§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [10th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
Sir, I am sure an Irish Member has no great need to appeal to the indulgence of the House when he rises to speak on the Bill now under discussion. It is a measure which most deeply concerns the future of his country, and is the embodiment of his hopes and opinions during many years of severe struggle; and on its acceptance or rejection depends issues for his country of momentous and solemn importance. I have further, Sir, to ask for indulgence because this Bill appeals to the deepest and strongest political convictions and passions of an Irishman; and while frankly I desire to put some restraint on myself lest I should be betrayed into any expression which might wound the just susceptibilities of even the opponents of this measure, I desire to criticize freely the attacks on the Bill, but, at the same time, to criticize them in a courteous spirit. Now, Sir, I may be allowed to reiterate the surprise of many others at the forms which the criticism of this measure has taken. It is the first time in my experience that a Bill has been objected to on the second reading stage, not so much because of its central principle, as because of its details. I listened with the attention it deserved the other night to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan); and it is not an unfair description of his speech to 848 say that the greater part of it was taken up with a denunciation of the largeness of the tribute, which, under this Bill, Ireland is expected to pay to England. Well, Sir, we on these Benches gave to that part of his speech an attentive and a sympathetic hearing. Does he suppose that we, in voting for the second reading of this Bill, preclude ourselves from making the most earnest struggle for a reduction of the tribute? My hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) is in no way more distinguished from other politicians than in his resolve and his power to drive for his own people and his own side the hardest bargain it is in human power to drive. No Irish farmer, Connaught farmer, at a County Mayo fair, drives a harder bargain for his cow than does my hon. Friend for the rights of his country; and when we come to deal with the question of tribute, my hon. Friend will be true to his invariable traditions, and fight for a reduction with a tenacity of which in his Parliamentary career he has given the House such abundant examples. I trust that when we reach that stage of the Bill we may have the able assistance of the right hon. Gentleman. Then some Members, Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis, object to the constitution of the proposed Legislative Assembly. Sir, I would think that in logic, as well in Parliamentary Order, it would be right that we should first decide whether we are are to have a Legislature at all before we discuss what that Legislature is to be like. We, on these Benches, do not profess to regard the constitution of the new Irish Legislature as a foregone conclusion when we vote for the second reading of this measure. We shall subject the details of the scheme to searching criticism, and we shall welcome, as the Prime Minister doubtless will welcome, any light that the keen intelligence of the right hon. Gentleman or any Member of the House can throw upon it. But this much I must say upon the constitution of the new Legislature. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) has denounced that Legislature as a thing that the sturdy Liberalism of Birmingham would not pick out of the gutter, and that because of the restrictions it places upon the rights of the democracy. We do not take this view. We are ready to accept any restrictions 849 on the rights of democracy at the start of this grave enterprize; our first work is to weld the different classes of our people into a perfectly harmonious whole, to undo the evil work of centuries of a policy, the fundamental principle of which was to divide and to conquer, above all to soften and finally to extirpate that estrangement of different creeds which has been not the natural growth of kindly Irish hearts of all creeds, but of such appeals to religious rancour by foreign and unscrupulous tongues as we have heard within the last few months. To foster this idea of common nationhood above our strong Party differences, our class hatreds, and our distinctions of creeds will be the first work of Irish statesmanship; and by way of starting that work favourably and accelerating its progress, we are quite willing not merely to submit to, but even to welcome, restraints on the rights of majorities, which in ordinary circumstances we would reject. We might as "a down-trodden majority" appeal for sympathy to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham; and for a while, perhaps, we might obtain it by references to his speech at Bristol already quoted, and his recent speech to the Birmingham Two Thousand; but we could not count upon that sympathy for long, as the right hon. Gentleman is liable to remember that in some of the epistolary gems with which he has so abundantly favoured the public, he has condemned the Bill for its treatment of the minority; so that this measure contains not merely in this but in many other respects, of which more by-and-bye, faults of an entirely contradictory character. It is a creature of such awful mien and such abnormal and unusual atrocity that it oppresses a down-trodden majority and enslaves a crushed minority. But, Sir, on this question of the Orders, the proper property qualification, and the other details of the proposed Irish Legislature, I have a right to bar all criticism at this stage. It appears to me the demand of logic and of reason, no less than of Parliamentary procedure, that we should first decide whether we are to have an Irish Legislature at all before we go on to discuss what kind of Legislature it should be. Let us catch our legislative hare before we worry our heads over the form in which it shall be cooked. Nor, 850 Sir, do I think that we need waste much time over the legal and Constitutional arguments of which we have had so much during these debates from the Gentlemen of the Long Robe. In spite of all the subtleties to which we have listened, all the debate on this point seems to me to be very simple, and that it can be put into a nutshell. The supremacy of Parliament is said to be destroyed, but a power is not destroyed which is suspended; a power does not cease to exist because it is not exercised. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) says that he cannot recognize any distinction between a right and an abstract right, or as I would put it, between a power in reserve and a power in use. This may be good law, but it appears to me to be uncommonly bad sense. Surely the entire working of our Constitution depends on the difference between power in reserve and power in exercise. I believe there are lawyers still who would claim that the Sovereign had a right to veto any legislation, though passed by both Houses of Parliament, to which she objected; the veto of the Crown certainly is not yet an exploded superstition, but the veto is not exercised. Several times during the agitation on the Irish Church Her Majesty was appealed to from the same quarters as are now threatening her with treason, to refuse her assent to an Act of the Legislature which violated her Coronation Oath, trampled on the Christianity of the country, and was even a revolt against Divine Providence. But everybody knows that if the Queen had exercised her veto on that occasion in the direction suggested by her so-called friends, the result would have been very serious. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury may not know the difference between a power in reserve and a power in exercise; but Her Majesty, who is not a man of law, but a woman of good sense, does, and, accordingly, though she had the power of veto, she left that power in reserve, and did not exercise it. Take another and even more pertinent example. I know nothing in the Constitution which prevents the House of Lords from refusing to pass a Bill passed by this House, although this House had passed it a hundred times in succession. When the Franchise Bill was passed in 1884 the 851 House of Lords met it by an Amendment very like rejection, and it seemed as if the Marquess of Salisbury intended to repeat the operation in the succeeding year; but his Lordship and the other Members of that august Assembly are men with brains and skins, and know that even the most august skins are sometimes in danger when a privileged minority sets itself against the power and the rights of the people. They may not all have the same keenness of intellect as the right hon. and learned Member for Bury, but they have keenness of sensations and fears, and they could very clearly explain to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the difference between a power in reserve and a power in exercise. I may dismiss all this part of the case in a very few words. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said there were several cases in which the Imperial Parliament had exercised its reserved right to interfere with the legislation of the Colonies. So there are, but these cases are after all rare in comparison with the amount of legislation accomplished by the Colonial Legislatures; and the tendency is to make them every day rarer, until probably, before long, they will cease to be called for at all in face of the better understanding and the more cordial friendship of the Colonies and the Mother Country. Surely the lowliest layman can penetrate through the self-created difficulties of lawyers upon this point. Ireland gets her Legislature on certain specific conditions and limitations. These limitations are necessary to maintain the unity of the Empire, and the safety and dignity of the Empire, and the supremacy of Parliament. But, on the one hand, they do not destroy the supremacy of Parliament—Parliament is, and remains, omnipotent—on the other, the omnipotence of Parliament will not be exercised wantonly. To put it shortly, Ireland obtains respite from the interference of the Imperial Parliament on pretty much the same terms as Judges have a respite from the Parliament. Parliament has a perfect right to depose Judges, but they hold their seats during good behaviour; and similarly the Imperial Parliament will not interfere with Ireland quam diu se bene gesserit, as long as she observes her part of the bargain. To maintain that there is any abandonment of her supremacy by the Imperial 852 Parliament because she does not constantly interfere with the Legislature in Ireland, is the same as to maintain that a schoolmaster ceases to be head of the school because he does not, after the old examplars, whip his boys in season and out of season, and with or without cause. Perhaps this is the proper place to notice an argument which, I am glad to say, has not figured very largely in the dabates in this House. This is the argument of separation. The other night when my hon. Friend the Member for Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) was asking by what was Ireland held to England now, an hon. Member on the Conservative Benches, whose performances in this House up to the present have consisted of interruptions, replied with characteristic delicacy, "Force." It is Gentlemen who use language of this kind that profess, at the same time, to be more than shocked that Ireland does not bear to English rule a filial tenderness and affection. But, as my hon. Friend readily and truly replied, the force by which you maintain your rule in Ireland is not destroyed, is not interfered with—is, in fact, specially maintained and preserved by the enactments of this Bill. To hear the way some men argue one would suppose that an Irish Legislature would have the power not only of destroying the omnipotence of the Imperial Parliament, but of creating a new and portentous omnipotence of its own. Will the Irish Legislature be able to widen the Irish Channel, or to make 5,000,000 equal in strength to 30,000,000? Under this Bill Ireland is to have no Army and no Navy; she is saved from a Militia, and the gallantries of officers like the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett). But assuming the impossible, assuming that Ireland had the physical strength to engage in an attempt to separate from England, would that be her inclination? Let me make the ambitious attempt to forecast the near future of Ireland under Home Rule. I start from the assumption that before many years most of the farmers in Ireland will be—I will not say owners of their holdings, for that raises a controversial question—but tenants in perpetuity at fair rents. They have made under the Land Act of 1881 a large step towards that goal, and, without any Land Purchase Bill, they can get to the position of tenants in per- 853 petuity at fair rents. The farmers of Ireland number between 500,000 and 600,000—with their families they number 2,500,000—in other words, about a half of the entire population. Then you can place another 500,000 to the credit of practically the same class, the small shopkeepers. I do not think that we can hope, at least for a long time, to come to anything approaching to that great wealthy middle class which you have in England. The landlords are not now even a very widespread class in the new Irish nation. What, then, is the nation we shall have in Ireland? It will be a nation of small farmers and of those dependent on small farmers—one vast, widespread, universal petite bourgeoisie. Well, Sir, we know perfectly well the main features of a petite bourgeoisie. It exists in many countries under different Governments, speaking different tongues, professing different religions; but its main features remain exactly the same under all these differences. Between the peasant farmer of France, Spain, and Germany, in spite of racial and other blood feuds, the resemblances far outnumber the differences. We know the very features of the prosperous farmer's face. The cheek bone, the hard mouth, the sunken cheek, the keen and almost cunning eye. Go to the Royal Academy and look at the picture of him by a young painter of genius, Mr. Aloysius O'Kelly, and you will be able to read the whole history of a farmer's life, with its good and its evil side. The farmer is frugal to avarice; his industry-degenerates into drudgery, his wisdom into cunning; and, above all things, he has the hatred, the dread, and the despair of the revolutionary. Sir, there is only one country in the whole world in which the peasant labourer is Radical, and that is England, where alone among the civilized countries of the world the labourer is divorced from the blessed and in the best sense Conservative influence of a share in the ownership of the soil. The nature of the Irish farmer is not so different from the nature of the farmers in other countries. In habits of thought, in action, in the strength of his family ties, in the sordidness of many of his aims, even in his features, he bears a strong resemblance to the peasant of France. Is a nation in which the farmers are the main, the dominant, almost the sole element, a nation likely to seek 854 separation through the only method which makes separation possible, and from whom will the Irish farmer be asked to separate? Newspapers antagonistic to the Bill of the Prime Minister are in the habit of quoting statistics of the amount of trade between England and Ireland. The Secretary to the Treasury declared the other night that of £20,000,000 worth of exports from Ireland, £19,250,000 are taken by England, that you have in Irish cows, in Irish sheep, and in Irish pigs the guardians and the protectors of your connection with the two countries. And there is more. All reasonable Irishmen are convinced that the settlement of this question offered by the Prime Minister will wipe away the wrongs of centuries, and the feelings and bitterness and hatreds they have generated. But there is an influence which, if Ireland be given her rights, will prove a more potent ally. There is no such lethean stream as mutual interest. When Ireland self-governed loses her sense of being treated as an inferior and a dependent she will think of her ties of interest to England, and, thinking of them, her ancient wrongs will clear from her brain and heart like half-forgotten dreams. Just one word on another objection against this Bill that was mentioned at an early stage of the discussion, but that has already shrunk back ashamed from the light of debate. This was the objection that the Irish Catholics would endow and establish their Church. I do not know, as an Irishman, whether we should be amused by the folly or enraged by the ignorance of such an objection. Why, Sir, if any Irish Member were to propose the establishment or the endowment of the Catholic Church in Ireland, he would be opposed not merely by the Irish laymen in an Irish Assembly, but by the wise Heads of the Catholic Church itself. There is no country in the world where the sermon against Church establishments and endowments has been preached in testimony so striking and so unanswerable. We have had in Ireland an established and endowed Church, and a Church that is neither established nor endowed. The voluntary Church has a greater hold upon its flock than any Church in the world, and in a land of poverty it has been able to raise temples as fine as any in the world; while the Established Church left the 855 population around it absolutely untouched, separated many of its own congregations in sympathy from the majority of the nation, and, above all, infected a portion of the Protestant population in the North of Ireland with the subtle and destructive poison of religious ascendancy, of which you see such painful evidences in the speeches that occasionally proceed from the Benches above the Gangway. That Church—I say it in no disputatious spirit, but as a patent fact—has never made one honest and sincere convert. By its side has existed a voluntary Church which, as I have said, has won its way into the hearts of the people and held them firmly attached to it. The clergy of that Church will never exchange the position which, by their very dependence on the contributions of the people, they have won in their affections for any of the seeming advantages of State endowment. If such a measure were proposed to them they would to a man petition against it. And assuredly may I not point to the unanimity and spontaneity with which the Irish Members have voted against Church establishments and Church, endowment as one of many things that ought to have kept back the right hon. Member for West Birmingham from making against Irish Catholics the odious and execrable charge that they intend to oppress and persecute their Protestant fellow - countrymen. And now, Sir, let me pass to the various objections which have been made from different quarters against this Bill. Sir, this Bill is unfortunate in one respect—it has many friends—it is killed with kindness. And the Irish nation has also many friends—more ardently patriotic even than her own sons; and as to the Irish Members, the fortunes of the Bill and the Prime Minister and of the minority for a long time were held to hang on whether they should be allowed to drag themselves from the embraces of their loving friends in this House. There is another curious side to this part of the controversy. It is that side by side with this overflowing friendship to the Bill on the part of men who will vote its death, and side by side with the love of Irish rights of the advocates of Irish enslavement, you have the false friendship and the deadly but well-concealed hatred to the Bill and to Ireland of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. 856 I am in the knowledge of the House when I say that the reasons given for voting against the measure by many Liberal Members, if they mean anything, mean that these Members would have voted for the Bill if only that bad man, the Prime Minister, would have permitted them to do so. Now, Sir, I take the liberty to doubt the sincerity of some of these professions of friendship. I cannot believe in the sincerity of self-styled friends who are doing their best to kill the Bill. I cannot believe in the sincerity of friendship for the Irish race on the part of those who want to perpetuate Irish enslavement. Let me take, as a specimen of this style of opposition to the Bill, the argument of dignity. Of this style of argument we got the largest doses from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay). Said the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury—Will the hon. Member for Cork forgive me, as he says Ireland is a nation, if I ask him whether this is the nation which Irishmen have meant, when under this Bill her Legislature will be brought lower than that of any Province of any Colony of the Crown, when Ireland will have no Flag, no Army, no Navy, when she cannot deal with her foreign affairs, or with her trade and commerce, or even protect her Coast?I should have thought that we had in the British Navy sufficient protection; but that, after all, is only a fine specimen of Nisi Prius bathos. The right hon. and learned Gentleman continued—I believe that the echoes of the voices of the dead would mingle with the voices of the living in protesting against this Bill being treated as the final result of the aspirations of Irishmen to form one of the nations of the earth."—(3 Hansard,  929.)This is sufficiently fine; but the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Inverness Burghs was even more sublime—Were we with our eyes open and in spite of the teachings of history to reproduce all the conditions that culminated in the granting of Grattan's Parliament? I do not think so meanly of the Home Rule Members as to expect that they would tamely acquiesce in such a state of things. Would any nationality worth the name be content with a measure of this sort, giving it a Parliament subject to an alien Parliament, from which its Representatives were excluded? The proposed Parliament, the management even of Irish affairs, would be a cribbed Cabinet, and confined in a way the 857 Irish nationality would not long endure. How many months would elapse before every Irishman who was worthy of the name would be up in arms against the continuance of a state of things so intolerable and so degrading?Sir, I miss from this otherwise excellent report in The Times a phrase that posterity would not willingly let die. I cannot think what it was about, but it had one word in it which particularly impressed me. It appealed to the Irish Members to be true to the lessons of their "sires." Sir, this was a thrilling and a moving appeal, and we felt it. But, when under the inspiring rhetoric of the hon. and learned Gentleman, we had been excited to a state of almost drunken rage against the foul and treacherous Minister who was palming off upon us this miserable, this inadequate, this "cabined, cribbed, and confined" Parliament, what had the hon. and learned Gentleman to offer us in exchange? If we were only able to prove ourselves worthy of our fathers—I beg the hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon—if we rose to the same heroic heights as our "sires," if we were but equal to the great arguments, if we revolted against the Prime Minister's offer, what would be our reward? Then, says the hon. and learned Gentleman, he would give us a large measure of local self-government.Inquiries," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "as to Railway and Canal Bills and Gas and Water Bills ought to be conducted in Ireland and by Irish tribunals.Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman may deserve the high estimate of his political intelligence which he has received so abundantly from enemies of this Bill, but I pray him to give us credit for being something a little better than fools. The shallow insincerity of such appeals to the Irish people to reject the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman as inadequate, proves, not the Irish people who are expected to swallow them, the fools, but the honourable and even learned Gentlemen who form so poor a notion of their intelligence. The Irish people will understand appeals to their dignity by those who seek to perpetuate her degradation. They well know that such appeals from men like the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Henry James) and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Finlay) are intended—I am quoting from the Marquess of Salisbury 858 —"to bamboozle by those who want to bamboozle." And now, Sir, I come to another class of objectors. These are Gentlemen who avow a burning desire to vote for the Bill if that bad old man, the Prime Minister, will only permit, them to do so. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) is a specimen of this class. The hon. Gentleman wrote to his constituents a short time ago a letter from which the newspapers published the following extract:—You already know my views with regard to the Irish Bills: and I regret to say that Mr. Gladstone has not availed himself of the opportunity afforded by yesterday's proceedings to remove by concessions our objections to the Bill.Just let us see all the Prime Minister had to do in order to gain the sympathy and the support of the amiable Gentlemen whom he so rudely and cruelly repulsed. I listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman; it was a speech that, unfortunately, had not as large an audience as it deserved. I did not think it was heard by the Prime Minister, and I have therefore the less hesitation in giving the House and the right hon. Gentleman a specimen of the tender cooings of the turtle dove of Huddersfield—It was most unfortunate," said the hon. Member for Huddersfield, "that at such a moment the right hon. Gentleman should have preferred to introduce a Bill which would give faction its fling, and give the upper hand to an intolerant priesthood. The measure meant that the Government had made their choice between two coercions, and the coercion they had chosen was that of those who defied the law—that of those who maimed and murdered by moonlight.Now, the meaning of this language is that the Irish people are to be regarded as a nation of people who murder and maim cattle, and that, being such a nation, it has no right whatever to anything but coercion, or to anything in the shape of local self-government. Is it not an abuse of our innocence for an an hon. Gentleman with such opinions of Irishmen to profess to his constituents that the Prime Minister could make any concessions whatever which would meet such objections as he has raised? I protest against such arguments. Let hon. Gentlemen, if they are going to reject the Bill, at least have the sinister courage of their convictions, and not hide behind the Prime Minister their 859 own incurable hostility to any measure which shows confidence in the Irish people. I now come to a much more formidable antagonist than any of these hon. Gentlemen. I mean the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain). The right hon. Gentleman on Tuesday night began with a declaration that personal references were below the level of the great Constitutional question in which we are taking part. I am not quite sure that he entirely acted up to his maxim; but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I will follow his precept, if not his example, in anything I shall have to say in regard to him. I shall not say one word as to his motive, nor indeed, though the prospect is tempting, shall I make any reference to his expression of opinion in 1874. Neither will I make any allusion to the most unfortunate misreport of his Sheffield speech further than to note that a journal of that town this morning quotes from a contemporary a report which shows that the right hon. Gentleman does not understand the plan of Mr. Butt to which he gave his adherence. Is the right hon. Gentleman an adherent of the plan of Mr. Butt now? Has he ever read it? Does he understand the plan of Mr. Butt? The right hon. Gentleman said that Mr. Butt contemplated the retention of the Irish Members in this House; but Mr. Butt never contemplated the retention of the Irish Members for anything but Imperial affairs. Sir, I shall now deal with the right hon. Gentleman's plans, and shall endeavour to discuss them in the cold sobriety of argument. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman on Tuesday night said that—It is on the method and plan of the Bill that we are going to the country, and not upon its principle. I have said before, and I say it again, give me the principle without the Bill, and I will vote for it; but I will not vote for the method by which it is sought to establish this principle.Now, Sir, I deny in toto that this is a fair or correct way of stating the case. The right hon. Gentleman says it is a question of method on which he differs from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. Well, Sir, this language would be more intelligible if the right hon. Gentleman had a method; but what method are we to get? Which 860 method? The right hon. Gentleman himself cannot deny that in the course of these descriptions he has put forward not one, but several methods, not once, but several times; and though he himself, of course, could not be expected to admit it, I think the House and the country generally are agreed that the methods and the plans of one date are entirely inconsistent with the methods and plans of another. It is impossible to say that the right hon. Gentleman, in proposing National Councils at one time, and frankly abandoning them at the other, was advocating one method and one plan. It is impossible to say that the right hon. Gentleman, in fathering, if not proposing, National Councils, which had a property qualification, and in now denouncing the measure of the Prime Minister because it has a property qualification, was advocating the one method and the one plan. It is impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to argue that in fathering, if not proposing, a National Council, which placed Ulster in exactly the same position as the West of Ireland, and in now demanding separate treatment for Ulster, is proposing the same method and plan. There is one method and one plan which the right hon. Gentleman put forward for dealing with the question of which we have heard nothing since—I mean the famous proposal to issue a "No Rent Manifesto," and to give the landlords of Ireland a blank cheque on the Exchequer of England. I shall be curious to know when the right hon. Gentleman goes before his constituents how he will be able to reconcile that plan and that method of dealing with the Irish Question with the extraordinary solicitude he has since displayed for the taxpayers of England and Scotland. Well, Sir, then we have the plan and method of federation after the fashion of the United States. That plan and method also we may regard as abandoned. It was pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that in order to have federation you must have something to federate, and that accordingly in order even to carry out his own scheme of federation it was necessary to have that Legislative Assembly established in Ireland which is the main principle of the Bill he is trying to kill. It was also pointed out that if you are to have federation you must have a Local 861 Assembly in England, in Scotland, and in Wales, and an Imperial Assembly, with Imperial questions reserved to it. The right hon. Gentleman has never been able to say that the public opinion of England, Scotland, and Wales is ripe for such a smashing up and tanning of the Imperial Parliament as would justify any Minister in proposing a federal settlement. So that the plan and method of federation on the model of the United States is dead, and so also is the plan and method of a National Council dead. But notwithstanding the disastrous failure that has come upon all the other alternative proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, on Tuesday night he had what I must call the sublime civic courage to present the world once more with another bantling alternative proposal. He now proposes federation on the Canadian plan. But, Sir, here again misfortune dogs the steps of the right hon. Gentleman's political progeny, for, Sir, within a few hours after he had proposed his last alternative scheme it was shattered and torn to pieces by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So this scheme of federation after the Canadian plan is dead. The right hon. Gentleman shed tears that I can scarcely regard as sincere over the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. Well, Sir, I imitate his example, and, assuming for a moment like him, the position of a mute, I proceed to pronounce over his dead scheme an epitaph borrowed from Shakespeare. Curiously enough the epitaph is the same as the epitaph of the right hon. Gentleman, pronounced over the Bill of the Prime Minister, with this important difference that I must change the numbers—speaking with regard to the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot confine myself to the singular number—there are so many of them—but must paraphrase the quotation thus—Vex not their ghosts, let them pass! he hates them much,That would upon the rack of this tough world Stretch them out longer.But, Sir, though the right hon. Gentleman abandoned National Councils, yet, somehow or other, with an obstinacy of fatuous love, he seemed to return to them once more; for, Sir, he laid down the principle which can only be considered with his original scheme of National Councils, He declared that the supre- 862 macy which he demanded for Parliament was a supremacy effective and authoritative, and in another place he speaks of it as a real and effective supremacy, and then he describes the Assembly or Council to which he would consent as purely subordinate, with very limited and strictly defined powers of legislation. He speaks of National Councils, and I assume he means Councils Provincial and National. I do not know which most to wonder at, the prolific recklessness or the heartless cruelty of this worst of legislative parents, who has no sooner laid one of his children on the doorstep, and furtively deposited another in the Foundling Hospital, than he is already producing another inmate for the Epileptic and Consumptive Hospital. The Provincial Council! Now, Sir, with regard to Provincial Councils, I think I may dismiss that part of the case very rapidly. I can add nothing whatever to the masterly and merciless dissection of that portion of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman by my hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). He urged that the only result would be, if all Ulster were included under this proposed Council, to give Ulster a Council with a Nationalist majority and a Nationalist Executive; and if it were confined to what the right hon. Gentleman calls Ulster, it would have the effect of leaving 200,000 of the Catholic minority under what the right hon. Gentleman calls the domination of the Protestant majority, and a minority of 300,000 Protestants in the other parts of Ireland under the domination of a Catholic majority, and also afford hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway the protection and the pleasure of the Premiership of the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar). But then it was found that when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of Ulster, he meant, not Ulster as a whole, but a particular corner of it, where the Protestants are in a majority. So that the proposal is not, as might be supposed, a Council for the whole Province, but a Council for the corner of a Province. I do not often agree with the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson); but I admire the manliness and fidelity with which he refuses to abandon his fellow-Protestants in other parts of Ireland, and rejects with scorn a separate Assembly for Ulster. Therefore, this plan 863 is dead and beyond resurrection. It is rejected by National Ireland with scorn as an insult to its dignity, and it is rejected by Orange Ireland as an insult to its manhood. Then there is the bantling of Canadian federation. The great complaint against the Prime Minister is that he sprung this Bill upon us. Why, we have a different plan sprung upon us every night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I had thought of making a Chamberlain concordance; but I have desisted from it on the certainty that, if the debates on this Bill were prolonged for a year or two, it would fill as many shelves as the Encyclopœdia Britannica. I equally traverse this Colonial idea. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) said that "he went to the Colonial Exhibition and learnt about Canada." That is entirely inaccurate, for the right hon. Gentleman dared not go there. He would find the floor crowded with his abandoned offspring. But I pass on to a National Council as representing all Ireland with what the right hon. Gentleman calls the effective supremacy of the Imperial Parliament preserved, and with this Council purely subordinate in its character, and with very limited and strictly-defined powers of legislation. Well, Sir, in the first place, let me give this objection, which, if not conclusive, is at least a very strong objection to this case—that it would be rejected with scorn by the Irish people. I know that the right hon. Gentleman, in his present mood, thinks the opinions of the Irish people are of no importance whatever; but I should have thought, to other Radicals at least, the reception which a people give to the form of government you offer them ought to have some effect, at least, upon a Radical's idea of that form; and I say that, if such a scheme had been accepted last year, when the right hon. Gentleman said it was acceptable to several distinguished Irish Nationalists, it could only have been accepted with the view of affording a vantage ground for other demands. The right hon. Gentleman objects to the present scheme of the Prime Minister because of its want of finality, and he proposes now a scheme the finality of which not anybody in the whole world could have accepted or imagined. And, Sir, let us not be deluded by phrases. The only real and effective supremacy you 864 would have in the House with such a scheme would be the real and effective supremacy of the Irish Question and the Irish Party. I think this sufficiently disposes of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that it is on the method and plan of the Bill we are going to the country, and not upon its principles. Now, Sir, take up the other part of his statement, and that also, I think, I can prove to be an entirely inaccurate representation of the issue. The right hon. Gentleman says that he agrees in principle with this Bill. He does nothing of the kind. He declares he is in favour of Home Rule. But, Sir, that is a paltering with words. Let me take up and compare the invitations addressed by the Prime Minister to his followers and by the right hon. Gentleman to his. The Prime Minister invited those to be present in the Foreign Office who were in favour of a Legislative Assembly in Dublin for the management distinctly and specifically of Irish affairs. Now, Sir, that is what they call Home Rule, and I refuse to consider anything else as a principle of Home Rule. Here is the invitation to the other gathering—
§ "Clapham Common, May 29, 1886.
