned, and the whole of that trade and all the provisions with regard to it must be in the hands of the Parliament at Westminster under the Bill. It would never do that we should put Ireland in the position of being able to say that the whole of that business was transacted behind her back.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
Therefore I would urge your Lordships to accept the view that Ireland should be represented here possibly in rather larger numbers than the Government suggests (though that might be considered before the Report stage), but in the circumstances which my noble friend Lord Stuart of Wortley proposes.
The noble Marquess said, "Has anything much changed since 1893?" It is a very small question in such big considerations, but one thing has changed remarkably and that is the whole treatment of the Estimates by the House of Commons. In the days when Mr. Gladstone found such difficulty Estimates came up on quite a different system. Now there is a limited number of days, and the assigning of the day has always been held, as I understand it, by the authorities of the House and the Prime Minister—those who have been more recently in the House of Commons will correct me if I am wrong—to be adjusted according to the wishes of the particular part of the House they desire to discuss. Nothing would be easier than to mass together the questions which Irishmen have to consider and take them on days that were convenient to the Irish Members and so prevent them being called over too frequently. That is a comparatively small question.
There is one, however, that I would ask my noble friend Lord Stuart of Wortley to consider. In the last paragraph of his Amendment he suggests that the decision of what subjects are Irish and what are British should rest with the Speaker of the House of Commons "subject only to such reconsideration or direction as may be enjoined or given to him by the majority of the members of the House of Commons elected by constituencies in Great Britain." Two points arise on that. First of all, I should be sorry to see this House decide how the House of Commons is to advise its Speaker.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I should be very sorry if partial advice was secured for the Speaker on a question which so vitally affects the Irish Members—who will be by hypothesis in a very small minority—because they were excluded from advising him. I desire to support my noble friend's Amendment, and when the proper 960 time comes I will move that all words after "Speaker of the House of Commons" shall be left out.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
Like the noble Earl who has just sat down I was a Member of the House of Commons when the Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893 were before that House and had a good deal to do with drafting the latter Bill. Therefore I hope your Lordships will allow me to say a few words with regard to the different alternatives as they presented themselves then to the Cabinet and to the House of Commons. I must begin by admitting that what Mr. Gladstone said in those days has been verified by subsequent experience. It has passed the wit of man to devise any satisfactory or logical arrangement.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
The arrangement which the noble Lord, Lord Stuart of Wortley, proposes is not quite logical but it comes nearer to logic than any other suggestion which has been made yet.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
It was proposed in 1886 that the Irish Members should not come to the House of Commons at all, and Mr. Parnell acquiesced in that arrangement. It was proposed then as a means of reconciling the Conservative Party in Parliament to the Home Rule Bill upon the ground that it would rid them of the presence of the Irish Members. That was the ground upon which it was supposed it would please them, and it was one of the grounds which Mr. Parnell was willing to admit had its force. The objection taken then was that it would amount to a practical declaration that Ireland was going to be separate and that it would look like bidding good-bye to Ireland. That argument prevailed so much that in the long run instead of helping the Bill to pass it was one of the causes which contributed to its defeat.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
In 1893 we were obliged to try some other plan and after a great deal of hesitation we decided upon a plan like that which my noble friend Lord Stuart of Wortley now puts forward. 961 The Irish Members were to be reduced in number to some extent though not altogether in proportion to the population, and it was to be provided that whenever a question arose which did not affect Ireland but affected the rest of the United Kingdom the Irish Members were to go out and not vote upon it. The only precedent we could find for that proposal was the system which then existed in the Hungarian Parliament to which Croatia was attached, and the Croat Members in the Hungarian Diet were allowed to come in and vote on questions which related to Hungary and Croatia taken together but not upon questions which related to Hungary alone At the very last moment in the House of Commons itself certain difficulties arose which made the Government throw over that proposal which was called the "in and out clause," and was made the object of such great derision by Opposition speakers that ultimately it was thrown over and we fell back upon the perfectly illogical proposition that Ireland should have a Legislature of her own and yet should have full powers over English and Scottish questions
Those were both highly illogical propositions but the most logical of the three was the solution which Lord Stuart of Wortley now proposes. I will not venture to argue the whole question because it will come up again upon the Amendment of the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe; therefore I will argue it only as against the Bill as it stands. As against the Bill as it stands, which proposes that the 46 Irish Members shall come to Westminster to speak and vote upon all questions, my noble friends' Amendment seems to be a distinct improvement. It comes nearer to logic, and it relieves the House of Commons from part at least of the difficulties which have confronted it by the presence of Irish Members—who, be it remembered, have no responsibility as regards English questions. The real trouble of having Irish Members voting on all questions in the House of Commons is that they are not responsible. They are there merely—if I may use a rather offensive term in an inoffensive sense—they are there in the market. They are there to be induced to vote for one or other party in connection with matters in which they are not interested themselves, and in which their constituents are not interested.
962 On the other hand, if you exclude them altogether, you are met by the very great difficulty that you have reserved foreign policy for the United Kingdom, and Irish Members are certainly entitled to have a voice on foreign policy; you have reserved the Army and Navy, and Irish Members are entitled to vote upon that; and if there were a Member for Galway now, as unfortunately there is not, be would still be able to bring a man-of-war round to Galway. And there is one point which has not yet been noticed—it is not a matter often likely to arise, but it might arise—and that is the discretion which is to be given to the Lord Lieutenant by the Imperial Government. If the Lord Lieutenant is directed by the Imperial Government to take a certain course, that is a course which affects Irish Government, and that is a course in which Irish Members might reasonably claim to have a voice when it comes to be discussed.
On the whole, therefore, while reserving one's opinion upon the general question of the presence of Irish Members altogether till we conic to discuss that question separately on the Amendments that are next on the Paper, I venture to think that strong reasons exist why this House should prefer the proposals of ray noble friend Lord Stuart of Wortley to the Bill as it stands, and I do not see why the Government, on the principles of the Bill generally, should object to that solution. I believe that we thought at the time that it would be quite possible to draw a sufficiently clear line between Irish questions and other questions to enable the scheme to be worked as it was, in fact, worked, and with very little friction, in the Hungarian Diet. If my noble friend, therefore, goes to a Division I shall be very happy to support him.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
It is, I confess, to me a little astonishing that a proposal with so unfortunate a Parliamentary history should have met with such a considerable degree of support, and should have been attacked by no speaker. I should have thought that this particular proposal had had an extraordinarily unfortunate history. The noble Viscount who has just sat down, and who speaks with acknowledged authority upon these subjects in this House, is apparently in favour of the proposal. He finds it the most logical, and he intends to vote in favour as against the proposal which at present stands in the Bill. The noble 963 Viscount will understand the spirit in which I make this criticism when I say that I, for one, should be far more inclined to attach importance to what the noble Viscount did when he was in a position of responsibility and the Minister, than to what the noble Viscount advises now when, in relation to this Bill, he has only the responsibility of an ordinary member of the House.
The noble Viscount was, I think, a colleague in 1893, and a very important colleague of Mr. Gladstone's. These debates must have taken place over and over again between Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues. Every reader of contemporary history knows the anxiety and the difficulties which were occasioned by this proposal, and the noble Viscount has told your Lordships quite plainly that it was assailed with ridicule by its critics and opponents in the House of Commons. The noble Viscount is certainly not deficient in the power of repartee or in those gifts of historical and constitutional knowledge which would enable him to talk with his enemy in the gate; and no one will accuse the late Mr. Gladstone of being incompetent to reply to those who without good cause derided him. And vet we find that the noble Viscount's leader, Mr. Gladstone, and the noble Viscount, abandoning what he now thinks was the more logical course for a course which was obviously more open to attack than the present proposal of the Government—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Well, I think so; at any rate more open to the only attack which has been developed against the present proposals of the Government in this debate—the noble Viscount., I say, abandoning that, to-day asks your Lordships, at a time when he has not got the responsibility of these proposals, to say that this is the more logical course and therefore ought to be adopted. I have had my attention called (I do not now very often read these matters) to a speech that was made by Mr. Gladstone in 1893, when I think he was in retreat from the proposals which enlist the contemporary' enthusiasm of the noble Viscount. He said—I confess I myself hold that the inconvenience that would result from the Irish members leaving the House on certain occasions and coming back upon other occasions would be so great as to 964 utterly overpower any arguments that can be brought forward in support of the other proposition.I dare say the noble Viscount listened to that speech—he was a colleague of Mr. Gladstone—he obviously agreed with it, or with the policy, or he would not have continued on so important a matter to be a colleague of Mr. Gladstone. And, sharing as he did those views, so expressed by Mr. Gladstone, I hope I may say without any offence that it is a very easy thing for the noble Viscount to come forward when ethers are obliged to confront the difficulties which were too great for the noble Viscount at that time, and to recommend to us at this period of time a plan which was discredited and failed and was broken in the hands of the noble Viscount in 1893.
Criticism, not of an identical, but of a similar kind falls to be made on the subject of the very interesting speech just contributed by the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe. Lord Crewe adopted a very convenient course when he did not confine his observations to the strict subject-matter of this Amendment but, by anticipation, touched upon some of the topics which are more directly germane to his own. But the same reflection inevitably occurred to one when one was listening to Lord Crewe's speech. Lord Crewe conducted I think, the 1914 Bill through this House. Lord Crewe was a member of the Cabinet which decided all these things, and I myself remember that, with the activity which Oppositions in those days used to exhibit, in order that we might afford Ministers in the House of Commons every opportunity of explaining their policy from every angle which suggested itself to our ingenuity, it was our habit to put down every conceivable form of Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Lord Buckmaster is much cheered, I observe, by these reminiscences. In the course of that procedure we put down, first of all, an Amendment that the Irish Members should be altogether excluded, then an Amendment that the numbers should be reduced, and then an Amendment upon the in-and-out lines. I observe that—I was going to say the Opposition in this House, but shall I say those who are less enthusiastic about the policy contained in this Bill?—have, by an interesting reversion to an older practice, adopted 965 incidentally exactly the same practice in this debate to-night. When the debate took place on the in-and-out proposal in another place on the 1914 Bill I recall that I myself took a part, and, such are the ironical changes which the passage of years and intervening events have brought about that I recall with great vividness the arguments—far more forcibly put than I can pretend to put them to-night—by which the then colleagues of Lord Crewe proved in the House of Commons that this was a foolish and. grotesque proposal, which had died with Mr. Gladstone, and which no one who ever gave any intelligent or informed attention to this subject was ever in the least likely to revive. What I cannot understand is why it did not occur to Lord Crewe at that time that this was such a good idea. Why did not Lord Crewe press upon his colleagues that the proposal was a fortiori extremely illogical, and must have been almost revolting to the noble Marquess's view, because he would altogether abandon the Irish representation in the House of Commons? But it does puzzle me to understand why the noble Viscount was. acquiescent in this other policy, holding as he must have held, unless he has changed his mind since, the view on which he has spoken to-night, that we ought to adopt the in-and-out arrangement.
THE MAEQUEESS OF CREWE
I think I had better explain to the Lord Chancellor that I am far from supporting the Amendment.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
What I said was that if it could be worked—I do not believe it could—it would be preferable to keeping the Irish Members here for all purposes.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The slight embarrassment I feel with regard to the noble Marquess is caused by the reflection that there is only one crude test which we can apply in order to determine whether or not he supports the Amendment. He prefaced his speech with the remark that he intended to vote for it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am pleased to hear that I was mistaken. I confess the announcement caused me very great anxiety, and I withdraw entirely the observations I made on that point. Surely we may draw some lesson from the fact that whatever Home Rule Bill is brought forward—and sonic critics have proposed the in-and-out system—no Government of all the successive Governments that have dealt with this matter have themselves, after consultation and discussion and after taking the opinion of their experts, ever persevered with the proposal. It has always been the irresponsible people who have thought that this was a possible scheme, and I am not in the least impressed by the precedent of Hungary and Croatia with which the noble Viscount indulged us. It was to me a remarkable circumstance that in all the history of this subject the only two Governments who have been so ill-advised and so foolish as to make this experiment were the Hungarian Government in dealing with the Croats, and Mr. Gladstone and the noble Viscount opposite who ran away from their own proposals after they had been submitted to Parliamentary criticism.
