§ [SECOND NIGHT.]
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [8th April],
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provision for the future Government of Ireland.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
Sir, in interposing at this stage of the debate I have to throw myself upon the indulgence of the House. I have risen not so much for the purpose of entering upon any detailed discussion of the magnificent speech which was delivered by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last night, as to make an explanation to the House of the causes which led to my recent resignation. I believe that it is the invariable practice of Ministers retiring from a Cabinet to seek the earliest opportunity of explaining their position to the House; and if in my case this explanation has necessarily been delayed, that is owing to circumstances which the 1182 House will thoroughly appreciate. I could not, of course, without impropriety—it would have been indecent for me to have done anything to anticipate the explanation of my right hon. Friend or to force his hand; and, accordingly, it is only now that I have the permission of Her Majesty to state publicly the circumstances and the reasons which have led to the course I have taken. If, in doing this, I have to digress a little from the strict course of the debate, I hope that the House will be willing to make allowances for the peculiar circumstances in which I stand. It is now nearly a month since my right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) and myself tendered our resignations, and it is nearly a fortnight since they were finally accepted. In the interval, and while our mouths were closed, rumour has been busy with our reputations and motives, and rumour has not always been very truthful, and certainly it has not been very friendly. I find that some persons, whose frame of mind it is very difficult for me to appreciate, seem to take a pleasure in imputing the basest motives for the public actions of men with whom they happen to differ, and suggest that I only joined the Government with a preconceived determination to leave it at the first opportunity. The statement is not only utterly untrue, but it is ridiculous. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] I will say to the House that no act of my public life has been so painful as the resignation which I recently tendered to my right hon. Friend. I am told that by taking that step I have wrecked my political prospects and destroyed altogether all hope of future usefulness. Well, Sir, that is a prospect which it is possible for me to contemplate with equanimity; but it is more difficult to reconcile myself to a separation from one whom I have followed and honoured for so many years, and to leave the personal friends and political associates with whom, I believe, I have no other cause of difference whatever. I have found it hard to give up an opportunity which I thought I had in my grasp, to do something to put forward legislation in which I take a great and overwhelming interest. These considerations weighed with me, and I can assure the House that I have found it a more difficult task to leave a Government than to enter one. There is only one other remark which I wish to 1183 make by way of preface. I admit, Sir, that if any difference of opinion has arisen between myself and my right hon. Friend, with his unrivalled experience, with his vast knowledge of public affairs, and with his long and tried devotion to the public service, the natural presumption is that he is right and that I am wrong. It is one to which I have yielded my own judgment on many occasions; but in the present instance the issue before us is one of such vital importance, and a mistake, if we make one, is so fatal and so irrevocable that it seems to me to be the duty of every man, however humble, to bring an independent judgment to its consideration; and everything—private feeling, personal friendship, political ambition, and the cherished objects of a public life—all these must be put aside in view of circumstances which are still higher and still more important. Since I have been in public affairs I have called myself, I think not altogether without reason, a Radical. But that title has never prevented me from giving great consideration to Imperial interests. I have cared for the honour and the influence and the integrity of the Empire, and it is because I believe these things are now in danger that I have felt myself called upon to make the greatest sacrifice that any public man can be expected to make. It will be in the recollection of the House that the late Government were defeated on the 26th of January on a Motion which was made by my Friend, Mr. Jesse Collings, and which raised what has sometimes been called the "unauthorized programme," although I never admitted the justice of that description. But it will be admitted that by that Resolution the House did undoubtedly pledge itself generally to the policy with which I happened to be conspicuously identified during the autumn campaign; and, accordingly, when my right hon. Friend, on the 30th of January, did me the honour to invite me to become a Member of the Government, I was able to tell him that I would allow no personal considerations whatever to stand in the way of my giving him any support I could possibly bring to him; but I felt it necessary to add that the reports that were current as to his intentions with regard to Ireland made me somewhat doubtful whether I could possibly be of service. My right 1184 hon. Friend was good enough to tell me that he had not up to that day formed any definite plan; that he had only committed himself to inquiry; and that if I joined him I should be perfectly free to judge and to decide upon anything which would be submitted to the Cabinet. My right hon. Friend said that he adhered to his previous public utterances, and all he asked his Colleagues was to join with him in an inquiry and examination as to how far it was or was not practicable to meet the wishes of the great proportion of the Irish people, as expressed by the return of a large majority of Representatives to Parliament to form something in the nature of a Legislative Body sitting in Dublin. My right hon. Friend added that any possible concession in this direction would be accompanied by full and ample guarantees for the security and integrity of the Empire, for the protection of minorities of all classes of the community, and for the protection of the just interests of the Three Kingdoms. I told my right hon. Friend that this was an inquiry of which; I approved, and which, indeed, I thought had become indispensable. I told him that I thought the conditions which he had fixed to any possible concession were just, reasonable, and adequate conditions; but I went on to say that I thought it was honest to state that, as far as I was able to make up my mind, or to form any kind of judgment, I did not believe that he would find it possible to conciliate these conditions and limitations with the establishment of a separate and practically independent Parliament in Dublin. My right hon. Friend did not think that that opinion so expressed by me ought to be a bar to my joining his Government. I asked his leave to put my views in writing, and, if the House will permit me, I will read the letter in which I accepted Office. It is as follows:—
§ "40, Prince's Gardens, S.W.,
§ "January 30, 1886.
§ "My dear Mr. Gladstone,
§ "I have availed myself of the opportunity you have kindly afforded me to consider further your offer of a seat in your Government. I recognize the justice of your view that the question of Ireland is paramount to all others, and must first engage your attention. The statement of your intention to examine whether it is practicable to comply with the wishes of the majority of the Irish people, as testified by the return of 85 Representatives of the Na- 1185 tionalist Party, Joes not go beyond your previous public declarations, while the conditions which you attach to the possibility of such compliance seem to me adequate, and are also in accordance with your repeated public utterances. But I have already thought it due to you to say that, according to my present judgment, it will not be found possible to conciliate these conditions with the establishment of a National Legislative Body sitting in Dublin; and I have explained my own preference for an attempt to come to terms with the Irish Members on the basis of a more limited scheme of Local Government, coupled with proposals for a settlement of the Land, and perhaps, also, of the Education Question. You have been kind enough, after hearing these opinions, to repeat your request that I should join your Government, and you have explained that, in this case, I shall retain 'unlimited liberty of judgment and rejection' on any scheme that may ultimately be proposed, and that the full consideration of such minor proposals as I have referred to as an alternative to any larger arrangement will not be excluded by you. On the other hand, I have no difficulty in assuring you of my readiness to give an unprejudiced examination to any more extensive proposals that may be made, with an anxious desire that the result may be more favourable than I am at present able to anticipate. In the circumstances, and with the most earnest hope that I may be able in any way to assist you in your difficult work, I beg to accept the offer you have made to submit my name to Her Majesty for a post in the new Government.
§ "I am, my dear Mr. Gladstone,
§ "Yours sincerely,
§ "J. CHAMBERLAIN."
§ Well, Sir, I have been blamed, like my right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs, for joining the Government at all; but I think a moment's reflection will show that any accusation of this kind, at all events, based upon my action would be entirely unreasonable. I have never been opposed to Home Rule, as I have explained, and as I have always understood the words, and as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has on many public occasions defined it. The definitions of my right hon. Friend, those which I have accepted, are these—that he has been willing, as I have been willing, to give to Ireland the largest possible extension of local government consistent with the integrity of the Empire and the supremacy of Parliament; and, further, my right hon. Friend has always declared he would never offer to Ireland anything in the direction of Home Rule which he was not prepared to offer with an equal hand to Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom. If now, Sir, to my deep regret and with the greatest pos- 1186 sible reluctance, I have felt compelled to sever myself from the Government of my right hon. Friend, it is because in my heart and conscience I do not think the scheme which he explained to the House last night does maintain the limitations which he has always declared himself determined to preserve. I confess, if I had refused at this time to join the Government to undertake an inquiry so limited, and under these conditions, then I think there would have been some reason to say that I was animated by a disloyal feeling towards my Leader, or that I was careless of the interests of the Party with which I am connected. Now, Sir, I admit that, in all probability, the misunderstanding was entirely my own fault. I certainly assumed that the inquiry my right hon. Friend spoke of would be undertaken by him in concert with his Colleagues. I imagined that it was intended to proceed with the examination step by step in the Cabinet, and that after full consultation we were all to be called upon to endeavour to build up some scheme which would fulfil the intentions of the Prime Minister. But, as I say, I must have misunderstood my right hon. Friend in this particular, because it was not until the 13th of March that this matter was mentioned for the first time in the Cabinet. It was then brought forward in connection with the scheme for land purchase which had been circulated to Members of the Cabinet the day before. The scheme contained in this paper was certainly to me a very startling proposal, involving the issue of £120,000,000 Consols—
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I must interrupt my right hon. Friend. I beg to observe that the permission which I obtained from Her Majesty on his behalf had no relation whatever to any particulars of any scheme with regard to the sale or purchase of land to be submitted to the House of Commons. I did not ask Her Majesty for any permission for anyone to speak upon a subject on which a final decision of the Cabinet had not been taken, and which had not been publicly explained to Parliament. I may add that any attempt, or any partial attempt, to enter upon supposed particulars of that scheme would lead to radical misunderstanding.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot say, Sir, how much I regret the misunderstanding which has arisen between my right hon. Friend and myself. I need not say to the House that if I had had the slightest conception that my right hon. Friend had intended to limit in the way he now says my explanation to the House, either I would have withheld that explanation altogether until a more fitting opportunity, or that, at least, I would not, in the slightest degree, have gone from any arrangement that had been come to. I am very sorry that I have not with me my correspondence with my right hon. Friend upon this particular point. If it be desirable, at another time I will produce it to the House. What I have to say now is this—that I asked my right hon. Friend to obtain for me permission from Her Majesty to explain the causes which had led to my resignation. Why, Sir, I did not resign upon the scheme of Home Rule alone. I tendered my resignation after this scheme of land purchase had been produced, and in consequence of the production of that scheme of land purchase. How can I explain the reason of my resignation to the House if my hands are tied behind me? But, Sir, I go further than that. My right hon. Friend, in reply to my request that I might have permission to explain the cause of my resignation, wrote to me a letter to the effect that he had obtained the permission of Her Majesty that I might state the reasons—I forget the exact words, but I think he will agree that I am giving the sense—which had led to my resignation "in connection with the scheme for the Government of Ireland." [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] I thought that that was a doubtful expression. I was afraid that it might mean some kind of limitation. What did I do? I wrote to my right hon. Friend to state to him that I proposed to read to the House of Commons a letter I had written after the Cabinet meeting at which the land scheme was discussed, and in which I stated my reasons for objecting to the land scheme, and my right hon. Friend gave me his permission, and said—"By all means."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Mr. Speaker, from my right hon. Friend I understood that he, having in his hands the note which I had written to him as to the permission I had obtained from 1188 Her Majesty, proposed to read all the letters which, he had written in relation to the subject-matter of that note. I replied to my right hon. Friend that in my opinion he was perfectly justified in exercising his own discretion upon that subject. That is perfectly true, and I do not think anything beyond that would be found to have been included in the scope of the note from me to which my right hon. Friend has referred, but which, unfortunately, he has not got with him.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
Sir, I certainly have not got the correspondence in my possession; but I could not have conceived that this most painful altercation—difference of opinion—could possibly have arisen. I am sorry to differ from my right hon. Friend. I think his view is mistaken. What I asked his permission to read—I am sure he will find it in my letter—was my letter of March 15, 1886. His permission to me is to read that letter. I beg to ask my right hon. Friend whether he wishes to withdraw that permission now?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I cannot at this moment recollect what letter it was which my right hon. Friend wrote to me on the 15th of March. I have stated, I think, with perfect exactitude the substance of my statement to him.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I must say my right hon. Friend puts me in a most difficult position. I have to decide at a moment's notice, with the greatest respect for my right hon. Friend, what course I shall pursue. I have again to repeat that in the letter which I wrote to my right hon. Friend, I gave him the dates of all the letters and documents which I proposed to read. I proposed to read certain letters of his, and I asked whether he had any objection to my reading them. In his reply he said he thought it was unnecessary and undesirable, and he also objected to my reading another document which I had mentioned. I replied to him that I should certainly be guided by his wishes, and I should content myself with reading my own letters, and should not read anything I received from him. My right hon. Friend says he is not aware of the contents of one of those letters, the most important, the one I described to him in my letters, as dated March 15, and as containing my 1189 reasons for my resignation. He says he is not aware of the contents of that letter. I cannot say whether my right hon. Friend thinks I am entitled to read it or not. If my right hon. Friend cannot give me permission to read that letter I shall not press it.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I have stated the full extent of the permission received from Her Majesty by me on behalf of my right hon. Friend. It is not in my power to extend that permission; and I think it would be entirely contrary, alike to principle and precedent, that explanations should be entered into upon this occasion referring to a measure of very great importance about to be introduced to this House by me, but the introduction of which has not been moved.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I shall endeavour, Sir, to guide myself by the wishes of my right hon. Friend. But the House will see that in the circumstances the explanation which I had proposed to offer them must be altogether lame and incomplete. It is impossible that I should ever at any future time, any more than now, justify myself completely to the country or to the House of Commons. I cannot do so when my hon. Friend introduces his Land Bill, because he will tell me then that it is not competent for me to speak on his Home Rule scheme.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
Well, it does not rest entirely with my right hon. Friend, and if he makes no objection the Speaker will call me to Order, and it will be impossible for me, in discussing the land purchase scheme, except by consent of the House, to deal with the question of Home Rule. I was only anxious to refer to the scheme for land purchase—I was not going elaborately into details, but dealing only with those general principles—so far as was absolutely necessary to show to the House what was the nature of my opposition to the combined scheme of my right hon. Friend. I will endeavour to continue what explanation it may still be possible for me to make with regard to that portion of my objection to the policy of my right hon. Friend which refers to his proposals for dealing with the government of Ireland. I understood from my right hon. Friend on the day of which I am speaking that he 1190 intended to propose to Parliament the establishment of a Parliament in Dublin with very large powers, and he gave some explanation also of the fiscal relations which would obtain between this Parliament and the English Parliament. It was after this Cabinet meeting, as I have said—it was held on the 13th—that on the 15th I wrote to my right hon. Friend the letter which I had intended to read to the House, and which contained the reasons why I objected to any considerable employment of English credit for the purpose of buying out the Irish landlords, and also why I thought the new authority was one which it would be unwise and inexpedient to trust with the possession of the land so bought, with the collection of the rents, and with the payment to this country of the necessary interest and Sinking Fund. My right hon. Friend, in reply to that letter, told me, without entering into any argument, that he thought my resignation was premature, and that it would be right that I should, at all events, postpone it until he had been able to complete his scheme for local government in Ireland, and had submitted it to the Cabinet. In accordance with his request, therefore, I postponed my resignation until he should be in a position to make his statement, which was on the 26th of March, the next time the Cabinet mot. Well, I gathered at that time that as regards the land proposals they were practically and in principle unaltered. But that is a matter on which I do not wish to insist, as I am unable to tell the House what they were originally. It is not really of the slightest consequence whether they were altered or not; but I was going on to say that my right hon. Friend stated at this meeting the general heads of the scheme for the government of Ireland which he expounded so eloquently last night. I took four principal objections to this proposal. I objected to it, in the first instance, because it proposed to terminate the representation of the Irish Members at Westminster. I objected to that because of the consequences which follow upon it. It appeared to me that if the Irish Members were to cease to occupy their seats in this House, that the Irish Parliament to which they are to be relegated must be, ought to be, and would be, in the future if not in the present, co-ordinate and of equal authority. 1191 Then I objected, in the second place, to the proposal which at this time my right hon. Friend made, to renounce all the exercise of the right of Imperial taxation in Ireland, including, of course, Customs and Excise. I objected, in the third place, to the surrender of the appointment of the Judges and of the magistrates. And I objected, in the last place, to the principle under which my right hon. Friend proposed to make the new authority supreme in all matters which were not specially excluded from its competence; whereas I thought the right principle in any such proposal would be to confer upon it authority only in those cases in which the authority was specially and by statute delegated. In these circumstances I again tendered my resignation, and it was accepted the next day. Now the House will see that since I left the Cabinet there has been one very important change in the proposals. The Customs and Excise are now to be collected and levied by an Imperial Authority. Well, Sir, I ought to be pleased; but I confess I am doubtful. I am very glad, of course, that the arguments which I used in the Cabinet had much greater force after I left than they had while I remained. At the same time, however, the concession does not appear to me to have gone far enough. I connected the collection of Customs and Excise with the continued presence of Irish Members in this House; and under the system proposed by my right hon. Friend now you have an anomaly which I cannot help thinking the Irish Members themselves must feel intolerable and degrading. ["No, no!"] They are the sole judges in such a matter. [Cheers.] I think hon. Members are cheering me a little too soon. I believe they are the sole judges as to their own sentiments, and not, of course, of what this Imperial Parliament should do. Well, all I can say is that the new proposal seems to me to be inconsistent with what I understood my right hon. Friend laid down as a cardinal principle of our English Constitution—namely, that taxation and representation should go together. [Opposition cheers.] Hon. Members opposite seem inclined at the present moment to accept this arrangement; so I judge from their cheers; but all I can say is that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) has again and again in 1192 his public speeches stated in the most emphatic way that he would not be satisfied with any Parliament which did not leave the Customs and the Excise, and the right, if necessary, to put a protective duty on Irish industries with the Irish Authorities.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
I have said frequently, Sir, that I should claim that right for the Irish people; but the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has certainly in his speech yesterday been enabled to show us that we are getting a very good quid pro quo in exchange for giving up this right of collecting the Customs, in the shape of £1,400,000 a-year.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
Yes; I was coming to that later on, when I have to consider the price which is being paid for the scheme of Home Rule which is submitted to our consideration. I notice in the scheme as announced to the House last night several other—I will not call them changes, but developments of the scheme with which I was not previously acquainted. For instance, I find that from the Irish Parliament are to be excluded such matters as copyright, matters connected with the currency, coining, probably the Post Office, and then comes the very large question of trade and navigation. Now, I confess I am very anxious to know, and I hope some Member of the Government will explain, exactly what is meant by trade and navigation? Of course, I assume that the Irish authorities in these circumstances will not be enabled to give a bounty for the encouragement of any local industry. I assume—I do not know whether I am right—that such a question as patents will be altogether excluded from their competence. I assume that such a question as bankruptcy would also be excluded from their competence. These are matters which require explanation, and what I wish to say at this moment is that if all these things are to be taken out of the Irish Parliament and are to be dealt with by the English Parliament, in which the Irish have no representation at all, I cannot help thinking that they would have a very real and considerable grievance. I think the commercial classes of Ireland, for instance, will complain about the question of bankruptcy. At the present time Ireland and Scotland both have separate 1193 Bankruptcy Laws from the Bankruptcy Laws of England. How on earth will the Irish be satisfied to have their commercial law which is to suit their particular idiosyncracies and requirements dictated to them at Westminster, when they have not one single Representative to express their views in the House of Commons?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
It will not include bankruptcy.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