§ "DEAR SIR,—I am requested to invite you to a conference of those Members who, being in favour of some sort of autonomy for Ireland, disapprove of the Government Bills in their present shape. The conference will be held in Committee Room No. 15, on Monday afternoon, the 31st inst., at 5 o'clock. Mr. Chamberlain will preside.
§ "Yours faithfully,
§ "W. S. CAINE."
Now, Sir, I shall describe this invitation, signed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barrow, as a flabby and pulpy document. Why, Sir, that is a thing that might be accepted by even the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston). I do not suppose that even the hon. Gentleman is in favour of everything in the administration of Ireland. It is a form which goes not beyond but far below many of the principles accepted and preached by hon. Gentlemen on these Benches, and accepted and preached even during this debate, for, Sir, hon. Gentlemen on these Benches have openly declared their readiness to give a considerable amount of local self-government to Ireland—in favour of some form of autonomy for Ireland. Sir, let me call attention to this fact. I see by some of
the papers that one of the Gentlemen present at the meeting of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay); and if reports speak correctly, his remarks had something to do with the decision at which the meeting arrived. But, Sir, I have already quoted what he means by autonomy for Ireland—he means Irish tribunals to deal with railways and canals, Gas and Water Bills. To speak of anybody whose idea of autonomy for Ireland takes this shape as a Home Ruler is to dishonestly palter with words; and, therefore, I say that the right hon. Gentleman is just as incorrect in saying that the question now between him and the right hon. Gentleman is no longer a question of principle. It is a question of principle. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is in favour of Home Rule, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is against Home Rule. Now, Sir, I want to address a few questions to some of the hon. Members who were present at that very remarkable gathering, which is supposed—and with very good reason—to have settled the doom of this Bill; and I hope they will accept my words as intended to be entirely respectful to their opinions. I want to know, first, whether the meeting in the Committee Room No. 15 was entirely composed of Gentlemen who give an undivided allegiance to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, or was it composed in some degree of hon. Members who divide their allegiance between the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), because, Sir, this has a very great importance? The meeting under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman was given to the public as a meeting of Radicals, just as the meeting under the noble Lord was represented to the public as a meeting of Whigs; but is it not practising a sham and a delusion upon the public if a meeting of Radicals be a meeting partly of Radicals and partly of Whigs? This is more than a question of stage armies with the marching backwards and forwards of exactly the same men—it is a question of honest dealing with the public. The people of England may be deceived by this mix-
ture of heterogeneous forces; but what right have they to proclaim the joint decision of Whigs and Tories as the voice of Radicalism, and what right have Radicals—or so-called Radicals—to come to the meeting held under the auspices of the noble Lord and proclaim the joint decision of Radicals and Whigs as the voice of sober and moderate Whigs? I want to know the exact number of Whigs and the exact number of Radicals. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham used to understand very well the difference between the two, and has poured more abuse on the Whig Party than on any other; but the lines are a little confused just now. In the second place, I want to know what was the exact advice given in the letter of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright)? Did the letter of the right hon. Gentleman advise the majority of the meeting to vote against the second reading of the Bill? I believe it is quite true that the letter of the right hon. Gentleman expressed his own intention to vote against the second reading. I am not going to say one harsh word with regard to the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham; I have said hard words of the right hon. Gentleman, and I regret having said them; and I can only urge in extenuation that I have said nothing harder of the right hon. Gentleman than the right hon. Gentleman has said of the Party to which I belong. In one of his best speeches the right hon. Gentleman has spoken in favour of the rights and liberties of Ireland, and has made use of the remarkable words that the Act which one Parliament has enacted another has repealed. I deplore the action of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham, and the Prime Minister will deplore it even more than I do. The Prime Minister himself will be the first—and who will dare to deny the friendship of the Prime Minister for the right hon. Gentleman?—the Prime Minister himself will be the first to acknowledge that long before he had himself emerged from Cimmerian Tory darkness with regard to Ireland—the right hon. Gentleman had repented of his follies and did not mind their being recalled—the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham had been
preaching the gospel of Irish liberty and Irish rights. I want to know what the right hon. Gentleman proposed? I know nothing of the right hon. Gentleman's letter; it has not been published fully in the papers. It is of enormous importance to know what that letter contained, seeing that it may take its place in history as the death warrant of an Administration and a policy, and we have a right to see the full text of the document, and to know whether that letter of the right hon. Gentleman advised others to take the same course as he did, or whether it advised them to adopt a policy of abstention; or, to put it more briefly, was the letter of the right hon. Gentleman intended to suggest such a vote as would precipitate an immediate Dissolution, or was the letter intended to prevent an immediate Dissolution? Sir, I think we have a right to an answer to these questions. Sir, the masses of the people do not understand the subtle distinctions which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) sets up. The real question, Sir, which they will have to decide will be whether we are to have Home Rule in the real sense of the word for Ireland, or coercion for Ireland. The real contest is not between the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister, but between the Prime Minister and the Marquess of Salisbury. Unionist majority! How are you going to get the Unionist majority? Do you mean to tell me that if two Liberal candidates start in the same constituency for which it is open to a Conservative candidate to get in that a Conservative will not be run? If you tell me that a Conservative candidate will not be run in such a case, then I have two remarks to make—that the Liberal electors of this country, and, still more, the Radical electors, will be curious to learn the reason how a corrupt and base bargain like this between the Liberals and their opponents can be justified; and, secondly, I must remark that if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham thinks that compacts like this can be kept, he is a man of much more Arcadian simplicity than ever before I was inclined to credit him with. A General Election is at all times a leap in the dark; but, Sir, I think there may be grave reasons for apprehending that the results of a Dissolution and a General Election at
the present moment may be the return of a Conservative majority and a strong Conservative Government. For reasons which I will give presently, I see some advantage in a weak Conservative Administration; but I see not merely no advantage, but the gravest danger, in a strong Conservative Administration. I shall have to deal with the last General Election presently, and Gentlemen may think that our Party did their best to produce a strong Conservative Government. We did nothing of the kind. We watched the elections closely day by day—my hon. Friend the Member for Cork and I were in almost daily communication—and I have no hesitation in saying that if we thought there was the slightest danger of a great Conservative majority we would have taken very good care that those, at least, who follow our counsels should have done their best to prevent it. And why, Sir? Because not even for the sake of Ireland would my hon. Friend or would I have taken upon ourselves the responsibility—I will say more, the shame and the guilt—of subjecting the people of England and the Empire to the terrors and the horrors that daily assail the country whenever it has the misfortune of being governed by a strong Conservative Administration. But I want to put it to hon. Gentlemen who are going to vote against this Bill—going to vote against it, although they accept its principle and are only voting upon its principle—I ask them if they regard the advent of a strong Tory Government as a good day's work, for which they will have the approval of their countrymen and of their own consciences? And let me further remind those who vote against this Bill that they will incur a serious responsibility and run a serious political risk as to their return to that House again. [Laughter.] Am I to understand that laugh as meaning that we have come to such a pass in English history that Radicals may not be afraid of rejection at the polls because of a Tory alliance? If there is such an alliance, let it be stated not only on the authority of Tories, but also on that of Radicals, and let those Radicals who are going to their constituents in the hope that if they are rejected by Radical votes they will be saved by Tory votes openly make their confession of faith to their constituents. Those Radicals who are
opposed to this Bill are in somewhat the same condition of faith as that in which I have myself been at a not very ancient period of my political life—they have confidence in the scruples and blushes of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). Before I sit down I will give hon. Members some reasons for a little scepticism as to the validity of the foundation for these hopes. I should be surprised—more than that, I should be edified—if I found that where there are two Liberals standing, and there is a fair chance of a Tory getting in, a Tory does not stand. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham talks of the Unionist majority. In this era we have the extraordinary portent that the men who make war on Ireland give each other the kiss of peace. But I would ask hon. Members who follow the right hon. Gentleman in this matter, if they are going to appeal to the country, to choose carefully their ground, and to be able to make clear to their constituents the momentous and overwhelming reasons for their action. And now, Sir, I come to a portion of the business on which I desire to speak with the greatest care; but I cannot refrain from beginning my allusions to it with a certain protest. Some hon. Members have expressed themselves as being quite ready to vote for the second reading after the speech of the Prime Minister at the Foreign Office last Thursday, who have with equal emphasis declared themselves bound to reject it after his speech in the House of Commons next day. I wish to know the reason they give for this. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham declared that there was no difference in ideas, and scarcely any in the words, between the Prime Minister's speech on Thursday at the Foreign Office and his speech on Friday in the House. I would recommend to the followers of the right hon. Gentleman the serious consideration that they are going to vote against this Bill because of a difference, as they think, in the speeches which the right hon. Gentleman has declared to be identical. Surely, it must be apparent to everyone acquainted with the elementary conditions of political life that there is, and always must be, an essential difference between a speech delivered to an assembly of poli-
tical friends and a speech delivered in an assembly divided between friends and foes? Just let me recall to the House the circumstances under which the speech of Friday last was delivered. A sudden attack was made upon the Prime Minister—the attack was made in language carefully and deliberately irritating. It was permeated with taunt and insult and provocation, and it was pointed by the interruptions by which the Tory Party sometimes distinguishes itself, and by the interruptions of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington. And what is the position at this moment of the man who was thus assailed? Encompassed with foes, powerful, relentless foes of various kinds, overburdened with tasks anyone of which might break down the youngest and the strongest man in this House, devoured by the great passion of closing the struggles of centuries, and daily beset by the passions of hope and doubt. Ah, Sir, when we hear people talk of the speech of the Prime Minister delivered in such circumstances, is it not time to ask whether there is any generosity left in English, above all in Liberal or Radical hearts? You on the Tory Benches may mock at the Prime Minister; but, Sir, after we are all dust the trials and struggles of the Prime Minister in this great hour will anger or wound many a generous heart. And is it not time, Sir, to ask, also, is there no more of the robust sense in this House that used to be the pride of Englishmen? I will not and cannot accept as true the reasons attributed to some of the Gentlemen present at the meeting in Room 15 for their determination to vote against this Bill. What would become of the Irish Nationalist Party, or, indeed, of any Party, if the Members of that Party were to treat their Leader with this grudging and mean vigilance in the moment of his trial? I protest against some of the language which has been applied to the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has gone as far as he dares in imputing motives to the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman has said, in considering whether he and his Friends would vote against the Bill, that the Liberal Party must look, not only to the concessions, but to the spirit in which they are made. This is as near an approach, according to my interpretation at least, as the right hon. Gentle-
man dares make to an insinuation that the Prime Minister would dare to cheat his followers. Some hon. Members, again, who made a comparison between the two speeches of the Prime Minister, spoke not of their difference in ideas, but of their difference in tone. Are we, then, reduced to elocution as the arbiter of our decisions? A difference of tone. Why, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, whenever he comes down to the House to make a great speech, arms himself with a mysterious compound in a bottle, the components of which I should be very glad indeed if the right hon. Gentleman would make public. But if this kind of criticism as to the tone of a speech is to be allowed, the right hon. Gentleman will have to increase his oratorical impedimenta; he will have to arm himself, not only with his historic pomade bottle, but also with a tuning fork, in order that he may so regulate his "tone" that he may just reach concert pitch, and not part by one half-note from the notes that were pleasing to the tonic sol-fa gathering in the Foreign Office. If any hon. Gentlemen should go to their constituencies and tell them that they would have voted for the Bill of the Prime Minister but for the difference in his "tone," why, Sir, they will be told that political life is intended for men in the full vigour of their intellect, and they will be consigned to the wheeling of the perambulators in which the Chamberlains of the future are still slumbering. But, Sir, I dismiss these rumours as idle reports, and I come to what is the real question at issue. I now approach some very important considerations, and I make this one remark by way of preface. Hon. Gentlemen who vote against this Bill are precipitating a Dissolution—they have to go before their constituents as the men who broke the Government and the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman; and they owe it to themselves, to their country, to the importance of the mighty issues at stake, that they should take up tenable ground. Above all, they are bound to see whether they are perfectly sure that they and the Prime Minister understand each other perfectly—whether they and he are really or only apparently at variance. I venture to think that the difference is apparent and not real, and I ask for the indulgence of the House while I give my reasons for holding this view.
Coming to the essentials of this matter, as I understand, a good many Members were ready to declare after the speech of the Prime Minister on Thursday that they felt themselves able to vote for the Bill, and the same Gentlemen declared with equal emphasis that they also felt themselves unable to vote for the Bill on Friday. I assume—in fact, they have said—that the reason for the change was the modification of the language of the speech of Thursday from the language of Friday. I think the fair and reasonable way of judging of the speech of Thursday and of Friday, or of every other speech made by the Prime Minister on this question, is in connection with one passage which appears in his speech on the first reading, and re-appears in almost identical words in the speech on the second reading. In that passage he laid down what he regarded as the essential and the only essential principles of the measure now before the House, and it is only on the essential principles of the Bill that we are voting. From the report of the speech on the first reading, and that on the second reading of the Bill, I find that the fundamental principle of the Bill was—
The establishment, by the authority of Parliament of a Legislative Body, sitting in Dublin for the conduct of both legislation and administration under the conditions which may be described by the Act defining Irish, as distinct from Imperial, affairs.