We have the responsibility; we ploughed the same gloomy road which every one of our predecessors has done before us, and decided that in all these undesirable alternatives we were adopting that alternative which on the whole presented fewest difficulties. I hope your Lordships will not think it right in a matter of this kind to adopt this proposal against the strongly expressed views of those who have had to frame this Bill, who have had the best advice that is obtainable in doing so and who are able, as their authorities and supporters, to point to all those who have preceded them in this road.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
I hope that the House will not accept the Amendment. I was unfortunately out of the House and did not hear the speech of the mover, but the position is this, supposing this Bill becomes law with the Amendment. You have a Government dealing with some question which concerns Great Britain and does not concern Ireland. It might be that the Government was elected on some great wave of economy—an endeavour to carry out the old policy of retrenchment. Then you would have these Irish Members coining over here on some Irish grievance. There would be a minority in the House 967 of Commons against the Government, but the Irishmen would join with the minority which would thus become a majority, and the Government might be out about a week after it had been elected. Then the Irishmen, having settled their little quarrel with the Government, would go back to Ireland, and there would be a majority in the House of Commons again for the original Government. In that way you would have a Government "in and out" just as the Irishmen came and went. Mr. Gladstone tried it; he knew all the difficulties, and came to the conclusion that it passed the wit of man, and I am quite certain he was right.
§ LORD STUART OF WORTLEY
I do not know whether I ought to give way or not. Of one thing I was quite certain, that the Lord Chancellor, who has stated the case for the Government, would shelter himself not behind the substance of the Amendment but behind the question of authority. My whole case is that things are profoundly changed since the days of Mr. Gladstone. We have ourselves made the Speaker of the House of Commons the sole and final judge in certifying that which relates to the restriction of the powers of this House over Money Bills. And that is not the only case. Half the arguments against this Amendment have been to the effect that I was trying to deprive Irishmen of their powers over taxes contributed by themselves. Nothing of the kind is the case. On the contrary, my Amendment leaves entirely intact all those powers, and by its terms recognises that they ought to exist and that Irish Members ought to be present in the Imperial House to enforce those rights.
It is true that my Amendment ought to suffer some verbal alteration because Councils have been struck out of the Bill. I would substitute the word Senate. I am quite willing to adopt the suggestion of Lord Midleton that my Amendment should not seek a direct solution on this question otherwise than by saying it should be vested in the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is obvious, if you say it shall rest with the Speaker, that after all he is bound to act, and does act, subject to any direction that the House may give him. Finally, I hope your Lordships will consider that the energy and satire with which alone the Lord Chancellor is able to meet this Amendment are really the measure of its justice and essential necessity.
§ THE EARL OF ANCASTER
I hope that the noble Lord will go to a Division. have had the honour of as long an experience of the House of Commons as most noble Lords, and there was always this crying evil—that we considered that English matters time after time were governed and decided by Irishmen; matter, in which they should have no voice what ever. These things have been forgotter during the last few years. A large section of the Irish Parliamentary Party have decided to remain away from the House of Commons, and consequently have not voted there. People no longer think of the trouble and grievance from which we suffered in years past. When the Lon Chancellor bases his objection to the scheme on the fact that there might be close majority on some occasion between Parties in the House of Commons ark that these forty-six Irish Members might occasionally put the Government in 01 out, let me point out the grievance which has occurred in the past, and which will certainly occur again in the future, and that is that the Government majority in the House of Commons may entirely be made up of Members from Ireland and legislation will be forced upon England which the elected Members of Great Britain do not require.
To my mind, if such a Bill is to be acceptable to the British people, it can never be and never will be acceptable as long as you make Irishmen judges in English matters when we are not allowed one word in their affairs. I have fought as many Home Rule Bills as the Lord Chancellor, and from my experience of constituencies in a good many contested elections I have always found a rooted dislike among the British people to this government of England by Ireland. In many elections it has been of enormous strength to the Conservative Party that they have always opposed this scheme, and I hope they will continue to oppose it now.
§ VISCOUNT CAVE
As the House is going to a Division on this Amendment I should like to say a word about it. The question of the representation of Ireland in this Parliament in the case of Home Rule has often been discussed in both Houses. I think only three solutions have been proposed. One is the solution which is favoured by the noble Marquess opposite, that Irishmen should not be represented 969 here at all As to that I entirely agree with what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Midleton. I think it is impossible to maintain that proposal so long as the House of Commons retains its powers over taxation in Ireland. I will not discuss: it now, because we may have to discuss it later on.
The second proposal has been that Ireland should be fully represented in the House of Commons according to its population, but that there should be this kind of in-and-out clause which would confine the votes of Irish Members to questions in which they have an interest. That, again, has been Wily dealt with by the noble and learned Lord, and by the quotations which he has made from Mr. Gladstone and others. I am sure that if it were worth the trouble, one might find a hundred quotations from Mr. Chamberlain, from Lord Hartington when he bore that name, and from many members who debated with me in the House of Commons against this in-and-out proposal. I do not think it would be a workable proposal, and I am sure it would introduce great confusion into our whole Parliamentary system to have a varying majority in the House of Commons.
The third proposal has been this, Let Ireland be represented; let her representatives vote upon all questions, but reduce their numbers—that is, give Ireland a fewer number of Members than her population would justify. 1t is on that proposal that finally the Liberal Party settled down. They have proposed before, and the Government propose to-day, that because Ireland is not interested in all questions the number of her Members shall be reduced, but that because of the difficulty in working the in-and-out clause they shall have the right to vote on all questions.
Those are the three proposals. The proposal of my noble friend opposite, Lord Stuart of Wortley, agrees with none of the three because he adopts the reduction of numbers which is in the Bill—the number given is forty-six instead of the due proportion of sixty-nine—but to that reduced number he applies his in-and-out scheme. That is hardly fair to Ireland. If they are to vote only on questions affecting Ireland, Ireland should be fully represented for the purpose of those votes. This is a hybrid proposal.
§ VISCOUNT CAVE
I do not think the noble Lord dealt with this point in his speech. I accept, of course, the noble Lord's statement that he did say that, but at all events that is not the effect of his Amendment. We have passed the number forty-six; that stands in the Bill. It is on that number that he would attempt to graft his in-and-out clause. With great respect to the noble Lord I do not think that would be a fair thing to do, and I think we ought to take the course which, after many discussions, has been found to be the only one really workable—that is, to allow Ireland to be represented by diminished numbers but to let them vote on all questions.
§ LORD STUART OF WORTLEY
I argued expressly that if my Amendment were adopted it would leave Parliament not only free but unafraid to raise the number of Irish Members in the imperial House to what justice and taxation might require.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
The real truth is that none of these three proposals will stand examination for a minute. All these three plans are unworkable. Every one of them can be destroyed in argument. All we have to do is to choose the one we dislike least. My noble friend who has just spoken has put to you the case against the in-and-out arrangement, and the case against exclusion. Let me put the case against the proposal of the Government. You have a reduced number of Irish Members, but that number of 46 is quite enough, with the aid of a minority of British Members in the House of Commons, to force on the majority of British people any legislation, constitutional, physical, or social, to which they object. The Church of England might be disestablished and disendowed by the help of Irish votes against the votes of the great majority of the English people. You might have a certain system of taxation fixed on the whole of Great Britain against the wishes of the majority of the British people by the Irish vote, and all the time the only object which the 46 Irish Members in the House of Commons would have would be to sell their votes, not for their personal gain, but in order to get some improvement as they considered in the conditions of the Irish Constitution—in fact, the absolute destruction of the British Party system of Government in the House of Commons.
971 With all those three hideous alternatives to choose front, I say that the alternative of the Government is the most hideous; the alternative of my noble friend behind me is a better one, but best of all is that of Lord Crewe and myself.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
The noble Lord omits the last four lines of his Amendment, and I understand proposes to substitute the word "Senates" for the word "Council"—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Might I ask whether it is really his desire that this proposal should leave the House under circumstances which make the House of Lords impose this burden upon Mr. Speaker?
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
The noble Lord omits the last four lines of paragraph (e) and suggests the substitution of the word "Senates" for "Council" at the end of paragraph (d)?
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
Then the Amendment, as amended, is to insert the following new paragraphs—(d) Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom returned by Irish constituencies as hereinbefore provided shall not vote or otherwise take part in proceedings upon Bills resolutions or other questions arising in the United Kingdom Parliament with regard to matters in Great Britain or any part thereof, as to which, if they arose with regard to Ireland or any part of Ireland, either of the Parliaments or Houses or the Senates mentioned in clauses one, two, three or four of this Act would have jurisdiction.(e) Questions as to the ascertainment or definition of the matters or occasions to which the prohibitions and disabilities contained in paragraph (d) should apply shall rest with the Speaker of the House of Commons.
§ On Question, whether the proposed new paragraphs, as altered, be inserted in the clause?—
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 43; Not-Contents, 81.973
|Bedford, D.||Selborne, E.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Northumberland, D.||Stanhope, E.||Farnham, L.|
|Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Lincolnshire. M (L. Great Chamberlain.).)||Bangor, V.||Holm Patrick, L|
|Bryce, V.||Islington, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Falmouth, V.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Ancaster, E. [Teller.]||Killanin, L.|
|Devon, E.||Askwith, L.||Kilmaine, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Avebury, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Barrymore, L.||Monteagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Drogheda, E.||Bellew, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Fortescue, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam)||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Grey, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Redesdale, L.|
|Mayo, E.||de Mauley, L.||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Midleton, E.||Dynevor, L.||Stuart of Wortley, L. [Teller.]|
|Morton, E.||Erskine, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Reading, E.||Atkinson, L.|
|Roden, E.||Balfour, L.|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Sandwich, E.||Belper, L.|
|Ailsa, M.||Strafford, E.||Boston, L.|
|Bath, M.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Buckmaster, L.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M.||Wicklow, E.||Cheylesmore, L.|
|Linlithgow, M.||Clwyd, L.|
|Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Colebrooke, L,|
|Albemarle, E.||Cave, V.||Cozens-Hardy, L.|
|Bradford, E.||De Vesci, V.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe)|
|Chesterfield, E.||Falkland, V.||Decies, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Finlay, V.||Doramore, L.|
|Howe, E.||Hood, V.||Desborough, L.|
|Lovelace, E.||Knollys, V.||Emmott, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Peel, V.||Ernle, L.|
|Lytton, E.||St. Davids, V.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Faringdon, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Armaghdale, L.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall)|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Hemphill, L.||Muir Mackenzie, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)||Sempill, L.|
|Kilbracken, L.||Phillimore, L.||Shandon, L.|
|Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)||Queenborough, L.||Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]|
|Lamington, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)||Stanmore, L. [Teller.)|
|Lee of Farcham, L.||Rathcreedan, L.||Sumner, L.|
|Meston, L.||Riddell, L.||Treowen, L.|
|Monk Bretton, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)|
|Monteagle of Brandon, L.||Ruthven of Gowrie, L.||Wolverton, L.|
On Question, Amendment negatived Clause 18 agreed to.
§ Resolved in thenegative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ THE MARQUESS OF CREWEmoved to leave out Clause 18. The noble Marquess said: I can spare your Lordships any detailed speech on the question as to whether this clause should stand part of the Bill, because, by the courtesy of the House, I was allowed to say something on the subject of this Amendment when the last was being discussed, and indeed it was very difficult to avoid doing so. Perhaps, however, I may point out—not repeating what I said about what appears to me to be the serious disadvantage, from the point of view of Ireland and the success of the Irish Parliaments, which is the matter we have to consider, of the presence of Irish Members in the House of Commons—that the whole question turns upon this matter of taxation without representation That, I take it, is the big fence which has to be got over before my Amendment and that of my noble friend can be accepted.
§ I repeat that if it is the desire of Ireland, as we so often are told it is, to get within a reasonable space of time more control over her own finance—powers of taxation and dealing with Customs and Excise—she is infinitely more likely to get this if she agrees for a time to taxation without being represented than if she accepts the position proposed by the Bill—that is to say, limited representation at Westminster. If she accepts the latter, I venture to think that it is a position which is not likely to be reversed within any time that we can look forward to. I do not doubt that there are others who welcome this notion of Irish representation at Westminster, because it stamps the Irish Parliaments with the badge of inferiority. There are some people—I dare say there are some in your Lordships' House—who, objecting to the whole scheme, dislike the title of "Parliament" being conferred upon these new bodies, and would prefer to have them called 974 Provincial Councils or something of the kind; and they—I hope they are not very numerous—hold that their position is reinforced by the presence of the Irish Members at Westminster. There, again, I venture to think that if those views are favoured it is all to the bad as regards the success of the new experiment of the Irish Parliament. I do not wish to labour the matter further. I would merely once more express a strong view that it will be wise, for many reasons, both for those connected with purely British and Imperial politics on the one hand and those connected with Irish politics on the other, that Irish Members should stand out altogether from Westminster.
§ Amendment moved—
§ Leave out Clause 18—(The Marquess of Crewe.)
