Debate on the Motion of the EARL OF
That this House is of opinion that the situation in Ireland urgently requires that His Majesty's Government should determine forthwith what amendments they are prepared to propose and authorise negotiations to be opened on such terms as they think calculated to terminate the present deadlock.
resumed (according to Order).
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, last Thursday we had a most interesting debate, sustained with great ability by a large number of your Lordships; but there was one remarkable feature which characterised almost every speech. I say "almost," because I am not quite sure of the exact import of the speech made by my noble friend, the Marquess of Londonderry, but with that possible exception, every speech was an unqualified criticism, and I am afraid I must say condemnation, of the Irish policy of His Majesty's Government. That was a remarkable thing, because those who addressed your Lordships were not only noble Lords from Ireland—I say "not only" though, after all, noble Lords from Ireland may be expected to know in particular something about the condition of Ireland—but also very distinguished noble Lords who do not come from Ireland. There was an eminent noble Lord who has recently returned from governing one of our great Dominions. There was a late ambassador to the United States of America, one of the most distinguished men in the 660 country. Their condemnation was quite as complete as that pronounced by noble Lords from Ireland. That, my Lords, was the fact.
I fully recognise that the policy of the Government is largely governed by the Act of Parliament which they induced your Lordships to assent to last winter. We cannot go back upon that. Those of us who are practical Parliamentarians know that these facts have to be recognised, and the passage of that Act has no doubt made a profound modification in the situation from which, in a measure, there is no return. But as the results of the policy of which that was the most notable example reveal themselves in Ireland to-day, I cannot help thinking that noble Lords who are now members of the Government, and used formerly to profess Unionist opinions, must have certain searchings of heart as to whether they were wise in leaving them and adopting others. I am sure that they must have had great self-questioning, I can fancy with what immense success they would have defended the other policy, if things had turned out a little differently. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, I am sure, would have made a speech even more admirable than the one he made in favour of the Home Rule Bill, if he bad thought it his duty, according to his conviction, to have spoken on the other side.
The Government decided last autumn that, instead of repealing the Act of 1914, instead of restoring us to the old position, they would pass the Government of Ireland Act. They did pass it. In vain did we plead that that Act was unsuitable to the South and West of Ireland, at any rate; that it was unsuitable because of the disorder which reigns in that part of the Kingdom, and unsuitable because the people were very unwilling to receive it. We moved Amendments. One Amendment which we moved was that the Act should not come into force in the South and West of Ireland without the special consent of the two Houses of Parliament. I heard a noble Lord, I think from Ireland, lamenting on Thursday that the Act had been allowed to be put into force in the South and West of Ireland. I wonder why he and some of his friends did not support us when we tried to retain in the hands of your Lordships' House the power to prevent its being put into force. Another noble Lord told us 661 that it was absurd to pass an Act of Parliament which Ireland was unwilling to receive. Certainly; we also submitted another Amendment, which we urged upon the House with all the capacity we possessed, that the Act should not be put into force unless the South and West of Ireland made it clear by their representatives that they were willing to receive it. But we were overborne; and now we have the spectacle of a Parliament being, I will not say established, but decreed, in the South and West of Ireland, which is in rank rebellion, and which has declared emphatically, over and over again, that it does. not want the Act of Parliament and will not have it.
The result has been. a tragic failure. I do not think anybody doubts that. There was no dissenting voice, at any rate so far as your Lordships' House was concerned, last Thursday. In Ulster, no doubt, the Act may succeed. We earnestly hope that the interesting ceremony which His Majesty is about to carry out in Belfast may be a prelude to the success of that Parliament, but in the South and West of Ireland there is no prospect whatever, I am afraid; that the Act will succeed. My noble friend, Lord Donoughmore, in a most admirable speech, has submitted to your Lordships that if Parliament will go a step further, and grant a profound amendment of the Act of last year, then there is a chance that it may succeed. I do not think he put it higher than that, and I am glad to see that he assents to my interpretation of what he said. But is there any chance, I would ask, even if we granted fiscal autonomy to Ireland, that the Home Rule Act of last year, so amended, would be a success? Would it be accepted by the South and. West of Ireland? When we discuss this question, those who advocate this course tell us that there is a large body of moderate opinion in Ireland which, if we can only mobilise it, might be the determining factor in the situation. I do not doubt that there is a large amount of moderate opinion in Ireland, but, unfortunately, it is completely under the control of opinion which is not moderate. I should like, if I might, to dwell upon this for a moment. The actual effect of the Act of last year, so far as the South and West of Ireland is concerned, is to provide in an admirable form for a referendum to the Irish people, under which they have declared in favour of the establishment of a Republic in that country. That is the effect. It was not, 662 I suppose, the design of the Government, but, by a skill of statesmanship which it would be almost impossible to surpass, the Government actually provided a system by which, on reference to the Irish people, they might declare in favour of a Republic. They have so declared. They have declared in favour of a Republic and accompanied the declaration by acts of violence almost unsurpassed even in the Kingdom of Ireland.
What I would like to impress upon your Lordships, in order to bring home to the House the extremity of the condition of things in Ireland, is that those who control Irish opinion—those in whose favour the referendum has gone—are in favour of all these deplorable outrages which we see going on in this country. Do not imagine there is one body of opinion in favour of great constitutional changes, by which I mean most extreme constitutional changes, in Ireland, and another body in favour of outrages. It is the same body of opinion. That is the great thing which I wish your Lordships to realist'. It is the same in effect. I will not go into peoples motives.
Observe this, whit h is a quotation from the Irish Bulletin. I know nothing about these things, and if I make a mistake no doubt my friends from Ireland will correct me, but I understand that this paper is the official publication of Dail Eireann, which is the Party who favour an independent Party in Ireland—I mean independent in the sense of being independent of the sovereignty of this country. This paper, on May 27, wrote—A detachment of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Army was ordered to carry out the destruction of the Dublin Custom House, in accordance with a decision arrived at after due deliberation by the Ministry of Dail Eireann.& The Custom House was one of the seats of an alien tyranny.' So the Parliamentary Constitution in Ireland, established by the Government, is used in order to entertain an army which is then ordered by its Parliamentary Constitution to destroy the Custom House.
Here is a second quotation. It is from another publication of which I am equally ignorant, called Old Ireland. It is said to be a leading Sinn Fein journal. I will not read the whole of it, for a few words will be sufficient—and I hope your Lordships will understand that I am not responsible for the disrespectful way in which statesmen in this country are spoken of:— 663The George-Greenwood story about a' murder gang' presupposed that the I.R.A. acted independently of Dail Eireann. The elections just over ratify the I.R.A. as well as Dail Eireann. Ireland, in fact, stands by the gunmen.That is the effect of the policy which your Lordships—I do not mean that it was the intention of the Government—were persuaded to approve last winter. The effect is surely this: that whatever moderate opinion there may he in Ireland, it is completely controlled by extreme opinion, which has obtained hold of the machine. It may not be legal in its final developments, but up to now it has been legal. I mean the machine of Dail Eireann, because Dail Eireann, although formerly a rebellious assembly, is now, by the operation of the Home Rule Act, the House of Commons of Ireland. If it does not take the Oath, of course, it will not be allowed to function, but up to now it is the legitimate House of Commons. It has control of the machine, arid it has control of a very large force—an outrageous force, but still a very powerful force—and complete possession of opinion in Ireland.
Moderate opinion does not, or is not allowed to, show itself at all. I have no doubt that the Government will say that these Elections were conducted under a system of intimidation. No doubt they were, but, of course, the people who made it possible for an Election to take place under such intimidation have a heavy responsibility for the result. And when I am told that the giving of fiscal autonomy to Ireland is going to solve the problem, I point to those extracts which I have ventured to read to your Lordships. I ask your Lordships to contemplate the state of things in Ireland, and then to say whether you really believe that the gift of fiscal autonomy, or any other political gift of the kind, is likely to soothe the violence of these extreme men and to make your Home Rule Act a success. We have not any such guarantee. If I may use what is becoming, I am sorry to say, an extremely cant phrase, I do not think my noble friend, Lord Donoughmore, can deliver the goods.
But let me leave that point for a moment in order to discuss this question of fiscal autonomy on its merits. Of course, I do not know for certain what line the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will take this evening; but I presume he will take much the same line as was pursued by my noble friend the Chancellor of the 664 Duchy of Lancaster (Viscount Peel), whom I see on the bench opposite at this moment, and who spoke upon this very point in Committee on the Home Rule Bill and delivered a very important speech. In the course of that speech the noble Viscount, I thought, conclusively showed that the establishment of fiscal autonomy in Ireland would be an impossibility for this country. He first of all denied the main thesis which my noble friends from Ireland advanced on Thursday night; he denied that the absence of control of Customs by the Irish Parliament would deprive them of all financial resources. He showed that there was a large field of taxation which was still open to the Irish Parliament.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My noble friend will forgive me. It was not only Super-Tax; there was a large field of taxation open to the Irish Parliament, and upon that, of course, they could raise money, if they could find anybody to lend it them—which I rather doubt. Therefore, the plea that the Irish Government would be without the proper equipment of a government broke down at the very threshold. The noble Viscount went on to point out that the control of Customs by the Irish Parliament would involve a line of Custom-houses, not merely as against Great Britain, but also as between Ulster and the rest of Ireland. It is very evident that Ulster will not submit to have its Customs determined by an All-Irish Parliament, and therefore there would have to be—or there might be—a different rate of Customs in Ulster from the remainder of Ireland, and there must, therefore, be a Customs line between the two. And Lord Peel pointed out that that would be an absurd result, as indeed everyone would agree.
