§ Order of the Day read for the consideration of the Commons Amendments to Lords Amendments and Commons Reasons for disagreeing with certain of the Lords Amendments.394
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD BIRKENHEAD)
My Lords, I move that the Commons Amendments and Reasons be now considered. It may be convenient to your Lordships that I should shortly summarise the effect of the Amendments made in another place, in order that you may be able readily to appreciate the condition in which the Bill now stands. Your Lordships are certainly to be congratulated upon having produced very great modifications in the Bill as it originally reached this House, and upon the number of points, which seem to me to be among the more important matters of controversy, in which the House of Commons has acquiesced in your Lordships' view. They have agreed that there shall be Senates in the Irish Parliaments, and that admission, of course, carries with it all the consequential Amendments which were introduced in this House as to the relations of the two Houses to each other and as to the measures proper to be taken in cases of disagreement.
I ought, perhaps, to point out that at different stages in the course of the debate it has been complained that I indulged in sarcasm in relation to the proposed constitution of these Assemblies. The apprehensions which I entertained still exist in my mind, and I do not know whether it would be possible for a Second Chamber so artificially constituted to retain its prestige and authority for a very long period. It is never very wise to make predictions, but in so far as it was suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Midleton, that I had indulged in sarcasm at the expense of his suggestions, the noble Earl will do me the justice to remember that my observations on that occasion were directed not so much at the Senate per se as at the most unfortunate and, as I thought, ill-conceived proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Shandon, that the Senate should discharge the functions which our original proposal had placed in the hands of the Council for Ireland; and certainly no proposal could possibly be more attractive of sarcasm than that proposal which has now most happily disappeared. As I say, the House of Commons have accepted your Lordships' view upon that point without any material modification.
The commons have also agreed—and this seems to me to be a matter of no small substance—that if and when the Parliament of Ireland is united it shall be united 395 under a bi-cameral system and not under a uni-cameral system. As the Bill was originally drafted, the matter was left entirely at large upon the Council, and if they had so chosen they could have contented themselves with a single Chamber, but your Lordships' views on that have been accepted. A still more important Amendment has been accepted by the House of Commons, and I am not without hope that your Lordships will see in that acceptance very considerable evidence of a desire to consider your Amendments in a very conciliatory spirit. It may have been possible, if those in another place who were in charge of the Bill had thought fit, to found objections on the ground that it was a question of finance. They have not done so, but have agreed to the Amendment which this House passed abolishing the provision in the original Bill conferring on the Irish Parliaments power to impose additional Income Tax or Surtax. That is a matter upon which, as your Lordships know, this House felt very strongly. I may perhaps say quite candidly, listening as I did to the whole of the debate, that it seemed to me the balance of opinion was very strongly indeed in favour of the view which this House embodied in its Amendment. I may say I strongly pressed this view upon my colleagues—a view reinforced by my noble friend the Leader of the House—and the Government, and subsequently the House of Commons agreed to accept the Amendment which your Lordships introduced without raising any question as to whether or no it might possess a financial character.
The House of Commons also agreed, consistently with your Lordships' view, to the preservation of the taxing powers of the Irish Parliaments as regards negotiable instruments. They have agreed, in accordance with the suggestion which was made by my noble and learned friend Lord Phillimore, to provisions as to the finality of the decisions of the House of Lords and Judicial Committee when dealing with Irish matters; they have also agreed to the Amendment inserted in this House which saved the rank and title of the existing Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, a change which was also adopted upon the suggestion of my noble and learned friend Lord Phillimore; and they have accepted without criticism or modification the constitution of the scheme of the Southern Senate as it proceeded from this House.
396 As I am passing from the subject of Senates altogether I may say this. Whether ideally these Second Chambers are in the most desirable form that could be conceived, whether practically they are in a form which can for a very long period survive I do not know, but in introducing this provision that there shall be Second Chambers I think your Lordships are entitled to claim credit for having relieved a great many anxieties which I cannot dismiss as unreal. It may, I think, be added that it is sometimes possible for Parliament to do that which it is very much more difficult for a Government, as a Government, to do. That, at any rate, has been done in this House, and I look forward to the experience of the future, with anxiety indeed, but not entirely without hope in this respect.
On another point the House of Commons, though in form purporting to amend one of your Lordships' Amendments, has really added to the security which it was the object of that Amendment to introduce. Your Lordships carried an Amendment providing that the Irish Houses of Commons should not be able to take private property for public purposes without just compensation. I felt some difficulty about the terms of that Amendment—I do not now re-enter into the question of its merits —but I felt some difficulty as to its terms, because it seemed to me that to lay stress upon a prohibition against taking private property might seem to justify the inference that a different rule would prevail in cases where you were dealing with public property. And, in the second place, I objected to the term "just compensation." The term "just compensation," as we lawyers understand it, is not a term of art, and it seemed to me to be a vague expression difficult to construe and likely to lead to confusion. The House of Commons have amended that Amendment, and it now runs "or take any property"—which would mean public or private property—"without compensation." This is, therefore an addition to the security which was the object of the Amendment adopted by your Lordships, and they have left nothing which would add confusion and perhaps embarrassment in the field of construction.