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
I was a Home Ruler in my humble way long before the noble Marquess. I fought the election of 1886 and the election of 1892, both unfortunately unsuccessfully, in my county on the principle of Home Rule. I had the honour of the friendship of Mr. Gladstone, and he encouraged me very much to stand, but I told him frankly that I would never consent to eliminate the Irish Members from Westminster. I thought that that was the badge and importance of the whole system, that we were to keep the Irish Parliament as a subordinate Parliament; and I cannot for the life of me understand any Unionist, taking any other course. You may say that that was a relic of original sin left in me—the sin of Unionism was left in me to that extent; that I never would have consented to put' the Irish Parliament in a position coordinate with that of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
I heard Lord Salisbury speak last night on what he considered the inequality of Irishmen coming and voting on our domestic affairs when we could not vote upon their domestic affairs. We can. We reserve control of the whole of the Irish system 975 by the last clause, and we can if necessary, after the Act passes, settle whether there shall be one or two postmen in Ballynahinch. One hears about the Irish taking no interest in British matters, and therefore of their being disposed to sell their votes. Are there no purely Scottish matters in which Englishmen have no interest, except that of being inhabitants of one Kingdom? Are there no purely English matters in which Scotsmen have no interest? Were the English people prevented from voting OH the last Scottish Patronage Bill or the Scottish Assembly Bill, or were the Scottish people prevented from voting on the Bill for the disestablishment of the Church in Wales? The common bond of being people of the United Kingdom entitles us to take our share in the affairs of each district. The United Parliament rules Yorkshire as it rules the County of Cork. It rules in Dublin as it rules in London, and I trust it may always continue so to do.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will imitate the conciseness of the noble Marquess who moved the Amendment, because most of us have spoken on this subject before. I do not really think that those who are inclined to support this Amendment can have explored all the consequences. Lord Selborne modestly announced that this proposal was the best.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Earl said this is the least hideous. Let us work out what would happen if this proposal were adopted. Let us examine it in relation to two or three matters, such as finance, the Army and Navy, and Imperial affairs. What would be our position face to face with our enemies all the world over if we continued to tax Ireland for every purpose, if we determined all policy Naval and Military and compelled them to pay their share of that policy, and yet denied them, when they ask for it, their right to conic and make themselves heard in the British House of Commons? What Lord Midleton said is profoundly true. It is quite true that they almost make it a grievance at present when elected, and that under existing and I trust fugitive circumstances many of them do not come at all, but the moment excluded them we should put ourselves in a hopeless position. Imagine the plat- 976 forms in the United States of America. What did America quarrel with us about? What was the beginning of the bitter quarrel which lost us the American Colonies? "No representation, no taxation." That cry would be raised everywhere in the whole of our self-governing dominions, and we should have no answer because it would be right, it would be founded upon actual facts.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I need not say that a real Unionist, in which I distinguish myself from several members of His Majesty's Government—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble and learned Lord is very apt to interrupt, and I do not always follow his interruption.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I was saying that a true Unionist has witnessed this debate with nothing but feelings of satisfaction. We have observed as each alternative has been moved dealing with this particular problem what hopeless difficulties beset each one of them, and I have no doubt that the noble and learned Lord when representing the Unionist Party in another place destroyed them all. I venture to say to Lord Phillimore that if he relies upon the technical power of the Imperial Parliament which is secured by a late clause in the Bill to protect the British elector from the unfair arrangement which the Government proposal will produce, I really think he is relying upon a technicality and nothing more.
Once Home Rule is established the practice of Parliament will become that e should not interfere with purely Irish affairs. No doubt there might be extreme cases in which we should, but broadly speaking it will be understood that British representatives in the House of Commons would not consider it their duty to interfere, 977 and public opinion would be very much against their interfering, in purely Irish affairs. Indeed, unless that practice obtained the whole benefit of Home Rule would disappear so far as Ireland is concerned. The noble and learned Lord must lay that aside. As a matter of fact what is going to happen when this clause becomes part of the law is that there will be an inequality of treatment as between British electors and British Members of Parliament, and. Irish electors and Irish Members of Parliament. That is an intolerable injustice and I am quite certain that the British people will never submit to it. They may do so for the moment, of course, for I do not mean there is going to be any strong feeling developed immediately, but in the long run they will never submit to it.
It is an impossible suggestion that we should allow our affairs to be decided upon considerations which—I am not speaking of the personal character of the Irish Ale Abers—may not be disinterested from a political point of view. It is not possible to think that our people will submit to that while they themselves are debarred from taking any part in Irish domestic affairs. It would be a grave and gross injustice. As to which is the better plan, that; of the Government or of my noble friend Lord Crewe, I do not feel that I am called upon to pronounce an opinion. I think that both of them are extremely bad, and I hope your Lordships will not accept either.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
I hope the House will not accept the Amendment of the noble Marquess opposite. It must be obvious to any one who thinks over the past history of Home Rule measures that this is a wrecking Amendment. I would ask the House to remember that when Mr. Gladstone brought forward the first Home Rule Bill in 1886 he shut out the Irish Members, and the Bill was wrecked on that. It was recognised that we ought to have Irish Members here. I forget whether the noble Marquess was a member of that Government, but he was a supporter of it. That proposal has been dropped from 1886 until now—thirty four years—and it has been taken up again by certain Liberals in England who do not support the Coalition Government and of whom the noble Marquess is one.
Mr. Asquith has brought forward Dominion Home Rule, which means the exclusion 978 of the Irish Members. The noble Marquess is going back thirty-four years to a plan that broke down then, and your Lordships are asked to engraft on this Bill an Amendment which would wreck it. The noble Viscount just now supported another Amendment which would wreck the Bill—the in-and-out clause would wreck any Bill. I wish the House to realise that both these Amendments—we have got rid of one of them—are wrecking Amendments, and for that reason I hope the House will not support this Amendment. The noble Marquess who spoke just now said that all these proposals are very unpleasant, and that all have their obvious disadvantages. That is quite true, and there is only one way out of it. If we adopt this Bill and the Irish Members come and we object to their voting on our affairs, we must do something else. I was in the House of Commons for many years, and I cannot say that I regarded it as any privilege to vote on Irish affairs. I dc not want the Irish to vote on my affairs, any more than I wish to vote upon their parish pump matters.
There is but one remedy when this grievance becomes intolerable. If after passing this Bill the Irish meddle with our affairs we must, have an Imperial Parliament. That we shall have to establish sooner or later to deal with Imperial affairs only That is the real remedy. This particular Amendment would wreck the Bill. It has originated in a quarter where the Bill is opposed, and I hope your Lordships will defeat it.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I am not in love with this Bill, but I confess that I should look with consternation at the carrying of this Amendment. I cannot follow my noble friends behind me. However much the Bill differs in its scope from what some of us might desire, we have to keep up the appearance of scrupulous fairness in regard to the representation. I very much regret that the Amendment which was moved by my noble friend a moment ago was rejected by a large majority, I do not agree with the noble Viscount that the in-and-out clause would wreck any Bill. On the contrary, I am convinced that we shall ultimately come to it. To substitute for that a provision by which we should impose on Ireland 94 per cent. of her taxation as against 6 per cent. that she can impose on herself, and give her no voice at Westminster in regu- 979 lating that taxation, would cause a feeling of grievance which must wreck the Bill before it becames law.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
I should like to say that I think there is great force in the argument put forward that to exclude the Irish Members altogether would give a handle to those who are endeavouring to make fresh ill-blood between the two countries. I think, in the result, that it would be very dangerous to try and exclude the Irish Members altogether. That would give them the grievance of saying that they were being dealt with as if they were out of the world. The whole matter may be summed up in the saying of the Irishman, "Whichever road you take, you will wish you had taken the other."
§ [The sitting was suspended at ten minutes before eight o'clock, and resumed at a quarter past nine.]
§ Clause 19 agreed to. Clause 20:
§ Powers of taxation.
§ 20.—(1) The power of the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland to make laws shall include power to make laws with respect to the imposing, charging, levying, and collection of taxes within their respective jurisdictions, other than customs duties, excise duties on articles manufactured and produced, and excess profits duty, corporation profits tax, and any other tax on profits, and (except to the extent hereinafter mentioned) income tax (including super-tax), or any tax substantially the same in character as any of those duties or taxes, and the Governments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland shall have full control over the charging, levying, and collection of such taxes as their respective Parliaments have power to impose, and the proceeds of all such taxes shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be.
§ Provided that it shall not be competent for the Parliament of Southern Ireland or the Parliament of Northern Ireland to impose any tax, whether recurrent or non-recurrent, of the nature of a general tax upon capital, not being a tax substantially the same in character as an existing tax.
§ (2) Provision shall be made by the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland for the cost within their respective jurisdictions of Irish services, and, except as provided by this Act, any charge on the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom for those services, including any charge for the benefit of the Local Taxation (Ireland) Account, or any grant or contribution out of moneys provided by the Parliament of the United Kingdom so far as made for those services shall cease, and money for loans in Ireland shall 980 cease to be advanced out of the Local Loans Fund.
§ (3) For the purposes of this Act the excise duty on a licence granted to a manufacturer or producer of an article, the amount of which varies either directly or indirectly according to the amount of the article manufactured or produced; shall he treated as an excise duty on an article manufactured produced; but, save as aforesaid, nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland from making laws with respect to excise licence duties, or duties of excise other than excise duties on articles manufactured or produced.
§ (4) Any articles which are brought into Great Britain or the Isle of Man from Ireland, or into Ireland from Great Britain or the Isle of Nan, shall be deemed to be articles exported or imported for the purposes of the forms to be used, and the information to be furnished under the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876, or any Act amending that Act, but not for any other purpose.
§ (5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as authorising the Parliament or Government of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland to impose, charge, levy, or collect any duties of postage so long as the postal service remains a reserved service.
§ LORD MAC DONNELLmoved, in subsection (1), to leave out "other than" ["other than customs duties"], and insert "including." The noble Lord said: I placed this Amendment on the paper with the object of raising a debate upon the financial aspects of the Bill. We have discussed the question of a Council of Ireland and of a Senate, and I am glad I that certain changes have been introduced into the measure which I think afford some chance of its acceptance, if not by the whole population of moderate men in Ireland, at all events by a considerable number of them. But unless the financial clauses of the Bill are improved its rejection by Ireland is certain.
§ It may be said that the financial clauses of the Bill are to a certain extent of a sentimental character, but sentiment has a large part in the character of nations and in their fate. I know of no nation which is more influenced by sentiment than my own, and I believe that if people do not regard the sentiment of Ireland any provisions of law imposed upon her people will be nugatory and of no effect. I think the present state of Ireland is largely the result of the disregard by the Government of the sentiment of Ireland. For the last twenty years I have been engaged in Irish life, and, so long as I remember, the Irish have been animated by the feeling that if they were charged with the responsibility for their own administration and with the funds necessary to carry it out they would 981 be a credit to the Empire and an independent unit in the great commonwealth of English-speaking people. No regard has been paid during those twenty years to their aspirations. On the contrary, everybody connected with Irish administration knows that a difficulty it was to get from the British Treasury sums which were absolutely essential for the well-being of Ireland. So long as you do not impose upon Irishmen the responsibility for their own administration, so long as you do not enable them to mould their own economic life by giving them the sources of revenue, so long will discontent with the British Government prevail among Irishmen.
§ After all, if you fail to respond to the wishes of Irishmen in regard to finance you deprive them of the means by which they can mould their own lives, you deprive them of the means by which they can endeavour to emulate their neighbours in Great Britain. I consider that the claim of Ireland to financial independence—that is the claim to the administration of all her revenues, including the revenue from Customs, Excise, and Income-tax—is a necessary preliminary to the building up of an Irish nation. There is no part of the Irish administration which is not deserving of your attention, and which does not claim from you the means for improvement. Take the question of education. You cannot expect to have good education if you have not good teachers, you cannot expect to have good teachers if you do not give them a living pay. In my own experience some few years ago the pay of a teacher was not the pay which you give to your footman. To my own knowledge the hospitals of Dublin are in a state of destitution. With the exception of a few thousand pounds they have to rely upon voluntary contributions, and the result of it is that the medical school, although it has been, and is still, a famous school in Europe, is still stinted in the necessaries which every school in England would regard as absolute essentials.
§ The reservation by Great Britain of the revenues of Customs, Excise, and income-tax results in this, that the whole revenue, or 95 per cent. of the revenue, of Ireland, which I believe at present is estimated to be about £48,000,000 is collected by England and credited to the Consolidated Fund. No doubt a considerable proportion of that revenue is paid to Ireland for the administration of the Irish services, but the utmost 982 amount which is so paid at present is not more than £20,000,000 or £22,000,000. If you remember that when the Act of 1911 was introduced it was introduced on the basis that the true revenue was £10,500,000 and the expenditure £12,000,000 A provisional arrangement was then made for the administration of Ireland, and it was considered at that time that Ireland was in a deficit of £1,500,000. So long as that deficit remained so long was the arrangement with Ireland to be merely provisional. From that time, within six years, such has been the effect of the enormous taxation and the rise of prices (from which Great Britain has benefitted) that the revenue from Ireland is about £48,000,000, or nearly five times the true revenue from Ireland in 1914.