Then I do not know what you mean by trade. I hope I am not going beyond the limitation which has been imposed on me when I say briefly my objection is not to one portion of the scheme, but to the scheme as a whole. I object to either part of the scheme. I object—I will not say to the proposal of my right hon. Friend, because I do not know what it is—I shall not know until he has explained it in the final form which it has received—but I know this—that what ever it is I shall object if it lays——[Ironical Home Rule cheers.] I must say that the zeal of hon. Members opposite overleaps itself. I am not hostile to the scheme of land purchase. It would not be right of me to state my views on that subject; but I will say at once that I am prepared for a scheme of land purchase. What I was going to say when I was interrupted was that I should object to any scheme which laid on the British taxpayer a tremendous liability, and what I thought to be an excessive risk. Above all, I should object to any scheme that was intended only as a bribe to Irish landlords to induce them to modify their hostility to a scheme of Home Rule, and which did not give evidence of an essential and considerable advantage for Irish tenants, who are a class, the poorer tenants especially, deserving of sympathy and assistance. Then I objected to the new authority proposed to be created, because it was certain to become practically independent. The scheme was one for separation, and not for Home Rule. I objected to the two together, because they seemed to me to combine the maximum of risk and the minimum of advantage, and the utmost possible sacrifice for an object which I did not believe it to be worth our while to strive to attain—I do not wish to be misunderstood—the object, of course, being the creation 1194 of a separate statutory Parliament in Dublin. I wanted to have said something more about the land; but I pass over that. Only I will say this—a perfectly general remark also, and applying almost to any scheme of land purchase—that we shall be asked to consider any scheme of land purchase as an inseparable adjunct to a scheme which, in my opinion, practically will place Ireland in the position of Canada. Now, I want to test that illustration of Canada. Canada is loyal and friendly to this country. Ireland, I am sorry to say, at the present time, is not loyal, and cannot be called friendly. But if Canada came to this House and asked for any large use of British credit in order to buy Canadian land, or to carry out public works in Canada, why it would be scouted from one end of the Kingdom to the other. Well, then, how can it possibly be right for us to give to Ireland what we refuse to Canada, when the sole result of the scheme, after all, is that we are going to try and put Ireland in the position in which Canada has been for many years? I said I shall object to any scheme that involves the British taxpayer in excessive risks. Why is the risk of any scheme excessive? I have been myself an advocate of large schemes in England and Scotland, intended, by the use of public money, to turn a small tenant into the proprietor of the land that he tilled. I have not been unwilling to take the risk in such a case. But what I object to is to take a risk for what I believe in a short time will be a foreign country. For an integral part of the United Kingdom I am prepared to take a risk; I am not prepared to take a risk in order to promote what is, in my judgment, a thinly-veiled scheme of separation. The fact is, that the key to the whole situation is the proposal to exclude Irish Members from this House. I do not wonder that that is a proposal which has many attractions both for Liberal and for Conservative Members. The hon. Member for Cork has often shown that he can be in this House a most agreeable Colleague; but I am sure he will not think me offensive if I say that he and his Friends have also shown that they can be very disagreeable at times. He, in one of his speeches, threatened that if his demands were not complied with he would make all legislation impossible.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I am most glad to accept the denial of the hon. Member; but I can show him the paper in which the words appeared. No doubt, the report is inaccurate.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I have not got it with me; but I will send to the hon. Member, if he likes, the passage, the date, and the place where the speech is alleged to have been made. But I do not want to press that, and I readily accept his statement that he never said so. However, whether he said it or not, there are many people who think he would have the power to do something of that kind; and that fact weighs very much with English and Scotch Members in the desire that they, at all events, should be left alone to carry on English and Scotch Business without Irish assistance. I sympathize with that feeling; but I want to point out to the House that you must take the consequence of that. It is quite unreasonable to turn out the Irish Members from this House, and leave them entirely unrepresented in reference to matters in which Irish interests are largely concerned, and which are dealt with by the Imperial Parliament. Just consider it. Already, under the scheme of the Prime Minister, the Customs and the Excise are to be taken from their control; all the Prerogatives of the Crown are to be removed from their competence to deal with, as are also the Army and the Navy, and Foreign and Colonial policy. Are the Irish Members of opinion that the Irish people would be permanently content to be shut out from all part in the Imperial policy of this country? I was going to quote the hon. Member for Cork again, but also from memory. He will tell me if I am wrong. I think that in one of his speeches he said something to the effect that he would never be satisfied until Ireland took her full place among the nations of the world. That is, I think, a patriotic aspiration; but I would point out that it never can be realized under the scheme of my right hon. Friend. How can Ireland take her place among the nations of the world when her mouth is closed on every International question? Ireland is to have no part in the arrange- 1196 ment of Commercial Treaties, by which her interests maybe seriously affected. She will have no part whatever in deciding the policy under which war may break out, in which her sentiment may be strongly engaged on one side or the other, or which may put in serious peril her own coast and her own people. She is to have no part in the control of the Army and Navy of this country. That is extraordinary, because the annals of our Army show that there have been no more illustrious members of that Army than Irishmen; and Irishmen, under this scheme, are to be content to be sent to battle and to death for matters which Irish Representatives are to have no voice in discussing or determining. I say that Ireland, under these circumstances, is asked to occupy a position of degradation; and I venture to predict that, whatever hon. Members may now do in order to obtain this instalment of their demands, their own countrymen will never rest satisfied with such an inadequate concession. Again, Ireland is to pay a fixed contribution to the Army and Navy, in which she is to have no part; but that contribution is not to be increased if England gets into difficulty, or into war. It may be that in the most terrible crisis of the fate of the Empire Ireland is expected to be indifferent and unaffected, contributing not one single penny in order to secure the safety of the State or the Realm of which she is supposed to form a part. Where, in all this, is the integrity of the Empire? There is another point that I had almost omitted, but which, I think, will be interesting to hon. Members opposite. My right hon. Friend raised a smile when he imagined himself in the position of an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer proposing an Irish Budget; and certainly I think that my right hon. Friend would never have a more difficult task to perform than if he had to propose and recommend the first Budget presented to the new Irish Parliament. I do not wonder that the hon. Member for Cork complained, from his point of view, of this part of the scheme. I do not wonder that he asks the Prime Minister to be more liberal to him, and tells him that unless he is more liberal the cheerful acceptance of his scheme which he has asked for and made a condition in putting it forward will be denied to him. I say he has good 1197 reason to be alarmed. But before I consider the position of the Irish taxpayer I wish to consider for a moment the position of the English taxpayer. In this scheme we shall have given independence. We shall continue to burden our own taxpayer with a large contribution in aid of the Irish Government. In the first place, the contribution which Ireland now makes towards the Imperial Expenditure is to be reduced from one in 12½ to one in 15. I think that my right hon. Friend has changed the estimate since I was in the Cabinet. No doubt, he had good reasons for it. But I want to point out that, in any case, the result of this reduction is that the difference must be made up by imposing increased taxation on the British taxpayer. Then you have to face this—that if Ireland's contribution is reduced from one in 12½ to one in 15, whatever balance is required must come out of additional taxation. But that is not all. We are to continue, as I understand, to pay a contribution of £500,000 a-year for the Irish Constabulary. The hon. Member for Cork says that that is not enough, and that it ought to be much more. Then, if I followed my right hon. Friend correctly, we are also indirectly, in connection with the Customs and Excise, to pay to Ireland that nice little sum of £1,400,000, which has reconciled the hon. Member for Cork to the exclusion of the Customs and Excise from the work of the Irish Parliament. But will this privilege of levying Customs and Excise in Ireland reconcile the English taxpayer to finding this further sum of £1,400,000? We have also to find £500,000 for the Irish Constabulary, and that makes a charge altogether of £1,900,000 a-year, which, capitalized, amounts to £62,700,000, and this is a sum which we are asked to offer to Ireland together with this scheme of local government. But some will also object to this proposal on behalf of the Irish taxpayer, because it is the peculiarity of this scheme that it will be bad for both parties. In the first place, the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to tell his constituents and the Irish House of Commons that he has to appropriate £3,250,000 annually as the fixed quota of Ireland towards the payment of a debt, any obligation in regard to which Ireland has never recognized, and for the Army 1198 and Navy, in the control of which Ireland will have no part. He will have to make this statement year by year, and sooner or later, I think, his constituents will lead him a very evil life. But that is not all. It is said that the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will, according to the scheme of my right hon. Friend, have an annual surplus of £400,000; but I would like to point out on what very slight foundations it rests. I believe the Civil Charges of Ireland at present amount to £4,730,000. Deducting from that the Constabulary and Police contributions of £1,000,000 and £500,000 respectively leaves the Civil Charge £3,200,000. But my right hon. Friend, in his imaginary Budget, estimated the Civil Charges at £2,510,000.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
was understood to say that the cost of collection of Revenue was included.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
Oh! the cost of collection was added separately, then I understand it. I think my right hon. Friend spoke about the importance of establishing economy in Irish Expenditure, and I thought he had estimated the economy of a considerable sum. Then, the observation I was going to make upon that point will not apply; and, therefore, so far as the Expenditure goes, as set forth in the Budget which my right hon. Friend laid before us last night, there is nothing to object to. But as regards the Revenue, the hon. Member for Cork has already pointed out that £6,000,000 out of the £8,000,000 depend on the Excise and Customs, and that a very large part of the £6,000,000 is raised from duty on spirits and tobacco. If, therefore, there be any reduction in the consumption, either in England or Ireland, of spirits, it will be followed at once by a large reduction in the receipts of the Irish Exchequer. But that is not all. I am told—I do not know whether hon. Members opposite will agree to it—that to some extent the trade of Ireland in spirits and porter is threatened by competition from Scotland and elsewhere. Well, of course, if anything occurred to lessen the production of spirits in Ireland and to increase the production in England or Scotland, the loss would fall entirely upon the Irish Exchequer. Under these circumstances, what would the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer have to do? He would have to do one 1199 of two things—either to levy further taxation, or to repudiate the obligations imposed by this Magna Charta of Ireland. Well, Sir, I thought the statement of the hon. Member for Cork on this subject was rather ominous. He did not express, by any means, hearty approval of this part of the scheme. He did not give it a cheerful acceptance. If, then, we do not consent to make this further contribution and to lay a further obligation upon the British taxpayer, the scheme will only be accepted grudgingly; and you may be sure that before two or three years have passed away there will be an attempt to get it revised or altered; and if that attempt is persistent, we know what persistency does in a matter of this kind. Then we are told by the advocates of this proposal that we can enforce the bargain, the statutory provisions, by force. I think there may be difficulties in the employment of force. At any rate, it is a contingency which we do not like to have to contemplate when we are making what we are told the Government hope will be a final settlement. I confess, Sir, that for my part, rather than face an agitation which I foresee would be the certain result of a proposal of this kind in the form presented to us, rather than face the irritation between the two countries, the panics which from time to time would prevail, and which would inevitably have the tendency enormously to increase our Army and Navy Establishments—rather than face the distraction of all domestic legislation, which will be consequent upon a foreign policy, complicated as it will be by the existence of Ireland in its new and quasi-independent situation—I would vote for separation pure and simple. I would wipe off the obligations which exist between England and Ireland as a bad debt; I would prefer that Ireland should go free altogether from any claim on the part of this country, provided also that we might be free from the enormous responsibility which I believe a sham Union would certainly entail. I think the scheme will come to that in the end, and I would rather face it at once. Before I sit down I should like to try to answer the question which was put by the Prime Minister, and put very forcibly—"What alternative have you got?" I believe this question to be so vital and critical, that I think men 1200 are bound, however little authority they may have in such a matter, still to do their best to promote a solution of it. Every man is bound to bring his separate contribution. Although I may say to the Prime Minister, using his own language, that it is not for anyone who is not a responsible Minister to prepare or to propose a plan which only a responsible Government has the information or the authority properly to prepare, yet I will not take refuge behind that precedent. I might say that it certainly would be a most strange doctrine that one should be forbidden to refuse a prescription that one thinks to be dangerous because one has not in his pocket a patent remedy which one believes to be a perfect cure. I should think that it would be still stranger that the physician should be called upon to commit suicide if he could not provide an absolute remedy for the disease of his patient. My right hon. Friend appears to be under the impression that the only remedy which the opponents of this scheme would propose is that of coercion carried out in a manner and to an extent never hitherto contemplated. Well, at all events, that is not my alternative. I do not believe it is the only alternative. But before I come to that I think it is only fair that I should ask the advocates of this scheme—"How do you propose to carry out this scheme without coercion, and how, if it be adopted, do you propose to maintain its provisions without force?" Sir, it is the difficulty, one of the great difficulties of this problem that Ireland is not a homogeneous community—that it consists of two nations—["No, no!"]—that it is a nation which comprises two races and two religions. ["No, no!"] At least, hon. Members will not deny that. And whatever the Roman Catholics of Ireland may think of this matter, it is certain that the Protestants will believe, rightly or wrongly, that it is injurious to them, and that they will resist it. [Cries of "No, no!"] I am not pledging my opinion to the statements that have been made that they will resist by force. I know nothing about that. But I say that their opposition is to be reckoned with and counted upon, and that it ought not to be ignored by this House. I have not a word to say against the Roman Catholic population of Ireland; but I certainly might say a good deal in 1201 favour of the Protestant population. In Ulster they are prosperous and industrious and enterprizing, and in Ulster they have rivalled the peaceful activity of Glasgow, of Manchester, and of Birmingham. Throughout the three Southern Provinces you find the Protestants scattered here and there in isolated groups and little congregations, and wherever they exist they are the nucleus of industry and enterprize, and the rallying point and centre for all the loyal population. If you are going to carry this scheme in the face of the opposition of one-fifth of the population of Ireland—I believe the proportion is even greater; and if, unhappily, they should feel their interests so much compromised that they resist your decision, how are you to enforce it? Are you going to apply coercion to the loyal and law-abiding population while you taunt us with a desire and intention, which do not in fact exist, to apply it to those who have not always been loyal or law-abiding? I go further, and I ask how are you going to enforce the provisions of your statutory Parliament, with the conditions and the limitations you have imposed? It is perfectly certain that they will be objected to, and be the subject of agitation. You will have Resolutions of this Irish Parliament protesting against them, and in some times of difficulty and danger you may have these Resolutions supported by threats. What are you going to do? You must admit that force is at the bottom of your proposition, find when you come to the foundation there is still coercion, unless, indeed, you mean to tell us you will surrender everything rather than use force; in which case why not surrender everything at once? The peculiarity of your coercion is that you postpone it until it may be difficult, or even impossible, of application. I will, however, give a more practical answer to the question of the Prime Minister than any tu quoque, however effective it might be. I do not believe that coercion is the only or the necessary alternative. I say that after the facts which were stated by the Leaders of the late Government, and which were repeated and confirmed last night by the Prime Minister as to the present state of affairs in Ireland, there is, at all events, no case for coercion at present. The number of outrages is comparatively small; there is no great social 1202 disorder; there is a certain amount of intimidation, no doubt; but there is no case for coercion. The influence of the hon. Member for Cork, of his Friends, and of the National Land League has been sufficient to prevent people from doing anything in the nature of extended outrage. I hope that that influence which has been so effective will be continued; but I do not rely on that alone. What is the cause that makes a recrudescence of crime possible in Ireland? It is connected with the agrarian situation. There lies the danger. If any discontent should be felt in consequence of a refusal to grant the demands of the Irish people, that discontent may take the form of refusing to pay rent, and then if rent were sought to be recovered by the ordinary legal processes, outrage, violence, and crime would undoubtedly follow. But if we could put this cause out of the way, is there any reason to anticipate that there would be any such crime as would justify or necessitate any resort to repressive measures? My first answer to the Prime Minister, then, is this—I would put this cause out of the way for a time; I would try to continue the truce—it might almost be called the truce of God—happily existent in Ireland now; I would bring in a Bill to stay all evictions for a period of six months, leaving any arrears to be settled in connection with the final settlement; and, as this would be done in the interests of the United Kingdom, I would throw upon the Government of the United Kingdom the duty of lending to those landlords who might have any need of it such a proportion of their rents, as would save them from necessity and privation. I would take from the landlords for a great Imperial purpose their present legal right of process for the recovery of rents, which might possibly amount to £4,000,000 sterling; and I would advance, if necessary, on the security of the land a specified proportion of those rents until the whole matter should have been settled. I would do that without hesitation, as the risk of such a transaction would be infinitesimal as compared with the risks of which we shall hear something later on. I would hope by these means, by putting a stop to the procedure which has been a prime cause of crime and outrage in Ireland—I would hope that we should get a further interval of six 1203 months, which could be used for finding a settlement of this question. I admit that it cannot remain altogether unsettled. I would carry on the inquiry which has been begun by the Prime Minister and the Government; but I would no longer have it carried on by a single individual, however colossal his intelligence may be. I would not have it carried on by a single Party, however important, however influential it may be in this House—I would strive to carry it on with the assent and co-operation of all Parties in the House. I would have it carried on by a Committee or Commission which would represent all the sections of this House—both Parties of Englishmen and Scotchmen, and both Parties of Irishmen also. But upon what lines would I seek such a settlement? I hope the House does not think that I am presuming. I feel there is some presumption in offering an opinion; but I do it only in answer to the demands—the request—which was made by the Prime Minister. In what direction, then, do I think the solution is to be found? It has been assumed in some quarters that I am pedantically devoted to some plan of National Councils, of which a good deal was heard some six months ago. That is an entire mistake. My right hon. Friend will bear me out when I say that I did not think it worth while, in the face of the much greater, much more complete, much more important proposal which he made even to offer one word in favour of National Councils. The notion of National Councils was started to meet a different state of things and a different problem. It was started in connection with a scheme for a thorough Municipal Government in Ireland, and in connection with that I think it was a very good notion. But it has, at the present moment, one fatal defect—if hon. Members opposite were at any time disposed to give it their consideration they are no longer willing to do so; they reject it; and, under those circumstances, Heaven forefend that any English Party or statesman should attempt to impose that benefit upon them. The question now is different. At the time when I myself thought there was something in the idea of a Municipal Council as affording a vent to a great deal of political activity in Ireland, my proposals were considered too extreme by some of my Colleagues who have now 1204 been successful in making them too moderate. Those National Councils I, for one, am not likely to put forward again. I no longer regard that scheme as a solution; and I confess—if I may venture with great respect to say so—that I think, after the speech of my right hon. Friend, after the fact that a most important proportion of one of the great Parties in the State has been willing, at all events, to entertain the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, it is only a very large proposal which can at any future time be accepted as a solution of this vast question. I should look for the solution in the direction of the principle of federation. My right hon. Friend has rather looked for his model to the relations between this country and her self-governing and practically independent Colonies. I think that that is of doubtful expediency. The present connection between our Colonies and ourselves is no doubt very strong, owing to the affection which exists between members of the same nation. But it is a sentimental tie, and a sentimental tie only. It is rather curious that my right hon. Friend should have looked in this direction just at the moment when between the Colonies and this country there is a general desire to draw tighter the bonds which unite us and to bring the whole Empire into one federation. I can hardly bring myself to believe that the hon. Member for Cork looks with entire satisfaction upon a proposal which will substitute such a connection as that which exists between Canada and this country—a connection which, remember, might be broken to-morrow if there were the slightest desire on the part of Canada to terminate it; because no one would think of employing force in order to tie any reluctant self-governing Colony in continued bonds to this country—I think the hon. Member for Cork would hardly like to see a tie of that kind substituted for that which at present exists. At all events, if he would, he would differ from many distinguished Irishmen who have preceded him. I will not quote some of the great orators of a past generation; but I will quote Mr. Butt, who, speaking 10 years ago in this House, said—He, for one, was not willing to give up his share in the power and government of that Empire, and really since the Union he did not see how it was possible to give it up. Since the 1205 Union the wars which had brought Possessions to England had been carried on by the spending of Irish treasure and the shedding of Irish blood. India had been won by the British Empire in the same way, and Ireland had acquired with England partnership rights which it would be impossible to distribute, and of which Ireland could only have her share by continuing to be represented in that House."—(3 Hansard,  740.)It may be that Mr. Butt's views are rather antiquated at this time; but I would refer to an opinion of a distinguished Member of the Party opposite—I mean the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton)—who, speaking at Dublin the other day, said—If we do not retain a voice in Imperial affairs and keep part and parcel of the Imperial Parliament, the country will be degraded to the position of a province.Well, that is what Irish Members are asked to agree to under the scheme of my right hon. Friend. It appears to me that the advantage of a system of federation is that Ireland might under it really remain an integral portion of the Empire. The action of such a scheme is centripetal and not centrifugal, and it is in the direction of federation that the Democratic movement has made most advances in the present century. My right hon. Friend has referred to foreign precedents; but surely they are all against him. He did not refer to United Italy. In Italy different nations, different States, which have had independent existences for centuries, have been welded together. Even where federation has been adopted it has always been in the case of federating States which were previously separate. It has been intended to bring nations together, to lessen the causes of difference, and to unite them more closely in a common union. Take the case of Germany, for instance. Germany has been united upon a system of federation which has brought together nations long separated. Take the great case—the greatest case of all—of the United States of America. Ah, Sir, there you have the greatest Democracy the world has over seen, and a Democracy which has known how to fight in order to maintain its union. It has fought for, and triumphantly maintained, the Imperial union of the United States; but it has known, also, how to respect all local differences. Yes, Sir; I cannot but remember that in the time of its greatest crisis, when it was in the 1206 most terrible moment of its fate, my right hon. Friend counselled the disintegration of the United States.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. Friend says he did not counsel it; but he gave the weight of his great name to the statement that the Northern and Southern States had become separate nations. Well, Sir, no one doubted at that time the sincerity of my right hon. Friend, or the purity of his motives. Nobody doubts them now; but everybody will admit—I dare say my right hon. Friend himself would admit—that in that view of the situation in the United States he made a mistake.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