That is the fundamental principle of the Bill, and any man who is in favour of that principle ought to vote for the second reading. In the report of the speech on the second reading of the Bill this principle is laid down in absolutely the same language. The Prime Minister attaches in both speeches five essential conditions to any plan or mode, to use the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, as to how this fundamental principle should be carried out. First, the unity of the Empire must not be placed in jeopardy; secondly, the political equality of the three countries must be maintained; thirdly, there shall be an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens; fourth, reasonable safeguards for the minority; fifth, that the Bill, in order to be a good plan, must be a plan promising to be a real settlement of Ireland. Now, Sir, what I hold is this—
that all we are asked to affirm by voting for the second reading of this Bill is the fundamental principle of the Bill—the establishment of a Legislative Body for exclusively and specifically Irish affairs, with the five essential conditions laid down by the Prime Minister. We are not voting on the question whether the mode or plan of the Bill now before the House is the best mode and the best plan, or the only mode and the only plan, for carrying out these essential conditions. In so far as the provisions in this Bill establish any one of these essential conditions, the Prime Minister is bound either to stick by those provisions, or to introduce similar provisions in the Autumn Bill; but in so far as any provision of the Bill sets forth the plan or mode of carrying out the essential conditions, the right hon. Gentleman is not bound to preserve a single line, or a single word, or a single syllable of the present measure. For instance, the Prime Minister, in the Autumn Bill, is bound to adhere to the principle of a Legislative Assembly for distinctly and specifically Irish affairs. The Irish Party would rather that the Bill should be defeated by a majority of 100 or carried by a majority of the same number than see this principle in any way interfered with—namely, that the Assembly in Dublin should have the administration of, and legislate for, exclusively and specifically Irish affairs; but the right hon. Gentleman is free to propose himself, or to accept from others—even from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—any mode or any plan by which that principle of the Bill can be better carried out. The right hon. Gentleman is bound to have some provision—some clause—providing that the unity of the Empire must not be placed in jeopardy; but he is perfectly free to reject his own provisions for carrying that into effect, or to accept the provisions of anybody else for doing so. The Prime Minister is bound to have in his Autumn Bill provisions securing an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens; but he is not bound to adhere to his own provisions for carrying that out, or to reject the provisions proposed by anybody else for doing so. The Prime Minister in his Autumn Bill is bound to have provisions securing the reasonable safeguards for the minority; but he is not bound to adhere to his own
provisions for securing that object, nor to reject the provisions suggested by anybody else. And, Sir, the Prime Minister is bound in the Autumn Bill to have such a plan as promises to be a real settlement of Ireland; but he is not bound to stand by the provisions in the present Bill for securing that object, nor to reject provisions proposed by any other person for the same purpose. Now, Sir, in order to make this matter clearer, I will take two of these five essential conditions which are easily grasped, and can be illustrated by concrete example—I mean the essential condition of a reasonable safeguard for the minority. He is free to be convinced that the property qualifications and the two Orders are not reasonable safeguards for the minority, as some hon. Gentlemen think, and he is free to accept any other form of safeguard which appears more reasonable for the protection of the minority. Similarly, the Prime Minister is not free to leave his Bill without provisions for the equitable distribution of Imperial burdens; but he is free either to enlarge, or, as I hope it will be, to decrease the figure which is mentioned in the Bill as the equitable contribution of Ireland to Imperial taxation. The one thing he is bound to secure is an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens; he is perfectly free to reject his own, or to accept another person's method and plan of securing that end. I deny that the Prime Minister is pledging either himself, or anybody who votes for the second reading of this Bill, to any clause or plan, or mode or sub-section, or line in the Bill, so far as this represents the mode or plan of carrying out the essential conditions. He is simply asking the House to assert one great principle, and certain essential conditions necessary for carrying out that principle. I will try to put it even more plainly. I have spoken of one essential principle and five essential conditions. Some Members may be misled by my words in thinking that they are voting for six principles. Even that is not a correct statement of the case—they are voting for one principle, and one only—a Legislative Assembly in Dublin for exclusively and specifically Irish affairs. That principle is absolutely naked, excepting so far as it is clothed with safeguards for the Empire and the minority. I ask the Prime Minister whether this is or is not
an accurate representation of the meaning which he attaches to the division on which we are about to enter? The present Bill was produced under great Parliamentary pressure. It has been produced with a haste unequalled, I think, in the making of Constitutions. It has been placed before the House and the country as a draft for discussion. It has been produced without the benefit of that light which open discussion in this House must bring to any Bill. The Bill to be re-introduced in the Autumn Session will be produced with as much leisure as there has been haste in the production of the present measure. The Prime Minister would show himself to be something like a political child if he were to lay down, after four or five months' discussion, that he was ready to reject every single mode and plan for carrying out the principle of his Bill, or the five essential conditions. As to the amount of Ireland's contribution, the Prime Minister is not bound to the figure he has proposed; he can propose a higher or a lower one, and he is free to propose a different plan of protecting the minority; but, as I have said, the right hon. Gentleman is bound by the five essential conditions he has laid down, and as long as he observes them he is free to adopt any different plan. What does the right hon. Member for West Birmingham suppose will be the result of the defeat of the Bill? The right hon. Member said that for him Dissolution had no terrors. One does not like a prominent politician speaking of a Dissolution with a light heart. For myself, Dissolution has some terrors; but not that I am afraid of a Liberal Unionist or a Tory in my division. I am afraid I cannot have the sympathetic support of the Tory Party, as I had at the last Election; and if I were again opposed by Mr. Woodward, that gentleman would not be repudiated by the Conservative Association, as he was at the last Election. Of all Administrations, a weak Conservative one is the most revolutionary; and, therefore, at the last Election, I was trying to create, and the Prime Minister to prevent, the rule of a weak Tory Administration. There is many a man on the Opposition Benches whom my poor weak Party once brought into the House; and my children, like those of the right hon. Member for West Bir-
mingham, now turn upon me. If I had succeeded in producing a weak Conservative Administration there would have been a Home Rule Bill, and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham would have been opposing it because it would not have been Radical enough. Just as weak Conservative Governments carried household suffrage and abandoned coercion, so, if this Bill fails, a weak Tory Government in the future will give Ireland a more Radical Home Rule than that of this Bill. Sir, I am, unfortunately, in the position of knowing a little more about the inside history of the last General Election than most Members of this House. The House will remember that a Manifesto was issued in the course of that Election, the terms of which have since been severely criticized. If the author of the Manifesto was speaking to the House at this moment, he might urge in extenuation that, if the style was Dithyrambic, it was due partly to the fact that Irishmen at that time were under the spell of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, and his style has a tendency to the Byzantine. But, Sir, what was the result of that Manifesto? The result was that the Tory Party made a return, honourable or dishonourable as the House may choose to consider it, but bountiful and explicit, for the assistance thus given them. The relations were most intimate between the Tory Leaders and the Irish organizations, including the officers of the National League in England, the present organization of which in Ireland the late Government announced their determination to suppress. Indeed, Sir, without any exaggeration, the branches of the National League in England and Scotland were committee rooms for Tory candidates at the last General Election. This led to a number of very curious incidents. Some of those incidents I do not feel myself at liberty to mention. Some Tory Leaders—I will not say in this House—have acted towards the Irish electors in this country in a manner I will not characterize. But, Sir, I am not going to imitate their conduct. Our action towards them will be regulated by our code of personal and political honour, and not by theirs. But let me, just as showing the intimacy of the relations, read one of many letters. Here
is a letter dated from the Bolton Home Rule Club, 3, Lorne Street, Bolton, Lancashire. It runs—
SIR,—"There is a little matter which I am anxious you should know relative to Colonel Bridgeman, the Tory Representative of this town. Perhaps you may not think it worth any attention. However, you can exercise your judgment. The Colonel's first speech in the House of Commons was a hitter denunciation of the National League. Since then he has been down to Bolton to a meeting of the Primrose League, and again denounced the National League. I expect that during the debates on Home Rule he will again distinguish himself on the same subject. Now, would it not be a good thing to take him in 'flank' by some of our Members, asking if he paid for the printing of 4,000 of the Parnell Manifesto?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The statements are too circumstantial to be disposed of by a contradiction. The hon. and gallant Member was further to be asked whether he paid for6,000 other documents, and if his Party sent 2,000 penny stamps for the distribution of National League literature during the last General Election; and if these documents were printed at the offices of The Bolton Chronicle, the official Tory organ, or by the official Tory printer here? I was the secretary for our Party during the election campaign in Bolton; Councillor Healy, chairman. We considered, as the Irish voters were handing over the representation of Bolton to the Tories, the least they could do was to save us about £20 for printing and postage. So they gave us a carte blanche for printing to any amount, and sent across to our Club certainly not less than 1,800 penny stamps for the postage of the documents; copies of which we sent to Mr. Parnell, to yourself, and many others of our public men during the election campaign. Not a single sentence did the Tories utter in Bolton against Home Rule, or the National League during the election time.
§ COLONEL BRIDGEMAN
I should like to say, if these details have anything in them, it is perfectly unknown to me. I never heard a single word about them—[Ironical cheers.]—I do not know why my statements should be received with jeers; I am not accustomed to say what is not true. I never heard a single word of such things, and I would have had nothing to do with them.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman has an account to settle with his agent. The law of England is that a candidate is responsible for his agent. At all events, from what I know of the writer of the letter, I reiterate the charge that, from 878 the Tory Party in Bolton, there came pecuniary assistance for the publication of National League literature and election documents. Personally, I sent some documents to Tory printers and Tory organizations, knowing that they had more means to print them with than I had. Now, Sir, let me bring before you another document. I have reason to remember it. One of my unpleasant experiences during the Election was to suffer a cannonade, at the instance of some earnest Liberals, in the district of Hyde. On my way to the meeting my eye was attracted by large placards, printed on what we, Irishmen, are accustomed in moments of exultation of describing as our "own immortal green," and the words on these placards, with their great, glaring black letters on a green back, were—"Vote for Flatteley—No coercion!!!" Now, Sir, I have another document that was printed and issued at the same time, from the same quarter. It is headed—"More Liberal Lies:" and I commend it specially to the attention of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway who belong to the Orange organization. It goes on—
§ "It having been publicly asserted that Mr. Flatteley is an Orangeman, it has been considered desirable to publish the following letter:—
§ "Newton Villa, Newton Avenue, Longsight.
§ "DEAR MR. NICHOLSON—It appears it was publicly stated in the Courtroom last Sunday that I am an enrolled Orangemen, which I am not, nor indeed do I belong to any such society at all. I should feel obliged by your contradicting the report should an opportunity offer.—
§ Tours truly, DANL. J. FLATTELEY."
§ "W. Nicholson, Esq."
§ The House will have, perhaps, some natural curiosity to know who Daniel J. Flatteley was. Well, Daniel J. Flatteley was the Tory candidate for the Division of Gorton at the last General Election. Now, Sir, let me just state one other fact. On the polling days in many of the constituencies of England—certainly in most of the constituencies where there was an Irish vote—the Tories proclaimed the depth, if not the sincerity, of their attachment to Ireland by wearing the Irish green along with their own colours; and I understand that in Leeds and in many other constituencies green placards, calling upon the Irish electors to vote for the Conservative and no coercion, were everywhere exhibited. For instance, the son of the Prime Minister 879 was everywhere confronted with such placards in the interest of the able young Irish Tory who represents East Leeds. I see that the hon. Gentleman received 3,849 votes, while Mr. Gane, his Liberal opponent, received but 3,504. Have I not some right to assume that the narrow majority of 345 was due to the green placards and the pledge that the Conservative Party was the Party hostile to coercion?
§ MR. DAWSON (Leeds, E.)
I wish to corroborate the statement of the hon. Gentleman. In my Election Address I expressed my pleasure at the Conservative Government having been able to do without coercion, and I hoped that the condition of Ireland might be such that coercion would not be necessary again.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I hope the hon. Member will not think that I am making a personal attack upon him. I know that he is a great deal more consistent than his Party generally. What I say is that throughout the English constituencies large numbers of Tory candidates asked for the Irish vote on the ground of no coercion absolutely, solely, and without conditions; and that same Party, on January 26, came out with a policy which rejected the pledges on which large numbers of its Members were returned. I pass from these facts, which have much significance to my mind, to Tory declarations. I do not think that hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway who were fortunate enough through the Irish vote to become Members of this House will particularly care to have some of those declarations brought back to their memories. Those declarations form a not entirely agreeable contrast with the policy of their Leaders at the present moment. For, Sir, what is the present policy of the Conservative Party as enunciated by its Leader? The policy of coercion and depopulation. There is no policy against which Conservative declarations were more frequent and more emphatic during the Election than the policy of coercion and depopulation. Here, for instance, is a quotation from the speech of the hon. Gentleman now the Member for Deptford (Mr. Evelyn)—With regard to Ireland, I am informed that the Deptford Irish held a meeting yesterday in this hall, with what result I know not; 880 but if the Irish electors here vote for a supporter of Mr. Gladstone, I will give the Irish credit for being the most forgiving of people. Have they forgot the jury-packing? The convictions of innocent men? The long imprisonments without trial? The suborning of evidence? The nameless scandals of Dublin Castle? Will they be untrue to the memory of O' Connell, who denounced the Whig Party as the 'base, bloody, and brutal Whigs?' Under the blighting influence of Whig misrule the population of Ireland has declined between 1841 and 1881 from 8,000,000 to less than 5,000,000.I pass from Tory declarations about coercion to their declarations on the question of self-government. On that subject a large number of them adopted the tactics of silence, with which tactics I will presently deal—handling for the present only such declarations as were made. I will at once acknowledge that in many of these declarations there is a studied vagueness—what the noble Lord would call, if he were criticizing the Prime Minister, a policy of two voices speaking—which I define as meaning saying the same thing with the intention of conveying different meanings to two different Parties, Indeed, there is one hon. Gentleman in this House who defined the Conservative position on this question admirably, and, as he is a Scotchman, perhaps I may say in a characteristically canny manner. The question is asked by an elector—"Would the candidate"—meaning the hon. Gentleman who now represents the Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. Sturrock) in the Conservative interest mainly through the Irish vote—"Would the candidate support Mr. Parnell in his demand for a separate Legislative Chamber for Ireland?" The hon. Gentleman replies—"There is such a thing as very thin ice, and there is such a thing as walking on it. That is my position." Sir, the majority of the Conservative candidates accepted the ideas of the hon. Member that there was such a thing as very thin ice and walking on it; but, nevertheless, the most skilful skaters sometimes have a fall. Declarations were made by more than one Conservative candidate which call upon them, if they be consistent, to vote for the second reading of the Bill of the Prime Minister. Take this, for instance, from the speech of the gentleman who attempted, but I believe did not succeed, in being returned for the Handsworth Division of Stafford (Mr. Wiggin). This gentleman said— 881With regard to Ireland, I should be prepared to support any scheme which, while granting the management of local affairs to an elected Body, left the control of all Imperial questions in the hands of the Houses of Parliament, representing, as at present constituted, the interests of the United Kingdom.Well, Sir, I say that that is an accurate description of the Bill of the Prime Minister, as if the hon. Gentleman had been endowed with the gift of second sight, and had seen it before its introduction. Well, then, we come now to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings). My support for him was asked of me by a friend of his, and my information was that the hon. Gentleman was a Home Ruler, and it was as a Home Ruler that the Irish electors were asked to give him their support.
§ MR. JENNINGS (Stockport)
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I am not prepared to recede one single point from the principles which I advocated at the last General Election, and which I have advocated in this House. I declared myself in favour of a large and liberal measure of Local Government for Ireland. I declared myself opposed to all Coercion Bills. I said I never would vote for them, and I never will.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I have to congratulate the hon. Member on his candid and manly confession of faith. I said, in short, that the terms of the invitation issued by the right hon. Member for Birmingham to his meeting in Room No. 15 would include hon. Members on the Tory side of the House; and the hon. Member (Mr. Jennings) has confirmed my words. The only difference between the hon. Member (Mr. Jennings) and the Prime Minister is not a difference of principle, but a difference of method and plan. There is another remarkable case. The Conservative candidate for Camberwell was Mr. Wilfrid Blunt. For Mr. Blunt, as for the hon. Member for Stockport, the Irish vote was sought for as a Home Ruler. [Laughter.] I do not know why hon. Members laugh. I know quite well that some of the friends of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington are a great deal more consistent than the noble Lord. Mr. Wilfrid Blunt is a personal friend of the noble Lord. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!] I will not be tempted to make any statements in that House upon this subject 882 which are not in accordance with any code of personal and political honour but my own; therefore, I put some restraint upon my lips in reference to many of the transactions of the last General Election.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
I should take it as the greatest possible favour which the hon. Gentleman could do me if he would relieve himself of that restraint as far as I am concerned.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I have already stated that I will be bound by no code of personal or political honour but my own in this matter. If Mr. Wilfrid Blunt gave me permission, which no person but Mr. Blunt can give or withhold, I think I could say something that would startle the House. Mr. Wilfrid Blunt was a Conservative Home Ruler, and he is a Home Ruler still, and his consistency is the more admirable because of the example set in other quarters. Yes; as my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) reminds me, we should have, in addition to Mr. Blunt, to obtain the permission of Conservatives a good deal higher than he. [Cries of "Name, name!"] No; I will not be trapped. I will not be driven a hair's breadth from my own ideas of personal and political honour. I pass from him to another hon. Gentleman, who was more successful. I mean the hon. Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell (Mr. Baumann); such is the hon. Member now. I have now, Sir, gone through some of the main arguments that have been raised in this debate against the second reading of this Bill. I hope I have succeeded in laying before the House the great and yet the narrow issues which the House is called upon to decide. They have to decide whether they can accept the principle of Home Rule—a Legislative Assembly dealing with exclusively and specifically Irish affairs. Around that issue lie some of the gravest problems of the future. The first question which the vote will decide is whether the struggle is to go before the country immediately with its mind uninformed, and its Leaders divided, or whether there shall be given a period for reflection and study, and reconciliation between the different sections of Liberalism. That is the smallest of the questions. There is the question whether the Liberalism 883 of Great Britain is a reality or a sham. I think I have given some considerable reasons for doubting whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham would prevent Ireland getting Home Rule by helping to bring in a weak Conservative Administration. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to bring in a strong Conservative Administration? I myself was never prepared to do so. I would not inflict upon Ireland, nor upon England, nor upon the Empire, nor upon the world years of horror, and terror, and blood-guiltiness, such as the strong Conservative Government brought upon Ireland between 1874 and 1880; and, therefore, I say that a Dissolution has some terrors for me, because I cannot view with calmness the equanimity of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the advent to power of a strong Conservative Administration, which his action is calculated to produce. I have now a word to say to the Liberals. The people of England and Ireland are watching in great suspense and anxiety for the vote on this question. The Prime Minister asks you to vote for the second reading as a message of peace to Ireland, and who will deny how badly that message is wanted? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham cannot certainly deny it, for he himself spoke of the "truce of God" between the landlords and the tenants, and proposed a suspension of all evictions for a certain period. But, Sir, evictions have not been suspended. On the contrary, they are going on with fury and frequency, and, Sir, I believe with a view in some cases to provoke the people into outrages which might prejudice the chances of Irish self-government. We have done our part in this matter. From the skeleton walls of their ruined homes, from the wreck of their hopes and lives, from ditches in which they and their wives and children lie shivering, the evicted tenants of Ireland have lifted up their hands and the wail of their voices to us, and the only answer we have been able to give them is to ask them for Ireland to suffer and be patient, and be strong. To these poor wretches, hunted even from their black cabins, the Prime Minister asks you to send a message of hope, and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham bids you send a message of despair. The 884 democracy of England asks you to vote for the second reading of this Bill in the name of reconciliation with Ireland; and the Irish race at home, and in all the lands where the want of such a message has scattered its millions, tells you that the vote on the Bill and the cause obliterates for ever their hatred to England. The Prime Minister now asks you to be true to your own principles, to carry out in your own case what you have asked—aye, and compelled—others to carry out in theirs. The opinion of all the civilized world is on the side of the Prime Minister. America—["Oh!" and loud cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen are fond of appealing to America when they talk of how she put down civil war. But America is not the country to put down Home Rule, but separation. Will hon. Members make light of the opinion of the Dominion? Canada is behind the Prime Minister. The Legislature of Canada, on the Motion of the Leaders of the different political Parties, passed a Resolution approving the policy, and to some extent the plan, of the right hon. Gentleman. Other countries were watching to see what you shall do. Austria, which you advised, and to some extent compelled, to give Hungary Home Rule; Russia—[laughter]—whom you used to vituperate for her treatment of Poland, and who, in spite of the laughter of hon. Gentlemen, has given Finland a greater measure of Home Rule than the Prime Minister proposes; Turkey, which you have compelled to give Home Rule recently to Bulgaria and long before to Roumelia, are watching the result of this division. If you reject the Bill of the Prime Minister and refuse Ireland Home Rule, then the world will proclaim, and be justified in the proclamation, that the Liberalism of England is the worst form of Pharisaical hypocrisy, which sees the mote in the eye of its neighbour and cannot see the beam in its own.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
said, it would be acknowledged that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had added a most eloquent speech to the many eloquent speeches which had been made from that quarter of the House, and if eloquence alone could pass the Bill there would be very little doubt about its becoming law; but in discussing the question, unfor- 885 tunately, they had got to consider, not the honeyed words Nationalist Members now showered on the Front Government Bench, but, in order to estimate them at their fair value, to compare them with what the same Gentlemen had said only four or five months ago. He held in his hand a document, addressed "To our Countrymen in England and Scotland," which had been very largely circulated at the late General Election, and was signed "T. P. O'Connor, President of the National League of Great Britain." When they heard so much about the intimate relations that existed between political Parties during the last Election, he should like to give the House some of the other side. In that Circular the League advised their coutrymen in England and Scotland to place no confidence in the Liberal and Radical Party, and to do all in their power to prevent the Government of the country from falling into the hands of a Party so perfidious and treacherous. In no case were Irish Nationalist voters to give a vote to a Liberal or a Radical, except in a few cases in which the candidate had given proof that he did not belong to theservile, and cowardly, and unprincipled herd who break every pledge and violate every principle in obedience to the call of the Whips and the mandate of the Caucus.Hon. Gentlemen from Ireland had a very different opinion of the Caucus just now. The Circular concluded by earnestly advising their fellow-countrymen to vote against the men who had voted for coercion in Ireland, deluged Egypt with blood, menaced religious liberty in the school, freedom of speech in Parliament, and promised to the country generally a repetition of the crimes and follies of the last Liberal Administration. Four days later, on the 23rd of November, the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) issued a Manifesto very much in the same words, in which he spoke of the Liberal Party as having flagrantly violated its most solemn pledges, and as having practised a system of coercion more brutal and oppressive than that of any previous Administration, Liberal or Tory, as having shamelessly packed juries, hung innocent people, sent men to the living death of penal servitude, and had 1,200 men in prison without trial. The hon. Member also said that Ireland was treated like Poland, and 886 that the last declaration of Mr. Gladstone in Mid Lothian was that he intended to renew the very worst clauses of the Coercion Act. In estimating, therefore, the adulations which came now so glibly from the lips of hon. Gentlemen opposite, they could not, and ought not to, forget the violent abuse which, from hundreds of platforms in Ireland, assailed Lord Spencer and the Prime Minister. "Murderer" was a mild word last year; but a night or two ago the Prime Minister was promised a statue in the hall of the Irish Parliament. The hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) spoke of the power which the Imperial Parliament would possess over the Legislative Body in Ireland if the Bill were passed, and he gave a very strange illustration of the point in the veto of the House of Lords. Would hon. Gentlemen opposite be satisfied to allow the Imperial Parliament the same right of veto which the House of Lords possessed over the measures of the House of Commons? He (Mr. Winterbotham) did not like the remark of the hon. Member—indeed, he looked upon it as a curious sign of the hon. Member's religious tolerance—when he said most deliberately that the late Established Church in Ireland, which had commanded the services of many good and godly men, had not made a single honest convert.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he cast no slur on the State Church doing the work of Christ. What he said, or what he intended to say, was that it was not a Church which was able to proselytize to any extent in Ireland.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM
said, that what he now feared was, not that Irishmen would establish the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, but that there would be an inclination to hand over education to the control of the Roman Catholic priesthood, and that he looked upon to be disastrous, for in the scattered parishes, where the Protestant population was a small one, they would not be so likely to get the full meed of religious toleration which they get now, and which they would be certain to continue to get under the rule of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member made an unfortunate slip when he spoke of Repeal of the Union; but he remembered suddenly that that was not yet in the programme, and he pulled himself up. The same mistake was made from the Front 887 Bench the other evening; for a great part of the speech of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) was a distinct attack upon the Union and an argument in favour of its repeal. The hon. Member also spoke of the risks hon. Members ran in voting against the Bill, and of the serious political agitation which might result from the course they might feel it their conscientious duty to take; but, whether there was any truth in it or not, any Englishman who was worth his salt did not think of risks. He did not believe there was any hon. Member on his side of the House, whatever view he took upon the question, who would not give an honest and conscientious vote. He was quite certain that the opinion of his Friends had been come to upon conscientious conviction, and that they were not thinking about the political risks they might be running. Englishmen, in their devotion to the cause of Empire and of their country, and in their service to Ireland, had run other and more serious risks than were now threatened. There was a very significant cheer from the Prime Minister when the hon. Member spoke of the Bill being merely a draft for discussion, and of the months of the Recess which might be used in remodelling and improving it. He hoped that what the hon. Member had said and the Prime Minister had cheered might be taken as a good augury; for he saw no reason why the Bill should not be remodelled and introduced again in an Autumn Session in such a form as to meet with general support. He did not regard himself as one of those who were described in The Daily News as the foolish, the rich, the conceited, and the swaggering class. Those of the Liberal Party who, like himself, had refused to support this measure had had a good deal to put up with in the shape of abuse; they had, in meetings of Associations, and by some of the Caucuses, been called traitors and mutineers; but if liberty of conscience, freedom of thought, and right of private judgment, were to be banished from the principles of the Liberal Party under the new regulations, then he thought it was high time the Liberal Party altered their programme altogether. He had been taught to esteem the right of private judgment as one of the dearest inheritances; and if Liberal 888 Associations degenerated into mere tyrannical Caucuses they would be a disgrace to the Liberal Party, instead of being a strength and a blessing. He had, all his life, been a profound admirer of the Prime Minister. He had never been considered a weak-kneed Liberal; but he could see no reason why, either as a Liberal or a Radical, he should support the Bill before the House. It was with the deepest regret that he felt bound to record his vote against it. At the same time, he had tried hard to see his way to support it. One reason why he could not support an independent Parliament for Ireland was because, when he was before the electors, he had declared he would support no such measure. He took his stand on the Prime Minister's Mid Lothian Address. On the Dissolution of Parliament in 1874, the Prime Minister had said that he thought that every extension of local self-government which, under the unquestioned control of Parliament, would tend to the advancement of Public Business ought not only to be admitted, but welcomed. Those were the sentiments on which he (Mr. Winterbotham) fought his election. He had declared himself in favour of a large and liberal measure of local self-government; but, endorsing the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister again in his address to the electors of Greenwich in 1874, and by other Members of the Government on many occasions, he desired that it should be under the unquestioned control of Parliament, and conceded on equal terms to all parts of the United Kingdom; and he, therefore, declined to give Ireland anything that was not to be granted on equal terms to the other portions of the Kingdom. In Gloucestershire, at the last Election, there were 11 contests, eight Liberals and three Conservatives being returned; and he never heard a Home Rule sentiment uttered at one of them. He had heard the Conservatives abused pretty roundly for their alliance with the Parnellites; but he had never heard a Home Rule sentiment. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer actually seemed to think that the only alternative to this Bill was 10 years' coercion. [An hon. MEMBER: Twenty years.] He thought the right hon. Gentleman would find himself sadly mistaken if he expected to be allowed so to 889 misrepresent the real alternative when he went to the country. It would be interesting to put before the electors in parallel columns what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said before he "found salvation" and what he said afterwards. Speaking at Lowestoft, only in December last, the right hon. Gentleman said that the Tories proposed to govern the country by an infamous alliance with men who openly avowed that their object was the dismemberment of Ireland from England. "Was it possible," the right hon. Gentleman asked—that the country were going to tolerate such a transaction? He would"—he added—"let them, for a few months, stew in the Parnellite juice, and then, when they stank in the nostrils of the country, as they would do, then the country would fling them away, discredited and disgraced, to the constituencies.Those were bold, brave words The right hon. Gentleman's change of tone recalled what Dr. Watts said in one of his hymns on this very subject of salvation—While the lamp holds on to burnThe vilest sinner may return.Who would have thought that a patriot, swelling with virtuous indignation at the horrible atrocities of this infamous alliance, would in a few months find "salvation" and a snug berth on the Treasury Bench by means of the very alliance he was denouncing? He would only trouble the House with one other quotation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's former speeches. The right hon. Gentleman also had said—That, after Mr. Parnell's Manifesto, no man could have any doubt whatever that any policy which would satisfy Mr. Parnell would involve the absolute separation of the two Kingdoms.Yet the right hon. Gentleman was, on the Treasury Bench, prepared to carry out a policy to satisfy the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork; and Liberal Members were told that, though they saw in that policy probable, ultimate, and gradual separation, they were traitors to their Party if they did not support it. The right hon. Gentleman also spoke of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) as "statesmen worthy of their country, who have spoken out in plain, brave terms against this horrible conspiracy." After 890 history would tell who were the statesmen worthy of their country; and if any statesmen did stink in the nostrils of the country, he would leave history to say whether those words applied to the Chancellor of the Exchequer or to his opponents. As a matter of fact, only three Gentlemen now sitting on the Treasury Bench made at the General Election any sort or kind of allusion to the idea of a separate Parliament in Dublin, and one of those was the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley), who, no doubt, had been thoroughly consistent throughout. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella) said before the Election—"Nothing will I ever do—no words or act of mine shall ever tend to the severance of the two Kingdoms." To his (Mr. Winterbotham's) mind, there was not much difference between severance and separation. A great deal was heard about the Cave, about Caucuses, and wire-pullers, and Liberal Members were threatened with all sorts of misfortunes if they dared to vote according to what they believed to be right. They were called "deserters, traitors, and mutineers." He did not believe that the attempts which were being made to intimidate Liberal Members were in accordance with Liberal principles. He had never read anything more disgraceful than the way in which an Ulster deputation were treated by the National Leaguers at a meeting they tried to hold in London. In Ireland farmers were shot for daring to disobey the unwritten law that ruled there, and cattle were still hacked there. The intimidation put on Liberal Members might be a new Liberal principle; but he did not believe it. He believed there was a great Liberal England that had not spoken yet; that there was a great Liberal Party that had not spoken yet. One-third of the Liberal Members were not prepared to support the Bill. Three-fifths of the Scotch and English Members were not prepared to support it; and he believed that they had nothing to fear from an appeal to the country, if they were driven to it. But he did protest, from the bottom of his heart, against the illiberal and unkind things which were being said of brother Liberals by one another, and the denial to them of a fair and free hearing on this question. Some people said that Home 891 Rule was not before the country at the time of the General Election. He could not agree with them. In his part of the country a great deal was said about Home Rule. The Conservatives also were accused of treating with the hon. Member for the City of Cork with a view to the establishment of a Parliament in Dublin. He himself repeated that charge again and again, believing it to be true; and after the revelations of that evening he must still believe it to be true. ["No, no!"] But at all events, as to the policy which he gathered from the Prime Minister's speeches in Mid Lothian, he might declare that he could not find one single word in them that would lead him to suppose that he had not put before his constituents the mind of the Prime Minister. At Edinburgh on November 9 the Prime Minister, as reported in The Times of the following day, said that—He trusted that, from one end of Great Britain to the other, there would not be one single Literal Representative who, for one moment, would listen to any proposal tending to impair, visibly or sensibly, the unity of the Empire.The right hon. Gentleman also said that acquiescence in any demand made by Ireland must be subject to the observance of the condition of the unity of the Empire, and that all the authority of the Imperial Parliament necessary to the maintenance of that unity must be steadfastly preserved. On November 23 the hon. Member for the City of Cork stated that he inferred from this declaration that the right hon. Gentleman intended to renew the worst clauses of the Coercion Act. On the following day the Prime Minister spoke again—he (Mr. Winterbotham) presumed with the Manifesto of the hon. Member for the City of Cork in his hand. The right hon. Gentleman said—Mr. Parnell's attitude, in my judgment, depends upon two considerations. The first of these is that he knows that do what he may, let him order every Irishman to vote against a Liberal, let him pour out all the vials of vituperation and abuse—he and all his followers know that these things will not have the slightest effect on the policy of the Liberal Party.[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] Well, as humble Members of the Liberal Party, he (Mr. Winterbotham) and many others, Liberals, reproduced these sentiments on the platform; and, speaking for himself and other Members of the 892 Liberal Party, he knew he and they were elected after expressing similar defiance of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. They declared their readiness to give Ireland equal laws with England, and a generous measure of local self-government, but announced that nothing which the hon. Member for the City of Cork had said in his Manifesto would affect the Liberal policy, and that the Liberal Party would refuse to weaken visibly or sensibly the powers of the Imperial Parliament. He could not vote for the Bill; for he had honestly promised, on 50 platforms, that he would not support such a measure, and he could not violate his pledges. So much for consistency; and when they were called traitors and deserters, let them remember that there were many men who found themselves unable to vote for the Bill, because of pledges given to their constituents in the light, and, as they thought, following the direction of their great Leader. As to the five essential conditions which had been laid down by the Prime Minister as conditions which must accompany the establishment of an Irish Parliament, namely—the Legislative Body sitting in Dublin; the maintenance of the political equality of the three countries; the impartial administration of the law; the equitable distribution of Imperial burdens; and, lastly, the finality of this measure.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM
replied that he had not read a single word which was not from the authorized copy of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in introducing the Bill.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. Gentleman omitted, casually, I think, to refer to the safeguards for the minorities.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM
said, all the five he had read were in the Prime Minister's speech, and he had come to the conclusion that not one of the five was carried out by the Bill. Let them take the condition that the unity of the Empire must not be jeopardized. Surely the existence of two Parliaments and two Executives would not promote such unity. Was the Irish Assembly to be dependent or independent, co-ordinate or subordinate? The Irish Members had struggled for 893 an independent Parliament, and he would ask them to say whether they would be content with a subordinate one? He could not be satisfied on this point, in the absence of a distinct statement in the Bill, that the Irish Parliament would be subordinate to the Imperial Parliament. Another of the conditions laid down by the Prime Minister was that the political equality of the three countries must be maintained. But how could that be, when the people of Ireland would, under its provisions, cease to exercise many of the higher rights of citizenship they now exorcised, for they would have nothing to do with foreign and Colonial affairs, or with those matters in which they took such a deep interest in connection with the Imperial policy of the United Kingdom? Then, was there any likelihood that the impartial administration of the law, which was the keystone of civil happiness, would be secured by a Bill which would transfer the administration of the law to Judges appointed by the Irish Parliament? Again, how could an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens be considered sure, when the Irish contribution was to be a fixed one? If Ireland's prosperity and resources should diminish, the proposed fixed contribution might be a great deal too large; and if she were to increase in prosperity more in proportion to England and Scotland, then it might be too small. It was said that an extra contribution might be demanded for Imperial purposes. But when, in 1779, an application of this kind was made, it was refused. He did not believe that it was possible to have an equitable distribution of burdens, together with affixed contribution from one part of the Empire to the other. Then, as to the finality of this measure. From the Irish standpoint of view the Bill could not be final; and if Irish Members opposite were honest they would admit it. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Withdraw!"] Well, he would withdraw the word with pleasure, and say, if he were an Irishman, he should not accept it as final, especially having regard to the statement of the Prime Minister that the restrictions which he had introduced were, in his opinion, not necessary, and had only been introduced to satisfy others. When the time of friction and difficulty came there would be an agitation to remove, one by one, these restrictions with 894 regard to dual voting, two Orders, Peers sitting with Representatives, no right to establish a Church, and no control over Excise and Customs. He admitted that the Irish Members had frankly stated that they accepted this measure as a bargain, and that they would abide by it; but they would neither live nor be in power for ever, and there would arise a Party which would aim at sweeping these restrictions away. In fact, he felt he should, if he were an Irishman, act in that way. From an English Radical point of view, he did not believe there was any finality in it. He had visited every part of Ireland on various occasions, and he always returned impressed with the fact that the agrarian trouble was at the root of all our difficulties in Ireland. There were 2,000,000 of people sunk in poverty worse than anything to be found among any agricultural population in England. To these it was a question of agrarian wretchedness, and not of nationality, and of the 3,000,000 remaining in Ireland 1,500,000 were opposed to the Bill. How, then could hon. Members prevent the young Irish Party, who would come into existence, from making those demands? When they had 1,500,000 people who objected to be cut adrift, this Bill could not bring peace, quiet, contentment, and happiness to Ireland. He did not believe all they heard as to the fighting that would take place; but he did say that a measure opposed as this was by so large a minority was not likely to bring quiet and content to Ireland. He desired to dissociate himself, in the minds of hon. Members opposite, from the slightest sympathy for a policy of coercion. No 20 years of coercion would ever meet favour from him. But he had no belief in heroic remedies at all. He believed in a patient policy of righteousness. The democracy of England wished to give Ireland equal rights and fair play, and were animated by the desire to uphold thorough justice to Ireland, by giving it equal laws and equal rights; but that was not to be done by erecting a second Executive and a second Parliament, which must lead to the making of two nations. The policy of "judicious mixture" had been ridiculed and condemned by the Prime Minister; but it had received the support of many eminent men, such as Lord Spencer, Lord Rosebery, and the Prime Minister 895 himself, who, speaking in the month of September, 1884, pointed out that under no circumstances could Ireland be dissevered in her fate and fortune from Great Britain. He was no friend of coercion. What he advocated was a policy of firm administration, and the amending of the law where justice required it; and that policy was what the democracy of England wanted to see. Why did not the Irish Members give the democracy of England one chance? To the first Parliament elected by the democracy they had given no chance. How had they given it a chance? They were going to cut themselves adrift from this Parliament. ["No, no!"] They were going to set up a Parliament in Dublin, and they claimed the right to make laws for Ireland in Dublin. If Irish Members called that working with the democracy of England to try to bring about equal laws; if they called that union and co-operation he did not. He regretted that the Liberal Party should be shattered over this question. Even yet he appealed to the Prime Minister—was it not possible to reconstruct and recast the measure? He objected to the Land Bill—which had evidently dropped out of sight, although it was said to be an essential part of the scheme—quite as much as to the Home Rule Bill. If he were an Irish landlord, he would a great deal rather an Irish Parliament should settle the question. But for 49 years, as at present proposed, that question would appear in a foreign garb to the Irish people. He would only throw out one suggestion—why could not one Bill be re-introduced instead of two, when they met again for an Autumn Session? If that were going to be done, and if the Irish Members were to receive this great concession—for such it was—of the regulation and management of their Land Question, they might, perhaps, see their way to agree to its being made quite clear by the Bill, in the face of day, that the Legislative Body about to be created should be distinctly subject to the supreme authority of the Imperial Parliament.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, that the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham), who had just sat down, had remarked that he knew no reason why a Radical should vote for that Bill. Now, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) 896 thought he had a little right to speak for some of the Radicals of that country, and he held that there were good reasons why a Radical could do nothing else than vote for the second reading of that Bill, and why every man who believed that he was a Liberal would fail in his duty to the Liberal cause if, by rejecting that measure, he willingly and wantonly put the power of dealing with Ireland in the hands of a Tory Government. The hon. Member had complained of abuse and undue influence used against Liberals who objected to vote for the second reading; but, with some personal experience of the feelings engendered by abuse not particularly measured, he suggested that the hon. Gentleman might be content to pass by the abuse if sure that he was doing right in principle, and it was clear that the undue influence was not all on one side, if the statement attributed that day to the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine) was accurate—that was, that Hartingtonians, each with a bagful of sovereigns, were to be sent out to fight every one of the seats held by hon. Members who supported the Bill. He understood the last speaker to say he was ready to affirm the principle involved in the Bill, and to ask the Irish Members to protest that the measure, in its present shape, was not sufficient to give real authority to an Irish local Legislature, and required to be extended. Why, then, was the hon. Member going to vote against the Bill with those who opposed it on the ground that it went too far and tended to separation? The hon. Gentleman told them that the Prime Minister, after the Manifesto of the hon. Member for the City of Cork appeared, had said that no words of vituperation, or of malice contained in that document, would be allowed to influence the policy of the Liberal Party. Well, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) asked, was not that Bill the best proof of the honesty of that declaration of the Prime Minister? For himself, if he might venture to put so small an illustration as against one so great, he would also say that neither vituperation nor malice had influenced his own judgment on that question. There were two pieces of important testimony from opposite sides of the House already given in that debate. The hon. and learned Member for North Antrim (Mr. Macnaghten) had said that if the Bill passed the 897 news of the fact would be received with a delirium of joy by nearly all Ireland; while the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) had stated that the great mass of the democracy of England were almost unanimously in favour of some measure of Home Rule for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had also borne frank tribute that the Government honestly and sincerely believed that the present measure would bring about a final and friendly settlement of the long-standing Irish grievances. With that testimony, coming from such opposite quarters, ought there not to be the most weighty reasons to justify any Radical or Liberal in not voting for a measure which both countries so acclaimed? Especially was that so with hon. Members like the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Winterbotham), who approved the principle. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham also told them he affirmed the principle of the Bill; but that, in the event of a Dissolution, they were to go to the country on the method, plan, and detail, not on the principle. How could any Radical Member like the right hon. Gentleman, while opposing the second reading, shelter himself behind the assertion that he affirmed the principle of the measure, but objected to the plans and methods contained in certain clauses? The right hon. Gentleman knew that he would be overthrowing the Bill by the help of those who, not like himself, objected to the principle of it. Had the right hon. Gentleman and also the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) considered this—that the country, when confronted by the alternative traditional policy of the Tory Party, would not look into the small matters of detail comprised in the Premier's measure, nor even the largo questions which would be discussed in Committee, but would look to the great fact that those who said they had no objection to the principle of the Bill united with those who had to defeat it? A vote against the second reading was a vote against the principle of the Bill. He would ask on what method, what plan, or what detail were they to go to the country? To properly raise objections of method, plan, and detail, by those who favoured the principle of a measure, was surely to move definite 898 Amendments in Committee, and then the country would have clear issues before it, and would know who were the Members really opposing: the principle. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) and his followers would vote against the second reading solely as objecting to the principle of the Bill; and if the Bill should, on that division, be defeated, the Conservatives would say that the decision was against the principle, not a decision against some point of method or plan. Again, the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) did not assent to the principle of the Bill; but how could a Radical who assented to the principle, and who objected to the particular method, plan, or detail, go to the country, when he knew that it was only by the help of those who were opposing its principle that he could hope to succeed? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs also admitted the principle of the Bill, and said that a very slight amendment of it might, or would, induce him to vote for it. By voting for the second reading, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) repeated, they would be committed to the principle only; and any objections which they might have to the method, plan, or any of the details of the Bill, ought to, and could be, in the usual course, fairly fought out in Committee. He regretted to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham make some remarks which might possibly tend to evoking religious hatred. On that point he might himself speak with freedom. His own view was that the best way for statesmen to prevent the domineering influence of any particular Church or religious Body which they feared was to be just to it. A great deal had been said as to the unfair treatment which the Protestants of Ireland would possibly receive at the hands of a Parliament in Dublin, mainly composed of Roman Catholics, who would exercise large legislative powers. It must be recollected, however, that for 150 years, and until 1829, England treated the Roman Catholics so fiercely, that it had been said that no civilized people would have endured it without rising up in rebellion. It was not until 1844 that the Penal Laws were repealed, nor until 1869 that Irish Roman Catho- 899 lics were treated generously, and therefore it lay upon us to be reticent in speaking of religious differences and sectarian ascendancy. The best thing for them to do now, in the matter of the religious question, was to be fair, honest, and just in dealing with it. He had been a little startled by the charge which had been made by hon. Members opposite, that the Prime Minister had forced this question upon Parliament. The fact was exactly the reverse; because this question had been forced upon the Prime Minister by the Conservative Party in such a way that there was no escape from it. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) speaking at Sheffield, 4th September, 1885, said that—Weeks before Mr. Gladstone's Government fell, Lord Salisbury and his friends came to the conclusion … that there was nothing which would warrant the Government in applying to Parliament for exceptional laws for the government of Ireland.But why did the Conservatives—not then in Office, and with no possibility of coming into Office, except by the Irish vote—come to this resolution? The right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol sneered at the present measure as a Continuance in Office Bill; but if this was a "Continuance in Office Bill," then the determination of the Conservative Leaders last year not to renew coercion was a Bargaining for Office Resolution. Either the decision was come to with the intent of procuring the Irish vote, or because Lord Salisbury and his Friends deemed the Resolution a rightful one. But if that were the case, why did a right hon. and learned Gentleman, formerly a Member of that House, then known as Mr. Gibson, taunt the Prime Minister night after night for not renewing the Coercion Act? Another hon. Member (Mr. Lewis) repeatedly rebuked Mr. Gladstone's Government for not declaring that they would renew the Coercion Act Lord Salisbury complained of the "abominable insinuation" that the Conservatives had concealed their decision. But most certainly they not only, at that time, never made it known, but were silent whilst Mr. Gibson and Mr. Lewis persistently attacked Mr. Gladstone in an opposite sense. Then, having secured Office by the benefit of 900 the Irish vote, there was the public declaration of reliance on the ordinary law only, and boasts were made of Lord Carnarvon's successful government, and this continued until after the Election. Then Lord Carnarvon resigned, not because he had failed, but because he had taken Office for a limited term, and his place was left unfilled, because there was no other statesman in the whole Conservative Party ready to undertake the task. Then, to emphasize this successful policy, the Chief Secretary for Ireland also resigned, and the Conservative Government being re-informed on Irish affairs, their Secretary of State for War was sent to Ireland to inquire, though well-informed Irishmen were Members of the Cabinet and Ministry. Until the Elections were over not a word was said by the Party opposite about coercion; and it was only when that Party met Parliament without a Lord Lieutenant, without a Chief Secretary for Ireland, and without a plan, that any suggestion of coercion was breathed. When the Conservative Government made their declaration of coercion on January 26, Parliament dismissed them from Office, as the country had done in the Elections. Then, when the Prime Minister took Office, he had no escape from proposing a plan for the government of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that coercion had been tried and had failed, and that he would have none of it. What did coercion mean? He would tell them how a leading Tory defined it. This was the precise language of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington at Preston, in December, 1880—People talk sometimes too lightly of coercion; it means that hundreds of Irishmen who, if law had been maintained unaltered, and had been firmly enforced, would now have been leading peaceful, industrious, and honest lives, will soon be torn off to prison without trial, and others will have to fly the country into hopeless exile; that others, driven to desperation through such cruel alternatives, will perhaps shed their blood and sacrifice their lives in vain resistance to the Forces of the Crown; that many Irish homes, which would have been happy if the evil course had been checked at the outset, will soon be bereaved of their most promising ornament and support, disgraced by a convict's garb and by a felon's cell.The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington had thus himself, in strong 901 language, condemned coercion, and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had told them that penalties were no remedies and punishment was no cure, and therefore he had brought forward the plan proposed in this Bill, The question of Home Rule was not sprung upon Parliament by the Prime Minister; it was forced upon the Prime Minister by the Conservative Party, so that, as a man of honour, he could not escape from it. In leaving Office the Conservative Ministry had declared that the state of Ireland was so acute that some immediate action must be taken. The Prime Minister could not avoid it if he would. He had told us why he would not recur to coercion. It had been tried almost without break for 50 years, and had utterly failed. During the 86 years there had only been breaks of some 13 years in all. The Radical Party would have none of coercion. In the last Parliament he (Mr. Bradlaugh) had felt it his duty to oppose the Prime Minister on the renewal of coercive legislation. Now the Prime Minister proposed a remedy, and he (Mr. Bradlaugh) meant to support it; and so, he believed, would the country, when an appeal was made to it. What was the principle of the present Bill? Local self-government for Ireland through a Parliament in Ireland. Lord Salisbury said that, subject to certain conditions, even he does not object to some local self-government; but he said that the measure must not be a step to something very different, and that the interests of minorities must be protected. But the only way to prevent a measure being made a step to something more was to make it large enough and just enough to satisfy reasonable demands, and then to rely on the good sense of those for whom you legislate. On the second point they heard much in that debate of the rights of minorities. He did not propose to go into ancient history; but he had lately been conducting a struggle on behalf of a minority of one, and he did not then meet with very chivalrous treatment from those who were now so concerned about the rights of minorities. What were the rights of minorities under representative institutions? The right to free speech, to a free Press, to a free platform, to freedom of association and meeting, to full Parliamentary representation, to generous consideration if they 902 were small minorities, and then with the duty to submit themselves to the majority until they could convert their minority into a majority, Objections of various kinds had been taken to the details of the measure, and perhaps in Committee he might see occasion to propose Amendments of those details; but in voting for the second reading of the Bill they were only affirming its principle, and were not binding themselves in any way with regard to its details. If the Bill were rejected he believed—and few had a better right to make the remark than he had on behalf of nearly every popular centre of England, of Wales, and of some parts of Scotland—that the great mass of the people would decide in favour of the Prime Minister. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale, he hoped, would not help to put back the political clock by aiding the return of the Tory Party to power. Radicals had learned to respect the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs, for they remembered how, year by year, he had in that House championed the extension of the borough franchise to counties. They would not willingly believe that he would go into the Division Lobby to restore to power the Conservatives who opposed that extension. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was bound to look at the opinion of the Radicals in the constituencies, who looked to him as their Representative, with reference to this Irish question. On this question they were altogether with the Prime Minister, who had brought forward this Bill out of sheer duty, and at the sacrifice of the associations of his life. A desire had been expressed by some Radicals that, before this debate closed, he should say one or two words in that House on that subject. Liberals and Radicals who intended to vote on this Bill should ask themselves what they had to choose between. The choice was felt to have some unpleasantness about it. On the one hand the policy of Lord Salisbury was 20 years, if not of coercion, at any rate with Coercion Laws in it, which at the end of that time might possibly be repealed, while on the other this great and righteous measure was brought forward by the Prime Minister. The great mass of the people, he believed, was with them on this question, and would insist that the Bill should 903 pass into law. Something had been said as to shattering the Liberal Party. He did not believe the Liberal Party was going to be shattered; that was always the cry when a Liberal statesman brought forward a great measure of reform. He appealed to those Liberals who agreed with the principles of the measure, but objected to some of its details, to vote for the second reading and deal with the details in Committee. If they voted against the measure, what would their constituents say? They were bound to listen to their constituents, who were pleading for justice for Ireland, and who, he believed, would stand by the Prime Minister and support him in his attempt to deal with the great question. He spoke now as an Englishman, without reference to Irish Representatives opposite. Was Liberalism going to join Toryism in the attempt to wreck the present effort of the Prime Minister to remedy Irish ills? He trusted not. He could not believe that they would be content to be used by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) as levers to place in power those whose policy they had always—sometimes gloriously, sometimes bravely, always usefully—opposed. On Monday hon. Members would in some fashion mark a page in Irish and English history; but they would not close that page in the Division Lobby. As one who knew something of the masses of the people of this country he said that their feeling was—"We will not palter with this question any longer;" and he should hope, until the Division List told him differently, that their desire to settle it was also the desire of the great Liberal Party. He hardly had any right to appeal to the Whigs. They owed much to the Whigs in the past for Leadership, and for liberties which, but for their efforts, would still have to be won; but they could not live on dead men's bones. He could not think that the Whigs of to-day would be content to put those in power against whom they had struggled in the past, and that, knowing what Lord Salisbury was, and with a great man to lead them, they would betray their traditions to serve the Tory Party.