§ This Bill proceeds on the basis that this revenue of £48,000,000 can be counted upon as the basis on which to act. It is said that the expenditure in Ireland and the maintenance of the Services which are to be transferred will cost about £25,000,000. The result will be that about £18,000,000 of pure surplus remains for England. That calculation is made on the basis of the prices which now prevail, but everyone knows that they cannot prevail for many years and that in ten years time there will be a great slump. It is very wrong to base a provision for the future upon tile prices prevailing now. I think the financial arrangements of the Bill are entirely unfair to Ireland and such as she cannot prosper under.
§ I have been informed that your Lordships cannot touch the financial provisions of the Bill. That may be so; but still I fear the reception of the Bill in Ireland. Unless your Lordships, whose opinions on Ireland I myself have had reason to admire in regard to their liberality, give some mandate, if I may use the word, that better provisions and more liberal provisions should be made to Ireland it will not receive the reception which I believe in other circumstances it would have received. Finance is the basis of the Bill. Whether you like or dislike the idea that Irishmen shall take a part in Parliament here in England, whether you include them or not, has not the least effect on Irish sentiment unless you show that you trust them, that you will give them the revenue that is shown to be the true revenue, and give them complete authority to spend their money, and impose 983 on them the responsibility for maintaining law and order. If you do that I believe that in a very few years you will hear no more of disturbance and unrest in Ireland. But so long as you fail to trust them, so long as you impose restrictions and regulations upon them which show that you hold them in suspicion, so long I believe you will not receive that trustfulness and that confidence from Ireland which the British Empire certainly, having regard to its tradition and having regard to the principles which it has declared in this war, would be entitled to expect.
Clause 20, page 20, lines 15 and 16, leave out ("other than") and insert ("including").—(Lord. MacDonnell.)
THE EARL OF MAYO
I would be quite willing to support the noble Lord as far as regards the question of Customs and Excise Duty being levied by the Irish Parliament, but beyond that, with regard to taxation, I would not go. There is a point that the noble Lord has not mentioned, and I should like to ask the Government this. The future Government of Ireland, I suppose, will want to borrow money for the improvement of the country and there is especially one improvement that there is plenty of room to spend money on—that is, drainage. I do not see what on earth they have to hypothecate as a security for any loans whatsoever. You fix this Bill with most stringent financial relations, and the fact is that no matter with what good will these Parliaments are set up it will be a very tight fit to keep them running at all. When we have no means of borrowing money I do not see how we are to carry on without coming for more money from the Imperial Parliament. I wish to make that point before the Amendment is put.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
It is, of course, technically true that your Lordships have no power to enforce this Amendment if it should be adopted, but none the less it does seem to me it is of the utmost importance that you should express your opinion upon it, because in truth this Amendment is one of the most critical that is upon the Paper with regard to the Bill. It must, I think, be assumed that the Government in introducing the Bill has intended to introduce something that is a real measure of self-government, something that is capable of being worked, something that 984 is capable of being developed, something that may enlist in its support all opinion in the South and West of Ireland, both the opinion that is represented in this House and the more extreme opinion which finds no representation in either House of Parliament. I would ask your Lordships to consider how it is possible that that can be done with the present financial restrictions imposed by this Bill.
If this Parliament is really to be beneficial it is essential that it should have power, as the noble Earl has just pointed out, to raise money and to spend money. It cannot continue on its present system of expenditure. I do not think any one who has the least familiarity with Ireland will doubt that in a large number of its public services Ireland is to-day starved. The noble Earl has referred to drainage, which is only one of the many matters. There are education, reclamation works, and I should have thought above all things the work that is necessary there, no less than here, of building the houses which are required for the better and proper housing of the people. Now how can a Parliament in Dublin ever attempt to accomplish any one of these great schemes with the present restrictions on its financial powers? The one thing that I think it is important to remember is that in substance there is only one power of taxation which is given to this Parliament, and that is a power to levy upon the exhausted and attenuated incomes of the Income Tax payers a tax which is to be levied out of the residue of income after they have paid the Income Tax and Super-tax imposed by this country.
It is perfectly true that this is an echo of a provision which has been found in earlier Bills, but more than once in the course of debates here it has been pointed out that in the last few years circumstances have changed. They certainly have changed in a more startling and dramatic manner with regard to the incidence and extent of taxation than in any other respect. Income Tax now stands at a flat rate of 6s. in the £ and it does not require a very large income to raise it with Super-tax up to 9s. 6d. At the time when the former Bill was introduced the Income Tax, I think, was 1s. in the £ and the Super-tax might rise to 5s. It is plain that circumstances are wholly different now from the circumstances which existed then, and if the Irish Parliament is com- 985 pelled to use this engine—engine of oppression I should call it—for the purpose of raising revenue, either the people who are to-day well-to-do in Ireland will be ruined or they will leave the country and accept domicile elsewhere. That is not all. It is not only that the effect of this Bill will be slowly to squeeze out from Ireland the people whom I submit to you above all others you ought to retain, the people whose roots are as deep in the soil as those of the most extreme Nationalists, whose families may have lived there for over three hundred years, and who are at least as devoted to Ireland, though they may have different views as to the best means of securing its welfare, as even the most passionate Nationalists. These men cannot, as it seems to me, in the present scheme maintain their positions over in Ireland unless, indeed, the whole operations of this Parliament are to be atrophied at its birth.
What is the remedy'? I believe there is only one remedy, and that is to place in the hands of the Irish Parliament all the powers of taxation which are now reserved. I know exactly what will be said as regards to this—that if that is done it will be impossible to levy upon Ireland the £18,000,000 a year which this Bill provides should be paid to this country. Here I have no doubt I express an individual view, but I believe there is no graver mistake in this Bill than to insist on the annual levying upon Ireland of a sum of money which the people will regard as the tribute of a subject race. It is quite easy to point out that in fairness they ought to bear a share of the burden of the war, and that they ought to bear their share of the other burdens that have been created while the Empire was united, but we cannot shut our eyes to the consideration that it is the very fact that they were part of the United Kingdom which is at the back of all the agitation by which that country has been wrecked and ruined during the last few years.
If this Bill is intended to carry a message of peace to a troubled and unhappy people, I say to your Lordships that the worst service you can do is to introduce into it something that will be constantly represented as definite evidence that the independence which is granted is nothing but a sham. Of course, I know it is easy to say that this means that we have an extra burden cast upon us, but I very much doubt whether, if the 986 balance sheet were struck as between this country and Ireland, in truth we have any right to demand that sum at all. It is not so very long ago that a Committee established for the purpose of considering the mutual financial relationships between England and Ireland came to the conclusion that a sum, which I think amounted to £230,000,000, was the sum by which Ireland had been overtaxed. That remains still unpaid; and I do not think that there would be much loss, and there would be a great gain, if we were to make a generous offer to Ireland to-day, giving them full control over their own finance and full control over their own destinies, which is what control over finance means, and at the same time, by an act which we might be entitled to say was an act of generosity, wipe out this obligation, the perpetual insistence upon which will, I am quite certain, be a constant source of disaffection and discontent throughout the whole country. I believe it is an act of wisdom, prudence, statesmanship and generosity to make this change, and I sincerely hope your Lordships will support the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
If you will allow me I will make one or two observations on the Amendment which has been moved, because having paid sonic attention to the financial arrangements of this Bill I confess I was fairly staggered at the amazing travesty that has been presented of the proposals of the Bill. I say quite honestly that if anybody had listened to those three speeches and had gone away, it is impossible that he would have carried with him any sort of idea of what are the real provisions applying to Ireland in this Bill. First of all I was gratified, as a British taxpayer, to find that the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Buckmaster) did seem to have heard of the British taxpayer. The other two noble Lords did not even mention him, or pay any attention to him whatever.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I only said you paid no attention to the British taxpayer, and I am going to prove why that is so. The noble Lord dealt at some length with the past position of Ireland, but although I listened to him very respectfully and carefully I did not hear any 987 argument on his part, in support of the actual Amendment that he moved, except that a general power should be given to Ireland to manage her own financial affairs in her own way. I should like to deal with the exact financial position, because the criticism has been made—it was made by the noble and learned Lord opposite—that Ireland had control over only six pet cent. of her taxation. That statement has been repeated several times during the debate.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
Well, it has been used in the course of the debate, and it is wholly inaccurate. Noble Lords who have used that argument have entirely forgotten that over the Income Tax the Irish Government will have great powers. They will have powers both to raise that Income Tax and to lower it, and they have calculated their six or seven per cent. solely on some of those special charges such as Death Duties, Stamps, Excise, and miscellaneous, which are outside the purview of the action of the British Government.
The point that was raised both by the noble Lord who moved the Amendment and by the noble and learned Lord opposite is that far greater liberty ought to be given to the Irish Government in the raising of taxation than is given by the Bill. I should like to examine that proposition rather carefully. I think it will be seen that the Government intended to give the widest possible liberty of taxation to the Irish Government. First of all there is the question of Customs and Excise. I suppose everybody admits that these two taxes go together, and that you cannot deal with Customs without Excise. Customs and Excise together amount to something like £29,000,000, which is a very large proportion of the £46,000,000 proposed to be raised. It follows that this question of financial freedom for Ireland turns very largely on the question of whether Customs and Excise are or are not handed over to the Irish Government, because they represent something like 60 per cent. of the whole taxable capacity of the country. They are really the great fruitful source from which taxation is drawn in Ireland. That is the point, therefore, to which one has to address oneself.
The noble Lord is aware, and your Lord- 988 ships are I am sure very well aware, that in no federal system—in Australia, in Canada, in America—are the component parts of that system allowed to deal with their own Customs and Excise. In all those cases Customs and Excise are looked upon as the mark of the unity of the countries, and they are reserved in all those cases to the Central Government In the case of Australia, indeed, when unity came, some of those component States had absolutely to give up the rights which they possessed over Customs and Excise in order that the financial and national unity of the country might be formed by giving those powers to the Central Government.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I think I may be allowed to carry out my argument. I was stating what was the federal system I say that the retention in the Central Government of those particular taxes is the mark of the powers of the Central Government But it is far more complicated than that. I am not dealing at the particular moment with whether it would be wise or unwise, difficult or easy, between the two countries so closely allied as Great Britain and Ireland, to have two sets of Customs Duties. It is quite true that under certain circumstances that is contemplated, but your Lordships know the great difficulties that would arise if that took place. The difficulties would be very great even if you had the same Customs and Excise levied in the two countries, but the difficulties would be immensely enhanced if you had different systems in Ireland and in England.
But we are not even discussing that question, because you have not one central Parliament. You have two. What is really proposed is that you shall give the liberty and have the possibility of having in these Islands three separate systems of Customs and Excise duty—one in Great Britain one in the North of Ireland, and one in the South of Ireland; and, I suppose, a separate system of Customs posts between Northern and Southern Ireland.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
if this Amendment were accepted I should certainly move another Amendment providing that there should be complete freedom of trade between Northern and Southern Ireland.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I think it is one of fie necessary results of this Amendment. If you have these two separate Parliaments and gave each of them, as you must—I am proceeding on the basis of two Parliaments—their powers over Customs and Excise, you must have the difficulties which I am setting up. I think the prospect of these three Parliaments with different sets Customs and Excise is really an intolerable one. It is not difficult to the noble and learned Lord perhaps, but it is difficult to those who are accustomed to deal with all these financial matters, and that is one very strong reason against granting this autonomy with regard to Customs and Excise.
But there is another very powerful reason against, it. The noble Lord who moved this Amendment did not tell us anything about the contribution of Ireland to the Imperial expenses of this country, or rather I gather that he seemed to think there should be no contribution because in the year 1914 the financial situation was different and the taxation that came from Ireland was barely sufficient to pay for the internal business of that country. Things have changed very much since then not only in Ireland but ill this country as the result of the war, and we have to deal with the financial situation as it exists now and not as it existed six or seven years ago. If you were to give up the power of control over Customs and Excise (which, as I have said, yield 60 per cent. of the whole taxation) what security are you going to have for the payment by Ireland of the contribution of £18,000,000 as it is called—I shall show your Lordships presently that it is not £18,000,000—towards the Imperial Exchequer. You would have no security at all.
No proposal has been made by any noble Lord to meet that difficulty, and I do not quite know, therefore, as the result of handing over the Customs and Excise, if you handed them over freely to Ireland, on what body you would rely for the payment of these sums or how you could justify yourselves to the British taxpayer for not asking Ireland to contribute not 990 its just mathematical proportion, not the right proportion but a far less sum than it ought for general financial reasons to contribute towards the Imperial Exchequer. Those, I submit, are two very strong reasons why you should not at the present stage grant this entire financial autonomy to Ireland.
