§ [EIGHTH NIGHT.]
§ 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."
§ SIR HENRY TYLER (Great Yarmouth)
said, that before the debate was resumed he wished to ask a question on a point of Order—one of the most important that was ever brought before the Speaker to decide. That question referred to the proceedings which took place in the House on Friday night last. It would be remembered that there was a very interesting discussion on that evening between the noble Marquess 507 the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) on the one hand, and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the other; and, as the result of that discussion, it appeared that the Government had determined not to proceed—and, indeed, the Prime Minister had told them again that evening that they would not proceed—any further this Session with the Government of Ireland Bill, after the division on the second reading had been disposed of, and that at the end of the Session Parliament would be prorogued. Inasmuch, then, as the Bill, as the noble Marquess had said, was practically dead, and as the Bill was now admitted by the Government to be in that condition, he wished to ask whether it was in accordance with the principles and practice of the Procedure by which that House was governed that a Bill, under such circumstances, should be debated night after night? ["Order!"] He submitted that that was a very grave and important question. He knew that there were numerous precedents for a Bill being abandoned after the second reading; but he ventured to suggest that there never had been any previous case in which a Bill, declared by the Government to be abandoned, and admitted to be practically dead, had been gone on with and discussed after that fashion. He asked whether it would not be a most unjustifiable and outrageous waste of time to go on discussing night after night this Bill, which was admittedly dead? [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must call the hon. Member to Order. He must confine his observations to the point of Order which he was raising, and must not make any comments. What is the question of Order which the hon. Member wishes to raise?
§ SIR HENRY TYLER
said, that the question which he wished to put was simply this—whether it was in accordance with the principles and practice of the Procedure in that House that it should proceed from night to night to discuss the Home Rule Bill after Her Majesty's Government had intimated that they would not proceed with it that Session, and after the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that Parliament would be prorogued at the end of the present Session, and after the House had, there- 508 fore, been informed officially that the Bill would be thus abandoned?
§ MR. SPEAKER
In reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth, I have to say that nothing has come to my knowledge as to any statement of any Minister, or as to any understanding which alters my view in reference to the point of Order with regard to this Bill. The Bill stands for second reading to-night according to the Orders of the House, and no facts have come to my knowledge officially to show that the Bill is about to be withdrawn from the Orders of the Day; and I do not, therefore, see any reason to interfere, nor have I anything to do with what may be the ulterior stages of the Bill.
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HENRY H. FOWLER) (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, that the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir Richard Webster), in the able speech with which he closed the debate on Friday night last, had made some strong criticisms upon the doctrine which the Prime Minister had laid down with regard to the responsibility of that House at the different stages of this Bill. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) did not propose to enter into a conflict between two such high authorities as the Prime Minister and an ex-Attorney General, especially in the absence of the latter; but if the hon. and learned Gentleman had been present he should have wished to have quoted to him a precedent upon the point at issue which would be binding upon the Prime Minister, inasmuch as he himself had been a party to making the precedent, and which was binding upon hon. Members opposite as an example set by their late Leader—Mr. Disraeli—in moving the second reading of his Reform Bill in 1867. On that occasion certain Resolutions were proposed and were withdrawn, a Bill was introduced and was withdrawn, and, finally, a second Bill was introduced. The introduction of the latter Bill—for history was prone to repeat itself—cost the Government of that day three Cabinet Ministers of the first importance, and when its second reading was moved all its details were strongly attacked. On that occasion the present Prime Minister said that— 509If the Question to be put from the Chair were that the Bill should be read a third time, instead of a second time, he did not hesitate to say that the measure would be rejected by a very large majority;and he then referred to nine or ten vital points of the Bill which must be altered before it could be allowed to pass. In the controversy which arose on this Bill the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) said that, from the Preamble to the last word of the Bill, there was not one single provision which a real intelligent Reformer could consent to. The present Marquess of Salisbury, who was then Viscount Cranborne, and who then occupied, towards the Government and the measure, the same relative position which the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) now occupied with reference to the present Government and the present Bill, pressed the Government to say what course they intended to take on those disputed vital points, and urged that those who asked them to support the second reading of the Bill were "asking them to take a leap in the dark." Mr. Disraeli, however, who was a great master of political strategy, almost in the very words which the Prime Minister himself used on Friday night, firmly declined to be taught tactics by his political opponents. Mr. Disraeli was unmoved and immovable, and he said that—He had heard much of changes of Parties and of combinations, but that all he could say on behalf of himself and his Colleagues was that they had no other wish than to bring the question before them to a settlement.In the end, the second reading of the Bill was carried. It was completely eviscerated in Committee; so that, when the Bill passed its third reading, scarcely one of its important provisions remained unchanged; and, in point of fact, it was a totally different measure, only preserving its main principle intact, of amending the law with regard to the representation of the people. There was, therefore, sufficient precedent for the House reading a measure a second time with the full knowledge that many of its details would be altered in Committee. The hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight had further said that this measure would impair the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; but he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) denied that there 510 was any foundation for the hon. and learned Member's assertion. In fact, had he believed that there was any ground for that assertion, he should have ranked himself among the opponents of the Bill. The position of Her Majesty's Government upon that point was that there was, and could be, but one Sovereign Parliament in the British Empire, and that Imperial Parliament could not denude itself of one jot or tittle of its own legislative supremacy. It could do almost everything, but one thing it could not do. It was impossible for that Parliament to pass any Act that should bind its successors, or prohibit them from repealing it if they thought fit to do so. Thus, in the case of the Act of Union between England and Scotland, one of the fundamental provisions was that the Professors of the Scotch Universities should subscribe to the Confession of Faith, and yet that provision had been swept away by subsequent legislation. Again, by the 5th Article of the Act of Union between England and Ireland, it was attempted to establish eternally the Irish Church, and yet that Establishment had been abolished by the Imperial Parliament. The hon. and learned Gentleman had further said that if, in the future, any dispute were to arise between the Imperial and the Irish Parliaments, the Irish Judges would be bound to obey the latter. Reasoning from the cases of our Colonial Legislatures, he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) asserted that the Irish Judges would be bound to obey the Acts of the Imperial Parliament, whenever they came into conflict with those of the Irish Parliament. Professor Dicey had dealt with this case, taking as an illustration a supposed conflict between the Imperial Parliament and the Parliament of Victoria. Professor Dicey, at page 100 of his work on The Law of the Constitution, says—If a Victorian law really contradicts the provisions of an Act of Parliament