Now I come to the question of the composition of the Northern Senate. Under the Lords Amendment twenty-four of the twenty-six Northern Senators were to be 397 elected by the Northern House of Commons "in such manner as that House may determine." These words were omitted in the Commons, and by a subsequent Amendment the words "or of Northern Ireland" were inserted after the words "Senate of Southern Ireland" in paragraph (4) of the Fourth Schedule. The combined effect of these Amendments is that the twenty-four elected Senators of the Northern Senate are to be elected by the Northern House of Commons on the principle of proportional representation. As the Northern minority will have substantial representation in the Northern House of Commons, these Amendments will secure adequate representation to the Northern minority in the Northern Senate also.
And I may pause here to make an observation with reference to a communication which recently appeared in the Press from a distinguished ecclesiastic in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, in which he complains that no provision at all had been made in the North of Ireland for the protection of minorities. If your Lordships accept, as I very much hope—I venture indeed to anticipate that you will accept—the Amendment on this point made in another place, the result will be this, that incontestably in the new Northern House of Commons—even at the outset, when the votes of the electors will probably be given upon the existing issues, and when therefore the Unionist or distinctively the Ulster Party may be expected to be at its strongest, there will be a very considerable minority of votes in the Ulster House of Commons, and I for one have always thought that the inclusion of the two debatable counties in the Parliament of the North was principally to be defended in relation to this very circumstance, that it inevitably secured, even at the outset, a considerable minority representation. And if we attempt, difficult as it may be, to project our eyes further into the future we shall find it, I think, very hard to resist the conclusion that the minority representation in the Northern House of Commons is bound to grow. As long, in other words, as the issue of the Union is bitterly contested in the North of Ireland, so long as that question at Parliamentary Elections over-rides all the minor but still important issues, such as industrial questions, and all those various political divisions with which in this country we are so familiar, the day may be postponed; for so paramount and imperious has been the issue 398 which has been based upon the Union that an artificial strength has it scents to me for a long time been maintained by what we call distinctively the Unionist Party in the North.
If I am right in these views we may look forward, even in the first House of Commons which is returned in Ulster, to a considerable minority. And nothing can be more certain, as it seems to me, than this, so far as any anticipations of the future can be certain, that that minority will grow. And therefore we are assured that the apprehensions of the distinguished Prelate to whom I have referred upon this point are ill-founded. At the very outset there will be considerable protection to the minority in the House of Commons, and the protection will inevitably be reflected in the Constitution of the Senate.
A further Amendment was moved by Major O'Neill to the Fourth Schedule, paragraph (2) (a) providing that one-half of the twenty-four elected Northern Senators are to retire every fourth year, the object being, of course, to prevent the Senate being an exact reflection of the House of Commons for the time being. As far as I am concerned that seems to me to be a very sensible proposal. It does not need that the Senate at any given moment shall be saying or thinking exactly what the House of Commons is thinking, and there have been cases well within your Lordships' experience in which, had there been a Senate in this country in one year, it might have found itself in very great agreement with the views of the House of Commons, and in equal disagreement with the House of Commons which succeeded it a year later. And therefore, I myself see no objection to that Amendment.
In order to make this explanation complete I ought to add that Mr. Aneurin Williams, by an Amendment which he carried, substituted "four" for "five" in paragraph (4) of the Fourth Schedule. This is the last alteration made in another place. That paragraph provided that the proportional representation principle is t apply only to elections of senators where five or more members were to be elected, thus excluding the elections of the four Roman Catholic or the two Protestant Archbishops or Bishops. The effect, therefore, of Mr. Williams's Amendment is to extend the principle of proportional representation to elections of the four Roman Catholic Archbishops or Bishops. I am 399 a great supporter of proportional representation, and in putting the question of this particular Amendment to the House I shall naturally, as I am asked, put it in the form that the Commons Amendment be agreed to. But the brief explanation which I have given of its terms will, I think, enable your Lordships to arrive at a conclusion upon it.
I think I did not exaggerate when I said that the House of Commons had given very great attention to the views held and expressed by noble Lords in this House. They do not find themselves able to accept the proposals of Lord Midleton in relation to the constitution of the Council. I will not enter at length into that, because I am sure the noble Earl will think it necessary to make some observations upon it himself. The principal element in his Amendment was that the Council should not merely be the creature of the Houses of Commons, but that the Senates of Northern and Southern Ireland, in proportion to their numbers, should be given representation on the Council.
I will tell your Lordships what were the considerations which, as far as I was able to follow, influenced the House of Commons, and I think the Government, in the recommendations which they make. It is quite certain that this Council will be called upon to discharge functions which of all others are appropriate to a first Chamber and are inappropriate to a Second Chamber. There is committed to them at the outset the charge of the railways of the whole of Ireland, a responsibility which is already very great—how great the experience of the last few months in Ireland will serve to emphasise—and a responsiblity which includes amongst other subjects the determination of the rate of wages and those immensely important matters relating to industrial disputes which are likely to be connected with the work of our railway systems in the future. It is apparent that, considerable as are the functions to be discharged at once, they are nothing to the functions which it is expected this body will one day appropriate. When it has so appropriated these greater functions, including many of the spending functions of Government, the view was strongly held, and as so far prevailed, that the body discharging them ought to be a body the parent of which was the popularly elected and not the nominated Chamber. On this point I shall listen with great interest to 400 any observations which Lord Midleton may think it proper to make.