Are you certain he is not making a mistake again? Well, Sir, I say that in my view the solution of this question should be sought in some form of federation, which would really maintain the Imperial unity, and which would, at the same time, conciliate the desire for a national local government which is felt so strongly by the constituents of hon. Members opposite. I do not say that we should imitate the great models to which I have referred. Our Constitution and the circumstances of the case are different. I say I believe that it is on this line, and not in the line of our relations with our self-governing Colonies, that it is possible to seek for and find a solution of the difficulty. I have now only to thank the House for the indulgence which it has given to me. I regret that my explanation has been necessarily to some extent incomplete. I have, however, said sufficient to put the House in possession of the main reasons why I have ceased to be a Minister of the Crown. Sir, there are some persons, servile partizans, who disgrace political life, who say that I have been guilty of treachery because I have resigned an Office which I could no longer hold with honour. What would these men have been entitled to say of me if, holding the opinions that I do, which I expressed before joining the Government, and which I have expressed to-day, I had remained on that Bench pretending to serve my country with a lie upon my lips? I do not assume—Heaven knows I do not pretend—to dogmatize on a question of this kind. I do not say that 1207 I am right in the conclusion at which I have arrived; I do not presume to condemn those who honestly differ from me; but of one thing I am certain—that I should have been guilty of an incredible shame and baseness if I had clung to place and Office in support of a policy which in my heart I believe to be injurious to the best interests of Ireland and of Great Britain.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)
a: Sir, Irish Members have frequently been taunted in this House, and not, perhaps, always without reason, by Liberal Gentlemen opposite for their base ingratitude to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. I have sat in this House for nearly six years, and have been reminded, when we were contending against any system of coercion, that whatever else was to be said on a thousand questions as to the Prime Minister of England he stood a good friend to Ireland; but whatever claim the Prime Minister has or had on my allegiance he never, at least, was in the position of having been my political Leader; and, as far as I am concerned, he has not conferred upon Ireland what he has conferred upon England—namely, 50 years of tried and trusted service as a Minister of the Crown and untold benefits to the Liberal Party. And, therefore, Sir, I, as one of those who have been taunted, have been greatly edified to-night by the spectacle of a Liberal Minister, an ex-Liberal Minister, who has served under the banner of the right hon. Gentleman—his trusted lieutenant I may say, who has been his right-hand man—winning the cheers of the enemies of both. In the attack which the Minister of five years' experience makes on the Minister of 50, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) said that in parting with the Cabinet he had felt most painful emotions. I should have thought, Sir, that to-night was one of the proudest moments of his life, for even he in his vaulting ambition never could have hoped—he, the author of the "Doctrine of Ransom"—to have won the continued plaudits of the Tory Party. The right hon. Member began his statement by reminding us that if he differed from the Government now, and pushed that difference to the extent of splitting a partnership, he had very frequently subordinated his views, yielded his judgment. He said—"I have 1208 yielded my judgment on many occasions to that of the Prime Minister." What could these occasions have been? The right hon. Gentleman has only been in Office five years, and these occasions, it appears, were principally concerned with the times when he was a known opponent of coercion in the Cabinet. He yielded his judgment when, according to him, the Prime Minister was oppressing Ireland. Ah, but he will not yield his judgment when the Prime Minister is benefiting Ireland. No; the moment he chooses for the exercise of that independence is the moment of the establishment of what he calls the "Truce of God." I congratulate him on his choice of opportunity. We are charged with ingratitude, and the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) taunted the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) for having said how grateful Ireland for many generations would be to the name of Gladstone. But, Sir, our words are but feeble when I look on the words which the ex-Colleague of the Prime Minister used on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman used these words—When the history of our time comes to be written, you know who will be the central figure. Mr. Gladstone will stand before posterity as the greatest man of our time, remarkable not only for his great ability, for his steadfastness of purpose, constructive skill; but more, perhaps, than all these for his personal character, and for the high tone that he has introduced into our political and public life. I sometimes think that great men are like great mountains, and that we do not appreciate their magnitude while we are still close to them.Yes, Sir; the right hon. Gentleman could not appreciate the Prime Minister while he was still close to him; and so, in order to improve his perspective, he moves below the Gangway. We have been treated by him to-night to a speech of a remarkable kind—a speech portions of which it would not be fit for me to touch upon. We had explanations last night from one ex-Minister (Mr. Trevelyan), who, being more practised in post-Ministerial explanations, got through his speech without indiscretions; and to-night the ex-President of the Local Government Board, although pulled up and not allowed to go very far into one part of his explanation, managed to get out all that the Tories wanted, and I congratulate him on the magnificent talent he displayed in that matter. 1209 Nobody could have failed to admire the manner in which, like the lawyer in a case of breach of promise of marriage, he brought down his documents, labelled and numbered, to suit his own side of the argument. He seemed to have prepared his case de conviction against the Prime Minister with marvellous elaboration and care; but, curiously enough, when he branched off a bit and touched on another phase of the question, and made what he called a quotation from a letter of the Premier's, and was asked to produce it, the right hon. Gentleman had left it at home. I do not know if ever I shall rise to the dignity of being a Minister in an Irish Parliament under this new Bill. But if I should happen to have such a position of the kind under my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork, and if I should want, when I am leaving him, to give him a very deadly stab, I will take right good care to imitate as closely as possible the action of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, and turn up the pages of Hansard to see how it was done. The right hon. Gentleman wound up his speech by unfolding his plan. I observe that it is a different plan now. He goes in now for a plan of federation as brought in by Mr. Butt. Did he vote for Mr. Butt's proposition when it was brought in? I have here the Division List of the year 1876. Mr. Butt's demand was a very moderate demand; it was a demand only for an inquiry into a scheme of federation. But the name of the right hon. Member is absent from the votes of those who merely wanted to inquire into the scheme. Yet, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who refused to inquire into that scheme at a time when he was an independent Member thinks now his proposal will be received as an honest, statesmanlike, and genuine plan, when the proposition is made by that Member quitting the Cabinet, and wishing to make an ex post facto case in his own defence. I think the scheme of federation just broached by him must have been thought of after that famous 15th of March of which we heard so much; that was the date given by the right hon. Gentleman of his resignation; and I would like to know whether his period of examination and inquiry has lasted merely from that 15th of March? Then as to his land proposals—and here I observe he failed to win the applause 1210 of the Tories, and that is the worst of getting applause from your enemies, you never know when they will desert you. Stick to your friends through thick and thin. The right hon. Gentleman states that his plan was a suspension of all evictions for six months. He did not tell us what he would do if the Lords threw it out; and when he could not get from the Tory Party in this House the mere paper issue of a cheer for this portion of his plan to-night, he would expect Imperial currency of the Lords' approval with the Queen's head in the shape of the Royal Assent from the other side of the Lobby. No. Her Majesty's signature would never be given to that, for the Peers would block the way. He would lend to the Irish landlords, and here my Friends on the right—the Tories—cheered once more. Ah! they are so used to that. But, Sir, did the right hon. Gentleman, apparently so distrustful of loans to tenants, hear the reply of the Secretary to the Treasury the other night when he showed that not one penny of remission had been made to tenants—the defaulters were merely the landlords. I say nothing against the scheme of federation. But how long are we to wait for it? Henry II. is dead 700 years, and it is time we were getting something for Ireland. Ireland, in any case, should not have to wait until the Colonies—Victoria, South Africa, Nova Zembla, and Heaven knows where else the British Empire ranges—consent to federate in an Imperial Senate. I want to see something done for Ireland. I want to see it done in my time; and, what is more, with the blessing of God, I want to have a hand in doing it. A house must be built from the foundation; but the right hon. Gentleman puts on the dome before he finds the bricks and mortar. How can you propose to set up a confederate Ireland until you have started some kind of local Legislature? The basis of federation, as I understand it, is the existence of Parliaments, and you federate Parliaments with the assent of the peoples. Can he show us the germ of federation budding anywhere yet? For my part, I can only say that whenever England does enter into a scheme of federation she will find that the men who, as soldiers, never forsook her in battle, or as counsellors in her Cabinets, when she had them, who never betrayed her, 1211 that these men and their representatives will not be wanting on that day. Federation—I say nothing against federation. I was in this House as a spectator in 1874, when Mr. Butt made his proposals. I was here again in 1875, and I remember well the speech of the Gentleman who is dead, and whose death I regret—the late Member for Bradford—and how he absolutely riddled the proposal of Mr. Butt. Mr. Forster said, in effect—"You want a Constitution for Ireland; but you have no right to force a paper Constitution upon us. You want Home Rule for Ireland for 5,000,000 of people; but why should you expect that Englishmen should change a Constitution for England which we wish not to change." What answer could we give to that argument? If the Members of the Government of this Empire bring forward a scheme of federation as a serious proposal, and not as a tu quoque ex-Ministerial counter-plan, then the people of Ireland will be willing to join the subjects of the Empire in the consideration of the scheme. But what will that involve? I think the right hon. Member for Birmingham has not had time enough, since the 15th of March, to complete his scheme. It will involve a British Ministry and an Imperial Ministry. In which Ministry would the right hon. Gentleman desire to sit? Surely the right hon. Member for Birmingham is not so grasping as to want to sit in both, and I am afraid, after to night, that it would be hardly likely. Englishmen have at this moment in this Chamber a power over the pulses of an Empire which reaches to the very ends of the earth; and I think it will require graver reasons than the establishment of a Parliament in College Green to make English Members surrender their Imperial rights. Another remark of the right hon. Member for Birmingham is this—that in the scheme, as I gather from the letter which he says he sent to the Prime Minister on this auspicious, or inauspicious, occasion, just as it may turn out for him, he said he was willing to give the Irish people control over the land and over education. How do the Tories like that? If the loyal minority wants protection on any subject under Heaven, it is on the subject of land and the subject of education; and yet, after making the pro- 1212 position, the right hon. Member for Birmingham was not ashamed—perhaps owing to his close intimacy with the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill—to enrobe himself with the Orange scarf. Perhaps it was not quite Orange—there might be a Birmingham shade in it, to be turned out hereafter. He was not ashamed in this House to try to rouse the no-Popery cry in order to stir up the men in that corner of Ireland to resistance. I ask the Scotch Gentlemen who were present at the deputation of the Presbyterian gentlemen from the North of Ireland the other day whether the gravamen of the objections to Home Rule was not the fact that the Catholic Church—the obscurantist Catholic Church, as they would call it—would get the control of education? Is it, therefore, to be expected that the Tory Party and the House of Lords would support these Councils of his, institutions, be it remembered, which we were to get without any guarantee or veto whatever about the protection of the loyal minority on the land or education questions, and without a single safeguard for the appeasement of those alarms amongst that class which I hold to be amply provided for by the scheme of the Prime Minister. As I said before, the right hon. Member for Birmingham did not spend long enough over his scheme; and, perhaps, that is the difference between a Minister of five years' experience and a Minister of 50 years' experience. I venture to think that when the scheme of the Prime Minister comes to be considered as a whole, with the exception of certain financial arrangements—and here I find myself in agreement with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, though I am sorry to be his ally in any way in attacking the Bill—I believe that the scheme will be found to operate, to a very large extent, upon the general body of the Dissenting Protestants in the North of Ireland in the sense of an anodyne; and, for my part, though I dislike certain of the checks and safeguards in the Bill, still, for the sake of the Protestant population of Ireland, I heartily welcome them. Sir, I want to live at peace with my fellow-countrymen; I want to give them all the securities and all the guarantees that man can give, subject to the recognition of the ordinary rights of the vast majority; and I say it 1213 solemnly—and I say it in the presence of the majority here—that if in Ireland in the future time I thought there would continue those miserable wranglings, those horrible religious animosities, I would rather see my country perish for ever from the face of the earth. I do not blame the Ulster Members as they are called—I am an Ulster Member myself, elected by two Ulster constituencies, but, being a Nationalist, I suppose I do not count, though the majority of the people in the county I represent are Protestants, I say, and say it freely, I do not blame the Representatives of the Orange Party in the North of Ireland for feeling bitterness, and for the venom which at times they display. I freely admit, and it must be admitted, that there are faults on both sides. Being a Catholic myself, I view the matter in a different light from them; but I believe that the relics of ascendancy keep poisoned the Catholic blood in a number of the counties in the North of Ireland, and that the spirit of dislike between the two classes has been fostered and kept alive with deep malignity, and with the most skilful appliances by the landlord party. That party present these men with Orange halls; they present them with the kind of literature that favours this dislike; they are themselves often the heads of the Orange organization. The right hon. Member for Birmingham talked of the prosperity of Ulster as compared with the rest of Ireland; but did he ever look over the Blue Books and examine the history of the Protestant tenants of Ulster under Protestant landlords; and is he aware that so great has been the robbery of the unfortunate tenants of Ulster that the reduction of rents in Ulster has been greater than of any of the other three Provinces; and let me tell him that the people of that Province are grateful accordingly to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. I know something of these men—the quiet, decent men that you meet at fair and market, and I know the faith they have in the Prime Minister is extraordinary. They are not Nationalists; but I believe, when these men come to know that this scheme comes to them from the man who gave them the Land Acts of 1870 and 1881, they will not be the men to refuse to reach their hands out to meet him halfway, and to give the scheme a patient 1214 and a careful consideration with a view to the adoption of its principles. When I hear the Tory Party in this House talk of Ulster, I tell them that there is not a Province in Ireland where the name of Gladstone is such a name to conjure with as in Ulster. Therefore, I say that the mere fact that the author of this "truce of God," in the words of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, is the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, will make these people more careful how they break it. The right hon. Member for Birmingham has gone into a number of the details of the Government scheme; but, of course, being only in possession of that scheme since yesterday, I am in a much less favourable position to criticize it than is the right hon. Gentleman; but I would like to give the House my view upon the most important objections. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that this scheme got rid of the supremacy of Parliament. As an Irish Nationalist, I regret to say—because naturally we would like to have the Parliament which Henry Grattan had—that this scheme does not get rid of the supremacy of Parliament, because the moment that the English Parliament finds it necessary to take into review the conduct of the Irish Parliament it can do so, and then the Irish Members revert to their original position in this House. Indeed, I was surprised at the ingenuity of the Prime Minister in the manner in which he guaranteed the maintenance of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I say this with regret, because of course, naturally, as an Irishman, I would rejoice that England, out of its generosity, had seen its way to give us a larger scheme. But are we going to reject it on that ground? Why, Sir, no person in the position of an Irish Representative can fail to be struck with the enormous gravity of the present position of affairs. For the first time for generations we have in Office a Minister who has a mind large enough and a heart big enough to take into view the condition of an oppressed people across the seas. For the first time for generations Ireland has met a man at the head of affairs in England in whose acts and sympathies they have the fullest confidence. That man may have been tied up and limited in his scheme, and his scheme may be defective accordingly; but 1215 the Irish, people will say—"No wonder it was defective when he had disloyal Colleagues." And let me say this, and I say it after mature consideration—that the acceptance of this scheme by Ireland—a scheme limited in many important details—its acceptance by the Irish people, not only at home, but by the Irish people abroad, has been smoothed by the revolt of the right hon. Member for Birmingham. Because what the Irish people will consider is this—and you will not find a more keen people anywhere—they will see that one strong men battles for her against a crowd of enemies, and against enormous odds. They would see what he has to suffer for Ireland, and their hearts will be touched by the knowledge that in the past it was by Colleagues like the right hon. Member for Birmingham Ireland and he have too long been kept separated. I never used the language of adulation to any man in this House. I attacked the Prime Minister when I thought he was wrong. I attacked his system of legislation with regard to the land as incomplete and imperfect, and I attacked him in the matter of coercion; but am I to be told, when I see a man breasting the full tide of opposition which his proposal for the benefit of Ireland has created, that our hearts are not to be drawn out in sympathy towards him? It would have been very easy for the Prime Minister to win applause in crushing down still further an impoverished and helpless and enslaved people. It would be very easy for him to take sides with the strong against the oppressed. It would be very easy for him to win the applause of the London Times; but he has chosen the better part. In the words of Scripture I may say—"I was sick and ye visited me; I was in prison and ye came unto me." He has found Ireland in affliction; he has reached out a hand towards her; and I say that, regarding his scheme—faulty and imperfect though it is in some of its details—that the historic memory of the circumstances connected with its introduction will brand itself upon the souls of Irishmen. I say it will leave a permanent impression, and I could go to the most extreme council of the most extreme organization of extreme Irishmen at home or abroad, and by recounting the statement of facts that bear upon this proposal gain their cordial assent to it. Therefore, Sir, 1216 while we shall do our part to see that every claim of Ireland shall be honourably and independently brought before the House—while we shall urge every consideration that is possible to remove the blemishes from the Bill, were we to join with our enemies in opposing the scheme, I say we would be making ourselves participes criminis in the continuance of an international vendetta; and I say the future history of Ireland, the future history of England, would never cease to condemn us. The right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) has quoted what he called the assassination literature of America. Did he never read the assassination literature of England? Do men think that our blood is so cold and our bodies so clay-like that we should not feel the deadly stings and stabs of the poignard Press of England? He who can weep over the miseries of a process server, is it nothing to him to see men daily degraded in the most powerful Press in the universe, and represented in your so-called comic journals as half-Thug, half-chimpanzee? Why, Sir, that assassination literature referred to is fed by the assassination literature of England; and O'Donovan Rossa, whenever he wants a quotation or a couplet, can always find one to his purpose from The Times or Punch. So long as Irish blood runs alien in America can our exiles forget the shriek of The Times "that the Irish were going with a vengeance," and that soon "a belt in Connemara would be as rare as a red Indian in Manhattan." These are things that set the blood of Irishmen afire; and I say, when we find an Englishman ready to rush forward and ready to give us a large measure of our just rights, base indeed were we if we rejected that scheme. [Irish cheers.] The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) approves by his cheers of the quotations I denounce, because, I suppose, we deserve no quarter as "mercenary agitators;" but if we are mere mercenary agitators, why does not England bribe us? I never had my hand in England's pocket. I wonder if the services of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh in the Militia enables him to say the same. Be that as it may, when we are told that we keep up this racial feud for our own selfish purposes and for motives the grossest and the most 1217 contemptible, I wonder that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, instead of proposing to lend money to Irish landlords, does not propose to lend it to us. But these are considerations too paltry to be dwelt upon by anyone who knows the sacrifices that many men who sit here have made in the cause. I only wish some of our Tory opponents had suffered as much, in order to be able to appreciate it. Another attack made by the right hon. Member for Birmingham on the scheme was that it did not give us the Customs. I think he made that a ground of complaint, and said that it would add to the liabilities of the English taxpayer. Well, if he thinks so, let him give us the Customs. I deprecate altogether going into this question of finance after 24 hours' notice; but I understand that if we had the Customs in Ireland England would then levy the tax on Irish whisky and tobacco there, and that would come to £1,140,000. The right hon. Member for Birmingham did not say what England was losing at present; but the Prime Minister has demonstrated, under the existing system, that Ireland is a losing concern to England, costing her £7,500,000 to govern. The Prime Minister wants to make Ireland pay what he considers a reasonable proportion to England, and he estimates that sum at £3,000,000. Why, that will all be profit to England, excepting the expenditure which may take place in Ireland on account of the Army and Navy. Yet the finance of the scheme is impugned! The right hon. Member for Birmingham also said we should be reduced to the position of Canada. I am surprised, remembering that he has had a fortnight for consideration, that the right hon. Gentleman has made that statement. Ex-Cabinet Ministers ought to know that Canada pays nothing whatever to the Imperial Exchequer; and therein lies the full distinction between Ireland and Canada in this matter. Irish Members, we are informed, are not to sit at Westminster. That is a matter of considerable interest, and I wish to say a few words upon it. I will regard it first from an Irish point of view. Could we, as a small country, having to pull up the arrear of 700 years of misgovernment, devote ourselves to the proper development of the resources of our country if we had to provide a body of Representatives who would sit 1218 for six months in London and for the remaining six months in Dublin? It is absurd; and if we had to provide two bodies of Representatives, the best brain and intellect of the country would naturally seek the Imperial outlet. We should inevitably send the cream here, and keep the skim at home. But if in the future some satisfactory scheme of federation were devised, it may be found desirable for Ireland, if in the meantime, with increased prosperity, the population increases, to enter into such a scheme, and obtain representation in the Imperial Parliament. Looking at the matter from an English point of view, I think the Prime Minister's answer last night was perfect. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) has been reading the speeches of Mr. Butt. Did he find in them any reply to the question how to distinguish between Imperial and non-Imperial questions under a scheme of federation? Perhaps some would have the Speaker's powers extended to enable the Chair to decide on the distinction. The Speaker's powers have been growing; they are already very large, and I hope when we leave this House they will be checked—I am speaking generally and without reference to the present occupant of the Chair. Moreover, when we are taunted with becoming degraded by leaving Westminster, I reply how much more degrading would it be to have our right to speak on some question like that of peace or war left in the hands of Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) against the change. I would remind him that there are more Sextons than my hon. and gifted Friend the Member for Sligo, and the speech which the right hon. Gentleman quoted was made by a Conservative English gentleman, Mr. Robert Sexton, who had recently been helped into the Dublin Corporation by the tolerant Catholics of that city. The right hon. Gentleman, however, cannot be expected to know everything about Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had another objection. He objected to surrender the Judges and magistrates. When did that objection begin? Under any federal scheme I presume they would be controlled by local authority. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he did not once put forward an executive administrative 1219 scheme which would have given us control over all the Judges and magistrates in the land? [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: No.] Then I have made the same mistake in the interpretation of the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman as he says he has made in regard to the scheme of the Prime Minister. It is curious how misunderstandings arise. The right hon. Gentleman goes on to object to Ireland being turned into a "foreign" country. The objection comes ill from him, for has not the right hon. Gentleman made the following declaration:—It is a national question as well as a parochial question, and the pacification of Ireland depends, I believe, on the concession to Ireland of the right to govern itself in the matter of purely domestic business.—The magistrate who fines 20s. and costs has nothing to do, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, with "purely domestic business"—I do not believe that the great majority of Englishmen have any conception of the system under which this free nation attempts to rule the Sister Country. It is a system as completely centralized and beaurocratic as that by which Russia governs Poland, or that which prevailed in Venice under Austrian rule. An Irishman cannot move a step without being confronted, interfered with, and controlled by an English official appointed by a foreign Government.Sir, it is greatly to be regretted that when the right hon. Gentleman so carefully was bringing down all his letters to the Prime Minister he did not also provide himself with a revised edition of his own speeches. These are the objections which the right hon. Gentleman made to the scheme of Home Rule; but it is a remarkable thing that the seceders do not agree in dissenting. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) does not agree with the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan); the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs does not agree with the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington); the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale does not agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James); the right hon. and learned Member for Bury does not agree with the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen). What a lovely Cabinet they would make—say to frame a system of Imperial federation. No tie less strong would be sufficient to connect the right hon. Member for Bir- 1220 mingham with the noble Marquess, whom he described as an "arm-chair politician," or with the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, whom he likened to an Egyptian skeleton at the feast. Before these distinguished statesmen took upon themselves to stand between Ireland and her rights, they should put their heads together, because the occasion was worthy of it, and come to the House and say—"We have combined, agreed, and confederated. We cannot agree with the proposal of the Government. This is what we propose," and then give us some concerted plan. Instead of doing this, the right hon. Member for Birmingham gives us a tune in G sharp, while the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale plays in the key of B flat. It is impossible not to admire the scheme of the Prime Minister by reason of the men who differ from him. In a matter of this kind men who have served the Queen in high offices of State, and who remained her Privy Councillors, ought not to treat the Irish nation with levity. Ireland has done you no wrong. You owe her reparation for the wrongs you have inflicted on her. Would it not be pitiable if any statesmen were to allow any paltry personal feeling, any feeling of jealousy, ambition, or rivalry to stand between Ireland and her rights? Yet the only contribution of the right hon. Member for Birmingham towards the settlement of this controversy is an envenomed Party speech, made after deserting the greatest man his country ever produced at a moment when he was engaged in the great work of Pacification; but it will no more find an echo in Ireland than did the attempt of the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) to stir up the fire of religious hatred on his recent visit to Belfast. Englishmen should rise to the level of the occasion, whether they are noble Lords, Privy Councillors, or working-men Members, of whom I am glad to see so many in this House. We are willing to surrender something. Is the surrender to be all on one side? Is it nothing that a proud and ancient people who have struggled against English rule for seven centuries should now be willing after that terrible agony to terminate the awful conflict and shake hands with you across the gulf of centuries? Does that spectacle produce no emotion but one 1221 of rancour in the mind of the right hon. Member for Birmingham? Some of his Colleagues have risen to the height of the occasion after far greater sacrifices than any he need make. The right hon. Member for Birmingham has never been attacked as a Coercionist by the Irish Members; he has not had to bear, as Lord Spencer has had to bear, three years of agony in Ireland. Yet now contrast the attitude of both. I decline to go back upon dead and buried controversies; I decline to imitate the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), who might well have remembered that when we were assailing him in this House the man who with noble magnanimity threw around him the shield of protection was the Prime Minister, whom he now deserts. The right hon. Member for Birmingham has admitted the grievances of Ireland, and it would not be unbecoming in him, Democrat as he boasts himself, when the two peoples are willing to come together, to give the blessed work his benediction. I trust his course will not be imitated by his followers. I trust the Prime Minister's scheme will receive an unbiassed and impartial examination. I admit it has been received with extraordinary marks of favour in this House. But the mind of England has to be opened on this question. I remember that Gavan Duffy said many years ago—If Ireland wants to reach the mind of England she must first successfully assault the conscience of some great English statesman.Let the right hon. Member for Birmingham ask himself whether his mind is in a proper state of receptivity for examining this scheme. Let him ask himself whether he has purged his mind, or whether he is willing to purge it, of dislikes, or piques, or rivalries. Let English Members who have to vote upon the Bill consider gravely how much or how little they know about Ireland, and whether they know anything at all beyond that which is conveyed to them in the leading articles of English newspapers or in the lying and malignant telegrams of Irish correspondents. Let them prepare their minds and put them in a proper frame for considering this question, for it is a solemn one, and involves the peace and the future of two nations long at discord. I trust that this scheme will be received by the English people, 1222 as it has been received in this House, in a spirit of prudence and a spirit of inquiry, and that England will address herself to the settlement of the Irish difficulty in a manner worthy of that justice which is an Englishman's boast, and with that fair play which the Englishman professes to admire, so that the two nations may be brought together and for ever continue in the bonds of amity and peace. The Prime Minister has been attacked for bringing in this Bill; but the Irish people regard him as a messenger bearing a message of brotherhood and friendship to them, and their sentiments towards him may be expressed in the words—"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace."
§ MR. W. S. ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
said, that this proposal came before the House and the constituencies as a matter of surprise. It had not been raised at the late Election. On the contrary, the constituencies were then appealed to to give the Prime Minister, if he gained Office, such a majority as would enable him to deal firmly with the hon. Member for Cork and his demands. At meetings of his constituents, he (Mr. Allen) had denounced the noble Lord, the then Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), in the strongest terms. He then spoke of the unholy alliance which subsisted between him and the hon. Member for Cork. What was his position now? He found that there was an alliance existing between the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for Cork, and he said that as a matter of fairness the constituencies of the Three Kingdoms should be consulted on the subject. He had listened to the magnificent speech of the Prime Minister with feelings of intense admiration; but if he had been in the position of an Irish Member he should have listened to that speech with great humiliation and shame. For it seemed that the proposal of the Prime Minister was very much of the nature of a bribe. For he said, in effect—"If you will go away from here and be good, we will give you a separate Parliament." What would be the position of Irish Members under this new scheme? They would be permitted to contribute to the Imperial Treasury, but not allowed to sit in the Imperial Parliament. They would be allowed to enlist in the Army 1223 and the Navy, and shed their blood in the battles of the Empire; but they would not be permitted to have a voice in the Imperial Parliament as to what wars should be entered upon, or what Treaties should be made with Foreign Powers. It appeared to him that that was a very unenviable position to occupy. Then there was this annual tribute which was to be paid by Ireland to the United Kingdom. That might be paid for a few years; but depend upon it murmurs would soon be raised, and in the end we should have no means of exacting it except by force. The proposals of the Prime Minister must, in his opinion, end in the entire separation of the two countries. He regretted that, but he saw no halting-place if the proposals of the Prime Minister were once in operation and became law. He did not wish to say anything offensive to the Irish Members; but it must not be forgotten that this matter of Home Rule, as it was called, had been very much supported by the contributions of American sympathizers, who desired, above everything else, the separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom. He (Mr. W. S. Allen) did not think the Prime Minister desired that; but, depend upon it, separation would come. The hon. and learned Member who had just spoken had expressed himself outside that House in favour of a complete separation between Ireland and England; and, this being the case, he (Mr. W. S. Allen) thought that House had a right to ask whether the hon. and learned Member was willing to retract those expressions, and to be satisfied with this scheme; or, whether he intended to make this scheme merely the starting point from which to urge further and more extreme demands? He might be told that the Imperial Parliament would never grant separation to Ireland. But he doubted whether they could rely with confidence upon that. He (Mr. W. S. Allen) had had a seat in that House long enough to be accustomed to the sight of small minorities growing up and being converted into great majorities. If they granted to agitation the Parliament proposed by the Prime Minister, he feared that the result would be that before long there would be renewed agitation, and that this agitation would become greater and greater, until at last total separation would be granted. The Prime Minister 1224 was now an old man. He had passed the three score and ten years which the Psalmist had allotted to man. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman might be spared to them for years yet to come. But he must at the same time say, that if the Prime Minister was spared to his country for a few years, it would not surprise him (Mr. W. S. Allen) if some day he were to come down to the House and propose separation as the best and only effectual means of binding together indissolubly the peoples of England and Ireland. Now, he did not wish to press the Irish Members opposite at all unduly, or to say anything disagreeable to them; but he must say that he did not at all like the system of crime and outrage by which the demand for Home Rule had been more or less supported from Ireland. Nor could he help saying that he deeply regretted that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), and the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy), as old Leaders of the Irish Party, had never at any time, in the various speeches they had made, denounced the outrages and crimes committed in Ireland, by those who called themselves their followers, in that strong and forcible language which was surely appropriate to the occasion, and which it was well known that those hon. Members had at command when they chose to use it. The hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had interrupted him in the course of his remarks; perhaps the House would permit him to read an extract from one of the hon. Gentleman's speeches—speeches which were always interesting and frequently amusing. Referring to the shooting of landlords, the hon. Gentleman said—It is an extreme measure, and we cannot recommend it.And he went on—One of the reasons is that persons who have undertaken to shoot landlords have missed their aim, and shot someone else.With all respect to the hon. Member, he might have denounced murder in rather stronger terms. He knew he might be told, and told with perfect truth, that murder was far less frequent in Ireland than it had been; but it would not be denied that the terrible system of "Boycotting" prevailed to a greater extent than was generally believed. The truth was that hon. Members who were the Leaders of the Na- 1225 tionalist Party did not come before the House with clean hands on the question of crime and outrage. They had spoken against it, but they had never denounced it in those strong and manly and decided terms which the case required. It might be said that the Irish people pronounced their opinions clearly and unmistakably at the last General Election. He acknowledged that some 85 or 80 Members of the Nationalist Party had been returned to that House; but, if accounts which had been received were true, there was in many places during the late elections in Ireland a system of intimidation—["No!"]—he said, if accounts were true, there was a system of intimidation and coercion exercised which undoubtedly in many constituencies rendered the election by no means free, and by no means a reflex of public opinion. At any rate, Irishmen should have another opportunity at a perfectly free election—an election free as far as possible from all priestly or other control—of declaring their sentiments upon this question. He had been told by many of his Friends with whom he had conversed in the Lobby—"We are tired of coercion, and what have you to offer us except this measure of the Prime Minister?" Well, he was tired of coercion, too; but coercion was one thing, and the prevention of crime was another thing. There was a great deal in a name. If they gave a thing a bad or unpleasant name, it would always, to a certain extent, mislead public opinion. All laws were based upon the principle of coercion. Our laws against murder were based on the principle of preventing a man killing his neighbour; and what was the reason why they required stronger laws in Ireland for the prevention of crime than they did in England and Scotland? It was a very simple one, for it was just this—that in Ireland, unfortunately, the sympathy of the people was with the criminal, while in England and Scotland the sympathy of the people was against the criminal; and, therefore, as a natural sequence, stronger laws for the suppression of crime were required in Ireland than in England and Scotland. He knew the right hon. Gentleman who at present held the position of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant was very strongly opposed to coercion. He had the highest opinion of the talents and ability of the right hon. Gentleman; but, after all, he 1226 could not close his eyes to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had had very little real experience of political life and in the governing of men. The right hon. Gentleman had been connected with the Press. He was a literary man, and of the practical work of government he knew perhaps as little as any man in the House. The plain truth was that, in dealing with Ireland, they were forced to choose between two species of coercion—they must either have the coercion of crime and outrage, or they must have the coercion of just and wise laws, firmly and temperately administered. For his part, he could not conceive any weakness that was more contemptible than that of a statesman shrinking from enforcing laws which were framed to protect the helpless. The Prime Minister would very likely secure for his scheme a second reading. If he did, he would do so by a very small majority, with the certainty that the measure would be rejected in Committee. Of one thing he (Mr. W. S. Allen) was quite certain, and that was that if any other man but the Prime Minister had brought forward in this House such a scheme, it would have been rejected by an overwhelming majority. If the scheme were carried, it would not be carried because it was a wise scheme—not because it was a safe scheme—but simply and solely through the name, and the influence, and the prestige of the present Prime Minister. Last night the House presented a striking sight. At the time the right hon. Gentleman delivered his speech, four of the most powerful Members of his late Administration sat behind him. The statesmen seemed to have left the Front Bench, but the placemen had remained. He regretted to say this, but it was a matter of fact. He claimed to be as sound a Radical as any man in that House; but he could unhesitatingly and with a clear conscience vote against the Prime Minister's scheme, because he believed it would be hurtful to Great Britain, absolutely ruinous to Ireland, and would assuredly end, if it was carried, in the entire separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
said, everyone taking part in that debate must be profoundly impressed with the tremendous gravity of the present crisis; and when the Prime Minister, addressing the crowded House of yesterday, found himself without the flower of his 1227 chivalry and deserted by those statesmen who had followed his fortunes for many years, a man less bold than he would have trembled and hesitated in introducing a measure that was destined, whether carried through Parliament or rejected—as he (Mr. Johnston) believed it would be—by the House of Commons, to influence malignantly the future prospects of Ireland and cast a shade on the coming years of the British Empire. The Bill foreshadowed by the right hon. Gentleman had gone beyond his (Mr. Johnston's) worst anticipations, and might be called not so much a Bill for establishing a separate Legislature in Ireland as a measure for legalizing the Council of the National League, and and making it the governing power. Not long ago the right hon. Gentleman was asking the country to give him a sufficient majority to enable him to triumph over the Nationalist Party, which he anticipated would come with increased numbers to that House, and now it would seem that he had himself entered into a league with the Leader of that Party, taking him into his counsels, and intrusting him, if the statements made were true, with secret communications that had been denied to Members of the right hon. Gentleman's own Party. He considered the scheme of the Prime Minister an open, unmistakable abandonment of the Union. It went further than O'Connell ever dreamed of in his palmiest days. It was a greater concession than Mr. Butt asked for when he was Leader of the Home Rule Party in the House. It was what leading statesmen in this country up to the present time would look upon as little less than treason to the British Constitution. Members knew what were the aims of the hon. Member for Cork. The hon. Member had never concealed them from sympathetic audiences in Ireland, and still more in America, whence he recruited his treasury. His aims were the disruption of the British Empire and the severance of the last link which bound Ireland to the British Crown. But the hon. Member was wise in his generation, and reserved for sympathetic audiences his impassioned and fiery utterances that induced them to make liberal contributions, whilst in the House he was calm and peaceful. There was a Party behind the hon. Member for Cork and his followers who would be satisfied with nothing less than the 1228 establishment of an Irish Republic, of which probably the hon. Member would be the first President—a Party which now removed Her Majesty's name from toast lists and hissed the National Anthem. An historian whose name was recognized as one of the first of his day— Mr. Lecky—in writing to The Times of the 13th of January last, had said that the Party who demanded Home Rule for Ireland were desirous of plundering the whole landed property of the country, and were distinguished by their hatred for the English connection in any form. No one could doubt what was the ultimate object of those Americans who were the paymasters of the National League, and if they had any doubt upon the point let them read United Ireland for three months—a paper that was the accredited organ of the Irish Nationalist Party, and which was owned by one of their Leaders. Mr. Lecky had said that anyone who had read United Ireland for three months, and then proposed to hand the government of the country to the Party whose opinions they represented, must be either a traitor or a fool. He should be sorry to stigmatize the Prime Minister, who doubtless did not read United Ireland, as either a traitor or a fool; but he sincerely hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not strike this great blow at the British Constitution, which would have the effect of crushing the liberties of a large portion of the Irish people, or of giving rise to the other alternative to which he had alluded upon more than one occasion—of resistance to the Acts of this Irish Parliament by the inhabitants of the Province of Ulster at the risk of civil war. [Home Rule ironical cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway might cheer; they were so accustomed to use "tall talk" themselves that, perhaps, they thought that in this instance he was indulging in similar "bunkum;" but he could assure them that he was speaking in sad and sober earnest. They had heard from the hon. Member for Cork last night a sort of denunciation of The Irish World; but he might remind the House that, on a certain occasion not very long ago, that journal published a telegram signed "Charles Stewart Parnell," thanking that journal and its readers for their constant co-operation and support, and telling them to have no fear for ultimate success. That was the journal whose efforts had 1229 been the moans of obtaining the largest sums for filling the treasury of the National League. [Mr. HARRINGTON: Not a penny.] He hoped that cognizance would be taken of that statement made by the hon. Member below the Gangway, and that those who had contributed £400,000 in aid of the Irish National Party would see the gratitude with which that aid was received. Reference had frequently been made to the Parliament of Ireland as it formerly existed; but hon. Members below the Gangway appeared to have overlooked the fact that Grattan's Parliament was a Protestant Parliament, and up to 1793 the Members returned to it were elected by Protestant electors. It was elected by Protestant electors, who enfranchised their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. It was universally the practice to refer to that Parliament as the great model which should be adopted in the management of the future government of Ireland; but the result of that independent Legislature was that in 1798 there was a rebellion in that country, and the Union, whatever might be said as to the means by which it was brought about, was the natural and necessary result of the resistance of a certain portion of the people of Ireland to the domination of the English Government. There was one event in Irish history of which hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were proud, and that was the transaction at Vinegar Hill in 1798. He held in his hand an extract from a work describing the battle of Vinegar Hill, at which the rebels were led on by a Father Murphy, who, in haranguing his followers, urged them to crush out heresy and to slay the heretics. And, in his (Mr. Johnston's) opinion, the same cry would soon be raised in Ireland if the Bill now before the House should ever become law. The hon. Member next alluded to The Freeman's Journal, from which, according to the sworn evidence of James Carey, he took the first hint for the removal of Lord Frederick Cavendish. Carey belonged to the extreme section of that Party which had been supported from time to time by hon. Members below the Gangway. He held in his hand a pamphlet which set forth that Mr. Biggar, Mr. O'Connor, and other Members of that House were, or had been, Fenians. Mr. Davitt was a Fenian too; but he had a conscience, and he had refused to enter Parliament and swear allegiance. Then, 1230 as to the Leader of the Party, he was described as a cool and relentless schemer, whose cause was helped by assassination and outrage.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
I rise to Order, Sir. I wish to ask if it is competent for an hon. Member to read from an anonymous pamphlet containing reflections upon Members of this House?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is dealing very generally with the whole subject before the House. He is not in Order in continuing to make reflections upon Members of this House, though in the form of quotations from a pamphlet.