I must deal also with the question of Income Tax because that is the other great tax, and it yields something like £10,000,000. Rather different considerations apply to this tax than to the Customs and Excise duties. There is no such Imperial question here as applies to Customs and Excise. The difficulties there are really very much more administrative and I am advised by those who deal with Inland Revenue matters that the administrative difficulties are enormous. Your Lordships know very well that difficulties of double Income Tax occur between ourselves and the Dominions. Those difficulties have not been solved but proposals have been accepted which attempt to deal with the question in a rough and ready way, as to the rebate that may be given to those persons whose incomes are taxed both in the great Dominions and in this country: Of course, it is a very large question whether that rather rough-and-ready system that is applied to ourselves and the Great Dominions would be applicable as between ourselves and Ireland, because the ramifications of business are so great, the two islands are so closely bound together by every kind of business relation that I am told it would be absolutely impossible adequately to divide the proceeds of Income Tax between the two countries if they were separate. The great difficulty, of course, is to appreciate and understand where exactly the income arises that is going to be taxed. In the case of banks and shipping companies and a great many businesses which have branches in the two countries it is not, of course, absolutely impossible, but it would raise the very greatest difficulty in trying to apportion fairly between the two countries the amount of income which arose in each.
Many persons are very familiar with the complexities of the Income Tax paper and know how hard it is to get these claims admitted and to get back rebates of Income Tax. But that difficulty would be enormously enhanced if you had not one Government, but three Governments to deal with. So great, in fact, are the diffi- 991 culties that there is a very grave risk that the irritation of the shareholders would be such that the whole system on which our financial arrangements in this country are based—the system of collection at the source—would be broken to pieces. If that happened and we had to go back to the system of declarations and to do away with the whole system of taxation at the source there would be a vast loss to the British Exchequer. One could give a great many instances of this, but I forbear to do so. I ought to point out that while the Income Tax is collected at the source at the British rate there exists under the Bill a system of abatements or additions by surtaxes or diminution by which the two Irish Governments have very full control over the Income Tax, and can increase or diminish it as the case may be. Such, then, are some of the arguments on which the Government base their objections to handing over to the Irish Governments these two taxes which are really the solid part of the whole of Irish taxation. There is really only left the Post Office, because Income Tax, Super-tax and Corporation Tax are levied in the same way, and must be dealt with together.
Two points have been raised on which I should like to say something. Lord Buck-master dealt with the niggardly income, as he represented it to be, which the Government of Ireland will possess. He said it would be starved in expenditure, that it would be atrophied at its birth, and he used a number of rigorous expletives of that kind to paint the miserable condition in which the Irish Government would be when it started. On the basis of these financial arrangements, what is the surplus that the Government of Ireland is likely to start with, assuming that the expenditure is to be the same as it is this year? It amounts to something like £7,250,000. Now, what is the total expenditure on the Irish Services for which the Irish Government are going to be responsible? It amounts to something like to £14,000,000. Therefore the Irish Government is actually going to get a surplus of 50 per cent. on their expenditure; yet in face of that the noble and learned Lord said they are going to be atrophied because they have no margin, no opportunity of increasing that expenditure. They can increase that expenditure by 50 per cent. The mere statement of these figures absolutely destroys any argument of Lord Buckmaster.
992 I will say one word only about contribution. I do not understand that Lord Buck-master definitely challenged the contribution, although it was said it might be too high. In the first place, it is not £18,000,000, because in addition to that the Government hand over to the two Irish Governments the payments made for the purchase of land, which amounts to £3,250,000. In order to get the net amount which is really contributed by Ireland to the British Exchequer, you have to deduct that £3,250,000 from the £18,000,000, leaving £14,750,000 as the net amount. But again, this particular amount goes on for two years, and at the end of that time the Exchequer Board is to go into the whole matter and settle the contribution of Ireland on the basis of its taxable capacity. That again is not the end of the story. After that time, if it is found that this contribution of £18,000,000 less £3,250,000 is less than the proper contribution Ireland ought to make on its taxable capacity, the Exchequer Board can go into the matter and can repay to the two Irish Governments any amount which has been charged in excess of that which she ought to have paid. Your Lordships will therefore see that every effort is being made in this Bill to see that Ireland is not unfairly taxed.
Moreover, the £18,000,000 compares favourably with the £22,000,000 which is the amount which, apart from this Bill, Ireland would contribute to the Imperial expenditure this year. I believe I am right in saying that towards the repayment of debt, which is a matter for which we in this country are most heavily charged, Ireland does not pay one sixpence though she does pay towards the interest on the debt that has been incurred. Let me give one figure as to the injustice which is wrought on Ireland by this arrangement. I do not wish to go back to the Childers Commission which has been referred to in connection with the amount that this country has plundered from Ireland in the past. My recollection is not very clear, but I think there were five or six Reports, none of them agreeing with the other, and none were put into execution. But what are the figures showing the comparative contribution to Imperial expenditure under this scheme which is denounced as so unfair by Lord MacDonnell. Ireland will pay £4 2s. per head and Great Britain will pay something like £14 13s. 9d. per head. Ireland may be a poor country, 993 but there is a considerable margin when you find that per head of the population the charge for Imperial expenditure under this niggardly Bill is £14 for every person in this country and £4 for every person in Ireland.
Your Lordships will see that this is subsidiary to the point I have been making that Ireland is not dealt with unfairly under this contribution. Really the English people have shown a great generosity to Ireland in taxing themselves at a most tremendous rate and asking as a contribution from Ireland towards Imperial expenditure a far less sum than, under any calculation of figures, they might be entitled to ask. But I answer the general point as I have already done. Customs and Excise, without Income Tax, are the two great dominant taxes. One you cannot grant because you do not want to have three separate systems of Customs set up in these Islands, the other because administrative difficulties would make it impossible and would shatter the whole basis on which income Tax is levied. For those reasons I do not think it is possible to accept the suggested Amendment.
THE EARL OF DESART
it is a singular thing that whether it be Second Chamber, or Customs, or anything else, we are always confronted not only with a single difficulty but a double difficulty because you have created two Parliaments in Ireland. You always unite back to that. That always adds to the difficulty of doing anything. I am only going to say a very few words because I am not at all an expert in finance, and I speak with great diffidence on any point connected with it; but what struck me about the speech of the noble Viscount was that it demonstrated that England, as a very kind stepfather or father-in-law, was prepared to behave with the utmost generosity to Ireland, but was not going to allow Ireland to have any control of its own finances.
Assuming you are generous, assuming you are kind, that is perfectly logical and perfectly sound. But it misconceives the whole mental attitude of Ireland. It shows, if I may be allowed respectfully to say so, rather a want of imagination as to what are the feelings of the country with which you desire to effect a settlement by means of this Bill. If you do not do that, then I go so far as to say you do nothing at all. I have a right to speak with a little experi- 994 ence about this matter because at the Convention we took very much the same view, subject to certain qualifications expressed by the noble Viscount, and we urged very much the same arguments as those urged by the noble Viscount., and we know that the reason they failed was the desire of those who represented Nationalist Ireland that they should be financially and otherwise masters in their own house. That was really the gist of it. We contested Customs to the last. I think there were other reasons, but to a certain extent that was what really broke up the Convention. At any rate, it was so on the surface.
I want to put this question to the noble Viscount. Unless they have the Customs or something that can be put in place of it, on what security could they borrow a halfpenny for works? I think that is the practical view. The other is the view that if you have to strike the imagination of the people you want to enable them to run their own affairs and not to assume the attitude of a grateful child to a generous parent, because that is not what they are going to do, and if you press that upon them you will not get it.
As regards contribution, the noble Viscount says you have no security for your contribution otherwise than by this Bill. That may be true, and of course on this point I can speak with no certainty, but I believe profoundly that if you left the contribution, giving the Irish Parliament power of control, you would be much more likely to get a large contribution than you will by the scheme you have proposed in this Bill. For that reason I shall certainly support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord MacDonnell. Looking at what has happened since the Convention, and what I have learned since the Convention, and what I believe to be the feeling of the whole of the South of Ireland, I think, if you are going to have any settlement of any kind, or if this Bill is going to do any scrap of good, that you must have regard to the sentiments of the people and not to what your cold logic decides they ought to approve.
§ LORD SHANDON
I should like to make a few observations with reference to the attitude which the Government have taken up through the noble Viscount. The summary which I should be disposed to make in rather popular language in regard to the financial clauses of the Bill is that 995 it looks as if we were deliberately out to make mischief for ourselves in our future relations with Ireland. It is not a question of making concessions to extremists at all. This financial question was no raised originally by the extremists. It is raised by those to whom, if you do not alienate their sentiments altogether, you will have to look for some harmonious working between the two countries. Those people are not the gang who are committing murders, or who want to set up an Irish Republic or to do anything of that extreme character. They are the business men of Ireland, in the South at any rate.
They have expressed their views at meetings of public hoards and chambers of commerce, and also, for the last time, at one of the largest meetings ever held at Dublin—the Peace meeting. Those who were present at that meeting were not extremists. They represented very many, indeed, who were most bitterly opposed to any form of Home Rule at one time. They have always looked at the Bill entirely from the point of view of the possible property of Ireland in future and the possible effect of this Bill, if it becomes an Act, upon it. It may be, of course, that their views are perfectly absurd, and so absurd that they ought not to be considered for one second, but they are the views of the people upon whom we must rely for the working of the Act in future, and I say without the slightest hesitation that there is only one opinion among them all, no matter what their previous political views may have been on the question—namely, that the financial clauses of the Bill, however generous they may be regarded here, are doomed to failure, and may, unhappily, lead to the excerbation of the feelings of those who are absolutely loyal and faithful subjects of the King and Empire.
The way they look at the matter is simplicity itself. In the first place they say that this large sum of money, calculated in the way which has been fully explained, which must always remain, having regard to the condition of our national indebtedness, for many years to come and during the period when we shall have the greatest stress and difficulty in making ends meet—this annual tribute of £18,000,000 will have to be paid. With regard to the security for that £18,000,000—
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I do not want to interrupt the noble and learned Lord, 996 but I have already explained that that is not the case with regard to the permanence of the £18,000,000.
§ LORD SHANDON
I intend to deal with the question, because I presume the reference is to the operations of the Board which will deal with future contributions. One of the matters in which also there has been singular unanimity of opinion in Ireland is that this Joint Exchequer Board cannot be looked to for very much help in regard to the question of future contribution. Therefore he will pardon me if I do not deal with it for a few minutes.
We begin at any rate with this large contribution of £18,000,000, which is supposed to be based, after every reasonable calculation has been made, on the taxable capacity of Ireland and the amount she ought to contribute. Let us suppose that it be reduced by one or two millions. Really sums of that kind won't affect this question. If you alter the financial system which has existed between the two countries, we have to provide annually for the upkeep of all Irish services, and then if there is a surplus that goes to the Exchequer, but that is practically a totally different thing to the question of the annual contribution, which, although it may vary somewhat, is very unlikely to vary to any very great extent; and I have not at all omitted the view presented by the noble Viscount in that respect. Having done that, we have got to fall back upon the seven and a half millions. That appears something extremely generous, but between us, out of that money, we have got to keep up a duplicate system of administration—double Parliaments, apparently double officers, with regard to the judiciary, although the judiciary will be charged in a different way. In point of fact, if you take into account the increased salaries this doubling does not represent the annual figure which is necessary to keep up the Irish services which have to be defrayed out of the seven and a half millions. Something more than that is necessary.
Financially, if the Bill is to be of any use at all it must be such that it will help Irishmen in the South and North to develop such resources as they have got, and the point made by the noble Earl and by the noble Viscount is an absolutely vital point, and will be found to be a very serious point before very long in 997 trying to work the finances of this measure. Security there is none, if we want to borrow. There cannot be any except the powers given under Section 24 to tax a particular class. Of course it is said "Oh, rebates may be made," but I am sure that you cannot put more than a pint into a pint measure or take more than a pint out of it. Unquestionably the South of Ireland has no manufactures to speak of, and if it is to prosper at all, if it is to assume a financially better position, then it must take up the question of the development of the land, which is the only asset it has got for the purpose of producing money. As long as my memory goes back, and further still, the great source of trouble in dealing with the South of Ireland has been the absence of that central authority and State assistance which was necessary for the development of arterial drainage and such powers and resources as the South of Ireland possessed. That development cannot be effected without money, especially in these days of high prices, and what security have we got to offer? If we proceeded to put upon the market Stock to carry out absolutely essential work the financiers would simply laugh at it.