extending to Victoria, no Court throughout the British Dominions could legally, it is clear, give effect to the Victorian enactment. This is an inevitable result of the Legislative Sovereignty exercised by the Imperial Parliament. In the supposed case the Victorian Parliament commands the Judges to act in a particular manner, and the Imperial Parliament commands them to act in another manner. Of these two commands the order of the Imperial Parliament is the one that must be obeyed. This is the very meaning of Parliamentary Sovereignty.511 The hon. and learned Gentleman also took the objection that under the provisions of the Bill the Imperial Parliament would be restricted in its action by the decisions of the Privy Council. To that objection he replied that the duty of the Privy Council was to interpret Acts of Parliament, and not to legislate. With regard to the veto of the Crown, it was quite clear that under the Bill the Lord Lieutenant would act upon the advice of the Irish Executive, subject, of course, to an appeal to the Privy Council. But, if the Irish Parliament attempted to legislate on any Imperial subject, that veto would be subject to any instructions which might from time to time be given him by Her Majesty. In that event, he wanted to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman upon whose advice such instructions would be given? Why, they would be given upon the advice of the Ministry possessing the confidence of, and responsible to, the Imperial Parliament. A great many very able speeches had been delivered in that debate in opposition to the Bill; but he had noticed that one marked characteristic which had distinguished the great bulk of those speeches was a total want of recognition of the present political difficulties arising out of the condition of Ireland, and its relations to this country. The speeches seemed to him, to use a popular simile, to relegate the present political condition of Ireland to Jupiter and Saturn. But they had to deal, not with a legal, but with a practical question. They had to confront, not abstract theories, but a living people, alive to all the susceptibilities and sentiments, and he might say prejudices, of national feeling; and, at the same time, they had to deal with a Constitutional difficulty of the gravest magnitude and of immeasurable importance. An hon. Member, speaking on Friday night, said that the Government, while putting forward their measure as a remedy for the state of Ireland, had not told the House the evil which it was intended to cure. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) would endeavour to approach the question from the point of view of the evil which they had to cure, and the political remedy which they wanted to apply. But, first, he wished to express his strong objection to the assumption which had pervaded a good many speeches on the Ministerial side of the House, in opposition to the Govern- 512 ment, that the opponents of the measure were the exclusive friends and champions of the Union, and that those who advocated the Bill were Disunionists, Disloyalists, and Separatists. [Opposition cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheered that observation, but he frankly conceded to them what he claimed for himself. He thought that those who called upon them to retain the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland at any cost were bound to point out to them how that Union had stood the test of experience. He might be deluded; he might be pursuing a wrong course; but he claimed, equally with others, that his own desire was to promote a true and permanent Union between the two countries; but that was entirely different from the Legislative Union. It must be understood that he was now arguing the question from the Unionist standpoint, and that those Gentlemen who defended a Legislative Union were bound to tell them, not what the Union was intended to be, not what it ought to be, not what it might have been, but what it had been and what it was. Had that Act, in the defence of which such great political force and great political intelligence were rallying, had that, as they called it, fundamental Act stood the test of time? It had been tried under every conceivable political circumstance, by every variety of Administration, by both political Parties, with Constitutional liberty and Constitutional law, with exceptional, arbitrary, coercive legislation, under sectarian ascendancy, and with religious equality, accompanied by agrarian legislation of the worst kind, and agrarian legislation of the best kind, by competent and incompetent Chief Secretaries and Lord Lieutenants. They could suggest no political situation, no political difficulty, no political advantage, with which this Union had not been familiar. And what had been the dreary, monotonous, unvarying result? Hopeless, absolute, and irretrievable failure. Had it fulfilled the anticipations of any of those who were active in promoting it? In order to show how little it had done in that direction, he would give one or two quotations from the principal authors of the Union. The first was King George III. His Majesty, in a private and confidential letter to Mr. Pitt, dated February 1, 1801, indicated not 513 only his own private opinion, but the public action he took apparently without the advice of responsible Ministers, when addressing a deputation from both Houses of Parliament. The King said—When the Irish propositions were transmitted to me by a Joint Message from both Houses of the British Parliament, I told the Lords and Gentlemen sent on that occasion, that I would with pleasure and without delay forward them to Ireland. But I could not help acquainting them that my inclination to Union with Ireland was principally founded on the trust that the union of the Established Churches of the Two Kingdoms would for ever shut the doors to any further measures with respect to the Roman Catholics.The King spoke not only as a Sovereign, but as the Head of a political Party existing in those days, and known as the "King's Friends," which was so powerful as to be able to displace Mr. Pitt. They had here the honest, transparent views of the King, in which he declared the Union to him was a barrier against the concession of civil rights to the Roman Catholics. And the King was right. If Ireland had retained her own Parliament, that humiliating chapter of their history would never have been written, which told of the broken pledges to the Roman Catholics, of their long struggle for political freedom, and of the final surrender of the Duke of Wellington, not to reason or justice, but to the dread of civil war. It was the legislation of 1829, and of 1869, that had swept away the principle on which the King and a large portion of the Tory Party desired Legislative Union between England and Ireland. Then, again, Mr. Pitt, in a confidential letter to the King, stated what was his intention in promoting the Union. He said—The great object of the Union is the tranquillizing of Ireland and attaching it to this country.Had either of those objects been attained? Whatever else the Union might have achieved, it had absolutely, signally failed in securing the objects at which Mr. Pitt aimed, and for which he lavished the gold, the titles, and all the other mess of pottage for which the Irish Parliament sold its birthright. If Mr. Pitt could come back to this House, he would find that, at the expiration of nearly a century, the tranquillity of Ireland, and the attachment of Ireland to this country, were just the two things which mocked their legislation, and eluded their 514 grasp. After 86 years' experience of the Union, with the extended franchise in Ireland, under which the population were in possession of electoral rights of which Mr. Pitt had never dreamed, they had in that House—and he did not wish to be offensive, he wished to call a spade a spade—a solid, organized body of Irish Representatives acting in a manner unique in the history of Parliament. Many of those hon. Members differed among themselves on social and political questions; but every difference of opinion on other points was dominated by the one desire to obtain an independent political existence for their country—the object for which the Irish people had sent them to Parliament. The attachment of Ireland to Great Britain, for which the Union was promoted, was now demonstrated by the presence in that House of a body of Members from Ireland, who avowed that they treated Imperial questions entirely in the light in which they thought they would best advance the one object of Irish interest and Irish sentiment. In the last Parliament many Votes of Censure were proposed on the policy of the Government. In the most crucial Vote, the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool said that the Irish section, in determining to walk into the Lobby to censure the Government, were not thinking so much of Egypt, but were thinking of Ireland.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The hon. Gentleman will doubtless excuse me for interrupting him. I said that hon. Members from Ireland thought more of Ireland than of Egypt.