§ MR. JOHNSTON
said, he readily bowed to the Speaker's ruling; but he hoped that the same respect for personal character and personal dignity would always be shown by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Passing to another subject, he begged to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), if he would allow him, to offer him his tribute of thanks for his generous utterances regarding the Protestants of Ulster. He was proud to be a Representative of Ulster. He was proud to be a Member of a section of that great Protestant town which, as the right hon. Gentleman had truly said, was the rival of Liverpool, of Manchester, and of Glasgow in its manufacturing industries and its commercial prosperity. If hon. Gentlemen who followed the hon. Member for Cork would endeavour to develop the resources of their country instead of agitating from town to town and keeping up a perpetual state of turmoil and trouble in the land, driving, as they did, capital from the shores of their unhappy land, the other three Provinces of Ireland might be as prosperous as Protestant Ulster. But the course of action of the hon. Member for Cork and his Party had resulted in dispelling confidence and in driving away capital from the Irish shores; yet they spoke of restoring to Ireland commercial prosperity and of developing its industrial progress. They also spoke of a Legislature which would establish credit and be able to develop in Ireland its decayed and decaying industries. From time to time many romantic statements had been uttered in that House; but there never was a more Utopian scheme, there never was a greater delusion, than the idea that anyone, or any country, or any capitalist out- 1231 side the walls of a lunatic asylum, would consent to lend money on the credit of an Irish Parliament. The hon. Member for the Doncaster Division of Yorkshire (Mr. Shirley) thought it right on the previous evening to denounce some statements which had been made from the Opposition side of the House with regard to the attitude that would be taken up by the Protestants of Ulster in the event of a concession being made to the demands of the Party following the hon. Member for Cork and the measure of the Prime Minister becoming the law of the land. He said deliberately that to that Irish Parliament, if it were constituted, not an Ulster Protestant would send a Representative. The dictates of that Irish Parliament would be resisted by the people of Ulster at the point of the bayonet. The behests of that Irish Parliament would be absolutely null and void in the greater portion of the Province of Ulster. ["No, no!"] He spoke those words knowing the men for whom he spoke, having worked with them and having associated with them for years; and he spoke as a member of a loyal, a legal, and a patriotic institution. The Orangemen of Ulster were attached to the Crown and the Constitution of England. In many trying times of Irish history they had been the bulwarks of English government in Ireland. When the abortive rebellion broke out in Ireland in 1848, and terminated in what was known as the Cabbage Garden Rebellion, the Orangemen of Ireland were trusted by Lord Clarendon, the Lord Lieutenant of that day, with arms in order that they might defend the persons and the property of the Protestants from the expected rising of the rebels in Dublin. The Orangemen of Ulster desired, however, to live at peace with their Roman Catholic fellow countrymen. They had equal rights and liberties at the present time, and there was no religious inequality to gall or hurt the feelings of anyone. When some years ago he was contending in the House for the repeal of an oppressive Party Processions Act which bore unjustly on the Protestants and which was inoperative with regard to Fenian processions, he did not advocate its repeal on the ground of any principles of ascendency or the right of one party more than another. He did not now recede from those principles; but what they dreaded in Ulster was that if the 1232 Utopian scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, by any extraordinary circumstance became the law of the land, the Protestants of Ulster would be dominated and tyrannized over by the majority of that country. [Cries of "No, no!"] They had reason to know that when the members of the Roman Catholic Church had dominion in Ireland in olden days it fared badly with the Protestant minority in the South-West of Ireland. ["No, no!"] Did hon. Gentlemen who disputed that statement read history backwards? Were they not aware that in the days of James II. the Protestant minority could not meet together in Dublin? And the right hon. Gentleman in the measure now under consideration desired to remove the Protestantism of the Lord Lieutenant. That one safeguard, which they had looked to for fair play in the government of Ireland, that one link, which bound the government of Ireland to the Crown of England by Protestant ties, was to be done away with, and the Representative of the Queen, who herself must be a Protestant, must cease to occupy that position in Ireland. It was no wonder that the people of Ulster looked with apprehension at the tendency of the legislation of the Prime Minister. He would not accuse hon. Members below the Gangway of insincerity in their utterances in that House when they said that they believed that the Protestants of Ireland would be perfectly safe if that Bill were passed and Ireland had a Parliament of her own; but he did not think that those hon. Members knew the tendency of the system to which they belonged. [A laugh.] If any of them doubted the accuracy of his statements he should be glad if they would move for a Committee to inquire into the truth of them. The Church of Rome in Ireland at the present moment did not hesitate to proclaim that she looked for coming triumph and victory for her cause to an Irish Parliament. He felt that in this crisis in his country's history it would not be right that he should hesitate for one moment to raise his protest against this measure. He should not like to be reproached for having hesitated to lay in the plainest and strongest terms before the people and Parliament of England the dangers which they in Ulster feared and the evils against which they pro- 1233 tested. Some hon. Gentlemen had already left the side of the Prime Minister since this matter was under discussion. He expected that every day when they came down to the House they would find some new removal from the Front Bench to the seats below the Gangway. The Times had been vituperated by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway; but he had, on behalf of the Protestants of Ulster, to thank that great organ of public opinion for its noble vindication of the principles of Imperial unity and the integrity of the Empire. The Times had freely and fairly discussed that question, and given to all parties an opportunity of advocating their views, and laying them before the country at that crisis. In that newspaper Sir James Stephen had said that he should regard civil war as a smaller calamity than the dismemberment of the Empire. But the Protestants of Ireland did not contemplate civil war with a light conscience, or in a careless mood; they looked upon it as a last resort in defence of the unity and integrity of the Empire to which they were proud to belong; but they trusted to the wisdom of Parliament to relieve them from that great calamity, and to uphold the integrity of the Empire. As he saw the noble Marquess the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) in his place, he would, venture to read to the House one or two extracts from his recent speeches. [Cries of"Oh!"] He trusted that the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway would give them an indication of that fair play which they asserted would be shown by an Irish Parliament, because if the Ulster Members could not get an opportunity of uttering their views in the British House of Commons, what chance would they have in the one in College Green? The noble Marquess the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire gave wise counsel to the people of Belfast on November 5. 1885, remarking, in the course of his admirable speech—I think that, for our part, we should be willing to waive our differences, for however important they may be as such, they are of minor importance when weighed with the maintenance of the Union.He, therefore, appealed to the noble Marquess and his Party opposite to join with them on that side in waiving their differences, which were utterly insignificant 1234 in comparison with the importance of maintaining the Union. On the same occasion the noble Marquess said that the people of the United Kingdom would never consent to the practical separation of the two Governments of England and Ireland. The noble Marquess would, he hoped, adhere to those opinions at the present grave crisis, and resist the first stage of that measure. In conclusion, he trusted that the Parliament of England would, at that great juncture, remember the traditions of a glorious past; and that while, as had been observed by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, all other countries and Empires were consolidating into one their government and power we should refuse to allow this political dynamite to be introduced into the British Constitution and a fatal blow to be struck at the great British Empire.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
said, that they had all listened with admiration to the great speech in which last night the Prime Minister unfolded his scheme for the future government of Ireland. Nothing, however, it seemed to him (Sir John Lubbock), but his marvellous eloquence, the respect and admiration so justly felt for him by his grateful countrymen could have obtained for such an occasion even a respectful hearing. If it had been brought forward by anyone but the right hon. Gentleman its supporters would have been few indeed. But even if the right hon. Gentleman did succeed in carrying his Bill how would he do so? Only thanks to the support of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and against the wishes of a majority of his own countrymen. Moreover, those who desired to hand down to their children intact the inheritance they had received from their ancestors had surely great reason to complain that that question was not put fully and fairly before the country at the last General Election. There was in the first of the Prime Minister's Mid Lothian speeches a kind of prophetic condemnation of the present scheme. He said—I will now suppose, gentlemen, for argument's sake, that the Liberal Party might be returned to the coming Parliament—this is rather a staggering supposition—I beg you to indulge me for an instant—might be returned to the coming Parliament in a minority, but in a minority which might become a majority by the aid of the Irish vote. And I will suppose that owing to some cause the present Govern- 1235 ment had disappeared and that the Liberal Party was called upon to deal with this great Constitutional question of the government of Ireland in a position where it was only a minority dependent upon the Irish vote for converting into a majority. Now, gentlemen, I tell you seriously and solemnly that although I believe the Liberal Party itself to be honourable, patriotic, sound, and trustworthy, yet in such a position as that it would not be trustworthy. In such a position as that it would not be safe for it to enter upon the consideration of the principles of a measure with respect to which at every step of its progress it would be in the power of a Party coming from Ireland to say—'Unless you do this and unless you do that we turn you out to-morrow.'The right hon. Gentleman had said that the experience of other countries gave us every reason to hope that the speculation on which he invited Parliament to embark might be successful. But was this so? He began by referring to Norway and Sweden; but this was not a case in point. He said himself that Norway was absolutely independent, while, in the present scheme, he assured the House that he was not going to repeal the Union. Take Austria-Hungary. Here, again, the same might be said. M. Denombynes, in his great work on the Constitutions of Europe, expressly said—"Since the compromise of 1867 the Austro-Hungarian Empire forms two States." Sir Henry Elliot, who, as our Ambassador at Vienna, had excellent opportunities for judging, in a recent letter to The Times had expressed a far from favourable opinion as to the result, and if it worked at all it was greatly due to the large powers possessed by the Emperor. Perhaps a more parallel case was that of Hungary and Croatia, speaking of which Mr. Shaw Lefevre, himself a Home Ruler, was forced in fairness to admit that, though the Constitution was arranged with the most scrupulous desire for fairness, and—So framed with respect and care for the national fooling and historic traditions of the people, yet it is a misfortune that difficulties should have been experienced in working it. On this point, it is a warning to those who have to frame the Constitutional changes in Ireland.Of course, the main aim and object of the right hon. Gentleman was to promote greater harmony between Great Britain and Ireland. Suppose his system had been in operation during the last 50 years, did he think the relations of the two countries would have been any 1236 better? What reasons were there for thinking so? Ireland had passed through a period of terrible suffering; but had it been our fault? Did we cause the blight in the potato or the succession of disastrous seasons? This Bill, if passed, might solve one difficult question; but, on the other hand, it would raise many others. The right hon. Gentleman said that he intended to maintain the fiscal union; but he admitted that the duties levied in Ireland on whisky and porter exported to and drunk in England were really paid by the consumer. If we did not erect a Custom House between England and Ireland, what was to prevent the Irish Government themselves establishing a great national distillery or giving a heavy drawback, because whatever they paid with one hand they were to receive back with the other? Our manufacturers might have to compete with rivals who would practically pay no duty. Evidently the result would be that a large part of our Customs and Excise might be appropriated for the benefit of Ireland. This was only a sample of the difficulties that would arise by the establishment of a separate Parliament in Dublin. It was admittedly necessary that there should be reasonable securities for the minority. But was it not also necessary that such securities should be permanent? Why limit them to three years? The real cause of the want of sympathy with the law was rather to be found in the distressed condition of the people than in the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. There was always a tendency to blame Governments in times of distress. When people were miserable the Government was never popular. Ireland during the last 40 years had suffered more, perhaps, than almost any other people. If the cases had been reversed, if Scotland had suffered and Ireland had prospered, it was his belief that Ireland would have been quiet and Scotland discontented. This was not a question of race. The true Irish might be a race. But where were they? More of them were to be found in New York or Glasgow than in any city of Ireland. The population of Ireland contained no small proportion of Teutons, who constituted the most energetic, prosperous, and leading portion of the community. On the other hand, even without counting recent immi- 1237 grants, there were in parts of Great Britain, in Western Scotland, in Wales, in Cornwall, and elsewhere, a largo and, happily, a loyal Celtic population. This Bill would give a great leverage to disunion. Ireland now contributed 1–13th to Imperial Expenditure; in future her share was to be less than 1–26th, or under one-half. Moreover, she was to contribute nothing whatever towards any of that so-called exceptional expenditure which occurred almost every year. If any war should unfortunately break out, she was to bear no share of the burden; it was all to fall on the unfortunate taxpayers of England and Scotland. If it was wished to encourage disorder and disaffection in other districts, what more could be done than to declare that if the people only proved themselves sufficiently turbulent they would be rewarded by having half their taxes taken off and being relieved from contributing towards any national emergency? Though Britain would suffer by this scheme, Ireland would not gain. Comparing the prices of Irish securities at the beginning of this year with what they were at the middle of last we should find that there had been a general fall of from 5 to 20 per cent. The Four per Cent Debenture Stocks of the best English railways now stood at 120, or even higher, while those of the Irish railways stood at 10 or 15 per cent lower, and this was greatly due to the uneasiness and uncertainty as to the future of Ireland. The present depression of trade generally was, no doubt, due to many causes, but one of them certainly was the uncertainty and insecurity of the political future. The scheme that had been laid before the House by the Prime Minister was both complicated and revolutionary. Nor did it carry out what the right hon. Gentleman described as essential requisites. Among them, he particularly mentioned that it would be impossible to force on Ireland taxation without representation, whereas by" the scheme Ireland was to be taxed to some extent and yet have no representation; and, secondly, he mentioned the necessity of maintaining "the political equality of the three countries," whereas he reduced Ireland to the position of a mere dependency to Great Britain. By this Bill England and Scotland would create for themselves a crowd of difficulties, and Ireland would herself regret the adoption of this Bill. Finding, as she would, that 1238 she could secure in this House everything she could justly and wisely ask, she would herself come to rejoice that she had retained her position as an integral portion of that great Empire in which so many of her sons had played a glorious part.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)
Sir, I have no doubt that the House is almost weary of personal explanations, and therefore I shall ask it to listen for only a very few moments to what I have to say at the outset of my observations which may partake of the nature of a personal explanation. It is, I think, no secret that some of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself were unable at the time of the formation of the present Government to join my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the arduous task which he has now undertaken. Our conduct at that time was the subject of some comment and some observation, and perhaps I may say, on my own behalf and on that of some of my Friends, one or two words in explanation of the conduct which we then thought it our duty to pursue. That explanation is a very simple one. The communications which passed between my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government and myself were in substance communicated to the whole country a very few days after they took place. My right hon. Friend explained to the country, in his recent address to the electors of Mid Lothian, the basis upon which the present Government was formed. My right hon. Friend stated in his address—That there were at present three great Irish questions demanding our care—social order, the settlement of the land question, and a widely-prevalent desire for self-government extending beyond what is felt in Great Britain as to local affairs, but which must necessarily be subject in all respects to Imperial unity.He said that—It would be among the very first duties of the new Government to take means for forming such an estimate as only a Government can form of the present state of Ireland.He also said that—The hope and purpose of the Government was to examine carefully whether it was not possible to try some other methods of meeting the present circumstances of Ireland and of ministering to its wants, political and social—other and more effectual methods reaching nearer to the seat of the mischief and promising more stability than the method of exceptional criminal legislation.1239 Now, Sir, that was the substance of the communication which was made to me and my right hon. Friends at the time; and the reason why we were unable to take part with my right hon. Friend in the task which he had undertaken was one which, in our view, it was absolutely impossible to reconcile with the opinions which we had previously expressed and the opinions which we still entertained. We knew, or thought we knew, that this was an attempt to reconcile impossibilities. We thought we knew enough of the real nature of the demands made by the Irish people, so far as they are represented by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his Friends, to realize that it was impossible to undertake an examination of this kind, and expect that it could lead to any satisfactory issue which should be at the same time consistent with what we believe to be our paramount duty to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. We felt that an inquiry and examination of this kind could not, when undertaken by a Cabinet, stop short of action. A Committee of the House of Commons or a Royal Commission might undertake an inquiry, and no harm would result—no discredit would ensue if the inquiry should lead only to negative results; but an inquiry undertaken by a Cabinet must lead to action of some kind, and in our opinion action so initiated could but lead, whether successful or not, to results which must be disastrous in one direction or another. That was the reason why we were unable to anticipate any useful result from our joining a Government formed upon this basis of inquiry and examination; and I think what has taken place has justified the course which we thought it our duty to take. Two right hon. Friends of mine, each of whom was ready to become a party to some large change in the relations between this country and Ireland, accepted this policy of examination and inquiry with better hopes and more confidence than I could feel; but at the very moment when the results of the inquiry of the Prime Minister were revealed to the Cabinet they thought it right to resign their Offices and to abandon the attempt upon which they had embarked. I do not hesitate to say that it requires no prolonged examination of the scheme which was submitted to us 1240 last night, with so much eloquence and ability by my right hon. Friend, to be in a position to say that the project for establishing the future relations between this country and Ireland is one to which, consistently with the opinions which we have always held, and which we still entertain, it would have been absolutely impossible for us to make ourselves parties. Now, Sir, that is all I have to say to the House in the nature of a personal explanation. I should like to say a few words as to what seems to me to be the position of extreme difficulty and embarrassment in which the country, this House, and especially the Liberal Party in this House, have been placed by the course which has been taken. We approached the recent General Election in circumstances of unusual preparation and consideration. The Government of my right hon. Friend had very recently been displaced, mainly by the action of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his Friends. The policy which we had then thought it our duty to pursue had entailed upon us the bitter, the persistent, and undisguised hostility of that Party. It had been our duty to ask for, it had been our privilege to receive, the cordial and loyal support of our Party in enforcing the administration of the law as carried out by the government of Lord Spencer in Ireland, and that policy had entailed upon us the open and avowed hostility of the Party of the hon. Member for Cork. Well, Sir, we went to that Election, knowing this state of things, knowing that we were to receive the undisguised opposition of that Party. We made no attempt to conciliate or to avert it. We accepted that opposition; and, as far as the public declarations of almost every one of us were concerned, we placed ourselves before the country as pre-eminently the friends of the maintenance of law and order in Ireland, as they had been carried out by my noble Friend Lord Spencer and his Administration. We did not spare, as I think we were justified in not sparing, what we thought was the culpable laxity of right hon. Gentlemen opposite in relation to this question of the maintenance of law and order in Ireland; and we did all that we could in our speeches and in our public declarations to place ourselves before the country as the Party which was pre-eminently identified with the strict and firm administration of the 1241 law in Ireland, and the maintenance of order in that country. Well, Sir, while by this course we earned the hostility of the Party which follows the lead of the hon. Member for Cork, we came, at the same time, under certain engagements to the people of this country, and they were justified in looking to us as the Party which, under all or under any circumstances, was prepared to maintain the firm administration of the law of Ireland. Now, Sir, was there anything in the declarations of most Members of the Liberal Party to lead the country to suppose that we had in view any now policy, any radical changes, which, by the sacrifice of any of our pre-conceived convictions or antiquated prejudices, would henceforth render unnecessary that stern and firm administration of the law which we had hitherto upheld, and which would for ever obviate the necessity of a recurrence to that policy? Sir, we went to the Election mainly guided by the address which my right hon. Friend issued in September last to the electors of Mid Lothian. I shall refer in a moment to the passage in that address which especially dealt with the question of Ireland. What I want to refer to now is the position which that passage held in that address, in order to show that, in the judgment of my right hon. Friend, at that time, there was no thought and no warning held out to the country that a radical reform in the relations between Great Britain and Ireland would be the main work of the present Parliament. My right hon. Friend called special attention to four questions. He called attention to the question of Procedure in Parliament; to the question of Local Government in the whole Kingdom; to the question of the Land Laws as relating to the whole Kingdom; and to the question of Registration as the completion of the recent electoral reform. My right hon. Friend said those were the legislative subjects of the moment which had reached maturity. "The work," he said—Is ready, the workmen are ready, and only await the mandate of the constituencies to proceed with it.My right hon. Friend also referred to other matters in the most distant future. He referred to the question of Education; to the question of the Established Church; and to the question of the future position of the House of Lords. 