Finally, the noble Viscount said that the control of Irish Customs was the great weapon which Great Britain would retain over Ireland for the purpose of seeing that she obeyed the fundamental law as between the two countries, and that without it we should be deprived of that necessary weapon. The truth, as even-body knows, is that fiscal autonomy is the same thing, or almost the same thing, as virtual independence.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But fiscal autonomy is really the badge of independence, and when it has been won, as in this case it will have been, by rebellion, then it will be the symbol and sanction of independence. I know, of course, that there are a great many parts of our Dominions which have fiscal independence, and those great Dominions are some of the most valuable possessions of the Crown. But everybody knows that it is only during their pleasure; that if any of the great Dominions desire—as none of them do, and I hope none of them ever will—to have independence they would only have to say so; no one could resist it. And therefore fiscal autonomy is really the same thing as virtual independence.
And observe the immediate consequences. If there were fiscal autonomy for Ireland, of course, all the remaining Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament would have to disappear, because it would be absolutely unthinkable that they should have fiscal autonomy in Ireland and that the Irish Members at Westminster should presume to vote upon the taxes imposed upon Englishmen and Scotsmen. And if they disappear from the Imperial Parliament, then Ireland would no longer have any voice in the Imperial Services. I apologise to noble Lords for going over the old ground, but it is necessary, in a sentence or two, to remind you of it. It is clear that the Irish Members, being, in consequence of fiscal autonomy, banished altogether from Westminster, could have no control over the Imperial Services, that is to say, diplomacy, the Army, the Navy, and so forth, which would have to be managed without their concurrence or assent.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
Unless they contributed. I presume you would not bar them if they contributed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I understood from my noble friend that he intends, at the very outset, to buy out the whole liability.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My noble friend will have the opportunity of explaining to your Lordships later on what he intends. In these circumstances, I am afraid, although I sympathise most warmly with my noble friends in the awful position in which they have been placed in Ireland, I cannot find it my duty to support them in the Motion which they have submitted. No; the Government have chosen the line which they thought it right to take and which they have induced Parliament to accept. The line they have chosen is to govern Ireland by an autonomy—a kind of autonomy which she hates, and which she is quite unfit to receive— and I see nothing for it but for them to go on with their experiment.
I find, however, some difficulty in the words of the Motion, because with part of it I sympathise. My noble friend, Lord Donoughmore, says in his Motion:—The situation in Ireland urgently requires that His Majesty's Government should determine forthwith what amendments they are prepared to propose.Well, I think it does. I think the Government ought on this subject, as on several others, to make up their minds. And there is one Department of the Administration in Ireland on which it seems to me it is vitally necessary they should make up their minds, and that is the position of the Viceroy. In the present circumstances the position of my noble friend, Lord FitzAlan, is of supreme importance. We admire immensely his public spirit and courage in going across to take over the government of Ireland, but we think it will be far better if his exact position was clearly understood. We tried to ascertain that when the Bill was going through Parliament, but we were unsuccessful. Probably the reason was not that the Government were unwilling to tell us, but that they were unable to tell us what the position would be.
Let us consider that point for a moment. I understand to some extent what the noble Viscount's position in Ulster would be; he would be a Constitutional Sovereign, in the main. But in the South and West of Ireland I anticipate, what everybody on Thursday anticipated, that the Members of the House of Commons of the South and West of Ireland will not take the Oath of allegiance and that., therefore, the Parliament will not be duly constituted. Thereupon the famous Section 72 of the Act of 667 1920 becomes operative. Section 72 says, in familiar language, that if the Parliament of Southern Ireland cannot function because not more than half the members are willing to take the Oath, then the Government may establish what is known as Crown Colony government.
First of all, I would like to ask the noble and learned Lord how your Lordships are to interpret that permission. It is not "must" establish Crown Colony government, but "may" establish it. As it is almost certain that the contingency mentioned will have to be faced, I should like to ask the Government whether they have made up their mind to establish Crown Colony government in Ireland in the event of the Southern Parliament not functioning; that is to say, a Committee of the Privy Council, with the Lord-Lieutenant, to govern the country. The second question is, What will be the position of the Viceroy in those circumstances? Under Section 8 of the Act it is provided that whatever powers are granted to the North of Ireland must also be granted to the South. As the North of Ireland is to have complete control of its domestic affairs, it follows that the South of Ireland must have similar duties, and those duties, under Section 72, will fall upon the Committee of the Privy Council. It is also provided in Section 8 that these powers are to be administered by Ministers. Therefore, there will be Ministers—also drawn, I suppose, from the Committee of the Privy Council—in the South of Ireland. What will be the relation of these Ministers to the Viceroy? Will he be, in regard to those Ministers, a Constitutional Sovereign? That is to say, will the Ministers, who are entitled to all the powers of Parliamentary Ministers under Section 8, be the effective Government of the country and the Viceroy be only a Constitutional Sovereign who presides over them, or is the Viceroy himself to govern the country?
These are very essential points, and I imagine that the Cabinet, who have been thinking of nothing but these things for days past, have determined in their minds what the position will be. I will put another question to the Government, if I may. Will there be a regular body of Ministers in Ireland who will be responsible for the government of Ireland, and over whom the Viceroy will preside as a Constitutional Sovereign? And, supposing that to be so, what will be the relation of those 668 Irish Ministers to the Cabinet here? Will they be under the control of the Cabinet? They will be Ministers like Ministers here not, indeed, having the confidence of Parliament, because the Parliament will be dissolved, but under Section 8 they will have an equivalent position. What will be their relation to the Cabinet and to the Prime Minister? What will be their relation to the Chief Secretary and the Lord-Lieutenant? Is there to be a Chief Secretary? Is Sir Hamar Greenwood to go on functioning or, now that a Government is to be established in Ireland, are his duties to come to an end? Is the Cabinet here to be in a position to give orders to the Ministers over there?
I confess I view that prospect with some apprehension. If Lord FitzAlan were allowed to have a free hand with his Ministers possibly something effective in the restoration of order in Ireland might be done. But if there is to be perpetual interference from this side of the Channel, if there are to be negotiations going on of which nobody quite knows the where or the when or with whom; if the Prime Minister, who is very susceptible to all sorts of influences, is to be affected at one time by some journalistic stunt and at another by the pressure of some Labour Members of Parliament in England, and mandatory telegrams are perpetually sent across to control the action of the Viceroy and the Ministers, we shall be no better off than we are now, and that is saying a good deal.
I hope that when the noble and learned Lord comes to deal with this subject he will make the position of the noble Viscount, Lord FitzAlan, clear to us. After all, we owe him a great deal, and lie has some right to have his position made perfectly clear. He is to be responsible for keeping order in Ireland now that Home Rule is set up. Is there to be any change, or are we to go on along the old weary path, leading, as it has done, to what, I suppose, is the greatest scandal that has ever been seen even in Ireland. We have to deal with this Motion, and for the reasons which I have ventured to explain to your Lordships, although I deeply sympathise with the position in which my noble friends from Ireland are placed, speaking for myself I cannot support their Motion. I do not believe that we ought to grant fiscal autonomy to Ireland. Even if we did, I have no assurance that it would do any good. In those circumstances I am 669 sure my noble friends will believe me when I say that I earnestly hope some better way may be found to rescue Ireland from the position in which she is placed.
THE EARL OF DESART
My Lords, it is not very easy for rather a humble member of this House to follow a speech like that which has just been delivered by my noble friend, stating his point of view as to the position now in Ireland, as to its future, and as to the Resolution moved by my noble friend, Lord Donough-more. I shall not presume to enter into conflict with him on many matters to which be has referred, and the reply to which falls rather within the capacity and ability of my noble friend, Lord Midleton, or—a matter which is, to us, the most important—that of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, to whose statement we of Ireland look this afternoon with the deepest interest, I hope riot with apprehension. I must say one thing about the noble Marquess's speech. It was entirely destructive of everything, not only of the Act, but of our proposition, which is not put forward as a certain panacea. We do not pretend that, but we think it affords a chance—perhaps the only chance—of producing peace in Ireland, which is the main object certainly of all in Ireland, and I should think also of every noble Lord here present.
Lord Salisbury said—I hope I do not quote him incorrectly—that he saw nothing but for the Government to go on with their experiment. That means, as I understand it, to continue with the Act as it stands, to carry on somehow with the Act on the Statute Book but not working in twenty-six out of thirty-two counties in Ireland. That kind of non possumus attitude appears, from our point of view, to hold out no hope of better things, and God knows how bad they are at the present time. If any other proposition than that which we have put forward can be substituted, no one can deny the urgency of its adoption, or the adoption of something else with some hope of success, in order to alleviate—we hope to remedy—the appalling condition in which Ireland now stands.
I will not this afternoon speak at greater length than I can help, because I am able, whole-heartedly and honestly, to adopt almost every word—I think every word—that my noble friend, Lord Donoughmore, uttered in his speech. Therefore, I would 670 say only this about urgency—can it be doubted by any of your Lordships, who have read even the meagre reports that you see in the English newspapers of the progress of affairs in Ireland, that the position is getting worse daily, almost hourly? Can you doubt that every death caused by the one side or the other hardens opinion in Great Britain, brings despair to loyalists in Ireland, embitters the peaceful population, and strengthens, as so much that has happened has strengthened, the extremists?
I do not want to refer too much to Lord Londonderry's speech, because, for reasons we all know, he cannot be here to-night, but there is only one observation that I desire to make on that speech. He said towards the end of it—I feel that unless the noble Earl has a complete proposal it would have been far better for him to have waited until lie had such a complete proposal, and until he had support for it in Ireland, before bringing forward the Motion which he has on the Paper.Waiting, my Lords; waiting longer by those of us in the South of Ireland! Perhaps the greatest tragedy in the history of Ireland, going far back, is that nearly everything has been done too late. This Motion may be well founded, or it may be ill-founded, but I should have thought anyone would have hesitated to say that a proposal, almost any proposal, could be too soon.