§ Mr. HENRY H. FOWLER
, said, he was quite willing to accept the qualification of the hon. Member. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) succeeded in defeating Her Majesty's Government by the aid of men who had no sympathy with his policy and who repudiated his finance, but who helped him to turn out the Government because they thought that by putting the Tory Party in power they would further the cause which they had at heart. The same considerations operated in the constituencies. With the knowledge of what he would call that deplorable, if not dangerous, feature of their political life, he could not understand how it could be desired to defend, or to perpetuate, legislation from which such dis- 515 astrous results had followed. He maintained that the Act of Union had really destroyed the Union. It had created ceaseless internecine strife. They had destroyed the Irish Parliament; and now, by a singular Nemesis, the Irish were paralyzing their Parliament. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) had truly said we could not remedy that state of things by any alteration of the Rules of Procedure of that House. They might surrender their Parliamentary freedom and their Parliamentary life; but they could not, while the presence of that organized force remained, prevent the weakening of their Parliamentary power, and the arrest of their Constitutional and Parliamentary progress. With reference to the tranquillity of Ireland. In 1886, as in 1800, the main consideration of British statesmen was the preservation of peace and order in Ireland. This present Administration, as well as every other Administration, had found themselves incapable of discharging the elementary duties of government without the assistance of an armed Constabulary unknown in any other part of the Empire, supplemented by a Military Force greater than that by which we defeated Napoleon. Not only that, but these enormous armed forces, as they were told by hon. Gentlemen opposite, must be strengthened and supported by the aid of a coercive legislation utterly unknown in any other part of the Queen's Dominions. Sir Robert Peel, in the zenith of his power, uttered the mournful but memorable words—"Ireland is my difficulty." It was the difficulty of every one of his Predecessors and of every one of his Successors. It was the difficulty of the present Prime Minister; and it would be the difficulty of right hon. Gentlemen opposite if they exchanged sides in the House. And yet, with this accumulated evidence, which no man could gainsay or evade, they were asked by the Representatives of the great Whig Party to rally round the Legislative Union as the essence and kernel of the British Constitution, and the glory of the British Empire. He yielded to no man, not even to his right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), in his belief in the wisdom, the advantage, and the necessity of a Union between Great Britain and Ireland; but he objected to be denounced as a Dis- 516 unionist, and to be classed as a Disloyalist, because he raised his voice and gave his vote against a hideous failure which had kindled and fanned the spirit of separation, which had aroused the criminality and the folly of outrage and insurrection, and which, even to-day, calmly contemplated the horrible prospect of civil war. To the arguments which had been used the unanswerable reply was the inexorable logic of facts. The Union had been tried in the balance, and the verdict of English and Irish history, and of the civilized world, was that that Union had been found wanting. Under those circumstances, he asked the House, if the Union was to be preserved, what was desirable, and what was practicable? He agreed with much that had been said as to the intermittent policy which had been pursued. However, the time had now passed for Laodicean lukewarmness. They must either concede frankly, freely, fearlessly, or they must coerce vigorously, sternly, and unflinchingly. The two panaceas could not be combined. They could not walk down both sides of the street at the same time. And in making their choice, forgetting the sad history of the past, and dealing exclusively with the problem as it stood today, they had to consider the enormous alteration that had taken place in the condition of Ireland, not only since the Union, but during the last quarter of a century. The legislation of that House had indirectly destroyed the social forces by which the local government in Ireland was previously carried on. The political power of the classes who ruled in Ireland was neutralized, if not swept away, by the disestablishment of the Church and by the two Land Acts. The ascendancy of faith and the ascendancy of property had had their day. They might, indeed, show some fitful ebullitions of their former spirit; but, as a practical power in Irish politics, their day was past and gone. He called that a social revolution. Side by side with that revolution Ireland, as an agricultural country, had been passing through an economic crisis. Laud Acts and Land Commissioners might adjust excessive rents caused by the abnormal demand for the occupation of the soil; but no legislation could arrest or alleviate the depreciation in the value of the products of the soil. In addition to this economic change, there had been an organic 517 change. During the last year they had practically effected in Ireland a political revolution by extending the franchise to the people. All these were conditions which were utterly unknown to those statesmen of the 18th century who had been quoted in this debate as authorities binding upon us at the present day. And not only had the conditions in Ireland changed, but the conditions beyond the sea had changed. In the United States, and in Canada, Australia, and almost every other great British Colony, there were many Irishmen and sons of Irishmen whose longest and whose latest memory was the story of the wrongs they themselves and their forefathers had endured on their native soil. [Laughter.] They might laugh; but those Irish people were a numerical, a moral, and a political power, which no American or Colonial statesman, and which, therefore, no British statesman, could afford to despise. Political wisdom and patriotic loyalty must recognize those conditions. He did not wish to indulge in any threats; but these were facts which were confronting this Empire with weakness, danger, and disruption; and he considered that every Englishman was bound, if he could, to put this question entirely outside Party consideration, for it was one of the gravest crises in the history of the British Empire. The Government, in order to effect that, had in the Bill submitted to the House a plan and a principle. At all events, there was this peculiarity about the principle which the Government asked the House to accept. The Irish people perfectly understood it, and they must try in due course to induce the English people also to understand it. That principle was the creation of a Representative