1242 Those were subjects, he said, upon which public opinion was less ripe, and which were not mature for immediate legislative action. But, Sir, if it had occurred for one moment to my right hon. Friend at that time that the question of self-government in Ireland had reached the stage of maturity for legislative action, did not my right hon. Friend know that every one of those four subjects to which he called the immediate and pressing attention of the country must inevitably have been relegated to a future as dim and as distant as that to which he relegated the question of the Established Church, if it had been in his mind that at the very outset of the labours of this Parliament we should be called upon to deal with the enormous question of the future legislative relations between Great Britain and Ireland? Now, Sir, let me refer to the passage in the address of my right hon. Friend which referred immediately to the question of Ireland. My right hon. Friend has quoted that passage in a debate in the present Parliament, and I have no doubt most hon. Members are familiar with it; but perhaps I may read a few words from it. He said—In my opinion, not now for the first time delivered, the limit is clear beyond which any desires of Ireland, Constitutionally ascertained, cannot receive the assent of Parliament. To maintain the supremacy of the Crown, the unity of the Empire, and all the authority of Parliament necessary for the conservation of that unity, is the first duty of every Representative of the people. Subject to this governing principle, every grant to portions of the country of enlarged powers for the management of their own affairs is, in my view, not a source of danger, but a means of averting it, and is in the nature of a guarantee against it.Now, Sir, that passage, however it may now be interpreted by hon. Members opposite, neither gave them much satisfaction at the time, nor did it create either very much alarm or excitement in the constituencies of Great Britain. It did not prevent hon. Gentlemen opposite from continuing to offer the most strenuous opposition to the followers of my right hon. Friend. It did not prevent me from stating in my address to my constituents that I was still convinced that, in the interest of both countries, the Legislative Union with Ireland should be maintained. No one was found to call attention to any discrepancy between the declarations of my right hon. Friend and myself, or of the numerous other 1243 candidates of the Liberal Party who made declarations in their various addresses and speeches to their constituents of much the same character. Well, Sir, if there was any misapprehension on the subject, there soon came an opportunity by which such misapprehension could have been removed. My right hon. Friend went to Mid Lothian. He knew what had been the effect of his address; how it had been received; how it had been understood both in this country and in Ireland. It is true that my right hon. Friend did then place the question of Ireland in the forefront of his policy; and the first speech he delivered in Mid Lothian was addressed to the question of Irish policy. But the language of my right hon. Friend was still reassuring. My right hon. Friend said in his first speech—We are all, gentlemen, every man, woman, and child among us, convinced that it is the will of Providence that these Islands should be bound together in a United Kingdom; and from one end of Great Britain to the other I trust there will not be a single Representative returned to Parliament who for one moment would listen to any proposition tending to impair, visibly and sensibly to impair, the unity of the Empire.Well, Sir, what is the meaning of "United Kingdom?" The words "United Kingdom" have some meaning distinct from the words "British Empire." The British Empire must endure, though separate Legislatures were conferred, not only upon Ireland, but upon England, Scotland, and Wales. But the United Kingdom is the creation of a particular Act—the Act of Union. [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Members deny that the United Kingdom is the creation of the Act of Union. I shall be glad to hear from any hon. Member who may follow me, whether the term "United Kingdom," as applicable to Great Britain and Ireland, was ever heard of before the Act of Union. What was the distinguishing mark—the distinguishing feature of the Act of Union? It was the creation of one Sovereign Legislature, which was to be thenceforth the sole Legislative Body for the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. I maintain, Sir, that it is the Kingdoms, thus legislatively united, which we mean when we speak of the United Kingdon of Great Britain and Ireland. Well, my right hon. Friend was not the only statesman qualified to speak in the 1244 name of the Liberal Party. But I maintain that, among those who were so qualified to speak, there was no one—there was scarcely anyone, with the exception of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who hardly, perhaps, at that time, had acquired the right to speak in the name of any considerable portion of the Liberal Party—there was, I say, with the exception of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, no statesman so qualified, or very few, with the exception of a few Liberal candidates, who committed themselves beyond, or even to the extent to which the Prime Minister had committed himself in the passage which I have read. Then, Sir, I say that in this state of things, going to the Election in these circumstances, the country had no sufficient warning—I think I may say the country had no warning at all—that any proposals of the magnitude and vastness of those which were unfolded to us last night were to be considered in the present Parliament, much less were to form the very first subject of consideration; upon the meeting of this Parliament. Sir, I am perfectly aware that there exists in our Constitution no principle of the mandate. I know that the mandate of the constituencies is as unknown to our Constitution as the distinction between fundamental laws and laws which are of an inferior sanction. But, although no principle of a mandate may exist, I maintain that there are certain limits which Parliament is morally bound to observe, and beyond which Parliament has morally not the right to go in its relations with the constituents. The constituencies of Great Britain are the source of the power, at all events, of this branch of Parliament; and I maintain that, in the presence of an emergency which could not have been foreseen, the House of Commons has no more right to initiate legislation, especially immediately upon its first meeting, of which the constituencies were not informed, and of which the constituencies might have been informed, and as to which, if they had been so informed, there is, at all events, the very greatest doubt as to what their decision might be. This is something more than a point of theoretical discussion; it is a point which has a very practical bearing. The result of the elections was not altogether that which was foreseen. The 1245 triumph of the Party sitting on these Benches was not so complete as was anticipated. It is perfectly well-known that in many constituencies where Liberal candidates were successful the issue was not decided by a very large majority. Well, Sir, it is not possible for any Member of this House to say that, if it had been known at the time of the last General Election that the first work and task of the present Parliament was going to be the entire resettlement of the relations between Great Britain and Ireland—the creation of a statutory power, with the sole legislative power in Irish affairs, and with complete control over the Irish Administration and Executive—it would not be possible for any of us to maintain that the result, in numberless elections in this country, might not have been very different from what it was; and that, instead of being placed in the minority in which they find themselves now, right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the other side of the House might not have found that they commanded a large majority. Well, then, Sir, I say that I must protest at the outset against the competence—the moral competence, for I do not deny the Constitutional competence—of this Parliament, in the presence of no adequate emergency, to initiate legislation such as that which is involved in the proposal unfolded to us last night by my right hon. Friend. So much for the course pursued before the Election. One word I desire to say as to the course taken with reference to this House itself. The debate on the Address will be within the recollection of hon. Members, and also the speech of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. I will not deny that that speech gave to me, and to those who, like myself, attach importance to the maintenance of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, great anxiety. The careful avoidance, by my right hon. Friend, of any declaration in favour of the maintenance of the Legislative Union, the repudiation of the existence in our Constitution of any fundamental laws, and the general tone of the speech of my right hon. Friend, I admit, led me, and many of us, to believe that my right hon. Friend had in his contemplation changes, at any rate, of a very wide and far-reaching character. But as to the definite declarations of my right hon. 1246 Friend in that speech, my right hon. Friend said, and I think he was amply justified in saying it, that he did not consider the proposals of the late Government adequate to the occasion. My right hon. Friend said he would reserve his own judgment, that he should listen with attention to anything hon. Gentlemen opposite had to propose, and, above all, that he should listen to what might be urged by hon. Members representing the great majority of the Irish people. Now, Sir, has the course which has been taken by my right hon. Friend been altogether consistent with the spirit of these declarations? My right hon. Friend did not wait to hear the proposals of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He took the very earliest opportunity of ejecting the Government.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Mid Lothian)
After the Notice.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
But my right hon. Friend did not wait to hear the reasons which might be urged by the late Government in support of their proposals; and the Notice appears to have been a sufficient intimation to my right hon. Friend. Yet, if my memory does not deceive me, a summons had been addressed to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House to attend and support the Motion of my hon. Friend who then represented Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) on the evening previous to the giving of that Notice of which my right hon. Friend has just reminded mo. I say that he has not listened, at all events with much attention, to the proposals of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Has he waited to listen to what might be urged by the Members representing the majority of the people of Ireland? No, Sir; I have never heard those hon. Members formulate their demands, or tell my right hon. Friend what it is that they have been sent to Parliament to ask for. My right hon. Friend has anticipated their demands by undertaking an examination and inquiry into that which he believes, but which he does cot know, at all events from the Irish Members themselves, to be the express desire and wish of the Irish 1247 people. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), who last addressed the House, called attention to another point, which it seems to me difficult to dismiss altogether from our consideration. He has reminded us that the Prime Minister said that the task of dealing with questions as to the government of Ireland by a Government which did not command a clear majority in this House, and which was depending for its existence upon the Irish Party, would be a work of extreme danger and difficulty. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] But the consideration has not weighed for one moment with my right hon. Friend. The necessity, in his view, of ejecting the late Government and of dealing with this question himself at once, without the slightest delay, was so paramount that it has altogether over-weighted that danger which, in Mid Lothian, my right hon. Friend felt so keenly. Well, what is the result? The result is that we have before us the concession which my right hon. Friend and his Colleagues are prepared to make to what they believes, but do not know, to be the declared wish of the majority of the Irish people. I cannot avoid saying that I think the Government have taken upon themselves, in this matter, a tremendous responsibility. It appears, if we may judge from the speeches of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy), that this proposal will be accepted by the Irish Party—at all events, if certain Amendments are carried in Committee, it will be accepted by them—and it would be strange, I think, if it were not so accepted, whether it be a measure altogether satisfactory to them, or whether it be not, for, undoubtedly, it contains within it so much that will give them a vantage ground for demanding fresh concessions and further measures, that it will be strange indeed if, by any action of theirs, they were to endanger the passing of the Bill. But, Sir, there are other parties to this measure besides the Representatives of the majority in Ireland. England and Scotland have yet to be consulted, and, as I have already endeavoured to show, their opinion on this question has never been taken. It may be that this measure will really be accepted by the Irish Party 1248 only as an instalment; and it may be, especially under these circumstances, that the people of this country will not be willing that changes so vast and so wide-reaching should be made. But, whatever may be the fate of this measure, its mere introduction by a responsible Government, by a Minister wielding, and justly wielding, the influence and authority of my right hon. Friend, will have done much that can never be recalled. This measure will be henceforth the minimum of the Irish national demand; it will be the starting-point and the vantage-ground of whatever proposals they may hereafter think it necessary to bring forward. It will remain on record as that which a great Minister has proposed, not in response to any formulated demand of the Irish Representatives, but as what he himself thinks is a reasonable concession to justice to offer to the Irish people. From this point of view it seems to me that if, as I think is extremely likely, this measure does not command the support—the intelligent and informed support—of the majority of the people of this country, its introduction without, as I think, adequate preparation or consideration will have vastly added in the future to the already great difficulties of the government of Ireland. And now let me say a word or two upon the historical argument, by which a concession of this kind is sometimes justified. My right hon. Friend referred last night to the history of Grattan's Parliament. My right hon. Friend spoke, I think justly, in terms of commendation of much of the conduct of that Parliament. I think he expressed an opinion that if that Parliament had been permitted to continue it might have done a great deal to solve and to remove the difficulties which have beset us in the government of Ireland since it ceased to exist. Well, that is a proposition which it is quite impossible to prove. Grattan's Parliament was a Protestant Parliament, a Parliament in which the influence of the landlords was entirely paramount; and it is just as probable that a Parliament so composed might have delayed, rather than have forwarded, those reforms in Irish Administration, which we all now acknowledge to have been delayed too long. We may grant that the Parliament of the United King- 1249 dom delayed too long Catholic Emancipation; we may grant that it too long maintained Protestant ascendancy in Ireland; we may grant that the land legislation of the Imperial Parliament was too long conceived in the interests of the landlord class and in disregard of those of the occupiers and cultivators; but it is beyond the possibility of proof that an Irish Parliament, composed as Grattan's Parliament was, would have initiated and carried out the reforms that were needed before the Imperial Parliament did so. It is just as likely that the authority of the Imperial Government and of the Imperial Parliament might have had to be invoked for the protection of the oppressed majority of the Irish people as that the Grattan Parliament would have carried out those reforms one day sooner than they did take place. It is equally impossible to prove that any Government or Parliament could have averted any of the evils that have be-fallen Ireland since that time. We are a great deal too apt to attribute omnipotence to Parliaments and to Governments. In the presence of physical and economical causes and changes I believe it is much nearer the truth to say that Parliaments and Governments, whatever they may be, are almost powerless. Owing to physical and economical changes, the population of Ireland, as we have just been reminded by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), has been very largely reduced; the wealth of the country, owing to economical changes, has also been reduced; and it is impossible for any ingenuity to prove that in such a state of things want and famine, and the discontent arising from want and famine, would not have occurred, and that with that discontent would not have arisen the same difficulties as have been found in the Government of Ireland. There seems to me to be altogether another aspect to the historical side of this question than that which has been invoked in defence of a measure of this kind. Legislation in the direction of a Repeal of the Union, or any policy in the direction of a Repeal of the Union, is sometimes spoken of as if it would do something in the way of restoring a state of things which existed previously to the Union, and that would have continued to exist if the Union had not taken place. I maintain that the restoration of an 1250 Irish Parliament, or of anything approaching to an Irish Parliament, will not be the restoration of that which existed before the Union, but will be the creation of a state of things as absolutely and entirely different from that as it is possible to conceive. I have already pointed out that the Parliament called Grattan's Parliament was a Protestant Parliament, in which the landlords were supreme. At the same time, there existed in Ireland a powerful Protestant Established Church; and there existed also a powerful landed aristocracy, exercising complete control over their estates, and with that control exercising a permanent political influence. All these things, all these institutions, have been completely changed. The Parliament which would be restored now would not be a Protestant, but would be a Roman Catholic Parliament. The Established Church has been swept away; and instead of a Roman Catholic priesthood, which at the time of the Union was without political influence at all, we have a Roman Catholic clergy wielding a large political influence. The owners of land in Ireland have been deprived of almost all control over their estates; and with the loss of that control they have lost the political influence which they formerly enjoyed. Now, Sir, it is not a question whether all these changes have been wise and just changes. I believe, in the main, that the changes have been wise and have been just; but they are changes which have been made by the paramount and superior authority of the Imperial Parliament. They are not changes which have been made by the efforts or exertions of the people of Ireland themselves. They are changes which have been imposed by the superior and overwhelming authority of the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It may have been, and I believe it was, substantially just that those changes should be made in the interests of the great majority of the people of Ireland; but, at the same time, it is not less just that the minority which has been deprived by our action, and not by the action of the people of Ireland, of almost all the rights and privileges and power which they possessed at the time of the Union, should not be handed over without due and adequate protection at the hands of that power by whose influence those vast 1251 and far-reaching changes have been effected, and by whose influence the whole balance of the political situation in Ireland has been changed since the time of the Union. Sir, I cannot believe that the people of England will consent to that minority being handed over without due and adequate protection—without greater, more effectual, and more adequate protection—than is afforded by the provisions of this Bill. My right hon. Friend referred last night to Grattan. I believe if Grattan could have been present at the introduction of this Bill there is probably not a word he ever uttered in opposition to the Union that he would desire to recall. I think it is probable that he would have I found in almost everything which has taken place since the Union the fulfilment of all his anticipations. I am sure that all his anticipations would have been more than fulfilled if he could have been present at the introduction of this Bill. The state of things which will be created in Ireland will not be the restoration of the state of things for which Grattan contended; and I believe that if he could be present among us to-day he would be the first to lift up his voice against that which, while nominally a restoration to Ireland of her Parliament, is, in effect and in reality, the creation of a state of things as opposed to that which Grattan desired to bring about as it is possible to conceive. Now, Sir, my right hon. Friend, having resolved to make some concession to the demands of the Irish Parliament, as expressed by their Representatives, had no lack of choice between plans and policies which he might adopt. It was open to him to adopt a plan in the direction of what has, up to now, been generally understood as the extension of local government in Ireland. It was open to him to adopt something in the nature of the plan which has been referred to to-night by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) as a plan of National Councils. I have never concealed my own opinion that the extension to Ireland of any considerable changes in what we understand as local self-government may be fraught with considerable difficulty, and may add considerably to the difficulties of Ireland. But, at the same time, I admit that if these Kingdoms are to be 1252 made a United Kingdom, the people of this country will never tolerate any marked or real inequality between the institutions of the Three Kingdoms, and that they will demand that perhaps not identical, but practical, equality of institutions shall be conceded to Ireland. I do not desire to express any opinion, or to attempt to limit what may be the ultimate result of a reform of our system of local self-government in any of the Three Kingdoms. It is quite possible, when the task is taken in hand, that it may be found that the desire which is felt by the people of the Three Kingdoms and the necessities of the case are not limited merely to the creation of County Boards or Municipal Councils, but that some larger provincial, perhaps even national, organization and co-ordination of Local Authorities may be required in England, Scotland, Ireland, and in Wales. When that time comes, let Ireland share in whatever is granted to England, Scotland, or to Wales; but when it comes it will be, in my opinion, the outgrowth of institutions which have not yet been created. The superstructure will be raised on foundations which have not yet been laid; and it would be, in my opinion, unwise and impolitic in reference to either England or to any of the Three Kingdoms to attempt to begin at the top instead of allowing the natural result of a growth of reform in local government which the Three Kingdoms equally desire, and which is naturally developed. But, Sir, I conceive that in the progress of the examination which my right hon. Friend has undertaken he has discovered that the demand which the Irish people make is not a demand for the reform or the extension of local self-government—as that term is here understood—at all. What that demand really is, is a demand for practical separation from this country, for natural independence, for the power to make their own laws and to shape their own institutions, without any reference whatever to the opinion that may be held here in respect to the wisdom, the justice, the equity of those laws, or to the fitness or the wisdom of those institutions. That is practically the demand which my right hon. Friend has undertaken to satisfy, and not the demand for what is called local self-government. And here, again, my right hon. Friend has had no want of models or examples. He has had be- 1253 fore him the example of Sweden and Norway, which has already been referred to. He has had the example of Austro-Hungary, where a dual system prevails; he has had the Federal example of the United States of America and of the Swiss Confederation; and also he has had before him the example of another form of self-government as presented in the constitution of our own great self-governing Colonies. It was open to my right hon. Friend to consider whether he should select any of these, or combine any of them; and this is practically what my right hon. Friend has done. But, before it is possible to consider whether any Constitution applicable to the circumstances of Great Britain and Ireland can be framed on the example of any of these models, it is necessary to inquire a little whether there is any similarity between the case of Great Britain and Ireland and their case. There exists in the case of Great Britain and Ireland no such equality of power as exists in the case of Austro-Hungary, which makes an evenly-balanced dual Constitution not only a possibility, but even a necessity. There exist no conditions similar to those which exist among the Federal States of America. They are animated by as intense a pride in their national existence as in their State independence. They are so numerous that the exorcise of the Federal authority, the pressure of the Federal authority, the coercion, if necessary, of the Federal authority, is not felt by any of those States to be the action one State upon another; but it is the collective authority of all. When a question has arisen in which this was not the case—when, as on the question of Slavery, there has arisen between the United States of America anything like an evenly-balanced contention, then even the wise provisions of the United States Constitution itself have broken down, have provided no legal or Constitutional means of settlement, but have compelled a resort to the arbitrament of civil war. Sir, there is no similarity, I say, then, between the case of Great Britain and Ireland and that of the Federal authority in respect to any State of the American Union. There is no such authority which can be brought to bear in Ireland of a Federal character which will not be felt to be the coercion of a less powerful State by a more powerful neighbour, 1254 or which will have anything of the nature of a collective authority. Again, Sir, the United States have not in their Constitution anything which resembles the Sovereign authority exercised by the Imperial Legislature; neither is there in the Executive Government nor in the Congress, nor does there reside in any individual State, anything approaching to or resembling that power. The power of the States is equally balanced, and is held under the control of a Supreme Court of Law, which all the powers of the State willingly, and with the consent of all the inhabitants of the State, acknowledge to have every paramount authority. Well, it is impossible that we can establish anything resembling that in the remotest degree without a reconstruction of the whole Constitution; and no one thinks it possible for a moment for us to undertake that. Well, then, is there any greater similarity between the present case and the case of any of our self-governing Colonies? My right hon. Friend referred yesterday to the case of these Colonies. He attached great importance to the 60 miles of sea which divide Great Britain from Ireland. He did not refer to the 3,000 miles which separate England from her nearest self-governing Colony, or the still greater number of thousands of miles which separate her from the most distant of those Colonies. The distance which separates our Colonies from us makes any analogy which may be drawn between their case and that of Ireland utterly fallacious. Beyond this, it is perfectly well known that the connection which exists between our self-governing Colonies and the United Kingdom is purely a voluntary connection. We have granted to these Colonies practical independence. If they are willing still to be bound to, and to form part of, the British Empire; if they are willing to have their foreign policy regulated by the Imperial Government; if they are willing to submit to the nominal superiority of British law and British authority over their internal affairs, it is by virtue of a voluntary compact by which they accept our direction of their foreign relations that they gain the Imperial protection of our Fleets and Armies. But everyone knows that the real interference or authority exercised by the Imperial Government in the domestic 1255 affairs of the Colonies is practically nothing. It is true that there is a veto which is sometimes exercised; it is true that there does reside in the Imperial Parliament a power of making laws if she chooses which will be nominally valid in the Colonies; but it is equally well known that no Government would ever dream of enforcing their power of a veto, or of making a law which would bind one of these self-governing Colonies in opposition to anything like a strong opinion expressed against it in that Colony. We know, also, that if any one of those Colonies were to express a strong, a real, and a determined desire to separate itself from the nominal connection which now binds it to this country, there is no Parliament, there is no statesman, who would attempt at this time of day to prevent that consummation by force. I say that, under these circumstances, there is no similarity between the case of our Colonies and that of Ireland. When my right hon. Friend spoke of the maintenance of the unity of the Empire as that which is the first duty of every Representative of the people to maintain, it must have been some other unity than that of which we speak when we speak of maintaining the unity with the Colonies. My right hon. Friend would never dream of saying that it was the first duty of every Representative of the people to maintain under all or any circumstances the unity of this country with Canada or with the Colony of Victoria; and, therefore, it must be considered, when he himself agreed that we cannot permit absolute separation between England and Ireland, that he must have had some other unity in his mind than the unity which binds these Colonial Dependencies to this country, and which it is our first duty to maintain. I have endeavoured very imperfectly to refer to the proposals of the Government. I am not going into any details of these proposals tonight. I am not going even to ask for any detailed explanation with regard to them; but, full and lucid as was the statement of my right hon. Friend, I think there are still some points on which further information should be given before the conclusion of this debate, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) is going to follow me, I ask him to give some information as to 1256 a point which was omitted by my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend said nothing about the retention of any power of veto residing either in the Imperial Government or the Imperial Parliament.