The next point upon which the House of Commons find themselves unable to agree with your Lordships—I omit the compensation clause as there the Government have strengthened your Lordships wishes—is the Amendment your Lordships made in Clause 11 after "fisheries." inserting "and the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act." The Government are unwilling to agree to the view taken by your Lordships on that point. They have a clear view that the administration of the Diseases of Animals Acts, and the power of making laws with respect to the contagious diseases of animals, should not be vested in the Council of Ireland to the exclusion of the Irish Parliaments and Governments. I am inclined to hope that on further reflection your Lordships will come to the conclusion that it would not be practicable or desirable we should divorce the Irish Parliaments from the important functions which are concerned with these topics. They are topics on which the Houses of Commons are specially likely to be competent to deal. They may refer them to their own Committees but would be less likely to refer them to a Committee which is chosen for quite different purposes, and for purposes which may become extremely important. They may amount to no less than the functions of a Constituent Assembly, and it follows that persons elected to discharge functions of this kind are not necessarily the most expert to deal with questions of fisheries and diseases of animals. I suggest that your Lordships should not be too obstinate in insisting on this Amendment.
The next Amendment is in Clause 14, to leave out "three" and insert "six." Your Lordships will be in possession of the issue which was raised in Committee in this House. In simple language it was this: Are the new Councils to be at liberty to recast their electoral systems, to modify them if they so choose, in three years as the House of Commons suggested or shall they only be given that opportunity at the conclusion of six years as your Lordships prefer? Here again I hope, knowing the strong view that is entertained on this question elsewhere, that this House will not insist, upon the conclusion at which it arrived by a narrow majority in the Committee stage.
The reason why we ask your Lordships not to persevere in this particular Amend- 401 ment is that in the North, and also in the Southern part of Ireland when the Parliament comes into existence, the logical view will he taken that if they have been given a Parliamentary institution they ought at the moment they become a Parliament to be masters in their own house. We have conceded them full powers, and on what logical consideration can we justify a postponement of the period in which they should discharge those functions which we are all agreed are theirs and not ours. I hope these considerations may possibly influence your Lordships on that point.
In Committee in this House we inserted a new clause after Clause 69 on the Motion of Lord Midleton. The effect of the proposal was that on the passing of this Bill the Speaker of the House of commons of the United Kingdom was to communicate with Members returned by constituencies in Southern and Northern Ireland respectively to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom and to invite them to state whether they accepted the constitution established under this Bill. At the time I endeavoured to state my objection to the proposal, and confess that further reflection has strengthened every objection to which I then, judging by the result, gave inadequate expression. Really I cannot think that a Member of the House of Commons greatly exaggerated when he described the proposal as being an unwieldy one. Let your Lordships consider what it means. We are here framing a Constitution for the whole of Ireland. We should be indeed inattentive to the experience of the last two years if we did not know that those who were elected as the Irish representatives to the Imperial House of Commons at the election two years ago have shown by every means in their power since that date that they flouted the connection between Ireland and this country to such an extent that they have never even appeared in the House of Commons, and they have ostentatiously declared that they will not take the Oath of Allegiance. Yet it is to these men, who were elected two years ago in Ireland upon an entirely different issue and with no knowledge at all that a Bill of this kind would be introduced, that we are to commit the decision upon a question which was intended to be, and which must be, an invitation and an opportunity to the people of Ireland as a whole.
Who are the people with whom Mr. Speaker is to enter into correspondence? 402 Twelve of them are at the present moment in gaol. That circumstance provides us with a convenience, because at least we know their addresses, so that the embarassment imposed upon Mr. Speaker is in these particular cases diminished. The majority of the others are in places which are entirely unknown to the representatives of His Majesty's Government in Ireland. Many of them are hunted fugitives in the hills of Ireland, and the idea that we are to gain the slightest guidance as to whether the saner elements in the Irish population are disposed to accept this Constitution by turning to men who were elected because they were firebrands, under entirely different circumstances two years ago, and the majority of whom are either in gaol or are being hunted by the forces of justice, has not much to commend it. What are we to ask, according to this Amendment? We are to ask them whether they accept this Constitution. I cannot suspect that the noble Earl intended to illustrate to us his powers, much appreciated by us all, as a humorist, but certainly the more one contemplates it the more one is filled with admiration if he did this in a purely humorous spirit.
There are those gentlemen who are in gaol and those who ought to be in gaol. I am not dealing with them exhaustively, because I will not dismiss the possibility that there is a small third class so disloyal that they will not or dare not take the Oath of Allegiance; so that we may divide them into three classes. Mr. Speaker is to enter into negotiations with (1) the gentlemen in gaol; (2) those who ought to be in gaol and whose addresses are unknown; and (3) those, a minority I believe, who have ostentatiously told the whole world that they will never take the Oath of Allegiance to the Sovereign. Having addressed that invitation, Mr. Speaker is to wait the answer. The question is this, Do you accept this Constitution? I wonder what the noble Earl thinks would be the answer? I do not think it can have presented itself to his mind as a very ambiguous speculation. Of course, those who answer at all, who I should think would be a negligible minority, would return an insulting and contemptuous message. Are we really to be told that that is to be taken as the answer of the Irish people. which we know contains many sane elements, to a proposal with which they, and they alone, can deal?