The conditions in Ireland we all know. No man, no woman, is happy in Ireland. Take the Crown Forces. They are subject to ambush, their nerves are shaken, and they are living under conditions which are worse than open warfare. They cannot be happy. Take the Irish Republican Army. Many of the young men who have enlisted are in the hills, away from their homes. Are they happy? As for the peaceful inhabitants, I know that they pass lives which are almost a daily terror to them, while loyalists know- not from day to day what their fate may be. The condition of the towns was referred to by my noble friend, Lord Oranmore and Browne, on Thursday. He gave an accurate description, and I should like noble Lords present to-night to imagine what is happening in Ireland occurring in Belgravia and Trafalgar Square in London.
What is to be done? You cannot dissociate the Motion of my noble friend from the question of administration, and though I have no intention whatever of 671 going into detailed criticism of the administration under military rule, in some cases under Martial Law, I want to say one word, and to say it very earnestly, on the question of reprisals. I do riot suppose everyone will agree with me, but in my opinion the principle of reprisals is wrong and immoral. My noble friend, Lord Donoughmore, described it as detestable and dangerous, and I do not know that I should differ from him. There have been what were called irregular reprisals. These ought, I think most people believe, to have been checked earlier than they were, and I desire to pay my tribute to a gallant officer who has so dealt with the force which was mainly charged with tiles, irregular reprisals that from all parts of Ireland I now hear that the character of that force has changed, that it now stands high, and that the members of it perform their difficult duties with reason title judgment and moderation. I think it is right that should be known, because it has become a habit to attribute everything that goes wrong to what are called the Black and Tans—that is the Auxiliaries. I believe—and I have specific information that fortifies that belief—that, under present conditions, they are not open to reproach more than other branches of His Majesty's Forces.
But there were what were called regular reprisals, and I am not sure, from a moral aspect, those are not worse than irregular reprisals. Irregular reprisals, though they may not be excused, may be explained in circumstances such as occurred from time to time. We know that regular reprisals must be justified on much stricter grounds. I doubt whether, as an abstract proposition, they can be justified. But I would rather for the moment remind your Lordships of their futility for the purpose for which they are intended. In the first place, counter-reprisals are certain, and are certain to be more effective. Let me illustrate this by two passages which stand side by side in the Irish Times of last Thursday. There is an answer by Mr. Denis Henry in the House of Commons to a Question by Mr. Lunn, to the effect that he was informed by the Commander-in-Chief that the number of houses destroyed by official order in the Martial Law area since January 1 was 191. Side by side with that there is the description of the burning of, I think, ten country houses in twenty-four hours; and there is no doubt that the majority of these, if not all, were 672 by way of reprisals for houses that had been destroyed by the military.
The other day I came across with a man whose house had just been burnt down, at one o'clock in the morning. He was there with his daughter, and he asked the men, "Why do you burn my house"? They said; "Three houses were burnt in Cork last week by the military; that is our reason." If this goes on what will be the consequences? There may be very few of your friends in Ireland who will be able to remain there; the innocent suffer, and events leave a record of hatred which all who know Ireland realise will endure for generations. I earnestly appeal to the Government to stop reprisals as a system. I am told—I am not quite sure of the facts —that they have been stopped to some extent and that there are to be no more reprisals, except under actual military necessity. That leads to the questions, Who is to be responsible for them, and what is military necessity? But, if it is true, it no doubt affords some answer to my criticism so far as the future is concerned. As I understand it, however, "military necessity" cannot be a "reprisal." It is something that is undertaken afterwards by way of retaliation, and a reprisal is not a military necessity.
If you seek a foundation for self-government, which is your policy and has been your policy, will you gain it by spreading ruin far and wide in Ireland? Who will you injure most—your friends, or those to whom you are opposed? I do not want to labour the result of your Home Rule policy. It has produced a Parliament for six counties out of thirty-two, and I earnestly hope they will work it for the benefit of that part of Ireland and that it may be an example to which the South of Ireland may look with admiration. I wish I thought that to be the least likely. In twenty-six counties no Parliament will meet. We know that quite well. That part of Ireland will be governed as it is, or with the form of government proposed-by Section 72 of the Act, a form of government which appears to be impossible to maintain and which will have no support from any quarter.
All your nominated Members who are to govern will have to be officials, because no independent man who hopes to take part in the future government of his country will take part in such a Government. It would finish his career in that respect for 673 ever. I do not know whether it will be organised as the noble Marquess has suggested. He thought there would be Ministers, but, as I read the Act, in the absence of a Parliament that would not be possible, because no one can hold office as a Minister for a longer period than six months unless he becomes a member of that Parliament; and probably the only members of the House of Commons available would be the four Members of Trinity College.
Throughout the debates on the Home Rule Bill, and long before that, those with whom I act proclaimed far and wide in public and in private, that this Act could not succeed in its present form. It was rejected in advance by the whole opinion of Southern Ireland, and we urged, but urged in vain, that, assuming you must pass some measure of Home Rule, it was quite useless to pass that which you knew in advance was unacceptable. You have done it, however, and we see the result to-day. We have much at stake in this matter. We are quite sincere in suggesting that an offer of fiscal autonomy has a fair chance of meeting with response from a large section of opinion in Ireland which is now silent. I believe that if that offer had been made by the Government last July or August, it would really have been accepted by so large a body of opinion that you might have had a fair chance of finding the country near to its normal condition now.
The conditions at this moment, however, are much less hopeful. Things have advanced. I have tried to find out from many sources what is thought, and I am assured—it is a confidence that I do not feel—that an offer of that nature would meet, even now, with wide response, and would mobilise and make vocal that silent opinion which seeks for an outlet from the present awful conditions and which would make any sacrifice to obtain peace without which life is unbearable. The passing of this Act, in face of the protests of the South, has strengthened the suspicion which is held of the Government in that part. I do not say it is justly held, but it is there, and as it is there, it is an important fact. I doubt, very much, whether any opening of private negotiation is likely to get you much further. From all I can hear the best, and the only, chance is a public pronouncement that you are prepared to offer Irish fiscal autonomy; 674 to say how far you can go, and let the whole world and Ireland know it. That is the immediate course.
My noble friend, Lord Salisbury, talks about delivering goods, and asks whether we can ensure that. Of course we cannot; nobody can do that. But if you go as far as you can in the offer of self-government to Ireland, I believe there will be a response- And if that offer were refused, how much better would be your position in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of our own Colonies. You would not lose any prestige in so doing. You would stand before the world as having offered to Ireland the best, terms that in your position you could give; and would be able to say that they had been: refused. You might have a discouraging response at first, but ultimately the leaven of such a proposal would work through Ireland, and I believe firmly that, though it may yet take time, it is in that direction, and I fear I must say in that direction only, that you are likely to obtain peace. I think that I and those with whom I act have some right to speak, for from the time of the rejection of Redmond's Volunteers down to the present, we have done our best to work for the country—for Ireland, for Great Britain and for the Empire. I wish to say in no spirit of bitterness that nothing that we have said, nothing that we have done, has ever found favour in action from the Government. This is all we can suggest now, which we believe may help us.
We have not troubled you in this House very much. We always recognised the difficulties of the Government, and it was difficult to move or to speak publicly without-adding to those difficulties. In private we. have done what we could, without success Indeed, I think that what has been said in this debate is in the character of an appeal rather than an attack. It is an appeal made by men whose homes, whose affections, whose interests are in Ireland, the men who first, and most bitterly, suffered from the effects of a mistaken policy, and who can neither be protected nor protect themselves. Perhaps the bitterest thing of all is that, through no act of their own, the goodwill of their neighbours and the. friendship of years are obliterated, broken off or concealed, and that none dare to say what they think or to do what they will Silent, they witness the sufferings of friends, wondering if and when their turn will come. I should say that, personally, I 675 have met with nothing but courtesy of the kindest description in my own neighbourhood. But who now can look forward a week, or indeed a day, to what may come?
How can this last? Do you wish to Alienate the friends that still remain to you in Ireland, those of the old loyalist class, those of the peaceable class, who want and pray for good and stable government? There is, we believe, this chance; outside it there is little but desperation and chaos, horrible memories that will survive for generations. If you succeed you will bring countless blessings on your head from all who live in the shadow which darkens this part of the Kingdom. But the effects of your failure in the South will not, I believe, long survive, if once the South can obtain something acceptable and possible. My prayer is that before I die—and I am old—I may see riot only a peaceful but a united Ireland, and that in place of the legislative union, we may see a reunion of the interests of Ireland, firm and enduring, with those of this country. I pray that the Government may adopt a policy not based solely upon force, and, if they can do so to-night, may indicate what they propose. May we hope the time is coming when, though delirant Reges, we shall no longer be tempted to say plectuntur Achivi
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
My Lords, I shall occupy the time of the House only a very few moments. I have often expressed my views before your Lordships to the best of my ability. I do not want to repeat myself, and I admit that I have nothing new to say on this occasion. But I support the Motion before the House so very strongly that. I should like to do so with something more than a silent vote. This may be the last occasion on which I can make an appeal to His Majesty's Government to endeavour to relieve the people of Ireland from the terrible conditions under which they are now suffering, and to avert from them the greater calamities that loom so ominously in the future. The condition of Ireland has been described to your 'Lordships to-night and last Thursday. It has not been exaggerated, and it could mot be exaggerated.
I have had a long experience, I suppose a longer experience by far than any other noble Lord connected with Ireland, of that country and the troubles that have 676 afflicted it. I think it must now be about sixty years ago that I was at home and alone in the county of Limerick at the breaking out of the Fenian Insurrection. I was then a Cornet of Horse in Her Majesty's First Regiment of Life Guards, and I was instructed to inspect all the police barracks and to report upon their defensible capacity. My qualification was a very common one in appointments—that I knew absolutely nothing whatever about the matter. Of course, I did tire best I could, and at any rate I saw a very great deal of the Fenian Rising, and I have been more or less concerned with the troubles, agrarian and other, that have afflicted Ireland from that time to this. I mention that experience only because I wish to emphasise that in all my experience of so many troubles, I have never seen anything in the least approaching the conditions under which Ireland is labouring to-day.