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I am coming to that. My right hon. Friend did use one sentence in which he stated that all the Prerogatives of the Crown would be maintained, and it is possible that in that sentence he meant to convey that the power of veto would be retained. But what the House would like to know is whether it is the power of veto which has fallen into disuse by the Crown over the Acts of the Imperial Parliament, or whether it is proposed to maintain, or rather to create—for it would practically be created—a power of veto over the Acts of the domestic Legislature of Ireland, which shall resemble that practical veto which is occasionally, though rarely, exercised by the Imperial Government in relation to the affairs of the self-governing Colonies, considering how far the scheme is framed upon the model of our Colonial institutions, considering also what my right hon. Friend has said—that what he regards as the fundamental principle of the Union is still to be maintained—namely, the full sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament—I cannot but believe that it is intended that some power of veto similar to that which exists in the case of the Colonies should be retained by the Imperial Government. That is a point which has not, I think, been referred to by my right hon. Friend. One other question I should like to ask on a totally different branch of the subject. My right hon. Friend did not fully explain a very important point connected with the Royal Irish Constabulary. The Royal Irish Constabulary are to be retained, I understand, on their present footing, subject to the same authority for a period of two years. But how is it supposed that that authority is to be exercised. The Irish Constabulary is now——
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am anxious that what I did say as to the Irish Constabulary should be correctly understood. Perhaps it is not very easy to understand, and my meaning was not correctly apprehended by my noble 1257 Friend. What I intended to convey particularly and absolutely, in the first instance, was that as to all the present members of the force the present conditions of service and the present authority would be unconditionally maintained. I then referred to the question of two years as a matter for subsequent consideration.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I do not quite understand what is to become of the Royal Irish Constabulary during the period of their existence. They are now under the control of the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary—the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary being Ministers who are responsible to the Imperial Parliament. Are they in future to be under the direct command of the Viceroy, who is to become, as I understand, a sort of irresponsible official, or under the command of whatever Irish official may take the place now occupied by my right hon. Friend? Until these points are cleared up, it seems to me absolutely impossible for the House to understand what is really to be the future position of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Further, I would like to know what is the meaning of the limit of "two years." At the expiration of the two years what is going to happen? Are they to remain in any other capacity or to be dissolved, or is it to depend on the Irish Government or the Imperial Parliament to dissolve them? I have said that I do not want to go into any details in this matter; but there is, I admit, one consideration which is not one of detail which seems to be to be absolutely fatal to the existence of this Legislature. If this is a plan which is good for Ireland, I conceive that it ought to be good and must be good for England, Scotland, and Wales. If Scotland or Wales demand that this plan should be extended to them, I do not see how that demand can possibly be refused. Supposing they make the demand, what would be the resulting state of things? We should have in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales domestic Legislatures, having full control over their own affairs. So far, very well. We should have in England a domestic Legislature also, with full control over English affairs; but we should, in addition to this, find this House, from which every Irish, Scotch, and Welsh Member was excluded, 1258 having full control, not only over the domestic legislation of England, but over the Imperial legislation of the whole of the Empire. All the foreign policy of this Empire, all the Colonial policy, all the Indian policy of this Empire would in future be controlled by Representatives of English constituencies alone. I should like to ask—I know what the answer would be—but I should like to ask what would the Scotch Members say to such a scheme? Would Scotchmen like to be excluded from all control over foreign and Colonial affairs whatever? Why, Sir, they would repudiate it. While it would be degrading to them, it would be unfair, financially, to the Irish, Scotch, and Welsh people that they should contribute to the expense of an Imperial policy—in the case of Ireland it would be a fixed contribution—when they would have no voice whatever in controling it. It would be as unfair to ask Scotland and Wales to pay contributions under these circumstances towards a war with which they had nothing to do, as it would be now to ask that the expense of any warlike enterprize this country may be called upon to engage in for the defence of Imperial interests should henceforth become a charge upon the taxpayers of England alone. Of course, I shall be told that Scotland is not likely to ask this, and that it is not necessary, therefore, to contemplate so absurd a result. But then the question arises, if such a result is, on the face of it, absolutely absurd in the case of Scotland or of Wales, is there not a strong probability that in the eyes of the people of Ireland, at no distant time, it will appear equally absurd? Reference has been made tonight to a speech made on this subject by the Predecessor of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell)—Mr. Butt—in which he also endeavoured to repudiate on the part of the people of Ireland any desire to be dissociated from the control of the Imperial affairs of the British Empire. Perhaps the House will allow me to quote a few words from one of the most eloquent speeches I ever heard within the walls of this House, a speech which was made by the late Mr. P. J. Smyth, who was, I think, the Member for Westmeath. I know that Mr. Smyth was not in agreement with hon. Gentlemen who now represent Irish constituencies, and I am not going to quote his 1259 opinion as words of authority now. I will only quote them as language which may be used in Ireland at no distant time. Mr. Smyth, in the course of that speech—I think it was delivered in 1876—and the whole of it is of the highest eloquence, and well deserving perusal by any Member of this House. Mr. Smyth used these words—Were Ireland a discovery of the 19th century, like one of those coral isles—'That, like to rich and various gems inlayThe unadorned bosom of the deep,'she might commission a Representative to ask this honourable House to make a Constitution for her. But Ireland is an ancient Kingdom, with a far-reaching past and a not inglorious history. Her people represent an ancient and a famous race, with a past and a history, with feelings, traditions, and instincts all their own; and it is futile to suppose for a moment that such a country and such a people will accept a place in the Imperial system lower than that of the smallest Colony born of yesterday, and indebted to fortuitous circumstances for a fluctuating and heterogeneous population."—(3 Hansard,  756.)Is it not likely that at not some very distant day these may be the sentiments of a large portion of the Irish people, and that new grievances may arise if it is discovered by the people of Ireland to what an inferior position in the Imperial system the scheme before the House is likely to reduce them? Well, Sir, what will remain of the unity of the Empire when this Bill shall have passed? We shall be under one Sovereign; but the question is, shall we be under one Sovereign power? The Sovereign power, as I have already ventured to remind the House, is the power of the Imperial Parliament. Will the power of the Imperial Parliament remain Sovereign in Ireland? I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will explain that by the power of the veto the reserved power and the validity of Imperial laws in Ireland, the Sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament will be nominally maintained.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)
I rise to Order. I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is in Order, in derogation of Her Majesty, to speak as the noble Marquess is speaking of the Sovereignty of Parliament; and I would remind you, Sir, of the ruling of your Predecessor, Mr. Brand, in that Chair upon the same subject.
§ MR. SPEAKER
There has been nothing in the words of the noble Lord 1260 to call for any intervention from the Chair.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I conceive that the Constitutional Sovereignty of the Queen is a portion of the Imperial Legislature, and the definition which I have given of the Sovereign power in this country is one derived from a work which was referred to yesterday by my right hon. Friend—that of Professor Dicey on the Constitution—and to that book I will refer the hon. Member if he thinks there is anything disloyal in the language I have just used. What I want to know is, whether the Sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament in Ireland will henceforth be a real or merely a nominal Sovereignty? Nominally, I admit, it will remain. Will it be real? If this measure is passed, what will be the power by which the Sovereign Parliament will be able to enforce its will if it should in any respect differ from the decisions of the Legislature in Ireland? The Imperial Parliament and the Imperial Government will have nothing to do with the appointment of the Judges of the Courts of Law, who will be absolutely severed from the Imperial control. It will have nothing to do with the administrative and executive Departments of the country, and it will have no means whatever to enforce any decrees which may be passed by the Courts of Law in Ireland. [Mr. GLADSTONE made a remark which was inaudible.] Well, Sir, I shall be happy then to know what is the exact executive machinery by which my right hon. Friend thinks that the will of the Sovereign Imperial Parliament would be enforced in Ireland, if this law passes, in the case of any conflict of opinion with the domestic Legislature? It may be said that the Military Forces of the Crown will remain under the entire control of the Imperial Government and the Imperial Parliament. But if that is all we are to rely upon, it appears to me to be nothing less than to call in civil war as the sanction—the ordinary sanction—of the proceedings of the Government. It is impossible to administer the affairs of the country by means of an Army. You may declare a state of rebellion; you may dispossess the Government which you have created; you may declare a state of martial law; you may govern the country by martial law; but that is a resort to which, I suppose, hon. Mem- 1261 bers do not look forward with hope or satisfaction. It is a course to which we can have resort only in the last extremity, and in all the ordinary cases of difference it is not too despondent to anticipate what will occur. I maintain that, as far as I can understand, there is no legal or Constitutional means by which the Imperial Parliament will be able henceforth to exert authority in Ireland contrary to the will of the Irish Parliament. Well, it may be said that it is to be hoped occasions of difference may not arise. I do not cherish this hope. We have had the experience of the last few years. The ideas of the leaders of the Irish people upon a great many important subjects in connection with the administration of the law are diametrically opposed to the ideas and opinions of the vast majority of the people of Great Britain. The people of Great Britain—England and Scotland—have relatives, and connections, and friends in Ireland, and great interests in Ireland, and the people of Great Britain will not be indifferent to what passes in Ireland; and if—I will not say injustice or oppression occur—but if they think that oppression or injustice is taking place, the minority in Ireland will appeal to the people of England and Scotland, and will not appeal in vain. The occasions of collision will be too likely, in fact will be certain, to occur; and I firmly believe that this measure, which is brought forward by my right hon. Friend in the interests of peace, will be of all measures the measure which is most likely to furnish occasions of even more serious differences than have over arisen in Ireland in the past. Now, Sir, I must apologize most deeply to the House for taking up so much of its time. There is much which I would say if I did not feel that I have already trespassed far too long. I know the main argument which has been presented by my right hon. Friend in support of this Bill is that it is an alternative to the system of coercion. My right hon. Friend has expressed a strong opinion that what he calls the worn-out and inefficient coercion of the past is useless even as a means of preserving order in Ireland at all; and if coercion is to be resorted to at all, and if coercion is to be resorted to in the future, it must be coercion of a real and far more stern and severe character. I cannot 1262 help thinking that my right hon. Friend, for the purpose of his argument, has somewhat overstated the difficulties and the inefficiency and the impossibility of continuing to govern Ireland by the mingled system of remedial and repressive legislation. I do not admit that history, and especially recent history, supports this argument of my right hon. Friend. I appeal to the experience of his own Government; and I maintain that Lord Spencer, by his administration, by the firm exercise of the powers conferred upon him by the Crimes Act, did, to a great extent, restore the operation of the law, and the confidence in that operation of the law. I believe that if that law, instead of terminating as it did at the close of last Session, had been a permanent Act, to be maintained as long as the necessity continued, and if, at the same time, the change of Government last year had not occurred, I do not think we should have heard my right hon. Friend yesterday declaring that the future government of Ireland on the same lines as in the past was impossible. Sir, I think it is necessary that we should clear our ideas a little on this subject of coercion. We have accepted far too readily the term "coercion" which has been applied to it by its opponents, and which has been generally interpreted as a sort of synonym for tyranny. What, Sir, is the reason? Why is it that powers in excess of those of the ordinary law have had very generally to be conferred upon the Executive Government in Ireland? It is because the ordinary law has not received that ready and willing assent from the people of Ireland that it receives in the remaining parts of the Kingdom. But the law in support of which these extraordinary powers have been evoked is the same law, the same system of law, administered on the same principle which prevails over the whole of the United Kingdom. If that law is an unjust law, it is in our power, without the creation of a domestic Legislature in Ireland, to alter it. If it is a just law it is our duty to maintain it; and, Sir, it is altogether a mistake to suppose that we can escape from our responsibility for converting a just into an unjust law, by devolving our legislative responsibility upon any Body whatever which to our knowledge would use it in a manner different from that in which we should use it ourselves. If the 1263 law is a just law, I say it ought not only to be maintained, but it ought also to be executed; and we cannot escape from our responsibility by devolving on any other Executive authority power which we know will be used, and which is intended to be used, in a manner which we ourselves condemn. I admit that there has been great difficulty—and perhaps there has been failure—in the government of Ireland; but, Sir, I think that is not altogether due to the causes alleged by my right hon. Friend, and the doctrine that the Irish people do not understand law which comes to them in a foreign garb may not, perhaps, on examination be found to hold water. There are other causes to be found for the failure of our system of government in Ireland, and among them has been the fact that Irish questions and the government of Ireland have too long and too habitually been made the battle-ground of political Parties. Questions of Irish order have been too often subordinated to what, I have no doubt, has been honestly thought at the time to be the interests of a superior or more pressing character. But, Sir, I do not admit that because this has been so it need always be so. If, indeed, this be a necessity, then I am afraid no alternative lies before us, but either an alternative resort to civil war or an abandonment at once of our duties, our privileges, and our responsibilities. But, Sir, I refuse to believe it. I believe, at all events, that now, if ever—now that the people of this country have been brought face to face with the alternative of the disruption of the Empire on the one hand, or all the evils and calamities which I admit will follow on the rejection of this unfortunate scheme, I believe that now, at all events, the people of this country will require that their Representatives shall, in relation to Irish affairs, agree to sink all minor differences, and to unite as one man for the maintenance of this great Empire, to hand it down to our successors compact and complete, as we have inherited it from our forefathers, and at the same time to maintain throughout its length and breadth the undisputed supremacy of the law.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
Sir, I think I shall best begin the remarks which I have to offer to the House by answering two or three 1264 special questions which my noble Friend put to me a short time before he sat down. I must say I think it would be more convenient and satisfactory if my noble Friend would wait until he actually saw the text of the Bill, as that will inform him in a more authentic and indisputable manner than any inadequate words of mine can do, of what the precise scope of this or that provision of the Bill is. As to the point of veto there is no doubt; and I think the Prime Minister stated it clearly enough when he said that the whole of the Prerogative of the Crown would remain absolutely intact; that the veto, therefore, will remain subject to no more limitation than exists either in the case of a Colony or any other political relations. With reference to the power of Parliament, of course the power of Parliament is absolutely illimitable; and if to-morrow or on the morrow of the day that we have passed this Statute, if we do pass it—[Ironical cheers from the Opposition.]—perhaps you, the Opposition, will pass it if we do not—on the morrow of the day after this Statute, or any other for the same purpose, shall have been passed, it is perfectly within the competence of this Parliament, subject to what is well known as Parliamentary contracts—such contracts as I hope to see incorporated in the Bill—it is perfectly within the competence of Parliament to repeal the Act. A very important point was touched by my noble Friend when he asked what our relations with the Royal Irish Constabulary would be. I have only to say in answer to that that the Royal Irish Constabulary will remain in every respect and detail under the control of the Lord Lieutenant. [An hon. MEMBER: For how long?] No doubt, on all these points in a few hours, or at all events in two or three days, if the House will be good enough to give us leave to bring in the Bill, the exact words will be in the possession of hon. Members, and they will be in the best position to form a precise judgment upon the question of what the Government propose to do. The debate to-night has been, we must admit, in some respects, a painful one. It would have been to me very painful if I had thought during last autumn, when I took some modest part in the campaign which ended in the election of this Parliament, that the first time when I should have occasion to claim the in- 1265 dulgence of the House to listen to an address from me should find me vindicating my position against two of my oldest comrades in political arms. But the occasion has come. They admit, as I do, that this is a crisis, and these are issues, when private considerations must yield, and when, with whatever pain, we must each and all of us take the position which our consciences commend to us. But apart from private considerations I confess that I am affected by public considerations. If we in this Assembly were all united in a common desire and by a common, sense of public necessity, the problem of how to build up social order in Ireland is so complex and so entangled, that it would tax the highest powers of the ablest men in all quarters of the House to come near a solution of it. If you think of the economic difficulties, of the religious difficulties, of the curious perversities of the geographical mixture of religion and race in Ireland, we can easily see how terrible the task is of welding all these elements into a corporate whole and stable society. But we are not united. We confront not one or two, but three Parties; our own Party is divided and sub-divided, and the Party opposite will be very different from what it was at the end of the last Parliament, if it is not at least as much divided as we are. It is not so long ago since we heard right hon. Gentlemen, then sitting on this Bench, and who are now sitting there, denouncing reactionary Members from Ulster. Something was said last night by the eloquent Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), although, perhaps, not in a very good spirit, about raking up old quarrels. Attempts have been made to show that the language once exchanged between the occupants of this Bench and the Irish Benches below the Gangway was not all of one kind. This raking up of inconsistencies seems to me to be a very childish and a very idle pastime. There is no quarter of the House where there is not much in the past and in the near past, both in word and deed, to regret and to be ashamed of. I deprecate, Sir, this method of carrying on a great controversy, and I do not do it, if the House will permit me to say so, because I have a guilty conscience. I am pretty disinterested in the matter, and I hope the House and hon. Gentlemen opposite will 1266 not think me arrogant when I say that there is nobody in this House with less to fear from the ransacking of previous utterances about Ireland than the very humble individual who is now addressing them. I think, Sir, that for the purposes of this high Constitutional debate we should pass a great amnesty. I am not speaking in any spirit of sentimentalism, for there is nobody in the House who takes less of a rose-pink view of Irish politics than I do. I do not want you to shut your eyes to plain facts, and I do not wish that we should live in a fool's paradise about Ireland. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), speaking last night with an eloquence which to me was very pathetic and very powerful, referred to what he termed the assassination literature of America, a title which I do not at all dispute. We all know the dark and sinister and subterranean forces by which that literature is nourished. I only say, in order to illustrate my position, that I am not going to prophesy smooth things about the situation to-night, about the present or future of Ireland; but, on the other hand, I do not want to make too much of these dark, and sinister, and subterranean forces. As an Englishman, I am not afraid of them. These desperate, unknown, and cowardly devices will never, I believe, on the lips of any of us, be an argument for making concessions which we are not prepared to defend on broad grounds of policy. But I do say this—and I earnestly commend it to the attention of the House—that in resisting the establishment of a domestic Legislature for Ireland, which my right hon. Friend proposes, you are doing exactly what the desperadoes referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, armed with their dynamite and their daggers, would most desire. If you reject our proposal, and if you dismiss us from Office, you will be doing exactly what these violent extremists most ardently wish for. The right hon. Gentleman made a great point with regard to the kind of men who would be likely to be returned to a domestic Legislature such as we propose to constitute. He asked whether we would hand over the government of Ireland to a Parliament of Sheridans and Egans?