403 And why is a proposal so mischievous in the Constitutional aspect to be recommended? Who are these people? They are in a minority in the British House of Commons; and when we are dealing with the ultimate fortunes of a Bill which is the result of the collective discussions of the House of Commons and the House of Lords —discussions to which they could have contributed and to which it was their duty to contribute—we are to seek this absentee and disloyal minority who, in every manner that insult could suggest, have abstained from taking any part in our deliberations, and we are to turn to them and make them masters of Parliament and the arbiters of the destinies of an Act of Parliament. If the noble Earl thinks it possible to modify his Amendment in any way that will remove its graver and more obvious blemishes I shall listen with very great interest to any observations that he may think it, proper to make.
Now I come to a small Amendment which will be found on Page 5. I have dealt with the omission of Clause 70. At that point the Commons propose, after the word "Order," to insert "and for making the provisions of this Act (including provisions as to the Council of Ireland) operative in all respects in that part of Ireland." The matter is a little technical, and it need not be discussed in detail. Its object may be easily explained. A doubt arose as to whether or not, in the contingency that it became necessary to resort to Crown Colony government, the machinery which would be substituted for the Southern Parliament was so described in the terms of the Bill as originally drafted as to carry with it the full powers naturally belonging to the Southern Parliament in relation to the constitution and functions of the Council, and it is to meet that doubt, which is of a technical kind, that the Amendment has been inserted by the House of Commons, and I anticipate your Lordships will readily accept it.
Next I turn to a very important Amendment which stood in the name of the noble Marquess. The House of Commons has disagreed with this Amendment on the ground that in their view it is inexpedient that an Act passed by both Houses of Parliament should be suspended until those Houses have again approved. The object of the noble Marquess was to provide that the appointed day, both in relation to Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, 404 should be such date as may respectively be fixed by a Resolution or Resolutions passed by both Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom. In subsection (3) of the Amendment he made an attempt, I think not wholly successful, to deal with a fundamental dilemma which confronted his effort at draftsmanship in the circumstances in which it is put forward. The dilemma was this. The scheme of the Bill imperatively demands that you should have in the North and in the South some source or origin out of which there can be created its contribution to the Council. We have done it by Crown Colony government in the contingency that the Southern Parliament does not do its duty, but if you exclude us from the resources with which we have provided ourselves under Crown Colony government you must find some other method of dealing with the destructive effect of an Amendment which deals with one Parliament on the hypothesis that the other does not come into being.
Under subsection (3) the noble Marquess attempted to deal with it by providing that in case only one Parliament comes into being His Majesty may by Order in Council make such modifications in the provisions as might be necessary for giving effect to any of the provisions of the Bill. No Order in Council could deal with a hiatus of the kind now under consideration, and unless the noble Marquess has some alternative—and if I may respectfully say so some more practicable scheme in his mind—it certainly would be my duty to ask your Lordships not to insist upon your Amendment in this connection.
Now I come for a moment to the Schedules. Your Lordships are aware that the constitution of the Senates is contained in the Schedules, and I have already explained that with no very considerable modification the proposals of this House in regard to the North of Ireland have been adopted, and the proposals of this House in relation to the Senate of Southern Ireland have been adopted without any modification at all. If your Lordships will look at the bottom of page 8, so that there may be nothing that I have left unexplained, you will see that it is proposed in the Third Schedule, lines 10 and 11, to leave out "in such manner as that House may determine"; that is to say, that the members of the Senate of Northern Ireland are not to be elected "in such manner as 405 that House may determine." It was open to reasonable objection—objections that we became aware were reasonably held—that it would become an exact reproduction of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland, and therefore it became our duty to make some provision for the protection of minorities on the Senate of Northern Ireland. I have attempted now to explain all the points which it seems to me arise, and if I have been long in doing so it may, I hope, lead to more brevity in my later contributions to the debate.
§ Moved, That the Commons Amendments and Reasons be now considered.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I shall detain the House as short a time as possible, because I knew the great amount of business which awaits your Lordships this afternoon. Let me say at the outset that although undoubtedly the House of Commons has treated your Lordships' House with great respect, yet the concessions which have been made to us may easily be exaggerated. The provision of the Senates of Northern and Southern Ireland was merely that we implemented a pledge which the Government themselves had given in another place. They cannot, I think, take much credit as a concession that we have done what they themselves promised to do. The surtax stands in a different position. It is a very substantial concession, arid I should be very ungrateful if I did not say that we, as members of this House, are thankful that another place has taken the view which we put forward.
I do not promise to dwell upon small details, neither should I, speaking for myself, desire to ask your Lordships to insist upon the smaller Amendments which you made in the Bill. They are not really small—nothing in this Bill is small, for it is one of the most fundamental Bills ever submitted to Parliament—but relative to the big issues which we have to try some are smaller. So far as I am concerned I should not ask your Lordships to insist upon such things as the Amendment with reference to the diseases of animals. I do not know what judgment your Lordships will form, but you might be willing to give up the Amendment which provides that the conditions of the Constitution fixed for Ireland could not be changed within six years, instead of three years, which would be within the House of Commons proposal. 406 I do not desire to detain you over these relatively smaller matters. As regards the Council, the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack has explained the reasons why the House of Commons have not been able to take the view which we took as to the composition of the Council. I am afraid your Lordships will probably be asked to insist in a great measure upon that Amendment. It is a matter which Lord Midleton, who understands it much better than I do, will no doubt deal with when he has an opportunity.