The House knows all about the ambushes and conflicts, amounting to little battles the murders and burnings and all the horrible consequences which have resulted from the vendetta created by the system of reprisals and counter-reprisals. But what the House in general does not know, and what nobody realises except those among your Lordships who are intimately acquainted with Ireland, is the absolute confusion and chaos that exists, the extent to which the ordinary life of the country is dislocated. Bridges are blown up and roads obstructed. There are districts in Ireland as isolated as if they were in the middle of South Africa. Outrages and murders are committed, not for any political motives, but purely from personal motives of malice and revenge, hate and spite. Houses are broken into for the purpose of theft, highway robberies are committed, ordinary crime is absolutely-undetected and unpunished. I am bound, I think, in justice, to say that at the time when the Sinn Fein courts operated ordinary crime was promptly and very justly dealt with. Those abnormal courts had the sanction of force behind them; ordinary Courts of Law have no sanction of force. The police are absolutely powerless to protect, and crime, as I have said, is undetected and unpunished. There is in Ireland, to-day, absolutely no protection whatever for life or property. Honest, decent citizens have no protection, and can get no protection from the police, and are not allowed to protect themselves.
677 That is a condition which to my mind is absolutely shocking, and where are we to look for deliverance from it? To my mind, deliverance can only come by legislation, by remedial legislation, by legislation. amending the Act in the direction in which what I might term moderate opinion has, ever since the Bill was introduced, been urging His Majesty's Government to amend it. The Bill was, if I remember aright, introduced early in the spring of last year. From that day to this, everybody who could voice or dared to voice public opinion in Ireland, has denounced the measure as unsatisfactory and as absolutely incapable of forming the basis of a lasting settlement. Chiefly, the financial clauses have been objected to. Amendment after Amendment was moved in the other branch of the legislature, and by members supporting His Majesty's Government. In this House Amendments could not be moved, of course, on questions of finance.
As your Lordships may remember, last November I moved that the Bill should not be proceeded with, and my noble friend, Lord Midleton, moved to adjourn the debate for a fortnight, in order to give an opportunity for negotiations to take place. What notice was taken of that? Absolutely none. What notice has ever been taken of any effort that has been made to get the Bill amended into a reasonable Act? Action has not been confined to Parliament. Action has been taken over and over again by responsible men in Ireland, and by associations in Ireland. The whole case was put before His Majesty's Government by a Resolution moved by my noble friend Lord MacDonnell, I think, last August at the Peace Conference in Dublin, and what happened.? Nothing. What notice was taken? None. Every effort in Parliament and out of Parliament has been made to induce the Government to amend this Bill, but the door is simply slammed and banged and bolted in our faces, and nothing is done. What is the result? The present impasse— the present predicament in which we find ourselves.
I think the fatal mistake that throughout the Government has made has been in not appealing straight to the people of Ireland. They have talked of exploring avenues, and opening negotiations, and having conversations, but always with somebody who could guarantee acceptance, and who had authority to speak for the people of Ireland. 678 Nobody had authority to speak for the people of Ireland. You do not recognise the Irish Republic or its president, and nobody had authority to speak for the people of Ireland. You ought to have spoken to the people themselves. You ought to have put before the people a Bill which reasonable and moderate men would have accepted as an alternative to separation. Of this I am perfectly confident—that the Irish people are not republican at heart, The Irish people at heart do not desire the separation to be a complete severance between them and their best customer. If a measure had been put before them—a liberal measure as regards fiscal and financial autonomy—the noble Marquess asks whether anybody can say that it would be accepted. Nobody can say it would be accepted now, but I am absolutely certain that it would have been accepted as recently as six months ago.
Whether it will be accepted now, who can say? But at any rate it is possible, and if it is a possibility, is it not worth while putting it to the test? We know what the Lord-Lieutenant said the other day in Belfast and what the Chief Secretary said in another place. If there is any real meaning to be attached to those words, if amendments really are contemplated, why in Heaven's name cannot the Government give us the scope of those amendments now? Why not introduce the amending Bill now, before it becomes too late? I have said that I believe the only way of inducing peace and eventual settlement, in Ireland, is by legislation. What is the alternative? It is keeping Ireland down by force. I was driven almost to despair by the speech of the noble Marquess, which, in its whole tenour and gist, seemed to me to be a counsel of absolute despair. Nothing to do but carry on as we are. And what does carrying on as we are mean? It means the subjection of twenty-six counties in Ireland to military rule.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not know if I may interrupt the noble Earl for a moment. When he says, "Carry on as we are," I do not know whether he means that I favour the carrying on of the government of Ireland as the present Government have done it. I am very far from approving that. I doubt whether the present Government can restore order, but it can be done, undoubtedly, by people who know how.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
I gathered that he thought the only thing at present to be done was repression. Of course, disorder can be driven under the surface in Ireland by the pressure of sufficient force, but it cannot be kept under without continuing the pressure of sufficient force. The moment force is taken away, it will crop up again, because at the bottom of all the trouble in Ireland is the fact that the people are convinced that they never will get, by constitutional and peaceful means, their reasonable demands. Force is justifiable in many cases. I believe force—and any extent of force—would be justified in the eyes of the people of Great Britain, and I believe would be justified in the hearts of the people of Ireland, to put down secession. But I do not see how any justification can be found for putting twenty-six counties of Ireland under a military dictatorship—for that is what it really amounts to—until every means has been tried of satisfying them —every means within the limits that have been laid down over and over again by the Prime Minister, the limits of security for the United Kingdom and the integrity of the Empire. Until every such means has been tried I see no justification in force. And up to the present nothing has been tried.
Moderate opinion exists in Ireland; it does not assert itself, as the noble Marquess has said. What has it got to assert itself for? There is nothing before it, except an Act which it has over and over again said it will not accept. Give moderate opinion something that can satisfy it, upon which it can concentrate itself and create moderate opinion, and I think you would see a very different state of things. I entreat His Majesty's Government to accept the Motion before the House and to act upon it. It is the only way, to my mind —I do not know whether it matters to them—by which they can save themselves from a charge of bankruptcy in statesmanship. I am certain it is the only way in which Ireland can be relieved of the horrible circumstances under which she labours now, and can be preserved from perhaps greater evils to come.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, you are approaching now the con- 680 cluding stages of a debate which cannot have been listened to in any quarter of the House without feelings of deep gloom. As is natural, the leading part in the debate has been played by noble Lords who come from Ireland. No one could listen to the moving statements which have been made as to subsisting conditions in Ireland without feeling the most acute sympathy for those whose possessions, it may be, are there, whose traditions bind them to the soil and to the people, and who, in an expression of Lord Desart's which moved me much, find themselves daily and weekly estranged from a population with whom they and their fathers, and, it may be, their grandfathers, have lived on terms of friendship.
If we could solve the actual problems which confront us at this moment by a sensation of sympathy, or by an expression in words of that sensation, our task would be a simpler one. I am not even in a position to attempt to diminish the impression of gloom which the speeches made must have produced upon the minds of every one. I do not think that the picture painted in these two days of debate has been over-painted; I think that at this moment it is as gloomy as noble Lords who have spoken have stated it to be. And what is necessary for ns to do in dealing with the Motion which presents itself is to measure the Motion in the terms of the situation to which it is intended to apply the proposal contained in it.
In the speech of Lord Donoughmore repeated reference was made to some observations which fell from the Viceroy in the speech which he recently made at Belfast. It is important that I should make it plain, reserving what further observations I have to make, that it was not the object of my noble friend in that speech to make any important pronouncement on the subject of policy. My noble friend's attention was at that moment concentrated upon some relatively minor points in the Act, on which it seemed to him that amendment would obviously become necessary. And he did not use the language quoted in this debate with the intention of giving rise to the impression that it was either his policy or the policy of the Government at an early date to introduce a considerable amending Bill. So much I think it right to make clear at the outset. That circumstance, of course, is entirely without 681 prejudice to the case which has been made in so many speeches, that the Government ought to take this course, whatever was in the mind of the Viceroy and was expressed by him in his speech.
Before I address myself to that case, which, indeed, is the only legitimate subject-matter of the debate raised by this Motion, I may perhaps allow myself to make a short observation in reference to the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, which stands upon an individual footing in this debate. The noble Marquess is, and long has been, an unfriendly critic of the actions of this Government. No complaint is, of course, felt, and none is expressed, at that circumstance. And, indeed, until an interruption which the noble Marquess made when Lord Dunraven was speaking, I thought that his speech was more than ordinarily friendly to the Government in the difficulties with which they have had to contend.
The noble Marquess, however, in some brief discussion with Lord Dunraven, the whole tenour of which I was not successful in catching, made an observation which, I think, almost verbally I recall. He said he did not claim that this Government could deal with the difficulties in Ireland; he did not think so, but another Government could do so. Now, it has been my duty, and at the same time it has been my pleasure—for the noble Marquess, as we all know, enlivens discussion with vigour and with great controversial gifts—to listen to many speeches which the noble Marquess has made upon the subject of the constantly growing Irish mischiefs, in the course of the last two years and a half. I infer from what the noble Marquess said that it is his opinion, not, indeed, that you can deal with the Irish situation by any of the palliatives, as he holds them, recommended in the terms of this Motion, but that methods do exist by which, not this Government, but a Government more competent, a Government politically more honest, might successfully grapple with the mischiefs by which we are assailed to-day.