We may be mistaken in our views and ideas of these figures in Ireland. We may be very stupid about it, but unquestionably there is a perfect and absolute conviction on the subject in every business man to whom I have spoken, and I have spoken to a great many upon the subject. It is said that, if to an extent you admit all that, how is this financial change to be made which has been suggested by the noble Lord, Lord MacDonnell? It is said that it is impossible. But, my Lords, we have heard this over and over again. We have heard it with regard to the question of granting Home Rule itself. But now we find that those who actually said it was impossible have devised a scheme for doing it; and I must say that, although I have been a severe critic of that scheme, in a great many ways I regard it as an extremely able and clever contribution to the solution of a problem which we were always told was absolutely insoluble. There is nothing insoluble if you put your heads together determined to solve it, and this question of the security for the £18,000,000 is just one of them.
Am I to be told that there is no system that can be devised which would enable, 998 by the appointment of smite common Board or set of Commissioners, one system of collection to be instituted and which would enable the proceeds of Income Tax and of other taxes to be put to the credit of a particular fund, and out of that fund the £18,000,000 be paid? I absolutely decline to believe it. A similar difficulty arose in Germany at one time and it was solved very readily by something which they call theZolverein. They solved it because they put their minds to it resolved to do so. Are we going to start with the idea that payment of the £18,000,000 will be a thing which, not the Sinn Fein Party but those who are now regarded as moderate Irish men and who it is said are a majority of the country, will resist. That is an admission that the operation of this Bill in its financial clauses will turn the moderate party in Ireland into a Party that will attempt to resist payment of the taxes because they object to payment of the £18,000,000. If that is the view of the situation then you had better let this thing alone altogether. I should have thought that the object was to conciliate moderate opinion and that the provision was so scientifically and beautifully drafted that it would at once convert moderate opinion into an easy frame of mind so that it would have no objection to this.
The propositions are really self-destructive. If it be that there would be such opposition to the payment of the taxes that you would not have security for your £18,0000,000 the whole thing is unworkable. But Irish people are not altogether insane. Though many foolish things have been done I take it that a majority of the Irish people to whom we are supposed to be making these concessions will see that there is no fun in cutting off their noses to vex their faces.
The view that I would present to your Lordships and the Government on this question of the supposed security is this. With regard to the difficulty of the ascertainment of what is the true proportion to be contributed to Income Tax, I know that it is difficult to arrive at it. I know that it is a matter which will cause trouble—and considerable trouble—but if it be a fact, as I positively assert that it is, that there is no hope for this Bill in dealing with the South of Ireland and I believe also in the long run in dealing with the North, unless you do grant this measure of fiscal autonomy, safeguarding it as you will, 999 there is nothing except to face the difficulty. The British Treasury officials and the able men who are in control of our Departments are certainly not incapable of framing some system which will enable the difficulty to be got over. I think we are pretty well sick in Ireland of the argument that a thing is impossible because it is difficult. The difficulty is there no doubt, but the necessity for overcoming the difficulty is there also. These views are certainly the current views in Ireland. As I say they may be hopelessly absurd but you have to get over them. If you do not get over them and conciliate them in some way this Bill will become a complete failure by reason of the failure of its financial clauses.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
In this matter although I should like very much to vote with my noble friends for Ireland I do not see my way to support the Amendment. I have been in Parliament a long time and have heard a great number of Irish debates, a good many of them on financial matters, and there is one feature that is common to them all—that those who represent Ireland most honestly and sincerely always think that they do not get quite enough money out of the common fund belonging to the United Kingdom. It is a very natural thing, of course, and I do not complain of that. If the matter had ended there I should have been very glad to have made concessions to Ireland in order to give them a feeling of satisfaction with the provisions of this Bill, because I am convinced that unless this Bill is welcomed in Ireland and accepted by Ireland it cannot work properly.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is out of question; I feel that and know it. Therefore, speaking as an Englishman I should have desired to make every concession I could. After all, we have a responsibility to the British taxpayer as well. We are not representatives in the sense of having been elected, but we are here because we are Englishmen and we are bound, of course, to have regard to the English point of view as well as the Irish point of view.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But that is not the main matter that we have 1000 to think about on the passage of this Bill into law. It has been said over and over again in your Lordships' House, and I only desire to repeat it in a sentence, that when once your have established a system of self-government in Ireland it must follow that there must be a system of self-government in Scotland and probably in Wales. Therefore, if you grant the control of the Customs to Ireland you will have to grant it to Scotland and to Wales, otherwise you will have a condition of financial inequality of treatment which would be intolerable as between the different countries. It is an impossibility as every one will admit to have a Customs barrier between Scotland and England and, in the cant phrase of the day, is unthinkable.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That puts it out of court. We cannot grant Customs autonomy to Ireland because it would absolutely control the development of federation hereafter and the result would be an impossible state of things.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
I want to say one word with regard to the possibility of the acceptance of this Bill. We are all agreed that there is no use in having this Bill unless there is a fair chance that it will be accepted by the people of Ireland, especially by the people of the South and West. Nothing has more stirred the people of Ireland for many, many years in the desire to have control of their own affairs than the belief that if they had the opportunity given them and a reasonable sum of money they could do a great deal for the prosperity of Ireland. That is a sentiment which as was said by the noble Lord who spoke last pervades all classes in Ireland, the business people as well as the others, the men who look at things in a practical way as well as those who are inspired by self. I think it is not unconnected with this subject to remark that the grievances which have been felt in past times in regard to England have very largely turned upon the commercial policy. People in Ireland believe that she was at one time on the high road to becoming a prosperous manufacturing country but England stepped in and destroyed the woollen trade. I believe there is some foundation for that idea—
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
And it is powerful still in the minds of the Irish people. It will remain there until you give them a chance of doing something for themselves—until you give them a chance, for instance, of attempting such development as might be made by draining the great central regions of Ireland, such as might be made by the development of light railways, and things of that kind. They believe that they can do a great deal. I believe myself that they believe that they can accomplish a great deal more than they will accomplish, and it would not be at all surprising if they were found to make considerable mistakes and waste a good deal of money. I think it is very likely. But you are confronted with the fact that; they so believe, and they will continue to believe it until you give them a chance of trying to do something for themselves. And if there were no other reason than that and of trying to avoid the odious alternative of Crown Colony government with which we are faced, those grounds alone make it worth while to be a little courageous in this matter.
In regard to a remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Salisbury, let me say that the very last thing that Scotland desires is separate Customs. If you were to offer it to her she would not take it. And therefore I cannot believe that setting a precedent in Ireland bears in the least on the case of a country which does not want the control of Customs and would not take it. I hope, therefore, that that argument will not be allowed to stand in the way of allowing Irishmen to see what they can do for themselves.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
We in Ireland have really done so many months of fighting on this subject that, as Lord Desart explained, we have to some extent very slightly altered our position, and I should like to be allowed to explain what was the reason for doing so. I am far from saying that the Government are not logically perfectly consistent and perfectly accurate in the position which they take up. But unfortunately logic never has governed Irish affairs, and you will not get any settlement by a logical statement of facts, on which this House has a right, if it desires, to rely.
Let us look at, the question from a view of the history of it as briefly as possible. Mr. Redmond gave up the question of 1002 Customs in 1914. He was pursued by that act, or that error, of his from that day, and to the day of his death he was persecuted by a large section of Irish opinion which felt that he had betrayed the country. I only mention that as showing the passionate earnestness with which large sections of people in Ireland regard the question of Customs. And it is not based entirely on sentiment. The bankers of Dublin and the commercial men, as my noble friend Lord Mayo pointed out, are exactly as vehement on this subject— because without the power of the Customs or the Income Tax they cannot borrow a farthing on the security of the Government—as are the peasantry of Donegal, with regard to whom and the other peasantry in the West, days of argument were exhausted to prove that they never could and never would if they could avoid it, pay the Income Tax which can easily be paid by the artisans of Leeds and Birmingham. Those are points which no argument in this House will sweep away.
Well that is the first position with which we find ourselves in contact. Then each of the points which have been made against us to-night we fought, and I think I might resolve one or two of them, if I might give an answer to them. In the first place, the noble Viscount asked what is going to be the security to this country for a payment of what is due from Ireland in the past. I quite agree—you must have security. But by far the best security would be that you should fix what is Ireland's proper contribution to the war and past debts—say £150,000,000, if that be the proper amount—one-thirtieth of the existing net debt, or whatever approximately may be considered Ireland's share. I venture to say it would be a far better financial operation for Ireland, yet a far better security to this country, if Ireland were to raise £150,000,000 on her own revenues, pay off this country and settle the whole of the past. I believe that Ireland is perfectly willing to do so; I do not agree that she should be absolved from any payment. She should pay that which is fair.
The noble Marquess Lord Salisbury has said that it would be absurd to set up a Customs barrier between this country and Scotland. During the Convention I spent some days in the Customs House and Treasury and did my best to find out what the ease was against a Customs barrier.
1003 I was prepared to see in it a tremendous increase in that bureaucracy which we all wish to prevent. I absolutely failed. The Customs officials declared that there was no difficulty whatever in Ireland having a different Customs from England. The noble marquess will, of course, remember the case of Belgium and France, and a great many other countries, where these barriers have presented no difficulties such as he supposes.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Does the noble Earl think it would be tolerable to have a Customs barrier between England and Scotland?
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I should object because my luggage would be examined and I object still more in the case of Ireland—I do not live in Ireland—because I should be horribly delayed. But to get it put down, as I tried, in pounds, shillings and pence as a really serious drawback is a difficult and almost impossible task. I quite agree that Ireland is mistaken in wishing to have a different Customs from Great Britain; but after all who are the best judges of the case? Why the Government themselves. Why have they put in Clause 35, which says that if at any time after the date of Irish union an address for the purpose is presented by both Houses the Joint Exchequer Board shall set to work to make arrangements for this very Customs power to be given to Ireland, which we are told now is impossible?
Really and truly there are not these difficulties in the matter. We take, reluctantly, the view that no settlement with Ireland will ever be possible unless you give that which she urgently desires and which we believe she would endeavour to work to the best of her ability. Your Lordships have taken a different view, and I do not complain. I think in the face of recent events it is a matter of supreme astonishment, and one which could not be found in any other Assembly in the world, that this House has approached the whole of this discussion in so generous a spirit and without the slightest feeling that we should withhold that which a few months ago we might have been readily inclined to give. I know nothing which could be urged as a reproach, but undoubtedly there are these two schools of thought—the school of the Government who feel they are 1004 giving all they should desire to give at this moment, and our school of thought which is that if you want a settlement you will have to give more. We have fought heavily, but stopped short after giving Excise when we found it is quite impossible to carry the bulk of the Irish people on those lines, and it is for that reason—though I am the last man in this House who would wish to see the power of this Empire either in finance or anything else cut up or curtailed—that I must vote with the noble Lord if it should go to a division.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
After the speeches of Lord Bryce and Lord Midleton I must ask your Lordships' leave to say something more on this question of Customs. Lord Bryce said Scotland does not want the Customs; why should you give it them? That does not settle the question. Everybody in this House admits—it is a matter of common agreement—that if you set up two Parliaments in Ireland you must end in a federal system in the United Kingdom that means two local Parliaments in Ireland, one in England for England, one in Scotland for Scotland, one in Wales for Wales, and an Imperial Parliament to manage the Imperial affairs of the whole of the United Kingdom and the Empire. Now if you give the Customs to the Irish Parliaments what happens? In the Imperial Parliament the Scottish and the English Customs are an Imperial question but not the Irish; and the Irish Members will be there voting on English and Scottish Customs but English and Scottish and Welsh Members will have no voice on the Irish Customs. Why, you will be driven to establish yet another Parliament, one for Great Britain dealing with the Customs of Great Britain alone. Whether you like it or not, if you give Customs to Ireland you are destroying the fabric of that federal system. That is inevitable.
It is very easy to talk lightly on the effect of setting up Customs barriers between Great Britain and Ireland. I am quite sure that all noble Lords from Ireland who speak so eloquently on this question speak with a clear conviction and really think if they were only given that it would go further than anything else to settle the long standing differences between the two islands. My Lords, it might settle these difficulties for the moment, but, believe 1005 me, you are only laying the seed of a far greater future trouble. In the whole of history there is no more potent cause of quarrel between neighbouring nations than Customs. I have seen it at very close quarters. I saw it in South Africa, when I had the honour of succeeding Lord Milner there. There were four colonies in South Africa: Cape Colony, Natal, the Orange River Colony as it was then, awl the Transvaal. During the course of my tenure of office the Union of South Africa became an accomplished fact. What was it that drove those four colonies and the Dutch and the English statesmen all into agreement for Union. It was because they were absolutely convinced the Colonies were ripening up for civil war. It was the certainty in the minds of those statesmen that if South Africa did not join in the Union there would be war between those colonies that brought conviction to all their minds. What was going to be the subject of war? Why, nothing in the world but railway rates and Customs.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Perhaps I might be allowed to say a single sentence with reference to what has just fallen from the noble Earl. As he knows, I have much the same knowledge of what happened in South Africa at that time as he has. I was then at the Colonial Office, and the South African Union was carried through when he was at the Transvaal. What the noble Earl has said is, of course, in a sense perfectly true. Those four Colonies, or four States, or however you like to describe them, were largely brought together by the necessity of combining on railway matters and control of Customs. I think it will be found, if and when the federation of these islands takes place—a possibility which I confess I do not expect to live to see, but which is conceivable—that sonic similar motives will inspire the different component parts of the United Kingdom, if that is the proper phrase, even assuming the Irish system to be different for a time. But it is a very different thing for communities which have had different Customs systems to be brought together by the force of circumstances and made to realise that union is a good thing, from imposing at a moment like this upon one of the future partners in the Federation a Customs system to which that country objects and which it considers works altogether unfairly in regard to itself.