Body sitting in Dublin, elected by the people of Ireland for the exclusive control of specifically Irish affairs. If the principle were unsound, no perfection of the machinery could justify its acceptance. On the other hand, if the principle were sound, it claimed acceptance totally irrespective of the details of the measure. The principle was subject to three conditions—the supremacy of the Crown, the unity of the Empire, and the final authority of the Imperial Parliament. As to the first of these conditions, he apprehended there would be little difference of opinion. The Crown was an integral part of the Legis- 518 lative Body. Its prerogatives were the same with respect to that Body as with respect either to the Imperial Parliament or to any other Legislative Body in the Empire. The controversy raged round the second of these conditions—the unity of the Empire—with which he also associated the authority of the Imperial Parliament. That unity might be disturbed in two ways—either by allowing two separate Legislative Bodies to deal separately with questions of a character with regard to which all the citizens of the Empire had equal rights; or, secondly, by so dividing the Supreme Authority, or, rather, by so subtracting from its influence and power, that it could not utter that united voice and exercise that united action which were the instruments and the symbols of national unity and strength. He had already dealt with the first of these difficulties at the commencement of his speech; and he apprehended that the second objection was met by the reservations and restrictions affecting the Irish Legislative Body. What were the subjects which were specifically reserved, and which the Legislative Body could not touch? They were matters in which Great Britain and Ireland were jointly interested—matters which were of the essence of Imperial existence and Imperial policy—the dignity, the prerogatives, and succession to the Crown; the foreign policy of the Empire, with all its cognate questions of International Law and Political or Commercial Treaties, what, in other words, the Americans called "the Treaty-making power;" the Military Forces of the Empire, land, sea, Volunteers; the control of all arsenals, fortifications, and materials of war; the Colonial policy of the Empire in all its ramifications; the commercial policy of the Empire, comprising not only the items of trade and shipping, and the levying of duties on exports or imports, but the control of the coinage, and protection of copyright and patent property; the Criminal Law of the Empire, so far as it affected the Sovereign Authority, or any attempt to assail its supremacy. These were what were rightly termed Imperial affairs. They constituted the rights and the duties of the Empire; their control admitted of no divided authority; and it was their unity which made and guarded the "One Life, one Flag, one Fleet, one Throne." So long as 519 the Imperial Parliament retained all authority, all legislation, all expenditure affecting these matters in its own hands, the unity of the Empire could no more be touched by the legislation of an Irish Legislative Body on exclusively Irish affairs than it could be touched by the creation of one Municipality for that Metropolis. There was no doubt but that anxiety was felt with respect to the working of the measure involving certain risks or dangers. One danger arose from the unhappy cleavage which divided the Christianity of Ireland into two hostile camps, and which separated the owners of the soil from those who occupied it. It was too late in the day to waste time in idle recrimination as to who was to blame in these unhappy contests. They existed, and any settlement of Ireland which claimed to be complete or final must recognize their existence; and while it might anticipate a time when those animosities would cease, it must provide for equal justice and protection. The professors of any faith must not, wherever the Queen ruled, be placed at the mercy of the majority. If this principle had been maintained in Ireland, the blackest pages of its history would never have been written. Protestant ascendancy, as embodied in the Irish Establishment—perhaps the saddest parody of Christianity which the history of the Church recorded—had left scars on the social, moral, and national life of Ireland which it would take generations to efface, and the Liberal Party, who swept away that masterpiece of ecclesiastical injustice were bound to prevent any of Her Majesty's subjects being placed at any disadvantage or subjected to any disability on account of their religious faith. This Bill recognized the rights of the minority who held the Protestant faith, and the minority who represented the property and capital of Ireland. If that recognition was incomplete, if the machinery for defending those rights was inadequate, if there was danger, or the possibility of danger, to any man in Ireland on account of what he believed or what he possessed, then those deficiencies must be supplied. His right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) had referred to the financial question, which he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) ventured to say his right hon. Friend had entirely misconceived. His 520 right hon. Friend had stated the net Revenue of Ireland as £7,500,000, and out of that he estimated £4,600,000 as the contribution to the Imperial Exchequer under the present Bill. The actual amount now paid the right hon. Gentleman put at £2,300,000, and even that hon. Members from Ireland considered to be too much, as they contended that their country was over-taxed. Now, in fact, the present Revenue was £8,350,000, and not £7,500,000. Out of that, Ireland cost this country, in Collection and working the Post Office, £834,000. The Irish Civil Charges were £4,010,000. Thus the total Expenditure was £4,844,000, and apparently a balance was left of £3,506,000 as the payment by Ireland to the British Exchequer; but there was to be deducted £1,400,000 paid in Ireland in the first instance, but really paid by the English and Scotch consumers of beer, whisky, and tobacco. Deducting that sum, the real contribution was reduced to £2,106,000. Now, under the new plan how did the figures appear? The gross Revenue appeared as £8,350,000; contribution to the Army, Navy, and other Imperial Charges, £3,242,000, leaving a balance of £5,108,000. Deducting from that £1,000,000 for the Constabulary, he found the spendable income to be £4,108,000. Then the Civil Charges were £2,510,000; the Post Office and Collection, £834,000; and the net balance, £764,000. Out of this had to be provided Ireland's share of the Sinking Fund—namely, £360,000, which brought the surplus down to £404,000; but, again, Ireland was credited with the £1,400,000 really paid by the English and Scotch consumers; thus her net contribution to the Imperial Exchequer was £3,242,000, less £1,400,000, or only £1,842,000, or less than she paid at present—or, putting it in another