I make no complaint of what has long been obvious, that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, does not take the view that this is an Administration politically honest. The noble Marquess invariably gives such courteous expression to the fundamentally unfavourable opinion which lie has formed that, on his lips, it almost assumes the appearance of a compliment. 682 I do not dwell so much upon this as upon an occasion, if the noble Marquess is not too sanguine in his view, which I think must be unique in his career. It has apparently been, for two and a half years of inconceivable anguish in the history of this island, in the power of the noble Marquess to make a positive contribution to enable those, who themselves have not been clear-sighted enough, to perceive the remedy which the noble Marquess sees so clearly. As I say, it was in his power to make such a recommendation, and how has the noble Marques, dealt with the situation in his repeated speeches in the course of these debates? I recall two occasions only on which the noble Marquess has ever made any positive suggestion to the Government in the course of the last two and a half years. He has made many negative suggestions. He has frequently told us: "You are wrong in doing this. You are wrong in making such-and-such a proposal." But I only recall two occasions on which the noble Marquess has said in this House: "I recommend this course as the course which the Government would be well advised to adopt."
The first of those occasions was when he made the extremely sensible suggestion that closer co-operation should be established between the Police and the Army in Ireland. That recommendation was carried by me to the proper quarter and I believe it was, in due course, acted upon. The second suggestion which the noble Marquess made, if I am not mistaken, was that it would be well if the Government considered the policy of what has since become known as official reprisals. I shall not complicate the debate to-day by the introduction of an irrelevant topic, otherwise I should have something to say upon the observations which have been made on the subject. of reprisals, but I quote this instance at this moment with the simple intention of making it clear that, so far as my memory goes, these are the two positive contributions, and the only two positive contributions, that the noble Marquess has made.
I am well aware that he has long been convinced that the whole of our Home Rule Act was a mistake. That may or may not be true, but I marvel somewhat at the simplicity of the rhetorical methods employed by the noble Marquess to-day with the object of satisfying your Lordships that that Bill was a foolish essay. How does the noble Marquess deal with the situa- 683 tion? He describes the situation as it exists to-day in Iceland, he ascribes that situation to this Act and he says: "Observe how your policy has failed. This is the situation to-day in the South of Ireland some months after your Bill has become law." And this is the failure of that policy, for which the noble Marquess is never tired of claiming credit on the ground that he predicted it. The answer to that is simplicity itself. The state of affairs which exists to-day in Ireland existed in embryo at the time we first applied our minds to the problem. In some respects, though not in many, it was worse at that date than it is to-day. But it is true to say that almost every word which has been said in the attempt to depict the hideous situation which exists in Ireland to-day could have been said, and could have been truly said, a month before the Cabinet took the decision which led to the introduction of the Home Rule Act.
Whatever else may be said, I am at least entitled, as it seems to me, to say that you should not condemn the Home Rule Act by merely calling attention to the existing situation in Ireland. You must condemn the Home Rule Act, if you condemn it at all, by a comparison, directly and exclusively maintained, between the condition of Ireland as it is to-day and the condition of Ireland as best we can imagine it would have been had the Home Rule Act never been placed upon the Statute Book. That, and that alone, is a fair and relevant comparison. Let me devote a moment to that comparison before I approach the more direct subject of this Motion. We have at least, in consequence of the passage of that Bill on to the Statute Book, produced this result, that there exists to-day in Northern Ireland, and representative of six of not the least important counties of Ireland, a Parliament. The Earl of Donoughmore said in his opening speech that the financial proposals of the existing Act were such that no Parliament in the Empire would accept them. The noble Earl, with a lapse of memory which is very rare in one so vigilant as himself, had forgotten that there is a Parliament in the Empire, even if it is the youngest Parliament in the Empire, which has actually accepted these conditions, and which enters upon the discharge of legislative functions at a very early date with the knowledge that these are the present financial conditions which will at once define and limit its activities
684 What has been the consequence of setting up this Parliament in Northern Ireland? It is a consequence which some noble Lords will find welcome and some will find very unwelcome. Let me state it. It is to make it clear, written in legible characters upon the face of the Statute Book, that there are to be dealt with, as there have always had to be dealt with in this matter, not one Ireland but two Irelands. In the debate which took place on the Second Reading of the present Home Rule Act we ail heard the noble Viscount, Lord Grey, say in plain and candid language that the Governments of which he was a member had paid too little attention to the separate and distinguishable problem of Ulster. I count it no small advantage that hereafter, and at whatever period of time the ultimate solution may be found, he who applies his mind to the attempt to discover that solution will apply it with the knowledge plain before his eyes that no man will ever deal with the Irish problem who does not fortify himself by the experience of those who have gone before him, and whose efforts have proved vain because they attempted to treat that population as homogeneous which differs as profoundly in its various sections as any two white populations that can be found within the boundaries of this Empire.
I then count it wholly for gain that in this matter the result of the Home Rule Act is to set up in Northern Ireland a Parliament representative of the population of the six counties, a Parliament that must be dealt with, a Parliament which can, indeed, by the example of good government, be induced by material advantages (which are not lacking in the proposals of this Bill) to join itself to the larger Parliament of a larger Ireland, but a Parliament to which never again will the language or the proposals of coercion be applied. I said that that result would be less welcome to some noble Lords in this House. Lord Donoughmore, with perfect frankness—and in this example he was followed by another noble Lord who spoke from Ireland— said that he lamented the partition of Ireland. That is a view which is naturally and intelligibly held by noble Lords who come from the South of Ireland, as it most undoubtedly is held, though for quite different reasons in my judgment, by a majority of the population in the South of Ireland. But does any noble Lord in this House doubt that it has been impossible since the war to impose 685 upon the population of the North of Ireland a Home Rule proposal without their free assent to it? There is no one, I will venture to say, whether he comes from the North or whether he comes from the South, who does not know that before the passing of this Act, as after the passing of this Act, it was impossible that any general scheme could be adopted for the whole of Ireland to which the assent of the northern population had not been previously Obtained.
With this preface I approach the other observation made by the noble Marquess. He says that our policy, or our Act, has produced the state of affairs which is to be observed to-day in the South of Ireland. I have already, I hope, made it plain that there is no reason whatever to suppose that a similar state of things would not have existed in the South of Ireland if our Bill had never become an Act. The noble Marquess asks what is to happen on the Appointed Day. The Appointed Day, as your Lordships know, is July 12, and, however gloomy the prospects may be of any solution of any kind being reached before July 12, I confess that, speaking for myself and even though it be really for pedantic reasons, I would readily see the postponement of this debate until the last opportunity, even if it be only a theoretic opportunity, has been afforded for discussion and for decision. In this connection I certainly do not forget that discussions have already taken place between Sir James Craig and Mr. de Valera. I should not be dealing candidly with your Lordships if I left the impression upon any mind that the result of those discussions would entitle me or anyone else to draw any particularly hopeful augury as to the future, but the mere fact that such a discussion has taken place at all is a circumstance, holding the views we do, which we consider a hopeful augury. The noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, said in his speech: "Let negotiations take place, but do not let the Government be the negotiator."
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I thought the noble Earl was making a general observation. I was about to point out that the mere fact that discussions had taken place between the representatives of the South and the North of 686 Ireland was of hopeful augury. In my humble judgment there is no other promise of a harmonious conclusion than that further discussions shall take place, if not now then at some other date, either between these representatives or between, other representatives who will speak for the South of Ireland. This is, indeed, if one analyses the situation for a. moment, a commonplace. The actual fundamental fact of the situation lies in the differences which exist between the North and the South. You will never reach a conclusion on those differences except by the cooperation of the two and the persuasion of the two, and the negotiations which must precede such persuasion can tale place only between the accredited representatives of the two parties.
The noble Marquess asked me upon that, "If this fails what, in the South of Ireland, will the position be?" I will say generally, in the first place, that the position, in my judgment, will not he greatly worse than the position as it exists to-day. Someone may reasonably reply that it could not be very greatly worse, but I am trying to, follow the method of reasoning of the noble Marquess, and I am accepting, for the purpose of reaching a conclusion upon it, the general descriptions that have been given in the course of this debate by noble Lords who come from Ireland. I cannot see that in any way the breakdown of our proposals in relation to the South—at least the temporary breakdown of our proposals in relation to the South— is, in actual fact, likely to aggravate very geriously the resulting situation.
I would ask leave to make this So far as I recall, I have not, in the many speeches which it has been my duty to make upon this subject in this House, ever indulged in a note of clear confidence. Never do I recollect making one unguarded prediction in relation to the future. I have always had deep in my mind a conviction of the seriousness of the crisis by which we were confronted. I have, I hope, some historical sense of the length, measured in terms of years, of each of the great recurrent crises in Ireland, to which and to which alone, the present disturbances are comparable. Therefore, if this Bill had never become an Act, we should, in my judgment, have seen the present system of government continued in force. It is a system to which no Englishman can look with much satisfaction, or ever recall 687 with much pride. It is a system in which trials by ordinary Courts have given way to trials by Courts-Martial. It is a system in which, over a great part of the country, Martial Law, in an extreme form, exists. It is a system on both sides, the description of which given by Lord Donoughmore is not exaggerated. He said the situation in Ireland to-day is this—that there are two Governments, and neither is strong enough to protect the subject. There was much truth in the irony of that description.
But how would it be worse if, for the moment, our proposals are not accepted in the South? I would point out here that not only did we anticipate, in the actual terms of those proposals, that this failure might take place, but I myself was especially at pains, in the speech which I made on the Second Reading, and in the other observations which I added upon the Committee stage, to make it plain that the Government seriously entertained the apprehension that exactly that might take place in the South of Ireland which has in fact taken place.