What I was most anxious to say was a word or two with reference to the part of the Bill for which I am more specially responsible. I mean the two Amendments at the end of the Bill—one which was moved into the Bill by Lord Midleton, and one which was moved into the Bill by myself; that is to say, the Amendment which provided for taking the opinion of Ireland through the present members of Parliament for Ireland, and the Amendment which provided that the Bill should not become operative in Northern or Southern Ireland until a Resolution had been passed by both Houses of the Imperial Parliament. I admit that upon these matters there must be something in the nature of give and take. I am sure that your Lordships would expect me to speak with all due moderation on a subject of that kind.
Let me consider what were the main objects which the Government had in view. Their first object, of course, was to secure the Parliament for Ulster without delay. That was one of their main objects. Well, I admit that I held the view, when this matter was first before your Lordships, that if there was to be a delay in granting a Parliament to Southern Ireland that delay should extend to the granting of a Parliament to Northern Ireland, and I supported an Amendment moved by Lord Askwith which would have had that effect. But we were defeated, and I agree that upon the passing of this Act the Parliament for Ulster should be established. Once that decision has been made there does not seem to me to be any reason for any further delay as regards the Parliament of Northern Ireland. The next object which the Government had in view was that a definite offer of a Parliament and Constitution should be made to Southern Ireland, and they proposed that by Section 70, which we struck out, and which has now been restored by the House 407 of Commons. Lastly, they propose that, failing the establishment of a Constitution in Southern Ireland, it should be administered by what is inaccurately known as Crown Colony government. Those I take to be their main objects.
I have no objection now to the full establishment of a Parliament in Ulster nor to the offer being made to Southern Ireland, but I do think that the date at which that offer should be made should be elastic. Under the Government's proposal as it has come back to us it is not elastic. It is elastic up to a certain point, but it is a very limited point. I think within fifteen months this offer must be made. Although the forces of law and order in Ireland have made some progress no one can suppose that we are within measurable distance of a tranquil frame of mind. Anything like a reasonable and rational frame of mind it still a very long way off; and yet the Government bind themselves by the Amendment that they have sent back within fifteen months to put this crucial question to the electors of Southern Ireland "Will you accept a Constitution or not?" I submit to the Government, with as great emphasis as I may, that their plan is not near elastic enough.
What were our objects? In the first place I think your Lordships were very anxious to maintain the full control of the Imperial Parliament as to when the constitution in Southern Ireland should be brought into being. Surely that is a most reasonable proposal, and that was embodied in the Amendment which you were good enough to insert upon my Motion. In the second place, I think we were anxious that though Southern Ireland ought to be consulted yet when once she had been consulted there should be some finality in her decision. It is not fair to the people of Southern Ireland that the matter should be kept hanging over their heads, and for nobody to know whether there is going to be this constitution or not. In the third place, we were anxious, in the absence of Home Rule in Southern Ireland, that those 26 counties should continue to be governed under the Union. That was the main position which we occupied. The Government sat, "No, we will not have it governed under the union; we will have it governed by Crown Colony government." There must be some sort of give and take in these matters, and 408 (though it is with profound reluctance), in the event of Southern Ireland refusing to continue to be governed under the Union, I should be prepared to accept the decision of the House of Commons that under these circumstances; in the event of this refusal, that they should be governed by Crown Colony government.
Further, being anxious to go as far as I can to meet the Government, I think that it would not be unreasonable, once you admitted that they must be governed by Crown Colony government, to try and accept as far as we can the method proposed by the original Clause 70 of the Government. That, as your Lordships are aware, was the clause which was originally sent up to us, and under which Crown Colony government was prescribed. I do not think that it is a good plan, as I said when the matter was before us on Second Reading. There are very great objections to it from an Imperial point of view. What would be the opinion which would be formed of us in the Colonies and the United States of America if we had one of the essential parts of the United Kingdom governed by Crown Colony government, and if that were the reply which the Government had to make to the demand for Home Rule? It seems to me to be a very inadequate and insufficient reply. I am afraid that it would be so viewed throughout the Empire. Still, if the Government insists upon that, I, speaking in a humble way, would venture to ask your Lordships to try and work upon the lines of Clause 70. But I think that if we do that we have a right to demand that Clause 70 should not be worked to the conclusion which the Government propose. That is to say that it should not go on for ever and ever. There should be finality about it. Under Clause 70 the question "Shall this Constitution be accepted by Southern Ireland?" was to he submitted to the representatives of Southern Ireland in the Dublin Parliament. That is in effect the proposal, but once they have refused, the matter should be considered as finally settled. I suggest that that would be a fair compromise, and it could be effected by a very simple Amendment in Clause 70.
Then I come to the method of retaining the control of the House of commons and of your Lordships' House as to the appointed day—that is to say, when and under what circumstances it would be right to give this 409 Constitution to Southern Ireland. I do not mention Ulster in this connection, but of course it comes in technically into the terms of the clause. I have already conceded that Ulster is to have a Parliament at once. May I point out in that connection that under the Amendment in the Bill, as your Lordships sent it to the Commons, Ulster could have her Parliament even sooner than under the Government plan. I think that the earliest day on which Ulster can get her Parliament under the Government plan is the month of March, and I rather think that the Government do not intend to give it even as soon as that. Under the Amendment your Lordships were good enough to insert on my Motion, Ulster can have her Parliament before Christmas—the moment we pass the necessary Resolution in both Houses of Parliament—and as far as I am concerned I should make no difficulty whenever the Government make that proposal in respect of Northern Ireland. But, in respect of Southern Ireland there will be no fixed day upon which the question is to be submitted to the Members for Southern Ireland—do you accept this Constitution or not? The date will depend upon the decision which the House of Commons and your Lordships make as to the appointed day.