1006 I therefore cannot see that the analogy which the noble Earl has produced is of any service to us at this moment. What I think is of service is the other argument which has been forcibly pressed by many speakers on this side—namely, that it is no good doing this thing' at all unless you are able to start with a sentiment of general good will in Ireland. The whole thing becomes meaningless and futile if you are, in one point or another, forcing upon Ireland methods of government and administration which she considers intolerable. All the efforts of His Majesty's Government, the excellence of which I fully recognise, will become powerless and to no purpose unless they are able to set themselves a great deal more completely than they have shown in the course of the debate their willingness to do, to meet the expressed and reasonable wishes of Ireland.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
The House, as a whole, I am sure, has shown itself very anxious to deal generously with Ireland in the new state of things, but I am sure nothing could persuade the people of England lightly to agree to the setting up of a Customs House, because, as the noble Marquess opposite has pointed out, Customs Rouses must be set up all round. The noble Earl, Lord Midleton, said he did not want Customs Houses because he would be searched. I do not know whether he goes home by Holyhead or Fishguard, but if we had Customs Houses all round we should search him, because we should have a Welsh barrier. Customs Houses are out of the question.
What I rose to say, however, was a word upon the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Bryce, with which I very much agree. He said that to make Ireland contented you must give her sonic power of raising money, something on which she can borrow. I do not profess to know the details of the Bill well enough to know if there is anything on which the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer can give a first-rate security.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
Of course, there may be two views about that, but I am certain that an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have some good security. I am going to give a little illustration from my own experience in Ireland. I know very little of Ireland, but 1007 during the war I was sent over there with a Committee specially to examine in connection with the submarine campaign Irish ports; railways and docks, and I got a very skilled expert committee. We went all round the South and West of Ireland and we were horrified by the lack of development which we saw. We made a great many recommendations, but we all agreed that the lack of harbours and means of communication in Ireland was a disgrace to the Empire. I do not wonder an Irishman thinks he could do better. As regards improvements in the South and West of Ireland I would say this: He could hardly do worse. I saw some things which had been done by the Government of the late Lord Salisbury, when they were really trying to do something for Ireland. I saw a mole or two which they had put up, and which an expert at once saw had been put up in the wrong place. They could not be lengthened or improved and you could only pull them down and begin again. The thing was a disgrace, and I am certain thousands of Irishmen know that just as well as the casual stranger from England. If you are going to content Ireland and make the Bill a reasonable one I am certain that you must give Ireland some power of raising money and some security. Whether they have it under this Bill I do not know, but if they have not then it ought to be put in the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I do not want to detain your Lordships more than for two minutes. I was surprised to hear the noble Earl speak in the way he did on Irish finance, because he made us another proposition, namely, that instead of this contribution from Ireland Ireland should borrow £200,000,000 and pay off her portion of the National Debt. I do not know with what authority he spoke, or who he has behind him. I only ask him this question, because it is well in these matters not to deal with unrealities but with facts. Does he really think, and at what price, Ireland can now borrow £150,000,000 or £200,000,000? It is all very well to have imagination, but in money matters imagination may lead people into queer positions.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I cannot answer the noble Viscount, but I will undertake to say that there are very few countries in the world which have £48,000,000 of revenue and which have 1008 not got to carry a very much larger debt than £200,000,000. He has added £50,000,000 to my figure, but six per cent. on £150,000,000 means £9,000,000 a year.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I will not discuss this further, because if anybody suggests that at this moment Ireland can borrow £150,000,000 at six per cent., I leave him to live in that land of dreams.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I am speaking of an Ireland having control of her own revenues. If you keep them in your own hands she cannot borrow a farthing.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I was speaking with full knowledge and making full allowance; and I say that if you go to the City of London to-day and ask half-a-dozen experienced financiers whether it is possible to borrow £150,000,000 at six per cent. I am afraid they would treat with derision the suggestion of the noble Earl.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I want to get away from these rather fantastic suggestions. There are one or two points of fact to which I should like to reply. Great complaint was made about the lack of control over their expenditure in Ireland. There is complete control. This money is collected, it is true, by the Imperial Parliament but, once collected, less the Imperial contribution the whole of it is handed over to these two Parliaments to spend exactly as they like. And generally when people have money handed over to them to spend as they like they consider that they have control over that money.
I will with some modesty put forward a merely business proposition. Supposing there was not so much sentiment and imagination in these matters, supposing representatives of this country and of the two Irish Parliaments were to meet round a board and to say, "We are going to set up these separate Parliaments," I think the obvious and businesslike thing to do would be to say that the Imperial Parliament, which has had great experience in dealing with these taxes, should at any rate for the present take over the business of levying and collecting the taxes and 1009 paying them over. The new Parliaments setting out on their new and difficult business, not knowing the difficult circumstances, would probably feel that they had quite enough to do in tackling the many difficult problems of administration and legislation without having also the complicated and technical duty of levying and collecting these particular taxes.
The third point I wish to make is this: I have been asked a specific question regarding tin powers of borrowing. I thought at first that it was a rhetorical question, and that the noble Lord meant to suggest that there were no powers of borrowing. Of course there are. First of all there are the proceeds of the purchase of land, which amount to something like £3,250,000. They can borrow on that. They can borrow also on their Consolidated Fund. On the basis of the present taxation the amount that they would receive would be something like 50 per cent. above the current expenditure, which leaves a large margin for borrowing. That does not exhaust the matter. If your Lordships will examine Clause 20 you will see that full liberty is given to the Irish Parliament to levy any additional taxes they like, except the particular taxes excepted or taxes of the same character, therefore the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, if they wanted to borrow money and were not satisfied with the proceeds of the sales of land, would be able to raise any other taxes.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I could suggest a good many, but I might give hints to the Chancellor of the Exchequer here, who already has taxed us almost enough. I do not know whether it is wise that I should suggest taxes, but I can think of two at, the moment. One is a tax on turnover, another is a tax on sales. I present those taxes to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If I took another half hour I could think of a good many other taxes that could be levied. I merely want to emphasise the fact that there is an ample margin on which the Irish Parliaments can levy, of course, for reasonable sums, or at least sums sufficient to deal with many matters to which the noble Viscount, Lord Bryce, referred.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
I should like to ask One question. Noble Lords opposite 1010 suggested that it might be a benefit if, instead of Ireland paying this large fixed sum, they might get quit of it by paying a lump sum, The question I put is, Would it be possible to embody that alternative in this Bill? I do not know whether that has been discussed in another place. Suppose if, instead of paying to Great Britain £14,000.000 or so a year they were to pay a lump sum down of £50,000,000 or £200,000,000—could that be done? If they think they could raise the sum it seems to me there would be no disadvantage in putting into this Bill the alternative that instead of paying a yearly fixed sum they should get quit by paying a lump sum down.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I do not know whether the noble Viscount has considered the question of Customs and Excise.
LORD MAC DONNELL
In bringing this Amendment to your Lordships' notice I always had it fixed in my mind that there was to be a free trade arrangement between Great Britain and Ireland. I also considered that it would be possible that there should be no Customs barrier whatever between Great Britain and Ireland; that the Customs should be controlled, conducted and levied, to a large extent, as they are at present, but that there should be in the Parliaments of Southern and Northern Ireland a power of inspection and control, and when they found that the circumstances of administration were not in accordance with their views there should by a process of communication between the Imperial Government, the Imperial officers, and the Irish officers, be an arrangement by which matters might be brought to their notice to their own satisfaction.
My object in putting this Amendment on the paper was the extreme, desirability of throwing on the Irish people responsibility for Irish government. I place far more importance upon that than upon any money consideration. If responsibility is imposed upon them there will be no longer those disturbances—I might almost say that internecine feud—between the two countries. We should be able to live in peace, the Irish people would also be able to consider their own economic development. They would not have regard to the Amount of money so lung as they had 1011 the knowledge that the money was their own, and that they would be able to cut their coat according to their cloth. To get £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 from the British Treasury is not the same thing. It is a far more inspiring thought to get £6,000,000 from their own Customs. Might I, in conclusion, refer to certain figures mentioned by the noble Viscount. I understood him to say that taxation in Ireland is at present £4 per head, while taxation in Great Britain is £14 per head.
LORD MAC DONNELL
Will not that contribution towards the Imperial Exchequer depend upon the taxable capacity of the two countries?
§ Resolved in theaffirmative, and Amend Clause 20 agreed to.1012
LORD MAC DONNELL
Does the noble Viscount remember that at the time of the Union, 120 years ago, the taxable proportion between Ireland and Great Britain was as I is to 7 ½? Does he remember also that at the time the Financial Commission sat in 1896 the proportion was I in 20? If that is so, should not the proportion at present be not £4 to £16, but £4 to £16 multiplied by 20?
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?—
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 62; Not-Contents, 37.1011
|Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Selborne, E.||Clwyd, L.|
|Strafford, E.||Colebrook, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Cozens-Hardy, L.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M.||Deramore, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Dynevor, L.|
|Bangor, V.||Fairlie, L.(E. Glasgow.)|
|Ancaster, E.||Cave, V.||Farnham, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Falmouth, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Finlay, V.||Lamington, L.|
|Devon, E.||Hood, V.||Lee of Fareham, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Milner, V.||Moulton, L.|
|Peel, V.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Fortescue, E.||St. Davids, V.||Phillimore, L.|
|Howe, E.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Lovelace, E.||Addington, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Atkinson, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Avebury, L.||Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]|
|Malmesbury, E.||Balfour, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Morton, E.||Bellew, L.||Stuart of Wortley, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Belper, L.||Sudley, L. [E. Arran.)|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Boston, L.||Sumner, L.|
|Roden, E.||Clanwilliam, L. [E. Clanwilliam.)||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Askwith, L.||Kilmaine, L.|
|Crewe, M.||Barrymore, L.||MacDonnell, L. [Teller.]|
|Buckmaster, L.||Meston, L.|
|Drogheda, E.||Crofton, L.||Monteagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Iveagh, E.||Decies, L.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Kingston, E.||Denman, L.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Midleton, E.||Fingall, L. [E. Fingall.)||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Wicklow, E.||Holm Patrick, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Islington, L.||Rathdonnell. L.|
|Bryce, V.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)||Saltersford, L. [E. Courlown.)|
|De Vesci, V.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)||Save and Sele, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Shandon, L. [Teller.]|
§ Clause 20 agreed to.
§ Clauses 21 to 23 agreed to.1013
§ Clause 24:
§ Power of levying surtax in addition to or granting relief, from income tax and super-tax.
§ 24.—(l) The Parliament of Southern Ireland or of Northern Ireland shall have power either to impose an additional income tax or super-tax (hereinafter referred to as a surtax) on individuals resident and domiciled in Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively in respect of the total income of those individuals from all sources, or to grant relief from those taxes or either of them to such individuals, and the surtax may be imposed or the relief given either generally to all such individuals or to individuals whose total income exceeds, or is less than, such amount as may be determined by the Act imposing the tax or granting the relief, and in the ease of the imposition of a surtax, whether or not the individuals are liable to income tax or super-tax.
§ (2) The Act imposing the surtax may provide for its being levied and collected in like manner as super-tax, and in such case for applying the provisions of the Income Tax Acts as to the le eying and collection of super-tax.
§ (3) Such relief as aforesaid shall be granted, by way of repayment of any part or the whole of the income tax or super-tax paid by the individuals to whom the relief is granted, and the Act granting the relief may provide for the amounts so repayable being repaid in like manner as other repayments under the Income Tax Acts.
§ (4) The levying and collection of any such surtax and the making of such repayments shall rest with the Government of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be, and the proceeds of the surtax shall be paid into, and the repayments shall be made out of, the Consolidated Fund of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be:
§ Provided that the Commissioner of Inland Revenue and other authorities and officers by whom income tax and super-tax are levied and collected may at the request and at the expense of the Government of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be, levy and collect such surtax or make such payments on behalf of the Government of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland.