Lord Salisbury asks me how we shall deal with that situation, and what will be the position of those upon whom the task of dealing with it is thrown? The Viceroy in the South of Ireland will be, as the noble Marquess anticipated, in the position of a Constitutional Sovereign. He will be, 4ts the noble Marquess correctly recalled from the provisions of the Statute, assisted by Ministers. They are so described in the Act itself. The noble Marquess is, of course, as well aware as I am, and the tenour of his argument made this plain, that persons discharging such nominated functions during a period which can be terminated by any Sovereign, acting upon the advise of his constitutional advisers, has, of course, a wholly different status and position from Ministers sitting in this House. It is only by the use of a metaphor that they can be described as Ministers, or by going back to the original sense in which that word was used. They are servants of the Crown, and a period may be assigned, by the decision of the Sovereign upon the advice of his Ministers, to the discharge of their functions. In that sense only are they Ministers, and it would be more correct, and more consistent with constitutional precedents, if they were described as members of a Council advising the Viceroy, and holding their office at the pleasure of the Crown.
688 The machinery by which they will carry on the Government of the country will not, in my anticipation, differ very considerably from the machinery by which it is attempted to carry on the government of the country under the circumstances which exist to-day, and if and when a wiser disposition, a disposition more prone to reach an accommodation, is exhibited by those who are influential in the South, we have, at least, provided them with the machinery by which a bridge can be readily and swiftly built between them and those in the North. So much for the Home Rule Act.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Will the noble and learned Lord say what is to happen to the Chief Secretary in another place?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Marquess will forgive me for not pursuing this question too closely, but the account I have given of the arrangements which are provided in the Act are not in any way compatible with a continuance of the functions of the Chief Secretary as we have understood them in the past. Perhaps the noble Marquess will allow me on some future occasion to develop this point a little more fully. The advisers of the Viceroy will evidently be those who are nominated for the, purpose of advising him.
I pass from it with this observation. It is not the view of those who undertook the responsibility of recommending the Act to Parliament that it can be said, or that it ought to be said, that the Act has failed, because it has not itself ameliorated the conditions of Irish life. The mischiefs which it found in Ireland were mischiefs little likely to be corrected by an Act of Parliament. They were mischiefs which I will attempt to show have required, and will require, different treatment. It was an Act which we anticipated might very well fail altogether in the South, or would, at least, fail of acceptance at the moment. It has failed, or it seems likely to fail, of acceptance at the moment. Realising all that, I say, as I attempted to say nearly a year ago, that I am strongly of opinion that your Lordships' efforts and patience were not thrown away in the weeks we devoted to it, and I am persuaded that if and when an accommodation is reached, it will be by using the machinery which we created, which we placed on the Statute Book; by 689 bringing together the representatives of the North and South over the bridge which that Act created.
Now I approach more closely—it was necessary I should deviate from the subject of the Motion—the actual proposals contained in the Motion. To what do they amount? We are told that it is the duty of the Government immediately to make it plain what are the amendments we contemplate. Having regard to what I have said about the Viceroy, I should say what are the amendments we are prepared to make in the Home Rule Act. By what arguments is the course recommended to us to take this opportunity now of amending the Home Rule Act? In the first place, I would point out that the whole attitude of those who have thought a useful purpose could be served by here and now amending the Home Rule Act is wholly irreconcilable with the attitude of those who say that the Act was worthless and that your Lordships wasted all the time that was bestowed upon it, and who reproach us, as Lord Salisbury almost did, for passing an Act of stupendous folly. That is one point of view.
It is not the point of view of those who have introduced the Motion. What d they say? They say only amend it now, inform the world in general, and the Irish people in particular, of the few minute changes in relation to finance, which it is well within your power to make, and we think there is a chance that these horrors will come to an end and you may reach an agreement with your enemies in the South. I shall have a few words to say in explanation of the view I have formed that noble Lords, who have pressed such a conclusion upon us, are too sanguine. I am entitled to point this out, that in the view of noble Lords who have done so not one moment of the time given to place the Act on the Statute Book could have been wasted. Is the view too sanguine? Let me say that no one would vote for this Motion more readily than I, and none would use any small degree of influence he possessed more warmly in its support than myself, if I had been convinced by the discussion on this question that there was the remotest chance that it would produce the consequence which its mover and its supporters associated with it.
In judging whether noble Lords are right, or whether the Government are right, in this matter, do not, at least, let us add to 690 all our other errors, errors in which all Parties and sections have shared, this further error that we did not look around us now and with clear and undeceived eyes realise what is going on at this moment in Ireland. It is no longer even, in a phrase once used by an illustrious predecessor of mine, "a kind of war." It is a small war that is going on in Ireland. Week by week, month by month, its true character has developed, and, if I am to speak as frankly as I have always attempted to do when I have addressed your Lordships' House on this topic, I think that the history of the last three months is a history of the failure of our military measures to keep pace with, and to overcome, the military measures which have been taken by our opponents.
This view, if it be accepted, as here and hereafter it must and be accepted, leads to certain definite conclusions. It leads, of course, first of all, quite clearly to the conclusion that whatever effort may be required to deal with the actual situation in Ireland will be forthcoming. It will be forthcoming, whatever degree of sacrifice is involved to the inhabitants of this country. But it also suggests some serious reflections upon the nature of this particular proposal. We are really asked to say that if we were to introduce a Bill to-morrow into this House—supposing, once again, I came down and asked your Lordships to give a First Reading to another Home Rule Bill, and supposing that that Bill contained as one of its provisions a clause which gave what is loosely called fiscal autonomy to Ireland, then we are asked to believe that some body of persons not in the least defined (but they must, ex hypothesi, at this moment in Ireland be powerful, or their utterance would be immaterial), would be likely to come forward and say, "This does afford a medium of settlement, and we who take that view are in a position to make it plain to you that we can meet those who, upon the Sinn Fein side, are carrying on this war to-day."
Let me ask first what is meant by this fiscal autonomy? I hope I say it without a particle of disrespect, but those on whose lips this phrase has been have not, in all their speeches, left upon my mind any clear impression that they even plainly know themselves what they mean when they talk of fiscal autonomy. The noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, in his opening speech, said that of course he did not 691 contemplate a repudiation on the part of Ireland of her share of the National Debt. Lord Dunraven, who spoke last, plainly used the expression "fiscal autonomy." Is any noble Lord in this House, whether he comes from Ireland or from any other part of His Majesty's Dominions, prepared to sanction a financial policy which, in the first place, will enable Southern Ireland to erect a tariff wall discriminatory against the manufactures of this country, and, in the second place, will provide Northern and Southern Ireland respectively with machinery which would enable them to erect tariff walls discriminatory against one another's manufactures? have not heard a single protagonist of these proposals who has ever had the courage to get up in either House and say: "This is what I mean by fiscal autonomy, and I am in favour of it." Unless one has faced this it is, I think, not only useless but mischievous, to use phrases which have no correspondence with any intention in the mind of any statesman.
I might ask another question. When those who speak of fiscal autonomy consider in their own minds exactly what they do mean, have they asked themselves this: "Does it mean what it ought to mean "? Does it mean that that Parliament which comes into existence, the child of these new proposals, armed according to your assurances with fiscal autonomy, is so completely the master of its own destinies that it may say: "We are not, bound to contribute to the financial burdens of a policy in the formation of which we were never separately consulted, and which here and now we repudiate"? In other words, do those who recommend fiscal autonomy mean that an Irish Parliament, on coming into existence, should be at liberty, if it desired to do so, to repudiate the share of Ireland in the National Debt of Great Britain? I do riot believe that any noble Lord in this House can really suppose that such a proposal would be likely to be attractive to his fellow countrymen. It would, of course, mean that no shipbuilder in Glasgow or in Barrow could possibly compete with a shipbuilder in Belfast. One would be paying an Income Tax of, I suppose, 1 s.6d. in the £, while the other would be paying an Income Tax of about 6s. in the £. The whole basis of competition would disappear. If you take the farming industry, imagine instituting a comparison between the encouragement of the fruits of the soil under a system which, 692 in the one ease, imposed most overwhelming burdens and, in the other case, imposed, in comparison, no burdens at all.
I am sure at least, of this—that even if, as the price of peace, we were prepared to assent to such a measure of fiscal autonomy, I do not believe that the people of the other islands, I do not believe that the voters, who would suffer, could be induced to give their support to a proposal of this kind. When, therefore, we talk of fiscal autonomy we do not mean in the least fiscal autonomy as any writer upon political or constitutional economics has ever defined the subject. We merely mean that in some manner, not precisely made plain, but which I probably should not be too rash in gathering to be identical with the proposals made in the Committee stage of the Home Rule Act, the financial arrangements contemplated by that Act shall be generously modified in favour of Ireland. I do not pause to say—because it will not meet the real point—that there is a clear provision in the Act which entitles a united Ireland to make representations upon these very points, because it may be retorted that what is wanted is not the power, in some years' time, to make a representation in a contingency which is unlikely to happen to persons who are not bound to take any notice of it when it is made.
Therefore, upon the real weight of the Motion, I ask this question: What has been said, what has been proved, to convince your Lordships that, whatever financial proposal were made, those and those alone who have power in Ireland at this moment would in any degree modify their policy? Does any noble Lord really believe that if we introduced a Bill containing comparatively tepid financial adjustments—they would appear to be comparatively tepid in the eves of the only men whose opinion is to-day important in Ireland—does any one suppose that, if such a Bill passed on to the Statute Book to-morrow, one revolver less would go off in the month that followed in Ireland, that one life less would be lost among the police and among the Forces of the Crown? We are toying with ideas, we are chloroforming ourselves, and closing our eyes to the real facts of the actual situation as it exists and as, alas! it is developing before our eyes in Ireland. The realities of that situation I have before attempted to make plain.
No one, I think, has the slightest excuse for misunderstanding what the attitude of 693 the Government has been throughout in relation to financial alterations or improvements in the Home Rule Act if the Parliaments of the North and of the South came together, or if, through a punctilio in honour being unwilling to come together, it was nevertheless made known that persons who were in a position to carry out that which they undertook were hindered by a financial consideration, I for one can hardly think of a purely financial consideration which, if we were offered the prospect of an Ireland loyal within the Empire, an Ireland to he contributory to our Imperial strength instead of creative of Imperial weakness, would be allowed to stand in the way—I can hardly imagine a price which any sensible man would not pay, if it were compatible with the necessary maintainance of our whole financial structure. But it has never been put upon finance. The noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, said that in the direction of partition we should not at least be the initiators, and I think another noble Lord expressed the view that we had not been very happy in our attempted negotiations. Those with whom we are to negotiate are most elusive.