§ MR. MCARTHUR (Leicester)
Mr. Speaker, after the unusually prolonged debate that we have had, and the numerous able and eloquent speeches we have heard, it would, I think, be diffi- 904 cult to adduce many fresh or convincing arguments either in favour of the second reading of this Bill, or against it; and I do not wish to trespass on the time of the House by repeating arguments with which we are all familiar, and that have been brought forward again and again by preceding speakers. But I may say that, being an Irishman by birth, having spent the first 25 years of my life in Ireland, and having many friends still living there, I naturally feel a deep and lively interest in that country, and in everything calculated to promote the well-being, peace, and permanent prosperity of its inhabitants. I do not, therefore, wish to give an altogether silent vote on this very important occasion; but I will promise not to detain the House very many minutes, as my chief object in rising is to explain the conditions on which I vote for the second reading. Sir, it is generally admitted that Ireland has had much to complain of, and that she has been badly treated and badly governed. On the other hand, I think it must be admitted that there has been, on the part of every Government we have had in Office during the past 20 or 30 years, a sincere desire to redress the evils complained of, and there has been much remedial legislation, which I need not occupy the time of the House by referring to in detail, as the measures that have been passed must be fresh in the recollection of hon. Members. I think it must also be admitted—and it is much to be regretted—that, with all the remedial measures we have adopted, Ireland has been discontented and disloyal—that feelings of intense hatred to this country have been freely expressed and encouraged. It is also much to be regretted that the Leaders of what is termed the National Party have not exerted the influence they undoubtedly possess, to the extent which, in my opinion, they should have exerted it, to prevent the tyranny of "Boycotting," and repress the diabolical outrages against property, man, and beast that have disgraced the country, and the civilization of the age in which we live. Notwithstanding all this, however, I believe there is every disposition on the part of this House and the country to act justly and liberally towards Ireland. But if Ireland is to remain an integral part of the British Empire, and if we are still to be the United Kingdom 905 of Great Britain and Ireland, we should, I think, very carefully, and in the most dispassionate and unprejudiced manner possible, consider and weigh well how far we can safely go towards meeting the wishes of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his supporters. For my own part, Sir, I may say I have often regretted the violent and abusive language too frequently used by hon. Members opposite below the Gangway; because it was not only painful to listen to, but injurious to the cause they were advocating, by creating a feeling of bitterness in the minds of even some of the best friends of Ireland. I have therefore heard with much pleasure, and I am certain the House has heard with pleasure, the friendly and conciliatory tone of the speeches we have had from hon. Members opposite during this debate. But while we have had the duty and desirableness of cultivating friendly feelings and social intercourse dilated upon, I may be permitted to remind the House that, although many of us have been most anxious to encourage and bring about this consummation so devoutly to be wished for, hon. Members from Ireland have been endeavouring for years past to create and perpetuate an exactly opposite condition of things by their determined opposition to the Queen's Colleges, to model schools, and the national system of education, where students and children of all denominations can meet and enjoy social and friendly intercourse without the slightest interference with their conscientious religious opinions or convictions, and by advocating a purely denominational system of education, where such friendly intercourse cannot prevail with impunity. I fear, therefore, Sir, that unless we are to have a change in this respect also, we must take a liberal discount off the expressions of friendly feelings which we are informed, and which we believe, it is so desirable and important for us to cultivate. Sir, I may say for myself that I have for years past advocated a just and generous measure of Home Rule for Ireland, giving greater power and control over their own local affairs. But this Bill goes far beyond what many of us understand by Home Rule over local affairs, and would, in my opinion, as it now stands, be unfair to England, Scotland, and Wales, and ultimately injurious, if 906 not ruinous, to the best interests of Ireland, not merely by preventing the introduction of fresh capital, which is so much required in Ireland, but also by tending to drive out much of the capital and many of the most energetic and successful capitalists who have, by their energy and persevering industry, so greatly promoted the prosperity of the country. Sir, I might occupy the time of the House for an hour to come by referring to letters and papers in my possession in confirmation of what I have stated; but I do not think it would answer any useful purpose to do so. We have been reminded by the Prime Minister and by other speakers of the responsibility resting upon us as Members of Parliament. Sir, I am painfully sensible of that responsibility. I believe the question we are now discussing to be one of the utmost importance, and far-reaching consequences, and that it is one of the most momentous questions with which the House of Commons has had to deal during the past 50 years, or, perhaps, much longer. I frankly confess, therefore, that I have never before found myself in such an unpleasant position, or found it so difficult to decide what I ought to do, or how I should vote; and I know many other hon. Members have been in a similar state of difficulty and uncertainty. I have been most anxious to deal fairly with Ireland, and also to support the Government. With every disposition to do so, however, and after giving the subject the most careful consideration, I feared I might be compelled to vote against the second reading. But after the statement made by the Prime Minister a few days ago, that longer time is to be allowed for the consideration of the Bill, and the engagement to reconstruct it or introduce another Bill, I have arrived at the conclusion, not, I confess, without some misgivings, that, under all the circumstances of the case, I will now be justified in supporting the second reading. I wish it, however, to be distinctly understood that unless the Bill is so reconstructed or altered in Committee as more fully to maintain the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, the integrity of the Empire, and make better provision for the protection of what is termed "the Loyal minority," I shall not subject myself to the charge of inconsistency if I vote against the third reading of the Bill, in the event 907 of it ever reaching that stage. But the integrity of the Empire and the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament must be maintained; and if the Prime Minister will substitute the word "adequate" for the word "reasonable" protection to the Loyal minority, then a good deal of my difficulty in supporting even the third reading would be removed.
§ MR. WODEHOUSE (Bath)
I recognize the kindly and temperate tone of the speech which we have heard from the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. M'Arthur); but I have entirely failed to apprehend the logical sequence of the reasoning by which he arrived at the conclusion that he would support the Bill. His observations seemed to me to point rather to the conclusion that he ought to vote against it. Having regard, however, to the time of the House, I will not enter into controversy with him. The truth is that the Bill before us is one of such exceptional magnitude that it is impossible to range over the whole, or, indeed, any considerable part, of the field which it offers for discussion; and my only object in rising is to state as briefly as I can the main considerations which induce me to oppose its second reading. The minds of some hon. Members are exercised as to the vote they should give by doubts as to whether the Bill be dead or alive; but my own mind is untroubled on that score. If the Bill be dead, it is clearly a farce to treat it as if it were alive. It is rather our duty to vote for the removal of a corpse which cumbers the ground. On the other hand, if the Bill be alive, its vitality is of a kind which seems to me pernicious, and I desire its extinction. I have no occasion to draw distinctions between the principle and the plan. My vote shall be given straight against the principle. Nevertheless, it is grief to me to take this course, because for long years past the Prime Minister has been sole master of my political allegiance, and it is extremely painful to break a life-long habit of fidelity to him. Let me add that no one should vote for the rejection of this Bill with anything but the gravest sense of responsibility. Though it should perish at this stage, its transient existence with the great name of the Prime Minister on its back will have incalculably aggravated all the difficulties of the situation. We can arrest its 908 further course; but we cannot erase it from the memories of men, or the page of history; and turn which way we will—pass or reject the Bill—the vista of a troubled time extends before us. It is a choice of evils; and the rejection of the Bill is the lesser evil. When one looks upon all the painful incidents of this Session, and the great rent in the Liberal Party, I cannot help regretting keenly that the principle of a separate Legislature for Ireland was not plainly and distinctly put forward in the Prime Minister's Mid Lothian Manifesto of September last. For all practical purposes, we knew then as much about Ireland as we know now. We knew that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) would demand a Parliament in College Green, which I take to be the plain English equivalent of the term "automony." We knew that he would come back to Westminster with not less than 80 and not more than 90 followers. And we knew that the late Conservative Government had dropped the Crimes Act. Why, then, was not the principle of a separate Irish Parliament advanced in the Mid Lothian Manifesto of last autumn? It may be said that the terms of the Manifesto did not preclude, and were not incompatible with, such a proposal. That may be true; but then the Prime Minister is a consummate master of words, a perfect wizard in the use of them. There probably never lived, in any age or country, a man with a greater capacity than him for conveying nice shades of meaning by extreme subtlety of language, and for constructing sentences which are susceptible of the most varied interpretations. It is undeniably a brilliant and dazzling faculty; but sometimes it has awkward consequences for Colleagues and supporters whose subtlety of intellect and mastery of phrase are inferior to his. It may, for instance, compel so distinguished a personage as the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) to explain away a recent and most explicit declaration on the gravest possible question as an indiscreet expression. Indiscreet, indeed! But indiscretions like these shake all faith in public men, and corrupt the best traditions of our public life. Ministers and their supporters have complained that most of the speechess made in this debate by opponents of the 909 Bill would have been more appropriate to the Committee stage than the first or second reading. For my own part, I will studiously endeavour to avoid that reproach; but when the so-called details of a Bill are things of greater consequence than the cardinal principles of most even of the largest measures which come before this House, the ordinary limits of latitude for the settlement of details in Committee should be contracted rather than enlarged. When details are really integral elements of an Imperial Constitution, nothing, to my mind, could be more hazardous than to launch ourselves into the scramble of Committee upon a flexible Bill, under the uncertain guidance of a flexible Government. To only one of these so-called details will I refer—namely, the exclusion of Irish Members from this House or their retention here. The intelligible plan of a determined Cabinet was presented to the House as a measure promising to be a real settlement of Ireland, and not a mere instrument of leverage for the extortion of further demands. It was also the manifest wish of its author that it should bear on its face a generous trust of the Irish people. If, however, the measure is to be inspired by trust in that part of the Irish people which the 80 Nationalist Members represent, the further we go to meet their wishes the more hope there would be of the measure proving to be a final settlement. But we know that the Nationalist Members do not wish to continue to come to Westminster. They have expressed a desire to be free to devote themselves exclusively to Irish affairs at home. And we have been warned by a representative Irishman, Mr. Michael Davitt, that—There will be an undoubted reactionary feeling if the Irish National idea is destroyed, as unquestionably it will be if the domestic Legislature in Dublin be emasculated by a continued representation in London.If, then, trust in the Irish Nationalist Party was to be the basis of policy, I should have thought that the best solution would have been to place Ireland on the footing of a Colony, pure and simple—on the footing of Canada, for instance, where the Queen has 5,000,000 subjects. Such an arrangement would, of course, have been an explicit repeal of the Union, while this Bill, as we contend, 910 is an implicit repeal of the Union. The Colonial plan would undoubtedly have put an end to the fiscal unity of the United Kingdom; but it would have left the fiscal unity of the Empire just where it is. It would not have infringed the principle of the conjunction of representation and taxation, and it would have reduced to a minimum the points of contact and friction between the two Governments and Parliaments. Being altogether opposed to a repeal of the Union, whether it be explicit or imlicit, I do not, of course, advocate the adoption of the Colonial plan; but I should greatly prefer it to a separate Parliament in Dublin, co-existent with periodic irruptions of Irish Members into this House, when they would be able to overturn our Ministries and exercise pressure on the direction of Imperial affairs for the purpose of advancing purely Irish objects. Now I have done with details. But what is the principle of the Bill? It is the creation of a Statutory Parliament in Dublin, carrying with it, as an inseparable corollary, the establishment of an Irish Executive Government resting on the confidence of a majority of the local Legislature. That is to say, as matters now stand, the naked principle of the Bill is the cession of Ireland to the legislative and executive domination of the National League, and this cession would place that part of the Irish population which is attached to the Union and the British connection—whether they be Protestant or Catholic, whether they be of high or low degree, and whether they be in Ulster or the other three Provinces—at the mercy of a majority from whom they anticipate, and, having regard to the past, reasonably anticipate, injustice and wrong. The obligations of England towards her adherents in Ireland are as sacred as any political and historic obligations can be. They are often spoken of as the "English garrison," and the phrase in the mouths of Irish Nationalists is a term of opprobrium; but on the lips of an Englishman it should convey no reproach or shame; and nothing can justify the desertion of an English garrison anywhere except overmastering necessity. There is no such necessity in this case. Talk of alternative policies. Almost any alternative would be better than our sanction of such a policy as 911 would preclude the British Parliament and Government from affording full protection to the rights, liberties, and properties of men whose prime offence, in the eyes of their new masters, would be their known and tried attachment to this country. Such a deed would be noted, and its effects would be sensible in every corner of the Empire. Never again would an Englishman abroad—whether in India, or the Colonies, or elsewhere—feel, as he has felt hitherto, the old trust which has been the inspiration of heroic deeds unnumbered, the trust that his country will stand by those who stand by her. And some of the bitterest enemies of this country in the future will be found among her deserted friends in Ireland and their descendants. If Ireland has been wronged in the past, those wrongs cannot be undone and cancelled by the perpetration of another wrong now. This new wrong will bring its own retribution, and, whatever that retribution may be, we shall have deserved our fate. However, we are bidden to cast away these idle fears and baseless forebodings. We are exhorted to trust the Irish Nationalist Party; but on what foundations is our trust to repose? I do not ascribe to that Party either lunacy, or a double dose of original sin; but, taking them as made of average human stuff, why should we trust them? Moderate language, it is true, now flows in copious stream from lips whence we who sat in the last Parliament have been accustomed to hear language very much the reverse of moderate; but let the moderation be ever so sincere, let the language be prompted solely by honest feeling and conviction, and by no regard for tactical and prudential considerations, still it cannot bind or control the future. In any forecasts of probabilities, experience and facts, historic facts, are worth more than speeches. Now, what are the facts? The story of Ireland's connection with England is a long one, and it is a story of imperfect conquest and fusion. The reality of the darker aspects of that chequered record I do not for a moment dispute; but when we sit in judgment on the deeds of our forefathers, it is not fair to judge them by standards of political morality and action which belong to later times. When we condemn them, for instance, for the Penal Laws against the Catholics, we should 912 take into account the desperate nature of the struggle which Protestant England had been constrained to wage against Catholic Powers and the Papacy, and the bias of national sentiment which was only the natural consequence of such a struggle. But, whatever may have been the misdeeds of this country towards Ireland in preceding centuries, you may search all history through without finding a more generous admission of wrong-doing than the people of this country have freely made in the past half-century. They have stood in sackcloth and ashes for their sins towards Ireland; and, according to the Prime Minister's Mid Lothian Manifesto of last September, all the familiar grievances of Ireland, both before and since the Union, have at length been happily removed. The wounds of centuries are not to be healed in a half-a-century, and no one expects effusive gratitude from the Irish Nationalists; but the removal of every grievance, as admitted by the Prime Minister, is in itself a plain token of solicitude to repair old wrongs; and while it was open to Irish Nationalists to accept the remedial measures of recent times as inadequate instalments of what was due to Ireland, they might, at least, have recognized them as proofs of readiness on the part of the English people to do justice. But have they ever done so? Never! Never has the Nationalist literature and rhetoric breathed a more malignant hatred of this country than it has in recent years. No statesman in all our history has ever devoted himself to the cause of Ireland with such sympathy or such power as the Prime Minister; yet, at the last General Election, Ireland did not send him a single supporter, and the whole weight of the Irish Nationalist vote in Great Britain was directed against him and his followers. The promise of a real Union between Great Britain and Ireland—a union of heart and brain as distinct from a paper and parchment Union—adorns the peroration of almost every speech made in favour of this Bill. But the pages of Hansard teem with similar perorations, equally confident, and yet more eloquent; while the hopes they breathed lie shattered in the dust. We have naturally heard a great deal in the course of this debate about Mr. Grattan and his Parliament, and also about Mr. Burke; but the authority of Mr. 913 Burke has been somewhat strained when adduced in favour of Grattan's Parliament. What did Mr. Burke say about Ireland in 1775—that is to say, when the Act of George I., on which Mr. Grattan lavished the thunders of his invective, the Act which made the Irish Parliament entirely subordinate to the British Parliament, was in operation? Mr. Burke said then, in his famous speech for conciliation with the American Colonies, that Ireland was a great and flourishing Kingdom; that it had ceased to be a burden and disgrace intolerable to this country; and that it had become a principal part of our ornament and strength. Bracketing Ireland with Wales, Chester, and Durham, as regions which had been completely conquered and pacified by the beneficent influence of the genius and spirit of the English Constitution, he added—Ireland has ever had from the beginning a separate, but not independent, Legislature, which, far from distracting, promoted the union of the whole. Everything was sweetly and harmoniously disposed through both Islands for the conservation of English dominion and the communication of English liberties.Now, Sir, the work which has made the name of Mr. Grattan famous was the undoing and destruction of that sweet, harmonious disposition which was the subject of Mr. Burke's eulogy. Of course, I shall be told that Mr. Burke was a party to the arrangements of 1782; but did he in after years regard Grattan's Parliament with unmixed satisfaction? I doubt it. At all events, here is what he wrote in December, 1796—that is, six or seven months before his death—Ireland has derived some advantage from its independence of the Parliament of this Kingdom, or rather it did derive advantage from the arrangements that were made at the time of the establishment of that independence. But human blessings are mixed, and I cannot but think that even these great blessings were bought dearly enough when, along with the weight of the authority, they have totally lost all benefit from the superintendence of the British Parliament.That is faint praise for Grattan's Parliament; and what would Mr. Burke have said had he lived to see the Rebellion of 1798? What Mr. Fox thought in 1797 we know; here are his words—From the period of 1782 there have been growing scenes of dissatisfaction and discontent in that country, and at this moment Ireland is in a condition at which no man can look without the deepest alarm.914 It is the fashion now to denounce the Union as a tremendous failure. To determine whether the relations of Great Britain and Ireland have been better or worse since the Union than they were in all the years preceding the Union would require a long and exhaustive review of history, which I certainly shall not attempt; but it is a curious circumstance that no leading statesman of either Party in this country ever discovered the failure of the Union until about the month of December last; and when I remember that the Prime Minister dilated, at Leeds, in 1881, on the remarkable material progress of Ireland, and expressed the conviction that no labouring population in Europe had made such progress in the preceding 20 years as the labouring population of Ireland, I feel persuaded that the Government under which such progress was made must have had very substantial merits. The failure of our endeavours hitherto to conciliate Irish disaffection has been ascribed, in the main, to two causes. It has been ascribed to the influences of necessity and fear under which even good laws have been passed, and to the foreign garb they wore. The introduction of this Bill was not the first occasion on which the Prime Minister has traced the failure of good measures to the circumstances of necessity and fear under which they were enacted. He descanted on the same theme in moving a Resolution for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1868; but that measure was to be, like this one, an act of spontaneous justice. Unhappily, it was afterwards connected with deeds of violence and explosions and the ringing of a chapel bell, and thus whatever grace originally attached to it was effectually dissipated. Take another of the Prime Minister's greatest achievements—the Land Act of 1881. Have the Irish tenantry ever been taught by the Nationalist Loaders to honour the Prime Minister for that Act, or regard it as a generous measure? Nothing of the kind. How, then, can anyone believe that, if this Bill were carried, it would have a happier destiny than previous remedial measures? The whole career of the hon. Member for the City of Cork is in itself enough to stamp a startling concession to him with the brand of surrender. His policy was described even in its infancy as a policy of 915 exasperation; it has been a policy of unsparing menace and coercion. He has pursued his own course with singular tenacity of purpose, in absolute indifference as to the detriment and discredit he might inflict on our most cherished institutions, or the obstruction he might offer to British legislation. He was designated by the Prime Minister as the Leader of the anti-British, the anti-Loyal Party, and his political campaign has been vividly described as a march through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire. The term Separatist has been constantly applied to him and his Party by Liberal Leaders. How, then, can we doubt that if a separate Parliament were now set up in Dublin at his bidding—an arrangement to which there has hitherto been unanimous and inflexible opposition on this side of the Channel—how can we doubt that the concession would be vaunted in Ireland and America as the humiliation of this country, and that the old malign influence that mars the operation of concessions attributed to fear would be at work again with more potency than ever before? To expect that the authors of the "No Rent" Manifesto will scrupulously collect from Irish farmers instalments of purchase money for payment into a foreign Exchequer; that a population disciplined to exercise a cruel social tyranny on their law-abiding neighbours will suddenly become considerate of the rights of minorities; that people accustomed to show disrespect to symbols of Royalty, to cheer for the Mahdi, or anybody else in conflict with England, and to rejoice in visions of Russian Cossacks stabling their horses in this House, and of the British Empire sunk under the sea, will prove loyal and friendly to Great Britain, does seem to me to be a climax of delusive optimism. Now, what is the magic charm to work this miracle where other charms have failed? Why, simply this—the removal of the "foreign garb." We are to admit that we are foreigners and aliens to the Irish, and they to us. We are to realize that we are face to face with Irish nationality, and recognize it as such. But, before this step be taken, I trust that the House will deeply consider how much it may involve. I will not discuss the vexed question whether the population of Ireland be, or be not, a homogeneous nationality; it is, at all events, a commu- 916 nity in which a large and very important minority are content with their position under the Constitution, while full participation in the highest Imperial privileges has failed to conciliate the majority. The national aspirations of what I may call Unionist Ireland are satisfied by representation in this Parliament, by a share in the direction of the policy of a great Power, and by free admission to all Imperial Services. But the Ireland which the hon. Member for the City of Cork represents apparently cares for none of these things, and feels no pride in the Empire to which it belongs. Now, to make a formal recognition of a community under such conditions as a distinct nationality is for us an entirely new departure. It is the assertion of a novel and Separatist principle, which, in a cosmopolitan Dominion like the British Empire, must have far-reaching consequences. Colonial precedents have no bearing on this point. Self-government has been conceded to the Colonies on purely political grounds, as distinct from grounds of nationality. The Colonies which murmured against government from Downing Street were not fully represented, as Ireland is, in this Parliament; they had no representation here at all; and they were thousands of miles away from Westminster and Downing Street, which Ireland is not. Canada supplies a crucial illustration of what I mean. As the House knows, there was rebellion both in Upper Canada, which was British and Protestant, and in Lower Canada, which was French and Catholic. The story of that rebellion is told in Lord Durham's Report on British North America. That famous State Paper is a sort of landmark in Colonial history, and nothing in it is more striking than the contrast portrayed between the comparatively mild and placable nature of the rebellion in Upper Canada, where the source of disaffection was purely political, and the far deadlier type of rebellion in Lower Cauda, where nationality lay at the root of the quarrel. "Concede self-government to Upper Canada," said Lord Durham, "and disaffection will vanish." But then he pointed out that the remedy which sufficed for Upper Canada would be inadequate for Lower Canada; and what this advanced Liberal of his time recommended for Lower Canada was anything but a recognition of the claims 917 of the French Canadian nationality as such. I will quote some of his words—I entertain no doubts as to the national character which must be given to Lower Canada; it must be that of the British Empire; … it must henceforth be the first and steady purpose of the British Government to establish an English population with English laws and language in this Province, and to trust its government to none but a decidedly English Legislature. … No permanent or efficient remedy can be devised for the disorders of Lower Canada, except a fusion of the Government in that of one or more of the surrounding Provinces. I believe that tranquillity can only be restored by subjecting the Province to the vigorous rule of an English majority, and that the only efficacious Government would be that formed by a Legislative Union.In conformity with this recommendation, Upper and Lower Canada, then separate, were fused into one Province; but this Canadian policy of fusion and Legislative Union is the reverse of a precedent for an Irish policy which despairs of fusion, and virtually destroys an existing Legislative Union. I believe the French Canadians to be loyal to the British connection; but they occupy a very peculiar position. They are hopelessly severed from France, and encompassed by communities of Anglo-Saxon origin. They prefer the British connection to absorption by the United States; and just as the fear of absorption by their Sclavonic neighbours makes the Hungarians lean on Austria, so do the French Canadians