There is a great deal more elasticity under my plan than under the Government's, but I will not conceal from your Lordships that is not the main reason why I desire to urge so strongly upon you that we should insist, in its main outlines, upon the Amendment retaining the control of the Imperial Parliament over the appointed day. It seems to me profoundly improper that we should entrust, under any circumstances, the self-control which is proposed under this Bill to a part of Ireland which is now in rank rebellion. I think that is most improper. To my mind it is elementary that your Lordships' House and the House of Commons should retain in their hands the complete decision as to when is the proper moment to give this great privilege to the South of Ireland, and we should not agree to the appointed day until we are satisfied that the South of Ireland is fit to receive it.
The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, when he spoke just now, said how absurd it was that we should ask the members of Parliament elected for Ireland for their decision at this moment, having 410 regard to their commitments and to the turbulent condition of Ireland. But it would be just as absurd to submit it to the Members about to be elected under the Government scheme for the Southern Parliament of Ireland. The argument cuts both ways. It leads obviously to this conclusion that the South of Ireland is not fit to have the offer yet, and that the actual date ought to be retained in the control of the Imperial Parliament. This difficulty was put by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack with his usual lucidity. He said that there was a lacuna in my Amendment, and that I had not provided for the administration of the South of Ireland in the case contemplated—that is, where a Parliament is established for the South of Ireland but not yet allowed in the South of Ireland before the appointed day. I think the criticisms of the noble and learned Lord is an accurate one, and that there must be some provisions made to cover that lacuna. When the proper time comes I shall have an Amendment to suggest to your Lordships in respect to the clause inserted on my Motion, which I believe will entirely cover that point. It is to this effect, that until the appointed day in the case contemplated the provisions of paragraph (b) of the celebrated Clause 70—which is the paragraph establishing Crown Colony Government—should have effect in that part of Ireland in which the appointed day has not yet been settled.
The upshot of these observations, which I am afraid have been longer than I intended them to be, is this. We will try as far as we can in respect of the offer to Southern Ireland to work upon the lines of Clause 70, but we would ask your Lordships to make the decision of Southern Ireland in that event final, and in respect of the Amendment which was inserted upon my Motion that we should insist upon it but covering the lacuna which the noble and learned Lord has very properly pointed out.
In conclusion, I need hardly say that I hope your Lordships will take the course which I have humbly and respectfully suggested. If it should be thought that the Amendments as to finality in Clause 7 ought not to be accepted, then at any rate I hope your Lordships will insist upon the Amendment for retaining the control of the appointed day in the hands of both Houses of Parliament. The two things are quite independent. They do not stand 411 one upon another although, of course, they react one upon another. I earnestly hope that your Lordships will agree to both those courses of action, though I need not say that the actual details must wait until we reach the particular point in the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I know how very earnestly many of your Lordships desire to reach the next measure which is to come before the House, but I think possibly a few words from me at this stage may greatly help matters when the Amendments are put one by one.
I was very pleased with what I will venture to call the pacific manner in which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has approached the whole question, and because several of the most important Amendments passed by this House are now established features of the Bill and are regarded apparently with great satisfaction by His Majesty's Government. But there are two Amendments on which we feel bound to ask your Lordships to consider matters carefully before deciding whether or not to insist on the view you have taken. The noble and learned Lord advanced the view that it was desirable, owing to the functions of the Council, that the popular Assembly merely should decide what members should compose it. We entirely dissent from that view. The functions of the Council are largely comprised of matters common to both parts of Ireland; railways may be instanced as a case in point. I ask your Lordships to look round this House and see in the only Assembly of the Imperial Parliament which compares with the Senate how many men there are who occupy the highest positions in the railway world. I might almost say that railways generally look for a chairman among the members of this House. That would be still more striking in Ireland in the Senate, for practically the whole representation of commerce and of the men who have made the wealth of Ireland will be found in the Southern Senate so far as the South is concerned and not in the Lower House. As the Senate would be very largely occupied with the question of blending together temporarily as they are, and permanently as the noble and learned Lord hopes, the two parts, can you imagine a body more likely to contribute to the blending of the two parts than the Senate which would be the one mollifying influence which Southern Ireland is likely 412 to possess. I most earnestly ask, when your Lordships come to divide on that subject, that you will support what can be regarded by all impartial men both here and elsewhere as the proper arrangement—that the Senate should contribute in its own proportion seven members as compared to the thirteen which are to be contributed by the Lower House in each case.