Suppose that the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore—and I know of no one more judicious and more sagacious in such a matter—were to-morrow armed by the Cabinet with authority to go to Ireland and to convey to certain persons whom he thought it worth while interviewing in Ireland, that substantial alleviation of the financial provisions of the Act could be secured in return for peace, I do not believe that; the noble Earl, with all his knowledge of Ireland, would have the slightest idea as to whom to address himself. The noble Earl knows as well, and even better than I do, that the actual personnel of the subsisting Parliament has borne out, since the Elections, some of the more alarming predictions uttered at the time of the discussion on the Home Rule Act. It is, unfortunately, the fact that. a very great number of the members of Dail Eireann at this moment, if they do not actually belong to the class known as gunmen, undoubtedly belong to a class that is steeped to the lips in the expressed policy of assassination. It is perfectly obvious then that the noble Earl could not go to any representative of Dail Eireann. It is equally obvious that he could not go to any powerful figure in the Republican army—an army which consists of many thousands. What in the name of common 694 sense is the use of a pilgrimage to inculcate, and' if possible obtain, peace from a body of men who ex hypothesi do not belong to the only Party in that country which is carrying on war, who are the only men who can make peace? What is the good of making peace with men who are not carrying on the war? There will be no peace in this matter until an adjustment is made, if an adjustment, indeed, be possible, with those who are actually carrying on or inspiring the policy of violence.
A more plausible argument was used by another speaker, who said that it was consistent—more consistent, I think he said—with the position and the function of the Government that all our cards—to use a metaphor drawn from elsewhere—should be placed upon the table, and that our proposals should be intelligently and finally known. Such an argument, at first sight, is attractive, but on analysis it is less attractive. On analysis it is, in my judgment, not a true argument, for this reason. We are invited here and now to make proposals which we believe to be unsound. It is our deliberate judgment that any financial readjustment which would produce the kind of complication of which I have spoken in the field of finance, which would or might lead to any repudiation on the part of an Irish Parliament of her share of the National Debt, would be on its merits mischievous, unsound and indefensible. I am not here to say, any more than any of my colleagues would say, here or elsewhere, that there is anything in the field of finance which, if put forward, they would not consider; but it is proposed to us that we shall here and now go forward with proposals in which we do not believe, which we ourselves think to be unsound, and which would not secure the adherence of the only people whose adherence can alleviate our anxieties.
The noble Earl, I could not, help seeing, desired to dissociate himself from that description of his proposals, but I hope have made it plain that I suspect all of them, that I put certain of them in one class as futile because unacceptable and the others a class that will occasion the greatest possible objection in purely financial fields. In these circumstances, it is suggested that we should go forward with proposals which we ourselves distrust, although we are confident that nobody of influence will have his policy modified in the slightest degree by that which we, not believing in ourselves, place upon the Notice Paper. I cannot imagine, with great respect to 695 those who make the proposal, any suggestion which is less likely to lead to a successful conclusion.
I shall be asked, and reasonably asked, Is there no word of hope that you can utter on the part of the Government? It has not been my habit to shirk such a question, and I will only reply to the cheer with which Lord Midleton heard my announcement of that rhetorical question, that while it is true that I am chary of, and designedly refrain from, uttering, at this moment, any expression of hope—while that is so, and while, if my argument is well-founded, the noble Earl is not at this moment able to give to the House any more real assurance, or anything indeed but the mirage, as I conceive it to be, of excessive optimism—when I am asked if there is any hope, I reply that while none can be assigned for a week or a month, and perhaps for many months, we may nevertheless discover some reassurance in the history of our long relations with Ireland. We have in the past been confronted with similar difficulties. We have overcome them. The hope and the only hope lies in the stubbornness and the Imperial sense of the people of England, Scotland and Wales. I am certainly not one who would embitter this debate by attempting to apportion responsibility, historically remote or historically near, for the present situation in Ireland. It has been a fascinating subject for factious debate, but I find that the difficulties and the tragedies of the moment are sufficient to occupy our best endeavours.
If I am right in saying that it is a war, that those who direct it will be content with nothing less than that which they have repeatedly and publicly avowed that they require—namely, open independence and a Republic fol. Ireland—if that, indeed, be true, then this is at least equally certain, that those are claims which it has never been possible for this country to concede, which it never will be possible for this country to concede, and which, in the event however long the struggle lasts, this country never will concede. It is unlikely that any words of mine will reach the ears of those who are the real obstacles to any solution of our difficulty, but if they could, I think I would remind them of the tenacious character of the people of these Islands. I would remind those who doubt, at this time or another, of the fortunes of the struggle, of those moments, frequently recurrent, charged with gloom, in 696 the great war in which no man could confidently state the moment of success, though few of our blood doubted the ultimate certainty of success. I profoundly hope that even at the eleventh hour wiser counsels will prevail, but should we be forced to the melancholy conclusion that by force and by force alone can these mischiefs be extirpated, it is a conclusion which, however sorowfully, we shall accept, and upon which we shall not hesitate logically and completely to act.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I know well that your Lordships desire to go to a Division in a few minutes, but I am sure you will not grudge me a little time in which to utter what I am afraid must be a protest against much that we have admired in the concluding sentences of the noble and learned Lord's speech, and against the whole trend of the speech, which, I believe, will do more harm to the cause of a settlement in Ireland than any speech which the noble and learned Lord has ever delivered in the course of his career. What has been asked by every speaker with authority in the South of Ireland is that the Government will make up their minds. What the noble and learned Lord proposes is that they should decline to make up their minds, but that they should wait until the leaders of Southern and Northern Ireland can confer together and can come to the Government with a plan. No one knows better than the noble and learned Lord that there is no means at this moment even of getting to meet in Southern Ireland the Parliament which is to come to a determination.
Are we really to go on, in ignorance of that which the Government are willing to concede, to continue for months or for years the struggle which he has portrayed to us, waiting until some agreement may be come to between the authorities who are quite unwilling to come to it at present? I will speak only to narrow the issue between us and the Government. We hold as strongly as the noble and learned Lord that there can be no question of concession to the extreme demands which have been made. We know that the greatest obstacle to a settlement at this moment is the Act which the noble and learned Lord makes the substratum of all settlement. You were told by every authority from the South of Ireland in both Houses of Parliament, when you were passing the Bill, that it never could be accepted.
697 The noble and learned Lord touched upon the finance clauses and made a great case, which at another time, I venture to say, I should have no difficulty in demolishing, because it was entirely based on false premises. There is no question, on the part of those who have asked for what is called fiscal autonomy, of the repudiation of past liabilities. Fiscal autonomy, like Dominion Home Rule and other catchwords, is not what we rely upon. What we rely upon—I put it quite clearly—is a demand that there should be a line drawn between things which are Imperial and things which are local. The things which are Imperial should be reserved for this Parliament: war and peace; treaties, which cover to a large extent the difficulty which the noble and learned Lord saw as regards autonomy; and all matters which are Imperial. As regards the local matters, so far from the provisions in the Act being what the noble and learned Lord depicted them—or even my noble friend behind me—I dare say the majority of this House are of the same opinion as I have been for many years of my life. I do not on the merits recommend Home Rule as a policy more suitable than the Imperial Government. But I say that, if you are to give Home Rule at all, give a Home Rule which is workable. At present the powers are such as would not satisfy the meanest municipality in this country.
My noble friend (Lord Salisbury) said that you can borrow under the Act, and he quoted the noble Viscount opposite (Lord Peel) who had delivered a speech before certain changes were made. I believe I could bring it home to your Lordships better in this way than in any other. I believe my noble friend to be one of the most indulgent landlords in this country, but if his rents had been put at the highest figure that any new purchaser or rack-renter could adopt—and that is our position with regard to the. Income Tax at this moment in this country—what does he suppose anybody would lend him on the chance of his being able to raise those rents still further? That is the position of Ireland under this Act. With a Super-Tax and an Income Tax which we all know has strained the financial capacity of everybody in both countries to the uttermost, should we be able to borrow on the strength of being able to raise taxes which are already beyond bearing?
I do not want to recriminate with the noble and learned Lord, but I venture to tell him that there was nothing omitted 698 to be done under that Act which could stimulate disorder in the South. You forced the Bill against all our opinions. The noble and learned Lord at the time gave us every hope that it would not be put into operation, unless there should be a free Election. These were his words —Our Irish advisers are of opinion that it may be possible in the course of a few months. Temper is changing so quickly and the decision of victory is being so clearly determined on the side of law and order that we shall be able to put it to Southern Ireland without the interminable delay which is suggested. It has been said that if an Election is held only Sinn Feiners will be found at the ballot box. We feel strong enough to say that if there is a Sinn Feiner at the ballot box there will be somebody else there too.Have any of those predictions been verified? We urged the Government, as we had done times out of number, not to go to an Election on the worst ground that a general could possibly choose—between a Bill which no one will accept, and a Republic which a great majority of Irish people do; not want. But they insisted on forcing the position and, as the noble Marquess said, they gave a cheap advantage to the extremists. Now they ask you to wait until that Parliament will come together, until the Prime Minister of that Parliament can be appointed, until he is in a temper to deal with the Northern Parliament, until the Northern Parliament will deal with him, and then to consider how we are to obtain some of those things which may be concessions, but at all events are securities and safeguards which may be acceptable.