lean on this country. But if this disintegrating principle of recognizing nationalities be sanctioned by the Imperial Parliament, it would not surprise me much to see the French Canadians commence a movement for secession from the Dominion of Canada, and thus break it up. Moreover, let the House beware of what may happen in such places as Malta and the Mauritius, to say nothing of India. Returning to Ireland and the Irish nationality, I contend that the normal tendencies of nationalities are Separatist. They crave for such demarcation from other nationalities as will give them absolute control of their own destinies in the fullest sense; and when the disaffected part of a population has won specific recognition as a nationality by sheer force of disaffection, whether displayed in open rebellion or in a gigantic conspiracy against the laws of the Realm, most potent influences will be requisite to restrain and overrule the normal 918 Separatist tendency. Will there be such influences in the case of disaffected Ireland after her nationality has been recognized? I think not. Why is Scotland content with her Union? [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] A Scotch Member near me denies the fact; but I do not believe that his opinion is shared by many Scotchmen. For my own part, I chiefly attribute the content of Scotland under the Union to the absence of any lingering, rankling sense of subjection. Scotland gave a King to England, and can look back with pride on her annals as a separate Kingdom before the union of the two Crowns. The memories of William Wallace and Robert Bruce enabled Scotland to enter into union with England with a sense of full equality. There are no corresponding antecedents in Irish history; and because Scotland is content and thoroughly loyal the hon. Member for the City of Cork did not scruple to say last autumn that Scotland had lost her nationality. That indiscreet remark betrayed, I think, a Separatist tendency in his mind. Can we disguise from ourselves that the Irish Nationalist of the present day has no attachment to the English Crown, such as the Hungarian feels towards the Austrian Crown? The pages of history which an Englishman or Scotchman reads with pride kindle no such emotion in his breast. Then Ireland has geographical isolation. Mr. Grattan's saying that the Channel forbids union, and the ocean forbids separation, strikes me as a rhetorical rather than a philosophical expression; and I should imagine the political properties of the salt water in the Channel between Holyhead and Kingstown to be much the same as those of the water in the Channel between Dover and Calais. Ireland is an island large enough to form a small independent State, and if she can shake off the grasp of England, she is not likely to be taken possession of by any other Power. Above all, there is the influence of the Irish in America brooding over bitter memories, and ever ready to take part in movements of hostility against this country. Is it likely that their hatred would be appeased because Ireland had ceased to be an integral part of the United Kingdom, and had become a sort of Dependency of Great Britain? Where such conditions exist, illustrations borrowed 919 from Finland, Iceland, Hungary, and Bavaria have no relevancy whatever. Besides, Nationalist teaching has certainly not been of a kind to prepare the Irish people for easy reconciliation with England. If an Irishman honestly believes England to have been the source of all his country's woes, a tyrant who never relaxes tyranny, except under the pressure of fear, and whose chief Executive Officer, even in this latter half of the 19th century, sends men to the scaffold whom he knows to be innocent, is it credible that the boon, the revocable, precarious boon of a Statutory Parliament from the hand of the oppressor would give final satisfaction to his aspirations? Was it this Statutory Parliament that the hon. Member for the City of Cork had in his mind when he spoke, about a year ago, of better things than Grattan's Parliament which men coming after him might gain? It may have been, but I do not think it was. Then it is said that material interests will bind Ireland to Great Britain; that England is her only market; and that she will not commit suicide by alienating the custom and the capital of her wealthy neighbour. The argument sounds reasonable; but I do not attach much weight to it. The truth is, that temperament and tradition, prejudice and passion, play a larger part in the affairs of this imperfect world than calm calculations of enlightened self-interest. Nations, like individual men and women, have dreams and ideals which are often pursued at the cost of material gain. How often has the material prosperity of Ireland been impaired, and progress retarded, by political and agrarian agitation; but when did that thought ever deter the agitator from his congenial work? And when was an agitator or ambitious politician ever at a loss to dress up his political object with specious accessories of material advantage, such as protection for some native industry, or a handsome distribution all round of acres and cows? In short, Sir, I contend that if the disaffected part of the Irish people, with its antecedents and its leaning on the Irish in America, now win special recognition as a nationality, its Separatist tendencies will be fortified and their results accelerated. Experience and history point to this conclusion, and we have nothing to reassure us but moderate language, tardily 920 uttered at the eleventh hour. We are now assured that the heart of the Irish people, both at home and abroad, has at length been touched—touched by the spectacle of a great Minister dedicating himself, after 50 eventful years of public service, to a supreme endeavour to reconcile Ireland with Great Britain. As to the altered tone of Irish organs, whether in Ireland or in the United States, it is very difficult—indeed impossible—to determine to what extent the alteration has been produced by the most obvious motives for soothing the suspicions and apprehensions of the English people, and how much is due to a genuine emotion of newly-awakened cordiality. I am not convinced that pure American opinion, except where it has political relations with the Irish vote, does applaud the policy of the Government. Grant, however, that the change of tone springs from a well of kindly feeling, still it will prove to be a transient and evanescent emotion. In the ordinary course of nature, the Prime Minister will not be here for the next 20 years to watch over and guide the course of his experiment. When the spell of his presence is gone, and the flush of early satisfaction has faded away, the tribute, and the veto, and the condition of partial dependency will remain to create friction, to fan the embers of ancient animosities, and stir a soil teeming with influences of estrangement and separation. It may, however, be said that, even if one has this conviction of an inevitable tendency towards complete separation, why should not the experiment of a domestic Legislature and separate Executive Government in Ireland be tried? We are told that if the experiment fails, if the powers of Home Rule be abused, and efforts be made to advance separation, this country can always resume the boon it gave to Ireland. Both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) referred to this contingency in their speeches on the first reading of this Bill. But if the Irish Nationalists' present demand for Home Rule should be conceded, why should a future demand for complete independence be refused? Surely not upon the ground of British interests, because that is an objectionable Tory phrase; and the virtue of the Liberal Party, which, of course, grows more virtuous every year, is too pure to 921 be swayed by such selfish considerations. Neither could it be refused on the ground that it would be bad for Ireland, after the concession of Home Rule, on the distinct principle that the Irish know what is best for themselves and their own affairs. A majority in Ireland may hereafter say to the democracy of this country—"You recognized our nationality, but you attached to the recognition conditions and limitations which create irritation between us, while they prohibit the full normal development of our nationality. Let us, then, part in peace; let us sever the last link in amity, and ever after we will be to each other the best of neighbours and the fastest of friends." Now, will the democracy, weary, probably, by that time of continuous wrangling, turn a deaf ear to the demand, especially if it be accompanied by a judicious mixture such as the hon. Member for the City of Cork knows so well how to brew at the proper time—a judicious mixture of blandishment and menace? I doubt it. Democracy, as we have heard in this debate, does not love coercion. According to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bryce), democracy can pass severe laws in a moment of exasperation, but soon forgets the occasion of them, and repeals them. In other words, it can fly into a passion and kick somebody, but is incapable of patient, uniform, and consistent rule. If that be a true description, democracy will, I fear, prove unfit to be lord and master of a vast Dominion embracing divers races and nationalities in different stages of civilization and political development; and an Empire which a people has made under the guidance of a great aristocracy will slide from its grasp in anarchy, bloodshed, and ruin. But, be that as it may, one thing at least is certain with regard to Ireland. If the occasion should hereafter arise to revoke the grant of Home Rule, to pull down the Irish Legislature, and separate Government, exceedingly stringent measures will be requisite for the work of demolition, and they will have to be followed by most resolute and long-sustained coercion, under circumstances incomparably more difficult than those around us now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Bedford have endeavoured to comfort us with an assurance that in such a contingency 922 stern action would be accredited by the approval of the civilized world. But the support of the civilized world is wont to be very Platonic; it is apt to mind its own business, and not help other people out of their troubles. If we place reliance in any quarter but ourselves we shall surely be disappointed. In short, Sir, I object to a most perilous experiment, the initial conditions of which would, be the withdrawal of the Imperial hand from the legislative and executive control of Ireland, and the sacrifice of all our best friends there. I take my stand on the existing Union, and adhere to the often-quoted words of the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), that—As far as law and order and the peace of the country are concerned, there is no half-way house between entire separation and absolute Imperial control.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Wodehouse) told them that he would not make a philosophical speech; but, in his (Colonel Nolan's) opinion, that speech was full of the hon. Gentleman's peculiar philosophy, for he told them all that democracy would do, and all that democracy would not do, and various other things. One of his opinions was that no pure American opinion was in favour of this Bill. Well, he (Colonel Nolan) thought that was a rather bold statement, having regard to the fact that in that morning's Times there was a column of a speech from Mr. Blaine, a candidate for the Presidency of America, in favour of the Bill. The hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham) objected to the Bill, because he said that under it penal laws with regard to education would be passed. Well, he (Colonel Nolan) thought the rights of minorities in the question of education could not be more strongly guarded than they were in the Bill. By the Constitution of the United States, individual States were prohibited from favouring any one religious sect, and no State had attempted to do it. There was every reason to suppose that the same prohibition would be equally effective in Ireland; and there was certainly no desire on the part of the majority in Ireland to oppress any sect in the minority. The two last speakers against the Bill had had used exactly contradictory arguments with 923 regard to the condition of Ireland since the Union. The hon. Member who had just sat down said that Ireland made extraordinary progress since the Union; while the other hon. Member said that such was the condition of Ireland at present that what was wanted was to put bread in the mouths of the Irish people. It was true, of course, that there was some progress since the Union; but look how enormous was the progress of other countries. Ireland's complaint was that she had no fair share in that progress. The hon. Member who spoke last said he did not object to the details of the Bill—he objected to its principle. Well, he (Colonel Nolan) wished all those who were against the Bill were only the persons who opposed its principle. In that case they would have against it only the whole, or nearly the whole, of the Conservative Party, and some 30 or 40 Members on the other side, Unfortunately, they had to deal also with those who accepted the principle, but objected to the details; and it was difficult to understand why such Members did not follow the intelligible course of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. M'Arthur), who deferred his criticisms for the Committee stage, and reserved his right to oppose the third reading if the Bill were not satisfactory at that stage. He would commend to the consideration of those Members an interview in The Pall Mall Gazette with the hon. Member for Barrow (Mr. Caine). That hon. Member said there were 12 Members who were "waiters" on Providence, and that all the rest were "stalwarts," who would vote against the second reading. Well, the 12 Gentlemen in question would see that they were not held in any high estimation by the hon. Member for Barrow, and he would suggest to them that they should vote for the second reading of the Bill. There was one point which was very little attended to in the debate—that was the question of administration by separate Executives for Ireland and England. That he believed to be one of the most important parts of the Bill. He agreed, to some extent, with hon. Members who objected to two Executives. If they had two Executives in military or naval matters he admitted that it would be injurious to the country; but that was not proposed under the Bill. When, however, they came to deal 924 with Imperial affairs, there was a great advantage in having two Executives, and especially as regarded domestic affairs. One thing that had made Ireland miserable—for, no doubt, Ireland was at present a very miserable country, both materially and politically—was the lack of good administration. He did not attach much importance to the differences in race and character between the English and Irish peoples. The most important difference was in the circumstances of the two countries. No people could be expected to make much progress who had not the administration of their own affairs. In England the distinguishing feature of the Administration was that it was kept in harmony with the existing political institutions, and with every change of Government. The moment a change of Government was made, the head of every single Department, whether foreign affairs, political, or material, was changed, and men appointed thoroughly in favour with the feeling of the country. All these Departments were thus placed in touch with popular feeling, as all, even to the guardian of the Queen's Robes and the keepers of the dogs and horses, changed with each political Party. In Ireland, however, no Member of the popular Party had the smallest share in its Administration. A few Conservatives, it was true, were accorded a share in the Administration; but at the present moment his Party, who were the Representatives of the majority in Ireland, did not appoint a single official. Therefore, they not only deprived Irish Members, but whole constituencies, of any control over the Administration of the country. When they passed this Bill they would, for the first time, practically see Irish people at the head of their Administration. When that was done every official, every policeman, would feel that he was one of their public servants, and would be in thorough harmony with the people. On other great and important points there would be a far better arrangement for England, in the case of Ireland, than with any of the Colonies, and better than any federal arrangement. She had rights of getting money under the Bill and of enforcing conscription in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) objected to the Bill because it did not contain the federal prin- 925 ciple. The essential part of a federal arrangement was a treaty between two contracting parties. There was no treaty between England and Ireland, because in this Bill the Imperial Government reserved the right, through Parliament, to change the law as applied to Ireland at any time. England, by the Bill, would have all the advantages of federation; and, therefore, he saw no ground for the objection of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. There were also hon. Gentlemen who said Ireland would occupy a degraded position under the Bill, as the people would be cut off from a larger sphere, and from dealing with foreign affairs, &c. If the Irish Members were a great controlling power in Parliament he might agree, to some extent, with that contention. What, however, was the fact? The great bulk of the Irish Members, returned by the popular Party in Ireland, were completely excluded from foreign affairs, and they never even dreamed of getting a man into the Cabinet who held their views. They had been occasionally allowed to upset a Ministry; but as for having any control over, or dealings with, foreign nations, whether friendly or not, they had nothing to do with that; so that, in point of fact, they had very little indeed; and, therefore, when they were asked to resign their power of dealing with such questions, as they had never been allowed to use it, they all the more cheerfully relinquished all that. There was a good deal of misapprehension regarding the financial question. He would, however, reserve until the Committee stage the discussion of that portion of the Bill. He would point out, however, that under a Dublin Parliament a very great saving would be effected in the Administration of the country. The Army would be enormously reduced, to the extent, indeed, of 20,000 men; for there would not be any necessity for maintaining so large a force as at present under an Irish Parliament. Then the Police Force, which at present costs £1,000,000, could, he believed, be reduced by them to about half that. The Civil Service was also very much too expensive. It had heretofore been more or leas a means of bribing a certain class, and the Irish Parliament would certainly develop a large spirit of economy in regard to it. The saving thus effected would be 926 devoted to the improvement of the industrial resources of the country. In conclusion, he would only remark that, with regard to the action of fair and open enemies, such as the Conservatives, they could appreciate it at its value, and they knew how to deal with them. But he appealed to those so-called friends who were taking up the invidious position of saying they were in favour of the principle of the Bill, but who, at the same time, were expressing a disposition to vote, against the second reading, to reconsider their decision. He could assure them and the House that, in Ireland, the people were raised to a high point in anticipation of the passing of the Bill. When he was last in Ireland, and amongst his constituents, he found them to be almost perfectly confident of the successful issue of this measure. They looked upon it as an absolute certainty. The House could have no idea of the shock it would be to the people if they learned that their hopes were to be dashed to the ground, and the Bill to be rejected. Surely, therefore, the second reading of the Bill should be carried, and details could, of course, be disposed of as might be considered necessary. If the second reading was not carried there would be a dreadful revulsion of feeling in Ireland, and he appealed to the House to act justly and fairly, and to pass the second reading.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
Sir, I cannot agree with the Liberal elector who said that if the Prime Minister proposed to abolish the law of gravitation he should wish his Member to support him; and, therefore, I desire to consider the position in which the Liberal Members are now placed. I ask myself, and I wish to ask the House, why this Bill for giving Home Rule to Ireland has been introduced? In the admirable address which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister issued to the electors of Mid Lothian at the last General Election he mentioned four great subjects that would require immediate attention—Parliamentary Procedure; Local Government; the reform of the Laws relating to Land; and Registration. He afterwards named other subjects which might have to be dealt with, among them being changes in the House of Lords; and, last of all, alterations with regard to the government of Ireland. Moreover, the consti- 927 tuencies were asked to give a majority over the Tories and Parnellites combined, in order that there might be a firm system of government in Ireland, and in order that the English Ministry might not depend on the Irish vote. As that majority was not obtained a new state of things came about, and the Government had to consider a new policy; and it was for that reason, and not because the Tories did not renew the Coercion Acts in June, and not because they did propose to renew them in January. The proposal first came in the form of examination and inquiry by the Prime Minister, resulting in the production in six weeks of two Bills which practically offer a new Constitution for England and Ireland. The Ministry, with some few exceptions, accepted the new policy in the course of a fortnight, and the House of Commons is now asked to do the same, and to pledge itself on the subject. Therefore, the question immediately arises, are Liberals bound in honour to the right hon. Gentleman to accept his proposals, or have they a right to consider for themselves what they ought to do in the matter? On this point I desire to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman himself, for he has laid it down in his own address that—Liberalism has ever sought to unite freedom, individual thought, and action, to which it so largely owes its healthy atmosphere, with corporate efficiency.Consequently, I contend that the right hon. Gentleman has fairly told Liberal Members that they have a right to exercise an independent judgment, even upon a great subject such as this. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman accepts it. Then, how are the proposals of the Government recommended? We are told that by accepting them we shall atone for the sins of our ancestors. I, for one, am a little tired of hearing of the sins of predecessors who lived four and five generations ago, and I think the time has come when we should only be held responsible for our own political sins. The present generation of Liberals have nothing to regret in their treatment of Ireland, and they have always shown great readiness to co-operate with the Prime Minister in his remedial legislation. Another reason given in support of the Bill is that by passing it we should get rid of the Irish Members, and so be able to devote undivided 928 attention to English and Scotch affairs. That is a very attractive prospect to many Members; but we should prove ourselves very selfish if we were to pass the Bill on that ground, for we should be committing a great public wrong in order to obtain a private benefit. As to the Land Bill, which, however, we shall probably never discuss, the friends of the landlords are asked to vote for it because they are to get a good price for their land. But it involves a fatal dilemma. If, in order that the landlords may have justice, it is necessary to buy them out, it is clear that the proposed Irish Government is not likely to be fair and just, in which case it ought not to be established. If, on the other hand, it is thought that the Government would be just, there is no reason for buying out the landlords. Another argument in favour of the measure before the House is that hon. Members below the Gangway opposite accept it and will be satisfied with it. But can we be sure of that? I have not heard any Irish Member state that the Bill is to be final, and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) has said distinctly that he accepts the measure as an indication of the goodwill of the Ministry, but that it will require serious modifications in Committee for him to be satisfied with it. But even if hon. Members from Ireland do agree as to the finality of the Bill, how can they bind generations unborn and future Parliaments? Much stress is laid by the supporters of the measure on the safeguards which it provides. But those safeguards are altogether illusory. We are told, in the first place, that the minority would be protected by the first Order in the Irish Legislature. But if safeguards are necessary, you admit that the majority will not treat them fairly; and the question immediately strikes one whether it is likely that this first Order will long continue in existence? I think not, considering its peculiar constitution; and I cannot refrain from expressing my great astonishment that the head of a Liberal Ministry should in these days propose to introduce a special property qualification, both for electors and elected. Another supposed safeguard is the power of veto. If the Irish Legislature were to take in hand subjects which might be thought to be beyond its province the 929 Privy Council in England is to have the power of deciding whether the Lord Lieutenant should exercise his veto or not. The consequence would be that the Lord Lieutenant would be placed in a very false position, and that a demand would spring up for the abolition of this alien authority—namely, that of the Privy Council and of the Lord Lieutenant. It would be far better that the veto should be exercised by the Imperial Parliament rather than by the Privy Council, because the Irish Members would then be present to defend the acts of their own Legislature. That, too, might insure a real protection to minorities. Another important point is that regarding the position of the Army in Ireland. I fear that under this measure it would be viewed as a hostile force, merely there for the purpose of enforcing the payment of taxes. The Prime Minister has told us that the Nationalists are identified with disorder and disunion; they are now to become the Representatives of order. Should the Loyalists object to the decrees of the new Government, would the Army be employed to coerce them? If not, you would allow civil war; and if yes, then you are still going to have coercion. The position of the Loyalist Party in Ireland, which, it is admitted, ought to be well safeguarded, is to be secured by a second Bill dealing with land; but the only way of effectively safeguarding them is by establishing the supremacy of the Parliament at Westminster, and giving it a veto over the Irish Parliament. The noble Lord the Member for the Tavistock Division of Devon (Viscount Ebrington) has investigated the election addresses of Liberal candidates at the last Election, and he finds that only six Members of the present House of Commons declared themselves in favour of Home Rule. Some gave direct pledges against it, and they cannot be expected to swallow their opinions. The Prime Minister's Mid Lothian Manifesto conveyed no idea that he intended to take up this subject. He mentioned four prominent points in the Liberal programme as pressing for settlement, and indicated others to remain in the background; but Home Rule was not among them. The Liberals accepted the programme, and many of them spoke strongly against the separation of the Imperial Parliament. They are now asked to swallow 930 their pledges, and to join hands with the Irish, who, to a man, where they could, opposed their elections. If they are unwilling to comply, they are told they are "seceders," and even "traitors." If there are any seceders, they are the supporters of this Bill. In his address to the electors of Mid Lothian, the right hon. Gentleman said he hoped they might be able to proceed in the path of progress, allowing fair latitude of opinion to every Liberal. Yet threats have been uttered that those Liberals who do not agree with the Government's Irish policy are to be politically ostracized. If they do not vote for the second reading of that Bill, everything is to be done to prevent their re-election. Now, I remember well the time when, after the Elections in 1874, the right hon. Gentleman thought he would no longer lead the Liberal Party, but would retire to his hermitage in Cheshire. Then the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) stepped forward and stood in the breach. I myself was present at the meeting of the Reform Club when the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) proposed that the noble Marquess should lead the Liberal Party; and for six long years, with occasional assistance from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, the noble Marquess rendered that service to the Liberal Party which resulted in the great victory of 1880. The noble Marquess then did good work for the Party, and it is a little too strong now to call him a traitor because he does not agree in opinion with some hon. Members on this side. Again, the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) deserves well of the Liberal Party, for he has done more than any other man to carry the recent extension of the county franchise. Are you going to exclude the right hon. Gentleman from public life? [Mr. LABOUCHERE (Northampton): Until he repents.] My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton says—"Untilhe repents." So that there is to be a limited seclusion for him, and it is to be supposed that he will be sent to a lunatic asylum until he takes the same view as my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, whose consistency on this question must be acknowledged, because he has always supported Home Rule. I have given 931 the names of two men whom it is proposed to ostracize, and they are men who, as the Prime Minister, with the generosity which characterizes him, will admit, have done the greatest service to the Liberal Party. Therefore, if we do that, we should do a thing that is singularly ungrateful. Then I come to the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), against whom Irish Members opposite launch all their wonderful artillery of jibe and innuendo; but they forget that he has been a chief exponent of the great Radical measures carried during the last 10 or 15 years—a fact on which they used to congratulate him a short time ago. Then of all the men who ought not to be ostracized in that way is the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), who has done the greatest service to the Liberal cause. That right hon. Gentleman had said in the most solemn manner that he objected to the Bill of the Prime Minister.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Let us see his letter?