In the course of the humorous remarks which the noble and learned Lord was pleased to make in regard to my proposal that the Speaker should address letters to the House of Commons, I was not altogether prepared to hear the chapter from the Newgate Calendar with which he favoured us. I was speaking of the possibility of obtaining the answer which he desired. If all these men are in hiding and in gaol the question falls. But he will allow me to suggest that it is hardly fair to say—I have no apologies to make for the position of any of these men—that because a man refuses to join an imperial Parliament to which he has been returned, because he contends that it had no power over him, he would refuse to join a local Parliament which he has always contended should be established.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
There are two alternatives. There is the alternative of the Government, which in my opinion is absolutely faulty, of wanting to call a General Election in Ireland at a time when unless conditions are improved very much it will be impossible to find candidates to stand for Sinn Fein. I believe that alternative is wholly nugatory. I suggest to the noble Lord what we have suggested privately, that a Referendum of the people of Ireland should be taken and that they should be asked individually to vote on the question: "Do you or do you not desire to have the Government of Ireland Bill?" That would be a far preferable course.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
That does not commend itself to the noble and learned Lord. But I contend that we should not be asked to make the procedure perpetual, or to have it time after time proposed to Ireland in this form. 413 Finality must be recognised, and I submit that you must recognise at some stage the intervention of the Imperial Parliament.
What I should be prepared to propose is this. Keep Your General Election if you must have it. Follow it at another time if you must by a second appeal, but to make that second appeal you must come here and get a Resolution. I do not think we can part with this Bill and leave it as our only boon to the South of Ireland that they will be put under Crown Colony government without a further appeal to this House and to this Parliament for all time. Those are briefly the points I would venture to urge. And may I say, to shorten matters, that if we do not rise to answer some of the Amendments which have been disagreed to by the House of Commons which are not of the same importance it is not because we do not think there is an excellent case, but simply to save the time of the House.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, in reference to the observations which have fallen from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I would suggest to him that between now and the time when the Amendments come under discussion he might distinguish a little more clearly between the two points to which he objects. The first is that Parliament should retain control of the appointed day. The second is that if an attempt had been made under the terms of the Bill to call into existence a Parliament and that attempt having failed had been followed by Crown Colony government, that no further step in that direction ought to be made without a Resolution of the Imperial Parliament. Those are two distinct proposals as the noble Marquess said, and I hope he has that very clearly in his mind—for this reason, that in no circumstances could we possibly agree with the first suggestion. We take the view that we must be the judges. We have had the whole responsibility of dealing with the campaign of disorder which has been in existence in Ireland (and a terrible responsibility it has been) in the last two years, and we rely more strongly than any words of mine could make plain that Parliament must not deny to us who have borne this trial the correlative right of saying when the state of Ireland is such that this step may be safely made. The noble Marquess must really not ask or expect that we could surrender the responsibility of that decision. But the other point 414 is one that may very fairly be debated, and I shall be very glad to hear and to consider the noble Marquess's arguments.
On Question, That the Commons Amendments and Reasons be now considered, Motion agreed to.
§ [NOTE.—The references are to Bill (197) as first printed for the House of Lord.]
§ LORDS AMENDMENT.
Clause 2, page 2, line 1, have out from ("administered") to the end of the clause and insert:
("there shall be constituted, as soon as May ha after the appointed day, a Council to be called the Council of Ireland.
§ (2) Subject as hereinafter provided the Council of Ireland shall consist of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland who shall be President and forty other persons, of whom seven shall be members of the Senate of Southern Ireland, thirteen shall be members of the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, seven shall be members of the Senate of Northern Ireland, and thirteen shall be members of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland.
§ The members of the Council of Ireland shall be elected in each case by the members of that House of the Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland of which they are members, and at any contested election for two or more members of the Council of Ireland the election shall be according to the principle of proportional representation, each 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.
§ The election of members of the Council of Ireland shall be the first business of the Senates and Houses of Commons of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.
§ A member of the Council shall, on ceasing to be a member of that House of the Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland by which he was elected a member of the Council, cease to be a member of the Council:
§ Provided that on the dissolution of the Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland the persons who are members of the Council elected by either House of that Parliament shall continue to hold office as members of the Council until the date of the first meeting of the new Parliament and shall then retire unless re-elected.
§ The President of the Council shad preside at each meeting of the Council at which he is present and shall be entitled to vote in case of an equality of votes, but not otherwise.
§ The first meeting the Council shall be held at such time and place as may be appointed by the Lord Lieutenant.
§ The Council may act notwithstanding a vacancy in their number, and the quorum of the Council shall be fifteen; subject as aforesaid t he Council may regulate their own procedure, including the delegation of powers to committees.
§ (3) The constitution of the Council of Ireland may from time to time be varied by identical 415 Acts passed by the Parliament of Southern Ireland and the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and the Acts may provide for all or any of the members of the Council of Ireland being elected by parliamentary electors, and determine the constituencies by with the several elective members are be returned and the number of the members to be returned by the several constituencies and the method of election.")
§ The Commons disagree with this Amendment for the following Reason:
§ Because it is desirable that a body having functions such as those of the Council of Ireland should consist exclusively of persons nominated by the popularly elected Chamber, and that the President of such a body should be a person who is not a member of either Irish Parliament, and because such a body if elected on the principle of proportional representation, could not possess the confidence of both of the Irish Houses of Commons.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
In order that a discussion may take place on this, I formally move that the Lords do not insist on their Amendment.