form, the real tax payment of Ireland, after deducting the £1,400,000, the cost of Collection and the Post Office was £6,116,000. This would be appropriated as follows:—Irish Expenditure—including £1,000,000 for Constabulary—£3,510,000; Imperial "tribute," £1,842,000; Sinking Fund, £360,000; surplus, £404,000—£6,116,000. That financial position was exceedingly good—better than that which we occupied ourselves, and better than any State in Europe and than 521 many English Colonies—and the surplus of £404,000, as compared with the total Revenue, was a very handsome one, and equivalent to a surplus of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 on our own total Budget of £80,000,000 or £90,000,000. The financial position seemed therefore to be, as he had said, an exceedingly good one, and if expenditure was reduced, as it well might and ought to be, the taxation might also be reduced, and the financial condition of Ireland might become the envy of this country. The other danger was that Irish autonomy was a step towards separation, that it was but an instalment of a demand that would never be satisfied until separation was accomplished, and that it would afford a leverage for advancing and enforcing that demand. That was the argument used against every reform; but he could never see the force of it, and he would not refuse to do a just thing today, because he might be asked to do an unjust one to-morrow. He thought the instalment theory was played out; but he told those who believed in it that there were two safeguards and guarantees against separation, which this Bill did not create, and could not destroy. These guarantees were the material interests of Ireland, and the material forces of England. They would have to regard the Irish people as idiots in the last hopeless stage of imbecility if they precipitated that wholesale destruction of property which any attempt at separation would involve. Ireland was exclusively an exporting country. She exported about £20,000,000 worth annually, and of that we took £19,250,000. To destroy her best if not her only customer, she would have to create a Navy, towards which she did not possess—and under this Bill could not obtain one single ship—ready to meet and conquer the greatest Naval Power on the globe. With her barracks and arsenals occupied by the armed Forces of Great Britain, she would have to create an Army, the first step towards which would be a violation of the law, which English force could and would at once put down. There was more than that. Ireland would have to raise a loan, and he wondered what the Stock Exchanges of England and America would say to the security—he was not saying anything derogatory of the Irish people—but with Ireland in conflict with England, what would they say to 522 the security? If Ireland ever contemplated separation from England, she would bring about what John Stuart Mill had said would be a disaster to Ireland, and a disgrace to England. The assent of Ireland to separation as an alternative would be an assent to national suicide, and the question, whenever raised, would not be settled by Acts of Parliament, or by Customs' regulations, but—which God forbid!—by the supreme arbitrament of force. He would conclude by asking hon. Members who objected to the Bill, as practical men, to face the realities of the case and say what they meant to do. English legislation for Ireland had been bad, the people of Ireland detested it and rejected it. The conflict might be continued, for it was in the power of the House to do that; but for how long? Every man in the House must know what would be the sure and certain end. The greatest speech perhaps ever delivered in that House—a speech which Mr. Fox said every man should read, and re-read, until it was imprinted on his heart—was the speech of Mr. Burke on conciliation with America. In that superb combination of genius and eloquence and wisdom, the principles for which the Government were now contending were defended with masterly power. Every argument which had been urged against the present concession, and which was then urged against concession to America, was demolished with resistless force. The loyal and patriotic Unions of that day, the advocates of the integrity of the Empire and the supremacy of the Crown, triumphed, and Mr. Burke was defeated by a majority of over 200; but what was the consequence? Why, nine years after that division, England, humiliated and disgraced, assented to a settlement such as Mr. Burke had never contemplated. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had thought that Englishmen had grown wiser since 1775. They had in their treatment of their own Colonies, in their advice to other European Powers, in their extension of their own electoral limits, declared their belief in Representative Institutions. As a Party, they had emblazoned on their banner, "Trust in the people." Was the Sister Kingdom to have no part or lot in the matter? Were they to be told that Ireland alone of all the Dominions of the Crown, and of all the States of Europe, was not fit for independent 523 self-government? Ireland was, no doubt, in comparison with England, a poor country, poor in minerals, in manufactures, and in commerce; but she was rich in genius, wit, and eloquence, and in her splendid contribution of some of the most illustrious names to the Bede Roll of English history. Irishmen had been sent three times to rule the great India Empire. Some of their foremost Prime Ministers, their most distinguished Lord Chancellors, their most brilliant soldiers, and most accomplished diplomatists, had been Irishmen; and yet there were men of light and leading who laughed to scorn the idea of a Cabinet of Irishmen. They wanted to con-concentrate and invest the intellectual wealth of Ireland in the Administration of Ireland, and by so doing to weld that nation into closer, deeper, more lasting harmony with their own. His hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General had said he was a Unionist. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) himself reiterated that remark. He was a Unionist; but he was not a believer in a Union which united the Parliaments while dividing the peoples, but rather in one which, while it might divide the Parliaments, would unite the nations. He was not a believer in a Union founded on fraud and maintained by force; but in a Union based on mutual rights, on mutual interests, on mutual respect, and mutual confidence. From such a Union he believed would spring not only the tranquillity of Ireland, but the uniting and knitting together of all hearts, not only in Great Britain and Ireland, but in the Greater Britain and Greater Ireland beyond the seas, in unswerving allegiance to that united Empire which was at once the home and the citadel of those great principles of Constitutional freedom which were the proud and inalienable inheritance of all the subjects of the Queen.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS (Leicestershire, E.)