I will put in as few sentences as I can what we ask the Government. We challenge their right to shake off their own shoulders and on to the two Parties in Ireland the question of deciding what Great Britain is willing to give in order to obtain peace in Ireland. We ask them to face the question. The noble Earl's Motion does not ask them, as the Lord Chancellor suggested, to make an open statement which it might be unwise to make. We ask them to make up their own mind. I will venture to put a question to the noble and learned Lord, the answer to which I know beforehand: Have the Government made up their own minds? No, my Lords, they never have. I submit that this question is more pressing than any other public question that exists in regard to this House, this Parliament, and this Empire. My first demand is that the Government should make up their own minds. In order to 699 do that it may be necessary that they should put aside the strike for a few days, that they should put aside foreign questions for a few days, that they should give themselves not by driblets and by a few men here and there, but absolutely, to the consideration of what is the utmost this country can properly afford to give, and that they should be ready to give it.
Then I ask that they should appoint a negotiator from among themselves with the authority of the Cabinet, and that they should say to Ireland and to all those whose numbers have been so belittled in the course of the speeches of my noble friend behind me and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, but who are numerous beyond words, though they cannot speak out"— Here is the Government, ready with a proposal largely to meet the views which you have put forward. Here is the man who will meet your leaders when your leaders are ready to meet him." If they did that, they would be in a position far in advance of any they occupy at present for obtaining a settlement.
One word more, and I have done. I am going to speak quite freely. The main difficulty, besides the terms, in obtaining a settlement at this moment, is that the Irish people have lost all confidence in the Government. And no wonder. I shall not deal with their breaches of faith with the various Irish Parties. I do not speak of it as a matter of honour. I know they have been turned away from pledges they have given by the circumstances of the day. After promises of every possible security had been made to the Southern minority there was no security whatever given them in the Bill and the Government were forced to admit before the whole world that the pledges they have given us had never been carried out. If Lord Oranmore and Browne Lad spoken to-night he might have mentioned six different pledges on the part of prominent members of the Government, ranging from the speech of Mr. Lloyd George in 1918 to the speech of Mr. Lloyd George just before last Easter, that the settlement of the land should be carried out at the same time as the settlement of the Constitution. And yet, this evening, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has asked Lord Oranmore and Browne to postpone his Question because the Government have not settled what they are going to do in regard to a measure which Mr. Lloyd George promised definitely should be introduced long ago. I know their diffi- 700 culties; but how do they imagine that the people of Ireland, when they see the Government failing in their pledges to those who have been their most constant supporters, are to put faith in the promises of the- Government concerning matters which are so vital to them?
When they ask: "How can we embark on this question at this moment?" I invite the Government to remember this. The noble Lord, Lord Buckmaster, is not in his place, but I have heard him telling the Government in the course of the last two or three years that if they did not take up the question of national economy they would find that the country would sweep them from power, seeing how strong was the feeling aroused by their awful extravagance and the heavy taxation. What do we see? There is not an election in which the Government candidate appears to be able to stand up at this moment. May I say to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that if the Government continue the policy he has adumbrated to-night, if instead of dealing at once with this question, which is one that Great Britain must decide and no Irish Party can determine, realising that it is a matter of days or hours—at a moment when houses are being burnt, when officers are being slaughtered, and troops are being unfortunately defeated—they think they can afford to wait for an indefinite period before announcing what they will do, then I earnestly believe that this House will see a time, not very far distant, when not merely within these walls but outside there will be a feeling that a Government which is incapable of governing Ireland is also incapable of being responsible for the interests of this Empire. It is because of my conviction that I feel this is the most urgent question with which they have to deal that I urge them to put aside all other questions, and to deal with it, not in the spirit which was evidenced to-night, but with a determination to find that which I believe every man here present who is connected with Southern Ireland will support me in saying is absolutely vital to the interests of peace in that country.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, I shall not detain the House at this hour for more than two or three minutes. But it would not do for me to give merely a silent vote in support of the Motion of the noble Earl. The Lord Chancellor spoke with his accustomed eloquence. In one 701 sense, from the purely military standpoint, he fully recognised the extreme gravity of the situation, but I have no reason to suppose —in fact rather the contrary — that His Majesty's Government realise the importance of what has been impressed upon them by the noble Earl who has just spoken of doing something and of doing something soon.
I entirely agree with the noble Earl that there is no question before His Majesty's Government at this moment which approaches in importance, from the Imperial point of view, that of bringing about some improvement in the Irish situation. The Foreign Secretary is not here to-night, but were he here I should say to him that there is no question of foreign affairs, no question affecting Silesia, or Germany, or Turkey, or Mesopotamia, which, from the point of view of Imperial interests, approaches in importance this question of Ireland. The Imperial Conference is taking place to deal with many matters of the greatest moment to the Empire, but there is no question there which approaches, at any rate in urgency, this one of Ireland. I am so convinced of this that, although the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack covered the whole field of the subject with his accustomed skill and fullness, I am sorry that he should have been the only Minister who has taken part in this important discussion.
I opposed the creation of these two Parliaments, but, they having been created by the Home Rule Act, I am most anxious that the two Parliaments in Ireland should work, and work well. I myself thought that His Majesty's Government were beginning at the wrong end, and that they should have created a single body with two subordinate Assemblies, enjoying no doubt, particularly so far as the Northern Assembly was concerned, powers comparable with those which the Northern Parliament now possesses. I believe then that the re-union, to which the Home Rule Act is intended to be a step, would have been far more easily brought about. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack said "After all, what is to be done in the way of bringing about renewed negotiations—what would be the use of asking the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, to visit Ireland and promise Ireland what is known by the rather vague and general term of fiscal autonomy? "I agree, but I would point out that it would be possible for His Majesty's Government to make an 702 announcement of some further financial concession, and by no means of the small and trilling kind which the noble and learned Lord seems to assume it must be.
The noble and learned Lord spoke, in what was, indeed, the only hopeful passage of his speech, of the possibility of the continuation of communications between Sir James Craig and Mr. de Valera. Why should His Majesty's Government not give the Ulster leader power to negotiate with Mr. de Valera on terms of approved fiscal conditions which would apply equally to both parts of the country, and which might conceivably facilitate negotiations between the two? Why should not His Majesty's Government use the Ulster leader, in whom they have confidence, as a negotiator to convey to the other leader, in whom they have no confidence, their views on some of the possibilities of the situation?
There is only one other point that I wish to mention. I could not hear without alarm what the noble and learned Lord said of what might be the only possible step to be taken in Ireland in a military sense. I hope I am not quoting the sense of his words inaccurately when I say he indicated that if any mistake had been made it had been in not applying sooner military methods of a more drastic kind—methods of the sort in which we have been anticipated by those whom it is difficult to speak of except as the enemy. We all agree that so far as the repression of crime is concerned the sternest measures have to be taken, but when it comes to military methods of a more formidable sort, one asks, what is going to happen afterwards? Suppose it becomes necessary, in a military sense, to reduce parts of the South and West of Ireland to the condition of Northern France? Suppose you make Limerick or Ennis into as close an imitation of the present condition of Ypres as circumstances will admit? You may —and I gather that the noble and learned Lord hopes that you will—thus sweep away the rebellion. But, unless you exterminate the population altogether, where will you be then? I confess that some of the words used by the noble and learned Lord in this regard appear to me inexpressibly ominous.
I will not detain the House any longer, but I would repeat once more the protest, which I was glad to see my noble friend Lord Buxton made in his speech, against the term Crown Colony government being applied to this form of military government 703 which is to be the rule in the South of Ireland if the Southern Parliament does not function. I protest most strongly against a comparison of that form of military rule which is to be put into force over there with the humane, and in all cases represen-
§ Resolved, in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.704
§ tative, government which rules in the Crown Colonies.
§ On Question, Whether the Motion be agreed to, their Lordships divided?—Contents, 57; Not-Contents, 66.703
|Somerset, D.||Askwith, L.||Mac Donnell, L.|
|Barrymore, L.||Meston, L.|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Buckmaster, L.||Monteagle, L. (M. sligo.)|
|Crewe, M.||Castlemaine, L.||Morris, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.)||Chalmers, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L. [Teller.]|
|Abingdon, E.||Chelmsford, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Beauchamp, E.||de Mauley, L.||Parmoor, L.|
|Buxton, E.||Decies, L||Pentland, L.|
|Craven, E.||Denman, L.||Ponsonby, L.(E Bessborough.)|
|Iveagh, E.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Rotherham, L.|
|Mayo, E. [Teller.]||Farrer, L.||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Midleton, E.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||Seaforth, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Gainford, L.||Shandon, L.|
|Gorell, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Cowdray, V.||Greville, L.||Southborouhg, L.|
|Harcourt, V.||Hemphill, L.||Southwark L.|
|Hutchinson, V.(E. Donoughmore.)||Inchiquin, L.||Strachie, L.|
|Knollys, V.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)||Swaythling, L.|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Lamington, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Wharneliffe, E.||Ebury, L.|
|Argyll, D.||Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.)|
|Northumberland, D.||Chilston, V.||Faringdon, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Churchill, V.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Cross, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Devonport, V.||Kilmarnock, L.(E.Erroll.)|
|Exeter, M.||Finlay, V.||Lee of Fareham, L.|
|Linlithgow, M.||Peel, V.||Leigh, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Marshall of Chrpstead, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Methuen, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.)||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Amherst, E.||Armaghdale, L.||Newton, L.|
|Ancaster, E.||Atkinson, L.||Phillimore, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Balfour, L.||Riddell, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Blythswood, L.||Roundway, L.|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E.||Brownlow, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Carson, L.||Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]|
|Harewood, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Lovelace, E.||Clwyd, L.||Stuart of Wortley, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Colebrooke, L.||Sumner, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Desborough, L.||Sydenham, L.|
|Pembroke of Montgomery, E.||Dewar, L.||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)|
|Selborne, E.||Dynevor, L.||Wyfold, L.|
§ House adjourned at a quarter before eight o'clock.