§ Moved, That this House doth not insist upon the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I do not propose to address your Lordships again on this point, which is to us a most vital point. We believe that we have the whole weight of public opinion throughout the South of Ireland behind us, and I hope your Lordships will insist on your Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I do not know whether the noble Earl has considered whether his Amendment is one which, in its present form, could really be reasonably adopted. It would be premature on my part to express any opinion as to what its fate may be, but I take note of the fact that your Lordships did recently decide that the Senate should make their contribution to the Council. That is not the Government view for the reasons I have indicated. But without in any way pledging myself, and still less pledging those who reached conclusions in another place, I hope that the noble Earl's Amendment could be made much less objectionable front our point of view. I think, for instance, that in paragraph (2) the proposal that "the Council of Ireland shall consist of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who shall be President, &c.," surely cannot be consistent with the functions already conceded to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland of being President of the Senate. Of course the idea of creating a President of the 416 Council is that you have some person, probably neutral in polities, of great position, perhaps a commercial man, whom you could appoint there to hold the scales between the Unionist members and the other members of the Council. I think that the noble Earl ought to substitute for that some person to be appointed by the Lord Lieutenant.
Then the next point to which I call the noble Earl's attention is concerned with the provision which says—The members of the Council of Ireland shall be elected in each ease by the members of that House of the Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland of which they are members.…and thereafter the noble Earl proposes that the election for the Council of Ireland shall proceed on the principles of proportional representation. It is well known, I think, that I ant, and have been, a strong supporter of the principle of proportional representation, and if I make an observation in relation to its application here it obviously has no relation at all to the principle. But the effect of it here would be one that I do not think the noble Earl has contemplated. The effect of it would be, not to maintain the equality on the Council which is the essence of the scheme of the Government, but would actually be to put the non-Unionist section of the Council in a permanent majority. The Parliament in the South, the noble Earl is never tired of telling us, will have no Unionist members at all. The result of that will be that all those will be elected who were originally contemplated by the Bill, but in the North there will be a considerable minority, for among those elected by the Northern Parliament there will be some members who do not belong to the Unionist Party. The result is that you have a permanent majority on the Council. That was not our scheme, and I cannot conceive that that is the scheme of the noble Earl. While the Government, for the reasons I have attempted to give, would greatly prefer their own scheme, if the noble Earl were to amend his own proposal in the two respects which I have suggested, it would at least form the subject of a matter which might very reasonably be debated between the two Houses.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Before Lord Midleton states his view on what has been offered—if I may use the word—by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, 417 as expressing his view of what would be at any rate a proper subject of discussion, I should like to say that I hope my noble friend will be prepared to proceed somewhat on those lines. I do not think that your Lordships will consider that the statement which comes from another place, that it is desirable that a body having functions such as those of the Council of Ireland shall consist exclusively of persons nominated by the popularly elected Chamber, can be sustained. They have wisely abstained from arguing the proposition, and I think it would be exceedingly difficult to enforce it by argument. But, on the other hand, I see the force of the noble Lord's statement that the working of proportional representation, if applied to the members of the two Parliaments for the purposes of their election to the Senate would not be entirely fair. It would not operate equally as between the two assemblies. I think, therefore, that if my noble friend Lord Midleton can secure the seven senators from Northern and Southern Ireland respectively and abandon the election by proportional representation for the representatives of the two Houses of Commons, then I think he will have escaped the great difficulty which was in out minds when regarding the proposition in the original Bill—namely, that the members being appointed by the majority of the two Assemblies would in both cases represent the extreme views of the two Houses of commons. That could not be a good working assembly for any purpose, and the necessary modifications and dilution of the body I think would be fairly brought about by the proposition which the noble and learned Lord has indicated as being from his view a possible one.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
In one word, I accept what the noble and learned Lord suggests with regard to the Chairmanship of the Council. With regard to this, I confess that I see with the greatest regret the principle of proportional representation go out of this election. I think there may be far more heart-burning in Ireland than he has any idea of over the preponderating influence of whatever happens to be the major portion of the Chamber, but, after the remarks which have fallen from my noble friend (Lord Crewe) I shall certainly not ask your Lordships to divide.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I beg to move that the Lords Amendment be 418 amended by leaving out the words "the Lord Chancellor of Ireland" and inserting in place thereof "some person to be nominated by the Lord Lieutenant."
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
May I ask if the President is to be appointed by An Lord Lieutenant on the advice of the Irish Ministers or on the advice of the. Imperial Parliament?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Not on the advice of the Imperial Parliament. The propel form of the Amendment would be this: That this House doth not insist upon the said Amendment, but propose the following Amendment to the Earl of Midleton's Amendment: At the beginning of subsection (2) leave out "of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland" and insert "some person to he nominated by the Lord Lieutenant"; and in the second paragraph of subsection (2) leave out all the words from" members" ["of which they are members"] to the end of the paragraph.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I will MOW it in that form.
That this House doth not insist upon the said Amendment, but propose the following Amendment to the Lords Amendment:—At the beginning of subsection (2) leave out ("of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland") and insert ("some person to be nominated by the Lord Lieutenant"); and in the second paragraph of subsection (2) leave out from ("members") ("of which they are members") to the end of the paragraph.— (The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORDS AMENDMENT.
§ Clause 6, page 7, line 18, after (" property") insert ("or take any private property for public use without just compensation ")
§ The Commons disagree with this Amendment, but propose the following Amendment to the Bill:
§ Clause 6, page 7, line 18, after ("properly") insert ("or lake any property without compensation").
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.