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Sheridan and Egan, and, I presume, others of the same kidney. Now, Sir, I particularly invite the attention of the House to what this really means. Such a prophecy is not an assault upon Sheridan and Egan; it is an indictment preferred against the Irish constituencies. By such language you charge the Irish constituencies with being in incurable sympathy with those whom we must, for the purposes of argument, take to be the very worst of men. But my right hon. Friend was one of the prime movers—indeed, it is one of his claims to our esteem and admiration and honour—he was one of the prime movers for the extension of the franchise which, as it now exists, is exactly what gives to these constituencies their new power. But if you think—and this is a point which I wish very much to press—if you think so ill of the people of Ireland as to believe that they are so radically depraved as to be in sympathy with murderers and conspirators, there is only one course open to you. Do not tinker and potter about granting them freely-elected Local Bodies. Have the courage of your opinions; take up a bold position—and, having the courage of your opinions, take up the only position on which your argument really rests, and say openly, what many of you think, that Ireland is not fit for self-government, and is not ripe for representative institutions. Sir, that would be a distinct policy to adopt, and it may come to that. I am not at all sure that, if you reject our proposals, it will not come to that; but I declare, Liberal as I am, Radical as I am, like my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), I would rather accept a policy of that kind, than go on upon the lines which we have been pursuing for the last 50 years. Sir, I could have wished that my two right hon. Friends would have gone a little further than they did in developing their alternative schemes. Powerful and weighty as was the speech of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington)—it is almost impertinent for me to pay him a compliment—powerful and acute as was the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, I could not help asking myself, as I listened to them, whether they understand as well as they 1268 would if they filled the Office which I now hold, what the immediate problem of the hour is—whether they understand that the problem before us—the immediate and pressing problem—is, "How you are to govern Ireland?" My noble Friend has expatiated pretty freely upon the position taken up by the Prime Minister during the Elections. All that, Sir, is old history, The noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill) will surely admit that history became old with astonishing rapidity within a week after the opening of Parliament. And that is the point which explains the question put by the noble Marquess as to why my right hon. Friend changed his policy. The answer is simple. On the first night of the Session the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) made a speech which filled me with great satisfaction, because it was to the effect that Ireland was, on the whole, in a satisfactory state—at any rate, that the figures as to crime were satisfactory, and that the Government had not made up their minds as to bringing in the exceptional legislation of which they afterwards gave us notice. It was this announcement that made a complete difference in the situation, and it was upon that announcement that my right hon. Friend took the course which the noble Marquess has criticized. The noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) must not forget that before he himself committed himself to contingent sedition in Ulster, he had advanced to contingent sedition from hypothetical coercion, and that in itself was a piece of vacillation of which I shall show the moral later on in my remarks. Why, the hypothetical coercion of the noble Lord was in the words put into the Queen's Speech, which said that if this or that happened there would be coercion. That I call hypothetical coercion. The contingent sedition was when the noble Lord went to Belfast and said that if this Parliament, of whose supremacy he professes to be the great champion, were to pass some law of which he did not approve, he should recommend the Ulster people to adopt courses which I cannot myself distinguish from courses of sedition. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) took a difference, which I confess I 1269 found it hard to justify, between the reticence which was imposed upon him in respect of my right hon. Friend's proposals for self-government in Ireland and the reticence imposed upon him in connection with the proposals which my right hon. Friend has brought before the Cabinet with respect to land purchase. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham admits that in the case of the question of self-government for Ireland it would not have been proper for him to make his explanation of the reasons why he quitted us before the scheme of self-government had been laid before the House. But the scheme of land purchase has not yet been laid before the House, and it seems to me that the same considerations which justified the exclusion of one matter from explanation for a period of a fortnight would justify the exclusion of the other matter until the measure itself is introduced.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
My right hon. Friend misunderstands the misconception which arose between myself and the Prime Minister. I do not question the right of the Prime Minister to limit and to make conditions as to the time at which an explanation by a retiring Colleague shall be given; and I should not have complained if, in answer to my inquiry, he had informed me that it was his desire that I should postpone my explanation until he should have introduced his land scheme. But what I stated as to how the misconception arose was that I had applied to him for permission to explain, after his statement upon the introduction of the Bill for local government, the reasons why I left the Cabinet, that I had, as I thought, obtained permission, and that at the last moment I found that that permission had been revoked.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Well, Sir, I am not well practised in these high matters, and it is not for me to make any further comment upon that part of my right hon. Friend's speech. There was one reference of my right hon. Friend which. I thought rather unkind. I thought it a pity that he should have made any reference to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister admits to have been a mistaken judgment upon a great historical question. If the Prime Minister did, indeed, upon a great historical occa- 1270 sion say that somebody had made the Southern States of America a nation, it was a mistake. But history will judge that mistake very leniently when the record of this century is written, and when in looking back upon Italy, upon Greece, upon Bulgaria, and now upon Ireland, posterity will know that my right hon. Friend has at least played his part in the making of nations. Sir, the detailed criticisms of my right hon. Friend upon the proposals that were laid before the House in the speech of the Prime Minister last night were worthy, as anything that comes from him must be, of very close and careful attention. But some of his remarks struck me as rather forced. When he said we were going to exclude trade and navigation from the scope of the domestic Legislature I think he laid too much stress on mere technical terms of law. We are not going to exclude bankruptcy from the scope of the domestic Legislature. My right hon. Friend, after all, went very far, as he himself admits, in the direction in which his late Colleagues have persisted. My right hon. Friend admits that his differences with us are not on these small points of trade and navigation. But though he was prepared apparently to go so far as a statutory Body with legislative powers sitting in Dublin, he could not consent to that Body having in its control directly or indirectly such matters as the appointment of Judges and control of the Customs and Excise. In the matter of the control of the Customs and Excise we have met my right hon. Friend; but as to the matter of the nomination of the Judges, that is hardly an issue so important—important as it is—as would warrant the breaking up of a Cabinet, and what looks like the pulverization of a Party. What is more, that is not an issue on which my right hon. Friend should found so grave a resolution, because the American States, to which my right hon. Friend would not object to reduce or to raise Ireland, have, of course, the power of nominating their own Judges without any reference whatever to Federal legislation.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I am very sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but I am sure he would be very sorry to misunderstand me. I did not say that I would put Ireland on a level with an American State; but I did say that in seeking the solution of this great 1271 Irish problem I would endeavour to solve it on the American lines; and I admitted that there were differences in the Constitution, and extraordinary differences in the power of the Executive, which would make modification necessary.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I am sorry if I misunderstood my right hon. Friend, but I was misled by his own statement that he would look rather in the direction of federation. I confess I do not think that when he looks in the direction of federation, and when he is anxious to work on the lines of federation, that he is taking us very far. We should like to have from his lucid, precise, and firm judgment, a more clear and intelligible statement as to how far he would go, and upon what lines he would frame his scheme. The course which my right hon. Friend suggests strikes me as the most extraordinary ever propounded by a man of his eminence and character. What is the course which my right hon. Friend insists we should pursue? We are first of all to pass an Act, which will not be passed in a hurry, to stay evictions. That Act is to remain in force for six months, and if things are not quiet at the end of six months he would have another Act—as easily passed, no doubt—for staying evictions for another period. The landlords, meantime, were to have their rents lent out of our money. That does not show that tenderness for the British taxpayer which my right hon. Friend exhibited afterwards. Then, concurrently with this process of staying evictions and quieting the landlords, a Commission is to be appointed, composed of men taken from all quarters of this House, and this is to inquire into what is best to be done. Well, Sir, if I am to judge from what happened in the case of the Devon Commission which sat in 1843, and the fruits of which were not reaped until 1871, that does not appear to me to be a very promising process. And then, at the end of all, some sort of Constitution is to be framed which would close in bringing Ireland within a federation. What the federation is we do not know, so that what it all comes to is this—that we are to wait and pay the rents of the landlords until all the Cabinet, all England, all Ireland, and all our Colonies agree to some common scheme of federation.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I did not suppose my right hon. Friend intended to exclude the Colonies; but this federation, as far as I know, exists, as yet, only in the active and energetic brain of my right hon. Friend. Well, we cannot, I think, accept that as a solution of the difficulty, which, as I say, is urgent and pressing. I think that Her Majesty's late Government were not wrong when they recognized the imminent necessity for a decided policy. I think they were absolutely wrong in the decided policy which they chose to expound. But they were right in saying that the time had come, and that the state of Ireland was such that serious and decisive steps were necessary. Ireland will not wait, the state of Ireland will not wait, till a scheme of federation is adjusted and framed. Nobody who knows anything at all of the state of Ireland at this moment, and the expectations that exist there, the organization that is at work there, can doubt that the failure of our scheme and our displacement from Office will be a signal for a state of things that will—[A laugh.] Upon my word, Sir, I do not know why hon. Gentlemen should laugh. I am not sure that they will gain by the disorder that may possibly break out. But, whether or not, they are here as British citizens, and they must feel the responsibility of taking any steps that will lead to confusion and disorder of the kind of which I speak. Now, the Government of which the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) was a Member did not play with a serious danger by schemes for little local Councils, and still less by airy fabrics of federation. They felt there was an imminent peril; but the fault one has to find is that they did not know what the suppression of the League meant; and I talk of the suppression of the League in connection with this subject because the failure of our policy will be a signal for the necessity of dealing with the League. What does dealing with the League mean? Now, the noble Lord made a very remarkable and telling speech earlier in the Session upon the Motion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Holmes). He said that his policy was short and simple, and would consist solely of the suppression of the League; and he made the very remarkable statement that the 1273 Crimes Act was utterly useless for the purpose of dealing with the National League. He said—If I were in power to-morrow with a responsible authority, and wished to restore order, I would no more think of renewing the Crimes Act for this purpose than of flying.But what would the noble Lord do, and what would hon. Gentlemen on our own side of the House who are going to reject our proposals do? You must not think that by proclaiming the National League on paper you will have done your day's work. I have been able to consult those who would have the carrying out of the policy which is commonly called a policy of coercion, and I will toll you what is the opinion of those who have the best right to judge what the suppression of the League would mean. It would mean the passing of a Coercion Act which would give the Executive authority in Ireland the power to put down meetings, the power to suppress and exclude newspapers. ["Oh!" and cheers.] There is an hon. Member opposite who appears to like that. You must give them power to arrest on suspicion, power to enter houses wherever the police thought necessary on the chance of there being illegal meetings held in them. And I will tell you one more thing you would have to do. If you take violent measures against the League, you would have to lock up a good many priests, and, perhaps, a Bishop or two. [A laugh.] Well, Sir, hon. Gentlemen opposite are delighted at the prospect of locking up a great many priests and a Bishop or two. I have read of a good many battles between ecclesiastics and the secular power; but I am bound to say I should be sorry to have to be Chief Secretary and to lock up priests and Bishops. But the suppression of the League means that you must be prepared to face that, and nothing short of that. These remarks are germane to this debate, because this is the alternative, and you must face it. There is one other tremendous danger that may happen, and that will interest hon. Gentlemen opposite, perhaps, more than anybody else. You are very likely to have a lawless cessation of the payment of rent. Members in every quarter of the House should face what the alternative to our proposal is at this moment. Those who do feel it, every honest and impartial Member, must feel that in the 1274 votes they will give upon these proposals a most tremendous responsibility rests upon them. Perhaps we shall later on hear something from my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen). We shall expect to hear something from him. He, like myself, I think, values nothing so much for our Empire as the building up within it of strong and firm, and, if necessary, stern Government. But I wonder how he will reconcile his hopes of a strong and a firm Government with the picture our policy in Ireland during the last eight years, not to speak of the last 80 years, has presented—how we have gone from vacillation to vacillation—how we have—[Opposition cheers]—yes; but the vacillation has not all been on this side. How has the House of Commons acted? In a chaos of alternate hesitancies and precipitancies, of desperate expedients and dilapidated prophecies. Well, Sir, we shall expect from my right hon. Friend what we have not got from either of the two right hon. Gentlemen who have left the Government or from the noble Marquess—wo shall expect from him a firm policy which shall be a guide to us on the very critical occasion in which we find ourselves. I call upon him, as he is the only one left—I venture respectfully to call upon him, when the time comes, for a statement of how he would propose to rescue us from this policy of vacillation and alternating hesitancy and precipitancy. I have said that the issue is serious. I am afraid I cannot expect my right hon. Friend to support very zealously, at any rate, the proposals of the Government, because, as my right thon. Friend was the most prominent of those who opposed the extension of the franchise—that is to say, resisted the rights of the people of England and Scotland to govern themselves—he is not likely to wish the people of Ireland to govern themselves. But, with his keen intelligence, I hope he will tell us how we are to get out of the miserable chaos in which you are constantly finding yourselves. I am speaking of the chaos of policies on both sides of this House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may remember that when the late Government was formed Lord Carnarvon, who was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, made a very admirable and eloquent speech, in which he said he hoped the time had 1275 come when we were to get rid of the old miserable expedient of coercion, and when we were to frame a new policy of conciliation. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) says "Hear, hear!" and I should have cheered it if I had heard it; but how long did it last? It lasted till after the Elections, I admit. I will point out a case of inconsistency, showing how little seriously this House is apt to take Irish politics, and how much justification there is for the remark of the noble Lord that we make Ireland the battle-ground of English Parties, and that it is the root of all the mischief in our relations with that country. There was the question of extending the franchise in Ireland; but the Party opposite were no more united on that question than they were united on the question of renewing the Crimes Act. The noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill), who is the exponent of certain democratic principles which he occasionally professes always set a very high value on the legitimate expression of the legitimate wishes of the majority of the people of Ireland, bitterly reproached the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Brodrick) for wishing to exclude Ireland from the operation of the Franchise Act. That is another illustration of incoherency in policy which affects one side as much as the other, and which at present affects this no more the other side. I go back to this point—that the question to which hon. Members have to address their minds in deciding how they will vote is the question of how you will carry on the Government of Ireland; and our proposals are what, in our judgment, are the only proposals and framed on the only lines that make it possible that the Government of Ireland, under a free and representative system, can be carried on. Many predictions have been indulged in in this debate as to the disasters that would come upon Ireland from the establishment of a domestic Legislature in that country. Well, if we are to have a policy of conciliation it is rather a mistake, I think, to begin with a profound disbelief in it. If we are to enter on a path of peace, let us try and take the most hopeful view of peace. I do not myself believe, for a moment, that if a domestic Legislature were established in Ireland it would be that welter of religious and 1276 sectarian animosity that some hon. Members appear to imagine. I believe that Catholics and Protestants, when they found that they had to sit down together, would pretty soon find mutual respect for each other. I believe that Irish human nature is no worse, if it is no better, than other human nature, and that in such an Assembly there would grow up spontaneously instincts of Conservatism, and that some of those Gentlemen whom we are accustomed here to consider not exactly as the partizans of Conservatism might, perhaps, find themselves the heads of a truly Conservative Party. As to the danger of repudiation, of course that would exist. There is a danger of repudiation now. There is just as much danger of the repudiation of rent now, as there would be the danger then of the repudiation of what some hon. Gentlemen call a tribute as it is. I think there is no reason to suppose that Irishmen are less honest, or a less responsible people than any other that you are connected with. As the hon. Member for South Derry (Mr. T. M. Healy) has shown, it ought not to be forgotten that the repayment of loans by the humbler classes in Ireland has been most creditable. The payment of rent in Ireland, under the circumstances in which it has to be made, is a thing of which Irishmen have no reason to be ashamed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) spoke of one section of the population of Ireland as if it were different from the rest of Irishmen in being very industrious. Now, I would not say a word against the industry and skill of the North-East corner of Ireland; on the contrary, I think they deserve all our admiration and recognition. But the industry of the peasantry of Ireland, for all the hundreds of years they have been getting so little benefit from the land they till, has been as admirable a quality, and as persistent as that of Ulster or any other portion of the Kingdom. Therefore, I am not, Sir, going to admit that in constituting an Irish legislature you are going to have a collection of worthless "ne'er-do-wells." It may be that the Irish Assembly may not have the superfine manners which distinguish this Assembly, and that it may be a little ruder in its ways. I believe that it will be as capable 1277 of performing the duties of a Legislature with a spirit of justice and of competency for its purposes as any body of men that can be found, may be asked why, if that is my opinion of Members from Ireland, I have always thought it a cardinal point of policy since this movement began that Irish Members should cease to sit in this Parliament. Well, Sir, the exasperation that has been produced by the unfortunate historical relations between Great Britain and Ireland has brought about a state of feeling which has alienated the sympathies of the Irish, and diverted their interests from the topics that interest us. They do not look at Imperial topics and interests from the same point of view as we do; they do not assist us in the manner in which it is essential that counsellors in this Parliament should at least endeavour to do. If our adjustment is successful, if, after some years of experiment, the result is what we desire and expect, it may then be possible enough that our Successors may invite Irish Representatives back again. But what I wish to insist on now is that those who have spoken to-night, and who spoke last night, who make a great point of having Irish Representatives in this Assembly are those who would refuse to Ireland a domestic Legislature. But what would the effect of that be? The effect of that would be, that you would have here a body of men who came in a spirit of irritation and resentment because a domestic Legislature had not been granted to them, and they would not easily forgive those who had baulked them. They would, therefore, come in a spirit of irritation and resentment deepened and heightened by what has happened now. If I were about to refuse a domestic Legislature to Ireland, I should be the more anxious to keep Irish Gentlemen away from this Assembly than I am as it is, because to insist upon keeping Irish Members here is to give to those whom you have irritated the best opportunity they could have, and the strongest position, for dealing the deadliest blow at Imperial policy, at the legislative business of this Island, and the authority and efficiency of this Parliament. Therefore, I am unable to understand the arguments of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and of the right 1278 hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who make it such a point in their policy that those whom they wish to refuse in their demands should remain here to be a source of mischief and dissension and inefficiency in our Parliament. I am not going to deal further with the question at this hour. I can only hope that what I have said may induce hon. Members on our own side and hon. Gentlemen opposite to recognize the responsibility of the judgment which they are about to pronounce. There can be no heavier responsibility. I am perfectly persuaded, and I believe that right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the opposite Bench do not differ from me, that there has never been a time when it was more urgently important that, if possible, a pacific settlement of the Irish problem should be arrived at. They may not wish to go along the same road. Some of them clearly do not; but if they recognize the force and the extent of the dangers that surround us, they will, at any rate, feel that the Motion of my right hon. Friend, if not supported, requires that an alternative policy should be put forward. They will be wise in their own interests if, even in anticipation of their own return to power, they shape that policy, not on the lines of repression, but of pacification and conciliation.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Lord Randolph Churchill.)
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
Before that Motion is put, I beg to enter my protest against the hints and suggestions to assassination which the right hon. Gentleman—[Cheers, and cries of "Order, order!" from the Irish Members.] These hints and suggestions to the assassins of America——
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
Well, this may be taken as my speech. ["Order!"] I say, Mr. Speaker, the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman will be interpreted—["Order, order!"]
§ MR. PARNELL
Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. I wish to submit to you whether the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Glasgow is entitled to address the House, on a Motion for the adjournment of the debate, on the merits of the Main Question?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have already informed the hon. Gentleman that it is the Motion for the adjournment. The hon. Member is not in Order.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
On that Motion, Sir—[Cries of "Name, name!"] I ask the indulgence of the House to permit me to make one observation. ["Name!"] I believe, Mr. Speaker, that I am entitled—[Loud cries of "Name!" from the Irish Members.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not in Order. He will have an opportunity in the course of the debate of making any observations that he may please. The Question is that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Monday next.