said, the eloquent speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down was one which, he was sure, they were all pleased to hear. The hon. Gentleman did not seek refuge in any vague generalities. With regard to the Bill, he advocated its second reading, and gave the House his reasons why he should support the leading characteristics of the Bill. He said, that the House should vote for the second read- 524 ing of the Bill in order to insure the pacification and improvement of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman, in the latter part of his speech, asked the House what it was prepared to do? He (Lord John Manners) ventured to think that the majority were prepared to reject this measure on the second reading. The hon. Gentleman had wound up his speech by a panegyric on Irish statesmen, generals, and Irishmen of light and leading, of whom the hon. Gentleman said all Englishmen were proud. Doubtless all Englishmen were proud of them; but would the hon. Gentleman allow him to ask him what side did they take on this momentous question? Were they in heart and soul with us, or with the right hon. Gentleman opposite? Were these Irishmen who had distinguished themselves in every one of those lines of life to which the hon. Gentleman alluded—were they in his favour on this Home Rule Question or against him and the Government to which he belonged? Let the hon. Gentleman claim, if he could, any one great distinguished living Irishman who was in favour of such a measure as this. At the commencement of his speech the hon. Gentleman contended that the precedent which the Prime Minister had produced the other day for his conduct in asking the House of Commons to give a second reading to a Bill which he intended to withdraw immediately was not a new precedent nor one of a startling character. The hon. Gentleman said that in 1867 the Leader of the Tory Party in the House of Commons introduced a Reform Bill, and on the second reading of that Bill was supported by the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister on the ground that, although he might not agree with all the principal characteristics of that measure, as it would go into Committee and afterwards to a third reading, he saw no reason why he should not support the Bill on the second reading. What a precedent! Did the Government intend to subject this Bill to the ordeal of Committee, and then, if it did not emerge in a satisfactory condition, to give the House of Commons the opportunity of rejecting it on the third reading? The precedent told directly against the hon. Gentleman and not in favour of the position he had assumed. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had said that in 1870 Mr. 525 Disraeli, as Leader of the Opposition, voted for the second reading of the Irish Land Bill, although he objected to certain portions of it. Undoubtedly, Mr. Disraeli did support the second reading of that Bill; but why? He gave the reason to the House, and a very remarkable reason it was, and he would direct the attention of the House to it. Mr. Disraeli said—Now, Sir, let me remind the House of what they have probably forgotten—namely, what was proposed in reference to this subject by the Government of 1852, with which I had the honour to be connected. We laid upon the Table of the House four Bills, forming a complete code as regards the land of Ireland. I can describe those four Bills in a sentence. They adopted every recommendation of the Devon Commission. Sir, if those Bills had passed we should not now have been discussing the measure of the right hon. Gentleman. Circumstances, however, occurred which prevented those Bills from passing. There was a change of Government.How was that change of Government brought about, and by whom? Mr. Disraeli had laid those four Bills for the reform of land tenure in Ireland in all its principal branches in accordance with the four great recommendations of the Devon Commission, on the Table of the House of Commons; a few months afterwards he had to introduce his Budget. There was great debate on that Budget, and amongst those who took the most vehement and violent part in opposing the Budget, and turning out the Government over it, was the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister. But he did more than that, he not only turned out that Government, but he brought himself into Office. Now, he wanted to ask this question, What steps from 1852, when the right hon. Gentleman came into Office, up to 1870 did he over take in the direction of reforming the Land Laws of Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman not only prevented the Government that was anxious to do so, and had formulated a great scheme for the reform of the Land Laws, from proceeding with it, but during the whole of that time, in the course of which he was many years in Office, he never stirred hand or foot in the matter till 1870. That was the second precedent which the hon. Gentleman had adduced to justify the unprecedented course of asking the House of Commons to read so momentous a Bill and then withdrawing it; but he (Lord John Manners) ventured to say 526 that it formed no precedent for such a proceeding. They came next to consider, as the hon. Gentleman did very frankly, the main features, objects, and provisions of the Bill. After the answer of the Prime Minister this evening they might assume that if this Bill were read a second time it undoubtedly carried with it, in the mind and intention of the Government, the prosecution of the second great measure dealing with the land of Ireland. He hoped the House of Commons would not forget, when it came to decide the second reading of this Bill, that it was virtually deciding the second reading of the Land Purchase Bill as well. Now what, without any circumlocution, was the general purpose and intention of these Bills? The object of the first unquestionably was to hand over the lives, the property, and the liberty of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland to this new Representative Body, and still more, perhaps, to the new Executive in Ireland. That being so, if the Government showed a want of confidence of the manner in which this new Government in Ireland would deal with one great class of the Queen's subjects, as they unquestionably did by the introduction of the Land Purchase Bill, he had to ask what were the provisions and the safeguards in the measure guarding and protecting the other classes who were not to be expropriated or expatriated? The Prime Minister had dealt in the vaguest generalities when speaking of those safeguards. The first safeguard, it appeared, lay in the constitution of the new Legislative Body. Was ever such a constitution invented since the days of the Abbé Siéyès? Twenty-eight Representative Peers, who, as they died out, were to be supplanted by gentlemen who were possessed of £200 a-year. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] They hoped Her Majesty's Government would take care that, at any rate, they would be preserved for the purpose of maintaining the rights and vindicating the liberties of the 1,400,000 people who would be left to the protection of the new Parliament. It was perfectly clear that after 30 years the Irish Representative Peers would cease to exist. Whether, in view of their ultimate extinction, the Irish Representative Peers would be found willing to undergo the frightful ordeal of being cooped up in a Chamber absolutely 527 powerless, and subject to all the amenities of debate to which they in that House were not infrequently subject, he left for the House to consider. It was clear that the intention of the Government was that, on the formation of this Legislative and Electoral Body, the Irish Peers should be excluded after a lapse of a certain number of years. What was to be the constitution of the popular Body? Two hundred and four Members were to be elected in accordance with the views of the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and they were to be kept in order by the 28 Peers, plus the gentlemen who were elected on the £200 a-year qualification. The scheme was altogether too absurd. The Prime Minister wanted to hear as much as possible of Mr. Burke's views. Just fancy what Burke would have said if he had bad to criticize the right hon. Gentleman's proposal to constitute in one Chamber these two marvellous "Orders," who were to form by their junction a protection to the minority in Ireland. Now the scheme of bringing differing Orders together in one Chamber received a very practical illustration in the year 1789 in Paris. They all knew the result of the junction of the Orders in one Chamber at the time of the French Revolution. Mr. Burke had to comment upon the melancholy result of that frightful experiment, and this was what be said—In the calling of the States-General of France the first thing that struck me was a great departure from the ancient course. I found the representation for the third estate composed of 600 persons. The were equal in number to the representatives of both the other Orders. If the Orders were to act separately, the number would not, beyond the consideration of the expense, be of much moment. But when it became apparent that the three Orders were to be melted into one the policy and necessary effect of this numerous representation became obvious. A very small desertion from either of the other two Orders must throw the power of both into the hands of the third. In fact, the whole power of the State was soon resolved into that body.From that they could judge what would be the result of making the two Orders in the Irish Parliament meet in one Chamber. Another of the safeguards on which the supporters of the Bill relied was the agreeable speeches delivered by two or three Members of the Irish Party below the Gangway. He contended that for men responsible for the 528 life, property, and liberty of their fellow-subjects in Ireland to rely upon two or three sugary speeches from those Benches, and to profess unmitigated confidence in those who delivered them, was one of the most lamentable signs of the times. The Gentlemen who made these declarations of confidence seemed to forget the last five years of outrage and violence, which had rendered the history of Ireland a scandal. They appeared to forget that they themselves, good, easy men, were not exposing their own persons, families, or property to those frightful risks. They said—"Look at our noble confidence; see how generous we are; mark the trust we repose in the gallant Irish people." But not one of them, so far as he knew, was risking anything dear to himself; therefore they could afford to play that magnanimous part, and to expose to the risks and hazards of this novel Parliamentary creation the rights and liberties of their Irish fellow-subjects. It was very remarkable that since the first night when the Prime Minister occupied three hours and a-half in explaining the provisions of the measure not a single word with reference to Ulster had fallen from any Member of the Government. Was Ulster to remain in the Bill or was Ulster to be excluded from it? On April 8 the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government said—There is a counter voice; and I wish to know what is the claim of those by whom that counter voice is spoken, and how much is the scope and allowance we can give them. Certainly, Sir, I cannot allow it to be said that a Protestant minority in Ulster or elsewhere is to rule the question at large for Ireland. I am aware of no Constitutional doctrine tolerable on which such, a conclusion could be adopted or justified. But I think that the Protestant minority should have its wishes considered to the utmost practicable extent in any form which they may assume. Various schemes, short of refusing the demand of Ireland at large, have been proposed on behalf of Ulster. One scheme is that Ulster itself, or, perhaps with more appearance of reason, a portion of Ulster, should be excluded from the operation of the Bill we are about to introduce. Another scheme is that a separate autonomy should be provided for Ulster, or for a portion of Ulster. Another scheme is that certain rights with regard to certain subjects—such, for example, as education, and some other subjects—should be reserved and should be placed to a certain extent under the control of the Provincial Councils.It was plain, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman himself realized the enormous difficulties presented by the 529 position of Ulster. Was any one of the schemes referred to by him to be embodied in the Bill next autumn? If not, what was the position of Ulster to be? If included in the Bill, Ulster would be treated as a conquered Province. So far as Ulster was concerned, this Bill was one of penalties, disabilities, and privations. At the present moment there was no subject discussed in the Imperial Parliament with reference to which the views of Belfast and Ulster could not make itself heard and felt. He referred to such subjects as Commercial Treaties, Conventions like the Suez Canal Convention, the Transvaal War, and the Egyptian Expedition. If the Bill should pass in its present form Ulster would be unable to discuss these questions in the Irish Parliament, and could not discuss them in the Imperial Parliament. The House was told that in the new Bill of next autumn an attempt would be made to open the door a little wider to Irishmen who should wish to take part in the discussion of such questions on this side of the Channel. Well, he understood that a door could be shut or open without causing inconvenience. The Bill as it stood represented the shut door; the Bill, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) would remodel and reconstruct it, would represent the open door; but the new scheme, so far as it had been developed by the Prime Minister, represented the door ajar. Most Gentlemen would have a very distinct recollection of the inconvenience resulting from a door that was continually ajar. There was a terrible creaking, and very unhealthy and disagreeable draughts blew in upon the unfortunate occupants of the apartment. Arguing by analogy, he could not help coming to the conclusion that equally undesirable consequences would follow the right hon. Gentleman's scheme for enabling Irishmen to return to the House of Commons whenever great questions affecting the Empire at large might be under consideration. He was very sceptical about the possibility of drawing a dividing line between those questions which were completely Irish and those which were partly or wholly Imperial. At the commencement of these debates the Prime Minister had said that he had laboured at it, and to invent such a scheme passed the wit of man. Yet 530 now he said a scheme had been framed. As the wit of man had failed, one might assume that the wit of the other sex had found the mode of accomplishing this object, and that some