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID
The senior Member for Birmingham wrote a letter that was read at the meeting held by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), which sufficiently indicated his opinion. [An hon. MEMBER: The other letter.] The right hon. Gentleman said in his letter—Does anyone imagine that such Bills could become law without a manifestation of the differences and doubts which they have created? It would be a calamity for this country if measures of this transcendent magnitude were to be accepted on the authority of a Leader of a Party, or of a Minister, however eminent, and that no other Member of the Party was to be permitted to hold or express strong doubts or even adverse opinions of the measures proposed. For constituencies to accept this system would be to betray their value in the working of Representative Institutions. The sad Party division has arisen from the introduction of measures of vast importance without any sufficient preparation of the public or the Party mind to accept them. The measures themselves, and the time and the manner of their introduction in Parliament, are the causes of the division of the Liberal Party, and not the opinions or criticisms of honourable men. The Party may be shaken for a time, but it will recover; for consistency and courage and honour will never be without value in the estimation of our countrymen.I myself agree with that great man; 932 and I venture to say that hon. Members have a right to criticize and express their objections to this Bill, and that they ought not to be ostracized by those who sit around because they do what they consider to be right. But whether they are to be ostracized or not, individually, I think, it is their duty to ignore all personal considerations, and to consider only what the result of any vote they give will be upon the public interest. It is admitted that this Bill, if not exactly a bad one, is certainly not a good one. I have looked at all the resolutions which have been passed at the Liberal meetings which have been recently held, and I find that the measure is regarded not as one that ought to pass as it stands, but as a mere basis for future legislation—just as an empty orange is by an able culinary artist made the basis of a glace en surprise. We all approve the title of the measure—that of "A Bill for the better government of Ireland"—but, with that exception, almost everything it contains is to be swept away, and something else substituted for it. The truth is that what we are practically asked to do is, to read the Bill a second time because the Prime Minister has introduced it. In my opinion, we ought to put aside all considerations of personal admiration for the right hon. Gentleman, and should examine the measure before us, and see whether its provisions are such as are calculated to tend to the good government of Ireland in the present, and to the improvement of the relations between the two countries in the future. I know of half-a-dozen, or a dozen, hon. Members who are going to support the second reading of the Bill merely on the ground of their personal admiration of the right hon. Gentleman. [Cries of "Name!"] It appears to afford some amusement to hon. Members to cry "Name!" whenever reference is made to any individual Members; but I do not intend to give any names, and shall content myself by adhering to my statement. In my opinion, it is a bad thing to vote merely on the ground of personal admiration. I, for one, cannot accept the infallibility of either Pope or Premier. Hon. Members are sent to this House to exercise their judgment on matters that are brought before them. I say it, and say it unhesitatingly, that every Member of Parliament should only vote on his own per- 933 sonal responsibility, and not on account of his personal admiration for the right hon. Gentleman. He is not sent here as a mere voting machine simply to register the decrees of the right hon. Gentleman. That is an unworthy position, which I, for one, cannot accept. The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) told us the other day that the Irish Members were to return to this House upon certain specified conditions; but it appears to me that the way in which that plan has been sketched out would only make matters worse. The majority, for instance, might support certain financial arrangements in order to carry out which the presence of the Irish Members would be necessary. They are summoned to attend at Westminster; they disapprove of the financial arrangements submitted to them; they turn the majority into a minority, and the Ministry would disappear owing to the momentary presence of the Irish Members. On the other hand, I infer that naval and military matters would be settled by the Imperial Parliament without the Irish Members being personally consulted. But the Irish Parliament, as I have pointed out, might legislate upon forbidden subjects, and great danger would immediately arise. I, for one, have no desire to see these dangers arise. I am not opposed to any reasonable and fair arrangement which would afford to the Irish people a greater opportunity of deciding with regard to their own affairs; but I do not wish to be a consenting party to any plan which would be likely to create increased difficulties between England and Ireland, and lead to further demands which would culminate in the separation of the two countries. We are told that if this Bill is not passed we are incurring grave responsibilities. I admit it. But hon. Members who vote for it are also incurring grave responsibilities. It has been said that if this Bill is rejected murders and outrages will follow in Ireland. What I say is that it is for the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his followers, who have shown for months past that they are able to put a stop to outrages, and to keep the country in order, and who have done themselves credit by the course they have pursued—it is for them to persuade the Irish people to continue their present pacific attitude, and to con- 934 vince them that outrage and murder are no arguments. I am quite satisfied that they are much more likely to alienate the English people by encouraging outrage and disturbance than by doing their best sternly to repress them; and I trust that, whatever the result of the division upon this Bill may be, the Irish Members will take care that there shall be no disorder in their country. There are only one or two other points upon which I desire to say a word. We have been told that the relations of the Liberal Party to the Irish are different from what they were. ["Divide!"] I have not troubled hon. Members very long; and when I remember that nearly every Irish Member who has addressed the House has spoken for at least an hour and a-half, and some of them for more than two hours, I do not think it is unreasonable for an English Member to speak for half an-hour. What I was about to say was that the hon. Member who spoke just now said that the Bill had been prepared in haste. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bryce), who made an admirable speech in support of the Bill the other night, asked us how we could expect the Bill to be anything like perfect seeing that it had been prepared in such a hurry. That is true; for it is not to be expected that a scheme for a Constitution drawn up in a few weeks should be perfect, when the British Constitution, which has taken centuries to develop, is still full of imperfections. But that is all the more reason why the Bill should not be pressed forward now, and why a second reading vote should not be forced upon us on a Bill which is not before the House, because it is admitted that the present Bill is not to be prosecuted further. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: No.] It is admitted that the present Bill will not be proceeded with, but that another measure will be brought in in the autumn. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: No.] Then, if it is the same Bill, it is the Bill with a great many modifications. The Bill in every clause will require numerous modifications; and, therefore, I say that we ought not to be asked to vote for the second reading of a measure which, to a great extent, contains within itself nothing that is likely to pass into law. We are asked to vote for the Bill simply because it contains some clauses of which 935 hon. Members opposite may approve, but which it is admitted by my hon. Friends around me are only to form the basis of future legislation. I maintain that there is no precedent for asking the House to vote for the second reading of a Bill of this kind, when we know that the greater part of it is to be altered hereafter. I cannot for the life of me understand what the object of Her Majesty's Government is. It certainly appears to be much more like Constitution mongering than Constitution making. We are told that it is merely to be an acknowledgment of the right of Ireland to autonomy. If hon. Members want autonomy I am ready to give them a substantial change; but I want to know, in the first place, not only what is to be done in regard to Irish questions, but in regard to English questions also? As far as they are concerned, is it their desire not only to secure autonomy for themselves, but to provide autonomy for us also? It is to be regretted that there should be this great difference among Members of the Liberal Party, not only in the House, but all over the country; but it is admitted that the Bill will have to be materially altered, and that it will only pass a second reading in a reluctant House of Commons in order to secure a Ministerial triumph. Whether the second reading is carried or defeated by some half-dozen votes I say the result will be the same. Hon. Members talk about a Dissolution. I do not think that signifies an atom. But we are asked to vote for this Bill, and are told that it is to take the place of a Resolution. That is altogether contrary to Parliamentary precedent, and the Government should give up the Bill, and, if desired, pass a Resolution. The Bill does not accomplish the object which the Government have in view, and there can be no reason for proceeding with it. I would, therefore, venture to make an urgent appeal to the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision, not only in the interest of the Government but in the interest of the Liberal Party. Is it not possible to take a more common-sense course? Is it not possible to take the Conservative Party into counsel? I can give an example of what I mean. We remember the fight that used to take place over the question of Reform. But what did the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister do two years ago? He met the 936 Heads of the Conservative Party, and the result was the two great measures which now stand upon the Statute Book. That was a great precedent once set by the right hon. Gentleman, and why should not the same course be followed now? What I contend is that nothing will be gained by pressing the Bill forward now. The only result is the division of the Liberal Party, followed by disasters to the Government hereafter. Therefore, I hope we shall not be asked to go to a second reading. Hon. Members opposite would lose nothing by displaying a spirit of moderation in the matter. I, for one, have always entertained the highest respect for the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), perhaps more for the patient and eloquent speeches which he has delivered in this House than for hose he has delivered out-of-doors, which have not always been as patient or as loyal. I desire to meet as fairly as possible the views of hon. Members opposite. Whatever the result of this division may be—whether we are sent to the country or not—I consider it the duty of every Member, regardless of being returned again or not, to vote against the Bill if he thinks it a bad Bill, and for it if he thinks it a good Bill. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will feel that, not only do we owe him loyalty as our Leader, but that he owes us loyalty for having faithfully followed him for years past, and he will be convinced that it is our first desire to heal the wound which has temporarily separated the Liberal Party. What I have said has not been said in any spirit of cavil, or any desire to attack the right hon. Gentleman. No one can entertain a higher sense of the great public services of the right hon. Gentleman; but I am satisfied that the Bill, as it stands, will not accomplish the object he has in view, and therefore I find it impossible to vote for the second reading.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
Mr. Speaker, I am quite sure that my hon. Friend who has just sat down is not animated by any spirit of cavil. The only fault which I should venture to find in his speech is, that I am quite unable to discover the drift of his argument, or to see any thread of argument running through that speech at all. There were a number of interest- 937 ing but exceedingly desultory remarks as to the history of the Liberal Party; what it was in 1880, and sundry other matters. But I think my hon. Friend gave the House very few reasons—if, indeed, he adduced any reasons at all—for the course he is about to take. My hon. Friend did not even to the last inform the House what course he is about to take. ["Oh!"] If hon. Gentlemen opposite have been able to discover it, they are certainly more clear-sighted than I am. My hon. Friend proposed a course to which, if the conditions were favourable, I, for one, should have no objection. He proposed that there should be an understanding arrived at between ourselves and right hon. Gentlemen opposite; but in order to bring about a satisfactory result there must be some consensus of opinion as to the end, and as to the means, as there was in the case of the Redistribution Bill, to which my hon. Friend referred. But, so far from there being any consensus of opinion in the present case, there is a very deep and clear opposition. I do not understand altogether what are the lines of opposition which separate us from our Friends; but I understand quite clearly the line of opposition which divides us from right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Do my hon. Friends below the Gangway think any modus vivendi can be found between us and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are in favour of 20 years of coercion for Ireland? [Cries of "No!" and "Withdraw!"] I will withdraw that imputation as soon as I hear one single right hon. Gentleman on that Bench disavow what the Marquess of Salisbury has said. My hon. Friend said he was at a loss to know the basis upon which Liberal Associations in the country were sending up resolutions of remonstrance to Members who are going to vote against their Party.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
I did not say that. What I said was that the Liberal Associations in the country admitted that they did not approve of the Bill—["Cries of "No!"]—because they only said that the Bill contained the basis of future legislation.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
At all events, whatever else the Liberal Associations in the country which send up resolutions mean, they mean that Liberal Members are to vote, if they possibly 938 can, for the second reading of the Bill. Now, Sir, I am the last person in the world to give any support or favour to any of those practices of ostracism of which my hon. Friend complained. I think this is a very grave and serious issue. I think it is an issue on which we all of us ought to listen to the voice of those who dissent from us with the utmost tolerance and consideration. But when my hon. Friend said that it was we who are the seceders I cannot admit that. I cannot admit that when we find, at all events, putting it at the very lowest, two-thirds of the Party, and after all one who is the Leader of the Party, on our side—I cannot admit that we can be fairly described as the seceders. If we are to speak of ostracism, I have seen it reported in the newspapers that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) made some remarks at the meeting at Devonshire House as to the value and duty of using the long purse against those who did not agree with the views of that meeting. I think, therefore, it is we rather who may complain of being ostracized, and ostracized, not by arguments, but by a long purse.
Now, Sir, before the speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down, there was another hon. Friend of mine who made a more interesting and serious speech protesting against our Bill—I mean the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham). Every portion of that speech showed that my hon. Friend was speaking from honest and straightforward conviction. But when I come to examine in the light of that speech my hon. Friend's position, I confess that I am at a loss to understand it. My hon. Friend said that destructive criticism was very easy, and that constructive criticism was less easy. I am afraid I must say that my hon. Friend's speech illustrated that proposition. He made two suggestions towards constructive criticism. One was that you were to give the English democracy a chance. This may be constructive, but it is vague. The other was that you were not to have a coercion policy. He expressed, in language which I greatly admired, a sentiment with which I entirely sympathized—that he wished to dissociate himself from coercion. That was his second attempt at constructive criticism. Well, 939 but then which Party is my hon. Friend going to support by the vote that he is about to give? The effect of his vote, whatever the design of it may be, will be, if the country ratifies it, to instal in power the Coercion Party. [Opposition cries of "No!"] Another difficulty I have in understanding my hon. Friend's position is that he expressed his willingness to vote for a Resolution which should affirm the principle of self-government and Home Rule for Ireland; and yet, in the same speech, within a few sentences of that proposition, my hon. Friend went on to say that he, for his part, was not for going one inch beyond some small and moderate measure of local self-government. [Mr. WINTERBOTHAM dissented.] Now, Sir, I want my hon. Friend, and those who agree with him, to ask themselves where their action is going to land them, and whither it leads them? My hon. Friend does not agree with the policy of the Party opposite. He agrees with us so far as to be willing to affirm the principle of Home Rule for Ireland. He dissents from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), because, he says, he will not go further than to give to Ireland some small measure of local self-government. But when his vote has taken effect, where will he be? Will any one of the conditions he has laid down be satisfied? I think he will find that he is completely baulked; and all who think with him, and who vote as he says he will vote, will find themselves baulked, and all their calculations baffled and thrown out.
My hon. Friend, in his speech, illustrated a great number of what I must venture to call the sophisms and fallacies which have gone through this debate. He seemed to think—as many other hon. Members who have spoken seem to think—that when we say we are in the midst of a crisis we mean that it is some mere Parliamentary, Party, or political crisis. I mean, when I say we are in a crisis something much more, much deeper, and much wider than that. I am quite sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite—those who know most of Ireland—will be most willing to agree with me in my estimate of the gravity and magnitude of the crisis. I was rather surprised to hear my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) say that the power of the hon. Member 940 for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was far inferior to the power possessed by Mr. O'Connell, and that the movement of O'Connell reached national proportions and raised national enthusiasm far beyond anything reached by the hon. Member for the City of Cork. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill), too, in his speech, said that no Irish political Party has ever held long together, and he illustrated that by the Party of O'Connell. He said that O'Connell's Party broke to pieces and melted away. Well, Sir, I am amazed that two noble Lords, who have both of them exceptional knowledge of Ireland and of the condition of Ireland, should suppose that there is any analogy whatever between the position of O'Connell and the position of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. Why, in Mr. O'Connell's time the whole apparatus and machinery of Protestant ascendancy was absolute and complete. The Protestant Establishment reared its head as the symbol of that ascendancy. The power of the landlords in those days was absolute and undisputed. The whole number of the voters of Ireland, in a population of something like 8,000,000 in O'Connell's time, after the passing of the Reform Bill, was 150,000. But now, Sir, the whole scene has been transformed. Gentlemen from Ulster sitting opposite to me may differ from us as to the cause and as to the cure; but they will not differ from me when I say that there has come over the scene a complete transformation since the days of O'Connell. All that was then weakest is now strongest, and what was then omnipotent over the destinies of the people of Ireland is now trying to save what remains of the shreds of its power. The Ecclesiastical Establishment is gone. The landlords are no longer above the law, and the tenants are no longer serfs without rights. Where you had, in O'Connell's time, a constituency of 150,000 out of a population of 8,000,000, you have now nearly 750,000 voters in a population of less than 5,000,000. Again, in O'Connell's time the tenant voted under the eye—the vigilant eye—of the agent; he is now free by the Ballot to vote as he pleases. There is one more important change than any which has come over the political condition of Ireland and her political relations with 941 England. Mr. O'Connell died in the spring of 1847. That was the era of the famine. The famine was followed by the great emigration and the wholesale evictions—one of the most monstrous chapters in the history of any modern society, and a chapter of which we have not yet come to the last page. I have heard a great deal of talk in this debate about the "dismemberment of the Empire." There, Sir, was a true dismemberment of the Empire—a dispersion of the population of the country, which planted in every quarter of the globe an enemy to your rule. That is the most important of all the changes, because the growth of an Ireland across the seas has given to the Irish people at home a self-confidence and a moral power and a command of material resources of which O'Connell never dreamed. On that account, Sir, I confess I am dismayed and surprised that my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), who has played and must play so important a part in the settlement of this great question, should so ignore the change that has come over the relations between England and Ireland. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester (Mr. Winterbotham) said he was in favour of giving to Ireland some small measure of local self-government. Well, that will dissociate my hon. Friend from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
I did not say a small measure; I said a generous and liberal measure of local self-government.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Very good; a generous and liberal measure of local self-government, but still a purely local self-government. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say "Hear, hear!" Now, they will not, I dare say, regard an argument from me; but perhaps they will listen to something said not many months ago by that very eminent and illustrious man, the Leader of their Party. Sir, the Marquess of Salisbury, speaking at Newport, made some remarks which I have always thought extremely wise and sensible, and I will venture to read them for the benefit of some of his followers. The Marquess of Salisbury said—A Local Authority is more exposed to the temptations, and has more facility for enabling 942 a majority to be unjust to the minority than is the case when the authority derives its sanction and extends its jurisdiction over a wide area. That is one of the weaknesses of Local Authority. In a large Central Authority the wisdom of several parts of the country will correct the folly or mistake of one. In a Local Authority that correction to a much greater extent is wanting, and it would be impossible to leave that out of sight in the extension of any such Local Authority in Ireland.Now, I think that is a sound and statesmanlike view, and it expresses the reasons why I, for one, am convinced that you will do more harm than good to the objects you are professing to serve if you extend popular power in small local areas, instead of ventilating the whole mine from the top to the bottom, erecting a large Central Authority with full powers, wide knowledge, and large responsibilities. I hope that I have not in any way forced the Marquess of Salisbury's meaning; but I know not what other construction to put upon his words.