§ (5) Sums collected or paid under this section, whether or not collected or paid by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, shall not be taken into account in determining for the purposes of this Act the amount of the Irish share of reserved taxes.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGHmoved the first of a series of amendments to this clause, namely, at the beginning of subsection (1), to leave out "either to impose an additional Income Tax or Super-Tax (hereinafter referred to as a surtax) on" and insert "to grant relief from Income Tax and Super-Tax or either of those taxes to."
§ The noble Lord said: My Amendments to Clause 24 are proposed in order to make substantive alterations to the clause. No 1014 question of privilege arises, because whether these words are deleted or not no extra charge can he placed on the Imperial Exchequer. I think I can put the point very briefly. The whole of this clause, as I understand it, is intended to give the Trish Parliaments power to impose a second Income Tax or Super-Tax upon their unfortunate constituents. I should have thought that at this time of day it was recognised as absolutely certain that a double Income Tax upon an individual is one of the most unfair imposts that could possibly be placed on his shoulders. There has been a. great deal of discussion between the Imperial Exchequer and the Dominions as to double Income Tax in the case of people who have Dominion residence or domicile, and on the part, correspondingly, of those who live in this country but have property in the Dominions. Though in the short time at my disposal I have not been able to find out what has been done, I understand that the Exchequer has admitted that in the next Budget or in the near future that grievance must be redressed. And yet we find a direct provision in this Bill Taking it absolutely certain that the subordinate Irish Parliaments will put this great burden upon their constituent members. If I wanted to appeal to a high authority I should quote the authority of the Primrose Commission. The Primrose Commission sat some five live or six years ago; they were a. body of strong financial experts, and in their Report they unanimously condemned this system.
§ In this ease it is not only an Income Tax which is to be put on but a Super-Tax. Just look at what that may mean. We know only too well in the case of what we are at present suffering under, taking Income Tax and Super-Tax together, if you are paying on an income of £3,000 or £4,000 you are paying something like 11s. 6d. in the £. The Income Tax is 6s. and the Super-Tax has been largely increased; and I may say from my own personal experience that more than half of the income is being taken. I will put it at not more than about 10s. 6d. Suppose the individual is paying 10s. 6d. in the £ now, how is he to pay an unlimited further tax upon his income to the Irish Parliament? And there is no limit in this clause as to what the subordinate Government may put on. It is not, only a question of residence; that will be bad enough, but it is residence or domicile. The tax will be paid to the Irish Parliament not, as I 1015 understand it, only upon the Irish property, but upon the property of the unfortunate Irishman wherever it may be situated. Say, for example, a man was domiciled or generally resident in Ireland and he had a large property in this country, the Irish Parliament might tax him to the extreme limit of what they could take, and as I understand the provisions of the Bill—I am not skilled in reading these things, but I am told it is the case—the Irish Parliament could demand of the British officers of the Exchequer that they should sell up the man on this side if he did not pay.
§ My Lords, this seems to me a very grave injustice. I, of course, have no personal interest in the matter, but I think there is a danger. We know something of the circumstances of Ireland, and I do not think I am wrong in saying that so far as the South and West of Ireland is concerned the majority of the people who pay Income Tax are the minority of the inhabitants who do not go with the majority in these matters, and there is only too much risk that the constituent bodies in Ireland might unduly penalise those who are in a minority in their own place and would have no power to get out of it or to retaliate. I will forbear from lengthening the discussion at this hour of the evening; I put the main facts before the House, and if they can be answered or do not weigh I will see what reply I can make. I believe I have made a perfectly straight and simple statement of the actual facts, and I will leave it to the House to say whether it is a just or an unjust proposal.
Clause 24, page 24, line 43, leave out from ("power") to ("individuals") on page 25, line 1, and insert ("to grant relief from income tax and super-tax or either of those taxes to")—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
I think that noble Lords from Ireland must he extremely grateful to Lord Balfour of Burleigh for putting this question before the House. It is a question which will vitally affect all owners of land and property in Ireland. Already we feel very gravely the stress of taxation put upon us, and many of us find it extremely hard to hold on to our demesnes and live, with taxation as it is now in Ireland. If extra taxation is put upon us it will have the effect of forcing many land and property owners to leave the country. It should also be home in mind that the class likely to be taxed is 1016 the class which will probably have no representation whatever in the Parliament of Southern Ireland. I think we are extremely likely to be taxed to such an extent that we shall be forced to leave the country.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
During the last two hours we have been listening to, and been much moved by, the most impassioned appeals from members in all quarters of the House, largely from Irishmen, to leave full and unfettered control of taxation to Ireland, and after great efforts we have beaten them. I suppose they have been entirely persuaded by our arguments. We now get an Amendment of a totally different tenor. The object of the clause is to give, as regards Income Tax, as much freedom as possible to the Irish Governments, and now we have an Amendment of an entirely opposite purport and noble Lords rising in indignation and saying, "Are you going to trust Irish Parliaments? They will tax us out of existence."
What is one to think of this kind of argument against the Bill? On the one side it is said, "Give them all power over taxation," and on the other, "Why, if you give them this small power you will wipe us off the face of the earth." The contradictions of the Irish question are difficult for simple-minded Englishmen to fathom. I notice, and I think it is interesting, that it was not an Irishman who moved this Amendment. It was a Scotsman who is so depressed by the unfortunate position in which these people may be placed by the Surtax. Of course, the noble Lord is right in his diagnosis of the reasons of the clause. While it is impossible, for administrative reasons, to hand over to these two Parliaments the collection and assessment of Income Tax, which must be collected in the first place at the source at the rate in this country, the Irish Governments are to have perfect freedom to impose what Tax they like, either to increase it or lower it. I notice that objection is not taken to lowering the Tax but to increasing it. I am bound to say that when you know how high the rate of Income Tax and Super-Tax is, and see that there is a possibility of a still higher rate of Super-Tax being imposed, it is enough to make people anxious.
Before I deal with the policy of it I should like to sweep aside two or three subsidiary points raised by the noble Lord. First of all, he said it could be placed upon individuals. Of course that 1017 is not the effect of clause 24. It is only placed on individuals as opposed to persons which means businesses am I firms. It does ID mean it can he placed upon specific individuals but classes of individuals whose incomes are more or less than a certain amount. I have taken advice upon it, and I am informed that is so. Of course, if it is not so it ought to be and will be put right.
Another and also a subsidiary point was raised by the noble Lord, and that is "How very hard it is that you are going to raise this tax not only on the income that a man has in Ireland, but income that he has elsewhere." That is one of those inevitable results of the Income Tax itself, and it is necessary, I think for two reasons. In the first place it is so exceedingly difficult to say where the income arises. It is almost impossible to say that income, except perhaps where it is derived from land, arises solely in Ireland, and that it the only income which the Irish Government are to be allowed to take. Let me take two cases. Suppose you have two men living side by side, both equally rich. One has an income arising mainly from investments in America, and the other income arising from land in Inland. Surely it is right that two people who enjoy the same amount of income should pay the same amount of Income Tax. Obviously it would be extremely unfair that a man with £6,000 a year arising entirely in Ireland should have the full charge placed upon him, while the man living next door whose income came from America had no such tax laid upon him. That would be one of the unfairnesses which would result if the noble Lord's suggestion were adopted.
Then the noble Lord referred to double Income Tax and the difficulties and troubles which arose therefrom. He seemed to consider this was a case of double income Tax. It is nothing of the kind. Double Income Tax arises when a man's investments in Australia are taxed at a certain rate there and the money, having had the Colonial tax lopped off, comes to this country and has to bear another charge. Arrangements have now been made with the Colonial authorities to meet that difficulty and give a rebate.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I assure the noble Lord that the particular difficulties of double Income Tax do not arise. He enjoys the privilege of paying Super-Tax, and he knows how that is calculated. It is not a double Income Tax but only an additional tax. It is a pleasure we all of us have to go through once a year, and therefore we are quite familiar with Super-Tax being an additional income Tax. This surtax is really only an additional Income Tax. The matter, therefore, is perfectly simple. Ought these Irish Parliaments to be given or not given the power of having some freedom of taxation as regards Income Tax? As I understand, the noble Lord's attack was centred only on the South of Ireland. I do not know whether he wishes to leave this power to Ulster and to take it away from the South of Ireland.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I think that is rather ludicrous. The Bill applies to both, and my Amendment would take it from both.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
I merely noted that the noble Lord's attack was only upon the Southern Parliament and not upon the Northern Parliament. Therefore, I was not quite sure whether the noble Lord wished to apply different treatment to the North of Ireland and to the South. If your Lordships have so little confidence in the new Irish Parliament, if you think they would act with such extraordinary insanity as deliberately to penalise and drive out, of the country those men whose taxable capacity is considerable, then I suppose you will vote against it. But I desire to emphasise that under the powers of taxation in the Bill any Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he choose—if you omit this surtax—could most effectively ruin all that, class of men whom you think will be saved by taking off the surtax. You may say, If you take off the surtax you remove that particular danger. But you will get into a great number of other dangers if you assume that these people will act with absolute insanity and are utterly unfit to be trusted with the powers or rights of taxation. That is the dilemma in which we are placed. I thought we were told that these two Parliaments should be entrusted with the entire taxation and yet 1019 you boggle at the one single power of taxation which is to be left to them. I can only suggest to your Lordships that this freedom should be allowed to the two Parliaments.
The particular class of men of whom you are speaking are few. They are not a political danger. But suppose that they were a political danger to the Parliaments of the South or North. then I can understand why, for political and vindictive reasons, the Parliaments might like to penalise them; but if they are not, bat are really a reservoir of taxable capacity which in times of difficulty and trouble might be appealed to, surely it is almost attributing madness to these Parliaments to think that they would select these particular men, ruin them and drive them out of the country.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
This matter is so serious that I protest against the rather jaunty tone in which the noble Viscount has discussed it. The whole of his argument was vitiated by his again and again returning to the want of confidence shown on this side in taxation by the Irish Parliament. The noble Viscount does not seem to realise that by the last decision he struck out the whole power of the Irish Parliament to settle its own finance. Look at the position in which the Government is putting the Parliaments. They say, "You have got to pay us £18,000,000 a year"—I am not now saying whether the British Government are right or wrong in asking for that—"you then have a surplus of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000." I would point out that the Irish railways are not working, and that being so no one will dispute that there will be a large fall in the Irish revenue in the next few weeks and months, and it is possible there would be no margin at all for the Irish Parliament to work upon. You have refused to give them the means of borrowing a single farthing, and if they desire to undergo any of the expenditure which every one believes to be necessary in Ireland they must have the power of finding money in some way.
Take the case of any landowner or business man who has £20,000 a year. If you mortgage his £20,000 by charges to the extent of £18,000, he may be reduced to shifts either by putting down wages on the one side or raising rent on the other which he would not think of stooping to if he had command of his whole income. You 1020 are really saying to the Irish Parliament: "You have charges to make; you have improvements to carry out, and you have the money. How are you going to make them?" They will look round and say, "By using this surtax." This surtax does not exist in any Colonial Government which has a countervailing return. You are going to put Ireland, therefore, in a different position from any Colonial Government without any power of arrest by any authority.
I look upon this matter as so serious that, having regard to the conditions of the House, the lateness of the hour, and the fact that earlier in the evening it was thought by many Peers that it would be as well to adjourn until Monday, I shall move that the debate be adjourned, that we report progress, and resume the discussion of this Bill on Monday. I can assure the noble Viscount that there is a great depth of feeling about this particular question, and that it involves principles which go far beyond the speech he has delivered.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, is not disposed to take objection to that proposal, but I hope the House will agree that on resumption the Committee stage of this Bill shall be put in the first order for next Monday.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
There are four or five Government Bills on the Paper for Monday, including another Irish Bill, which would otherwise take precedence of the Government of Ireland Bill.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
No, not Orders, but Questions. There is a Question in the name of my noble friend, Lord Newton, who is not present, and a Motion in the name of Lord Balfour of Burleigh. Lord Newton's Question can be answered, I imagine, in two words. Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Motion is in relation to the Board of Agriculture and the Scottish Office. I do not know whether he would be disposed 1021 to agree to my suggestion that he should give way to—
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
It is no more than a Motion for the purpose of getting an answer, and I shall not trouble to make a speech.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The Government have power to change their own Orders, have they not? We should agree to any re-arrangement, of course.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
In that case and in order to maintain the power of the Government to change its own Orders, perhaps my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh will waive his objection to this Motion being passed.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
As the noble Earl makes that appeal to me I will do so as a matter of course.
§ House resumed, and to be again in Committee on Monday next.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, I beg to move that, on the resumption of the Committee stage of the Government of Ireland Bill on Monday, the Committee stage of that Bill should have precedence over other business.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes before twelve o'clock midnight.