We have had already in Ireland a very considerable experience of the working of small Local Authorities, and I must point out to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House who are taken in by the phrase that all you have to do is to "govern Ireland"—I must point out that you do not govern a country with free institutions merely by Civil Courts, by the tax collector, and by the constable. You govern a country by the agency of institutions which have now broken in your hands for the purposes of government. The institution of trial by jury is one of those institutions which in this country we find of the utmost value; but trial by jury does not facilitate the work of the Government in Ireland. It does not make government easier in Ireland. I am not going to labour that subject; but I will read a word or two from the Report of the Committee of the House of Lords which sat in 1881. That Committee reported about Irish juries—Men of higher social position than the ordinary juries are, as a rule, disinclined to take their burden of service, and frequently avoid it. They will submit to the infliction of a small fine, or the chance of incurring a large one, sooner than associate with the class of men who serve as common jurors.It may be said that this is due to intimidation, and that if we had accepted your policy of January 26, and suppressed the National League, the juries would have done their duty. ["Hear, 943 hear!"] Let hon. Gentlemen who say "Hear, hear!" listen to the opinion of the Committee of the House of Lords on that point. They state—That the sympathy of the jurors, belonging as they do almost entirely to the farming class, in all trials relating to land renders intimidation superfluous.Therefore, if you had suppressed the National League, and had put an end to the intimidation it is supposed to exercise, you would not have made trial by jury one atom more effective as an instrument of government in your hands. Even if you abolish trial by jury, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester (Mr. Winterbotham), for example, rather seemed to give his assent, you would not make government in Ireland any easier, because you would not find it any easier to get evidence. I may here mention a little incident which occurred to me some time back. When I was in Ireland three or four years ago, I was in a district in the South where a dreadful murder had taken place, and I chanced to meet the magistrate who was investigating the case. I said to him—"I suppose you will not find anything out," and he said—"Probably not for a long time." This magistrate by chance came to see me officially the other day, and I. reminded him of the circumstances under which we had last met, and I said—"By the way, you never found out who perpetrated such and such a murder." He said—"Oh, yes; we know perfectly well who committed the murder; we know the men, but we cannot get one jot of evidence to justify a prosecution and lead to a successful conviction." Now, when hon. Gentlemen talk of governing Ireland through such institutions as prevail here and in other civilized countries, I say how can you do it when the whole feeling of the country is against your government? So much for juries. Take Boards of Guardians. My hon. Friend will say that he is in favour of extending the powers of Boards of Guardians, Town Councils, and Local Boards. Well, I am not going to quote any more from Blue Books; but there is a Blue Book in existence giving an account of what a Lords Committee did in 1885, and that Committee, having had the evidence before it, reported that the Local Authorities are constantly turning off efficient officers who are not of their way of 944 thinking; men of education and position will not attend, because their companions are not to their taste; the relief given, it is said, is on an extravagant scale; and finally—and this I know from my own personal experience—the Local Government Board have very little of that guiding authority which is possessed by the corresponding Board in England, because in Ireland it is associated with an unpopular system of government. To sum up, I say that, whether you look at Town Councils, Boards of Guardians, or Local Boards, the case is always the same. You find the whole set of arrangements based on the principle of popular consent; on the principle that you are governing by the consent of the population. But the frame of mind of the population is not one of consent, and that vitiates the working of the whole of your system and baffles all your calculations.
Another remedy which some Gentlemen on both sides of the House look to as a substitute for our measure and our policy is improvement in administration. On that I will say very little. It is admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) that the system of administration in Ireland is as bureaucratic as that which prevailed in old times in Venice under Austria, and in Poland under Russia. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) goes on the same tack, and admits that the system popularly known as Central Government in Ireland is not the best that could be desired concurrently with Legislative Union between the two countries; and though my noble Friend is not ready to say in what direction and in what manner they are to be revised, he is ready to admit that there are a great many reforms necessary. It would be unbecoming in me to say anything against what is known as the Castle Administration; but my noble Friend, who has had many years' experience of Irish Government, admits that reforms in the administration are indispensable. But I should like to understand rather more clearly from the noble Marquess and the right hon. Gentleman how they are going to bring about these reforms. How did we improve our own administration in Great Britain and give virtue to our own 945 Executive? Why, by making it responsible to the Representatives of the people, and as that responsibility has grown closer and more direct, so has your administration grown purer and more Liberal, more enlightened, and more active. But this is exactly what you refuse to do in Ireland. You say that you will not make the Irish Administration in any real degree responsible to the Irish people. I am certain that without an Irish Legislature and an Irish Executive it never can be more responsible in the future than it has been in the past. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), in a strong and very interesting speech, said—"Why do you not try to get an Irish Member for Chief Secretary?" And in an article attributed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain)—though I am rather chary of imputing articles to him after his disclaimers—still, I imagine that I recognize his style—in an article attributed to him no later than February last it was said—"Why do you not ask the hon. Member for the City of Cork to be Chief Secretary?" I do not deny that there are many Irish Members who might be perfectly competent to undertake the rather arduous post of Chief Secretary; but there are two difficulties in the way of making the hon. Member for the City of Cork Chief Secretary. The first is, that you could not get either him or any one of his Colleagues to take the post—I mean to take the post with the existing system of Government. The second is, that if the hon. Member for the City of Cork were to take the post with the existing system of Government, his influence would at once vanish into thin air. No, Sir; I, for one, have no faith in any of those great administrative improvements which both my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) admit to be indispensable and urgently necessary. I have no faith either in improvements being effected by a Government which, if it were formed by my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale, would not have one single Irish Member in its ranks, and which would lean entirely on Irish Members above the Gangway, who, so 946 far as I have observed, are against any decent reform in Irish administration.
My hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid) who has just sat down made a remark which I should like to notice. He said—"Why do you bring in a Land Bill, and why have you declared legislation upon land to be inseparable from legislation upon government?" Many hon. Members in the course of the debate have said that this policy implies a radical misgiving of the probity of the proposed Irish Legislative Body. Well, I only wish to make one remark on that observation. We have proposed a resort on a large scale to the use of British credit, not in order merely to buy out the Irish landlords. We know all that is to be said against the claims of the Irish landlords to be bought out. But there is another side to this question. There is another base to this part of our policy. In buying out the Irish landlords you are, by the same process, making the present occupier into his own landlord, and those who help to pay this sum of which my hon. Friend complains will get something for their money. The tenants will pay some 20 or 30 per cent less than their present rent, and as each year goes by they will come nearer and nearer to the time when the land will be their own, and when they will pay no rent at all. Our motive in this is a political motive, and not a motive of particular tenderness to the landlords. You must have in the peasantry of Ireland—it is downright indispensable—a class who are interested in the maintenance of order, and who will have some reason—which, unfortunately, hitherto they have not had—to rally round the institutions of the country. I was surprised to hear an hon. Gentleman in that quarter of the House cheer the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid) when he said he was against the Land Bill. It showed a sagacity and perspicuity equalled by the fact I have heard mentioned, that at a great meeting held in the Rotunda at Dublin by the Loyal and Patriotic Union, or some such Body, the name of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) was received, as anywhere else it might deserve to be, with the wildest enthusiasm. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who represent the interests of the Irish 947 landlords cannot be well advised in the bestowal of their applause when they cheer Gentlemen who speak against the Land Bill from this side of the House.
I have only a word to say on the advice which the hon. Member who has just sat down has given to us as to the course we ought to take in reference to this Bill. But before coming to that point I should like to notice one or two very slight questions which have been raised in the course of the debate. One favourite argument and topic which certainly surprised me enormously was that one great flaw which has been discovered in this Bill is that it will lead to the degradation of the Irish people. ["Hear, hear!"] Gentlemen who say "Hear, hear!" must have their own ideas of degradation. For my part, I should think my country was a great deal more degraded by being subjected to 20 years of coercion. ["Oh!"] I really am amazed to see this jealous resentment against the degradation of Ireland from Gentlemen who propose to govern Ireland by force and against her will. [Sir ROBERT FOWLER: No.] Why, you surely cannot deny that you intend to govern her by force and against her will for 20 years? [Sir ROBERT FOWLER: No.] The hon. Baronet says "No," and I have no doubt he means it. [Sir ROBERT FOWLER: Hear, hear!] If you are not going to govern her against her will, are you going to govern her by her will? The hon. Baronet says that is another proposition. The hon. Baronet, who has governed a population nearly as large as that of Ireland before now, maintains the extraordinary proposition that he is going to govern Ireland neither with her will nor against her will. Seriously, is it not a farce for you to pretend to be so jealous of the degradation of Ireland, when you are prepared—when you were prepared, on January 26, to embark upon a policy which would have meant the gagging of newspapers, the suppression of public meetings, and the imprisonment, pretty nearly at random, of as many citizens as you cared to lay your hands on. I cannot understand why hon. Gentlemen opposite should be so anxious to disown the policy of their Leaders. There is another word I should like to say about degradation. A very curious and novel idea has come into our politics, chiefly from 948 that quarter of the House—I mean the astonishing assumption that nothing can be so interesting to the people of the country as foreign and Colonial affairs. That which elevates and dignifies a citizen, it appears, is not solicitude for the interests and concerns of the land which gave him birth and of the people who are his fellow-citizens, but rather the consideration of the concerns of all other countries of the world except his own. Just as if the peasants of Norway, or Sweden, or Switzerland are degraded and unmanly because they are not always meddling with foreign affairs. If we had been wise enough to spare for Ireland a fraction of the attention and the vigilance and treasure which we have lavished on Egypt and on half the world besides, Ireland might to-day have been a support to us instead of being a torment. If the Irish Parliament is content to give all its time and all its mind to the affairs of Ireland, to the improvement of the condition of the cultivation of the soil, to the supply of better dwellings, purer water, and fresher air, we on this side of the House, so far from looking down upon their statesmanship as degrading, will feel it to be in the highest degree patriotic and wise, and perhaps containing an uncommonly useful lesson to ourselves.
Very much has been said as to what the Irish Legislative Body will be like. There have been many gloomy prophecies made as to what the Irish Legislative Body will do. It has been assumed—and this is the basis of half the arguments against the Bill—that the Irish Parliament will become the home of what the Americans call "wild cat schemes." Mr. Grattan said of the English government of Ireland that it was as if the English Government went to hell for their principles and to Bedlam for their discretion. ["Hear, hear!" from the Opposition Benches.] Hon Gentlemen cheer even that. I do not believe that that description, which may, or may not, have been true of English policy towards Ireland in the last century, is a true description of what the Irish Parliament is likely to be. I do not believe there is any reason to anticipate the prevalence of a single idea in the Irish Parliament which you are not likely to hear in our own Parliament. There are very few ideas, indeed, expressed on Wednesday afternoons by 949 hon. Gentlemen opposite which are not echoed by hon. Members below the Gangway on this side of the House. What are the ideas of which hon. Members opposite are so much afraid? Is it a graduated Income Tax? We have an eminent and powerful authority on these Benches for that. Are you afraid of electing Judges for short terms? That is an idea I do not approve. But when I know that it is the practice in most States in America, though I think the idea a bad one, still it does not fill me with alarm; and I am not going to refuse to the Irish Parliament the right of considering a principle of that kind. Then, as to education. Some fears have been expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse) on that score. Now, I contend that the reason why the great education controversy has not gone along the regular European lines in Ireland is exactly because the disturbing element of nationality and of the national controversy has drawn men's opinions away from it. I say that the very means of drawing out the Liberal forces which are to be found in every Catholic country in the West of Europe, except Ireland, with respect to education are the removal of this disturbing political element. Why is it—and this is a consideration which hon. Members opposite may appreciate—why is it that in Ireland alone of all Catholic countries in Western Europe the authority of the clergy in education is undisputed? In every other Catholic country—in Belgium, in France, in Italy—there is a struggle between clergy and laity for the possession of the schools and Colleges; and so in Ireland, were this national controversy at an end, the cause of education would gain by the free play of rival theories and competing intellectual forces.
There has also been felt some alarm, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) is a powerful exponent, lest dangerous economic ideas should find favour in Ireland. Well, Sir, I know, during the short time that I have been President of the Local Government Board in Ireland, I have had plenty of opportunity of coming in contact with those bad economic ideas. I have observed the deplorable tendency in the criticism of the Poor Law administration in Ireland to 950 denounce economic common sense as the routine of hard-hearted officialism, and to abuse the inexorable nature of things as red tape. But who has taught—and I invite the attention of my right hon. Friend to this—who has taught the Irish people the evil lesson of mendicancy instead of self-reliance? It is we who have taught them this lesson; because we have been incessantly trying to bolster up the most monstrous system of land tenure the world has ever seen, by national subsidies and alms, and to appease discontent with the political system by a lavish administration of bribes and sops. These are the things which have demoralized the economic ideas; and I am afraid that if right hon. Gentlemen opposite come into power, besides the evil they will do by their repressive policy, they will do quite as much evil in another way. Lord Salisbury said that—The duty of the Government is to devote its energies to the amelioration of the condition of the people—their amelioration materially as well as morally—to do all that is possible to stimulate their education and increase their culture, to do all that can be done to make their industry easy, to open the paths of prosperity to them.Those are very admirable words. These things have to be done; moral and material condition has to be ameliorated; education has to be stimulated; culture has to be increased; but if you are to insist upon doing this yourselves instead of letting the Irish Leaders, whoever they may prove to be, do it, you will have to pay for it by more bribes and subsidies, and that economical demoralization which so many fear from an Irish Parliament will, in effect, be brought about by the absence of an Irish Parliament.
I only mention one more argument of which I have heard a great deal in this debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester (Mr. Winterbotham) said—and we have heard it, I suppose, 100 times—that, whatever else we ought to do, we ought to be sure that we erect a system of government in Ireland which will be capable equally of application to Scotland, England, and Wales. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh also said that one cardinal point ought to lie at the basis of our schemes—namely, that they ought to be equally applicable to the three countries. But, Sir, we 951 have never kept to the principle of identity in our institutions. The diversity of political constitution within the British Empire has been the secret of our political success. You have got a beneficent despotism in India; in the Colonies you have got representative government, responsible government, direct Crown government; while in Canada you have a Dominion of Confederated States. I repeat that this splendid flexibility and variety has been the very secret of your success and stability. There is one place, Sir, and one place only, where you have failed, and that is the place where you have jealously insisted on forcing an English religion and Church, an English land system, and English ideas of education and administration upon a people who have never assimilated themselves to you, who have never been incorporated with our system. The history of Ireland, Sir, is utterly different from the history of England; the religion of the mass of the population is wholly different; the whole attitude of the population is different; the relations of classes are different. In the face of all this it is absurd to contend that if a certain measure is large and good enough for England, Scotland, and Wales, it must necessarily be large and good enough for a country which does not in the least degree resemble England, Scotland, or Wales. Here, again, I conclude this topic with a quotation from a statesman whom, I suppose, hon. Gentlemen opposite will accept as an authority. Mr. Disraeli said that—Justice to Ireland is said to mean an identity of institutions with England. I believe that to be the greatest fallacy that can be brought forward. I have always thought that the greatest cause of misery in Ireland was an identity of Institutions with England, and I venture to lay down as a principle that the government of Ireland should be on a system the reverse of that of England.I cannot say that I follow the Earl of Beaconsfield so far as that; but I think that in these remarks he hits the cardinal point in the situation.
Now, with the permission of the House, although the hour is late (12.30), I should like to say a word or two as to the position in which we stand from a Parliamentary point of view. A good deal has been said as to what would be the meaning of a vote for the second reading of this Bill. At the meeting at the Foreign Office my 952 right hon. Friend at the head of the Government quoted the opinion of the statesman whom I have just referred to. The Earl of Beaconsfield said—I understand that by assenting to the second reading of the Bill I assent to its principle; and I look upon the principle of the Bill before the House (the Irish Land Bill) to be an amendment of the law regarding the occupation and the ownership of land in Ireland.But we have a more recent authority than that as to the sound interpretation of a vote for a second reading. On the 13th of last month, when the Church Patronage Bill, brought in by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was before the House of Lords, the Marquess of Salisbury said—We cannot be held, in assenting to the second reading, to do more than accept the general principle, that this House is willing to remove the evils against which the Bill is framed."—(3 Hansard,  892.)That is the Marquess of Salisbury's doctrine as to the significance of a vote on the second reading. Now, we do not put it so widely as that. We put the significance of a vote on the second reading on the present occasion much more distinctly than it is put in the Marquess of Salisbury's proposition. We quite admit that nobody can be expected to vote with us on Monday, who, in the Marquess of Salisbury's words, merely wishes to remove the evils against which the Bill is framed. We expect nobody to vote with us who does not go a step further than that, and who does not agree with us, not only in the wish to remove evils affecting social order in Ireland, but also in thinking that there is only one principle on which any attempt to remove those evils can be made with any hope of success. That principle was stated by my right hon Friend the Prime Minister, in words which have been often quoted, to be the creation of a Statutory Body in Dublin with legislative powers to deal with all affairs specifically and exclusively Irish. Now, the argument of my hon. Friend (Mr. Winterbotham) is that if we had only proceeded by Resolution he would have voted for that Resolution, and that all would have been well. Why did we not proceed by way of Resolution? Because it was indispensable that in raising this question and facing this problem, you should also see that we were prepared with a plan for carrying it 953 out. It was indispensable that any body of men in authority, with the least sense of responsibility, should bring their Resolution to a point by raising their question in the form of a Bill. We have raised all the difficulties that are contained in the settlement of the Irish Question. We anticipated all the criticisms to which we have been exposed; but I am sure that we do not in the least degree regret the course we have taken. On the contrary, we look back with the greatest satisfaction on having taken the course we have. That course has shown us where the difficulties are, and where differences arise among men who agree in the general principle of establishing a Legislative Body in Dublin as the true remedy for the evils and embarrassments of the present state of things. We were persuaded that to proceed by way of Bill and not by Resolution was the right and only justifiable course. We never expected to win the battle at a blow. We never expected to carry the measure by a rush, and without modification. Discussion and deliberation have had the effect which we expected and designed, in lighting up disputed and disputable points. Public opinion—one of the most important elements in the matter—the public opinion of England and of Ireland—has been developed and expressed. There are certain leading provisions of the Bill as to which in no case could we have consented, nor could we consent, to surrender our deliberate and carefully-formed judgment, even if public feeling itself should ultimately be found to go against us. But there are many other provisions in respect of which public opinion both in England and Ireland might very properly be taken as a decisive guide; and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister mentioned two or three of these at the meeting at the Foreign Office. But he did not limit the possible modifications and amendments to those which he, on that occasion, specified and described—Of course," he said, "we shall have the advantage of considering any other improvement that might appear useful; and it is very possible that that might aid in carrying out the principle and the purpose of the Bill, and its main outlines, from which I cannot hold out any expectation of our departing.Now, Sir, nothing has been said since by my right hon. Friend, or any other responsible Member of the Government, 954 to affect that declaration in the very slightest degree. Whether in the interval of time between now and the autumn, or in Committee, we shall be, as we have been all along, willing to consider—anxious to consider—any proposal or suggestion, provided that it does not violate either of the two conditions which my right hon. Friend mentioned on that occasion—first, that that modification and proposal shall not introduce anarchy and confusion into the working of this Parliament; and, secondly, that no modification shall be proposed and accepted which interferes with the real and substantial liberty and power of the Legislative Body in Dublin. Sir, the hon. Member who spoke first to-night enumerated with perfect correctness the five conditions which my right hon. Friend has, on more than one occasion, specified as setting limits to these modifications. I need not recapitulate them, because they have often been heard in this House, and are familiar to all hon. Members. I only wish to say that, when my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) says—if I represent him rightly—that the Prime Minister will have a right to hold any Member who votes for the second reading of this Bill on the understanding, which I have just now repeated, honourably bound to vote for the Bill when it is re-introduced, I contend that my right hon. Friend puts an interpretation on the Prime Minister's words and position which his words and position do not fairly bear. To vote for the second reading of the Bill is to vote for the principle of an autonomous Legislature for dealing with specifically Irish affairs. We do not propose—we are not going to propose—a brand new Bill, or the present Bill turned inside out. I do not think that those who have supported us so far would respect us if we did. But we deny the contention that voting for this Bill on Monday means more than voting for a Legislature in Ireland, because, as we contend, the Bill, which is ultimately going to be produced in the autumn, may contain some modifications, and some different provisions. I hope that those who are in the frame of mind of the hon. Member for Cirencester (Mr. Winterbotham) will think very seriously before they give their vote. We are told that many hon. 955 Members have been greatly affected by a letter which was read from my right hon. Friend the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). Sir, we have not had the pleasure and advantage of seeing that letter.
MR. JOSEPH CHAMERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
As my right hon. Friend on the Treasury Bench has alluded to this matter, perhaps the House will allow me to state what I know about it. [Cries of "Read it!"] The letter in question was addressed to me by my right hon. Friend and Colleague with special authority from him to read it to the private meeting which was held in the Committee Room upstairs. That letter was accordingly read by me, every word of it, to the meeting of Friends in that room, and with that act on my part my authority was exhausted. I can see not the slightest objection to the publication of the letter, if my right hon. Friend and Colleague the Member for Central Birmingham will give his permission.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Mr. Speaker, I can assure my right hon. Friend that I have not the least idea of impugning his conduct in the matter. All I wanted to point out to those Gentlemen who were affected, and naturally affected, by the great authority of the senior Member for Birmingham is absolutely different from the position of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. That letter would have been more appropriately read—I will not say more appropriately read—but would have had more force at a meeting of the Friends of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), because the senior Member for Birmingham is opposed to autonomy in Ireland, root and branch. That is perfectly clear, and I am only asking those who were affected by the authority of the senior Member for Birmingham to bear in mind that he does not agree with them in their view of the principle of the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham accepts the principle of the Bill, because he assured us last night—and I was delighted to hear the assurance—that if he can have the principle of the Bill without our plan he will support it. But the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham does not accept the principle of the Bill, 956 any more than the right hon. Member for West Birmingham accepts the plan.
Well, that is where we stand, and I only hope that before these Gentlemen, who hold the fate of this Bill in the balance, cast their votes, they will realize in their own minds—I do not say what the effects of the vote will be here, but what is the logical, and political, and Parliamentary position of the question—realize where we stand, what the vote for the second reading means, and how far we are prepared to go in the way of meeting all reasonable modifications and amendments that do not interfere with the central principle. I will not detain the House any longer. I only want to say that in my belief, in spite of all that has been said of the evil spirit of Irish Members, I have faith in the effect of the transformation of national sentiment in Ireland towards England. Sir, we have had enough of the incessant bullying, lecturing, scolding, and insulting of the ruler towards the ruled—of the harsh master to the refractory pupil. Our policy is to put an end to those tormenting relations. We have struggled obstinately to force Ireland into passive obedience, and we have lamentably and desperately failed. The conviction that animates us is that the loyalty and goodwill which Ireland, with a stubbornness equal to our own, has refused to us as her master, will be refused no longer when we stand to her, not as a master, but as a friend, a guardian, an equal. That will be listened to, as we believe, as counsel which has been sullenly resisted as command. Time may prove us wrong; but we were bound—this or any future Parliament is bound, and the country will feel itself bound—to try the experiment. The Marquess of Salisbury said that he paid no attention to the opinions of men on their death beds. The reference was not a happy one, not very comformable to the natural pieties of things. But, Sir, men on their death beds sometimes leave behind them a last will and testament. If we are on our political death beds, we shall leave in this Bill a last will and testament. This division will not put an end to the question. If an electoral campaign should follow, even that, perhaps, will not put an end to it. Do not let my right hon. Friends, therefore, suppose that if they should succeed in driving 957 us and our Bill from the stage, then straightway the curtain will fall upon the last scene of the fifth and final act of the Irish drama. No, Sir; there will other scenes follow. Do not let them think that the Irish Sphinx, with her inexorable unanswered riddle, will meekly gather up her rags and depart in peace from your gates. The Irish problem will remain, even although you refuse our solution. I can only repeat my conviction that no solution will bring that problem one effective stage further which does not proceed upon the lines, and to the full extent, of the Bill now before us.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Illingworth.)
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (London)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman's pardon if he thinks I unnecessarily interrupted him; but I am satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman has entirely misrepresented the language of the Marquess of Salisbury.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.