Egeria had come to the assistance of our bewildered and perplexed Numa. He, for one, would await with the greatest anxiety the further development of this now scheme in the Autumn Session. According to the Bill, at the end of 30 years the Irish Peers would not be good enough to send to the Irish Parliament; they were to become extinct; but, then, although not good enough to legislate upon purely Irish matters in Ireland, they were to be kept alive for the purpose of legislating upon Imperial affairs in the English Parliament. Could absurdity go further than that? But how could the scheme work? They were told that the 28 Representative Peers were to come over from Dublin on great Imperial occasions, and that 103 Irish Representatives were to be selected by the Parliament in Dublin to accompany them. Let them imagine the strife and tumult which would arise in the Dublin Assembly when the 204 Gentlemen comprising it should proceed to elect 103 of their number to represent them in the House of Commons. A great deal had been said of late about Grattan's Parliament, and the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had declared in a memorable speech that he would only accept a similar Parliament. But this mongrel Assembly which it was proposed to establish in Dublin lacked all the first elements of Grattan's Institution, which was based on the principles of the Resolution passed at Dungannon. That Resolution declared that—A claim of any body of men other than the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland to make laws to bind this Kingdom is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance.Grattan, therefore, insisted on the importance of the "Lords and Commons" of Ireland. But what would be the position of the Lords in the proposed new Parliament? Why, 28 Peers, shut up in a Chamber, were to be outvoted and bullied on every conceivable occasion for 30 years, at the end of which period they would finally disappear. He maintained that the proposed Assembly would bear no real resemblance to Grattan's Parliament, either in its constitution or its functions. If Grattan's 531 Parliament, constituted of all the ablest men in Ireland, had not succeeded, what hope could the House of Commons entertain that that Body would perform the great functions which the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench were so satisfied that it would perform? He had had access to some interesting letters which passed between his Grandfather and Mr. Pitt, soon after Grattan's Parliament was established. His Grandfather went to Dublin as Lord Lieutenant in 1784. Here was an extract from a letter dated August 15, 1784—This city is in a great measure under the dominion and tyranny of the mob. Persons are daily marked out for the operation of tarring and feathering; the magistrates neglect their duty, and none of the rioters (till to-day, when one man was seized in the act) have been taken, while the corps of Volunteers in the neighbourhood seem, as it were, to countenance these outrages.In June of the same year—he should have read this first—his Grandfather wrote—The Northern newspapers take notice of an intention in some of the corps (Volunteers) to address the French King, which they recommend as a very proper and spirited measure. No meeting for such a laudable purpose has yet taken place. I can scarcely believe it, though the madness of some of these armed legislators might go to anything. Were I to indulge a distant speculation I should say that without a union Ireland will not be connected with Great Britain in 20 years longer.That was a remarkable prophecy, and strictly fulfilled. Grattan's Parliament died of its inherent weakness and its faults. After eight years' experience of his own Parliament, Mr. Grattan said this—What has our renewed Constitution as yet produced? A Place Bill? No. A Pension Bill? No. Any great or good measure? No. But a City Police Bill, a Press Bill, a Riot Act, great increase of pensions, 14 new places for Members of Parliament, and a most notorious and corrupt sale of Peerages. Where will all this end?That was Mr. Grattan on his own Parliament. Let them carry that a little further. The House of Commons was actually set fire to by the mob in 1793; it was invaded by a tumultuous mob in 1794; it had to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in 1796; it passed the Convention Act in 1797, and Mr. Grattan got so tired of it that he retired from public life for a year or two. Then came the Rebellion of 1798, and exit Grattan's Parliament. That was a short but true 532 history, he believed, of Grattan's Parliament. The hon. Gentleman who had preceded him uttered a very confident prophecy that if the Parliament had continued to exist it would have passed Roman Catholic Emancipation. That was easy to say, but it was impossible to prove anything of the sort. All they knew was, that Grattan's Parliament went on until it was extinguished after the great and cruel Rebellion of 1798. With respect to the intense eagerness of the Irish people for a repeal of the Union and the passing of this Bill, he could not help thinking that it was a remarkable fact that, so far as they knew, not one single outrage during the last five years on man, woman, or beast, had been perpetrated for the purpose of obtaining repeal of the Union. Every one of those atrocious outrages was committed for the purpose of obtaining somebody else's property, or wreaking personal revenge on somebody who in the exercise of his undoubted civil freedom had committed some act or abstained from some act, and had so brought upon him the vengeance of the murderers and Moonlighters in the country districts. That being so, and the Bill having, as he ventured to think, all the inconveniences, incongruities, and absurdities he and others had ascribed to it, they were asked to go to the second reading. They were told that it was to be a sort of an abstract Resolution to which no effect was to be given this Session, but that in due course there would be a new Bill which they would be called upon to pass. He ventured to think this—that if the House of Commons were beguiled by any considerations of that sort into passing that measure in its present shape, if those Members who objected to all its leading details were beguiled into giving it a second reading, they would find when the autumn came that their position was one of increased difficulty and embarrassment. He alluded to the second Bill, which was inseparably connected with this. His belief was that when the autumn came those Members who voted for the second reading of this Bill—who disliked one Bill and abominated the other—would find when they came into the House that those Bills would be tied round their necks by the autocrat of the Treasury, and that they would very much resemble 533 the condition of the unfortunate burghers of Calais, and it would be more than the ingenuity of Members could effect to extricate themselves from the coil they would find round their legislative necks. No! Those Members of that Imperial House of Commons who believed the principle upon which the Bill was founded to be erroneous, who disliked and condemned many of the leading provisions by which the principle was endeavoured to be put into action, had now an opportunity of expressing that opinion. Surely now was the time for the House of Commons to act. Let the House of Commons rise to the dignity, responsibility, and duty of its position. Let the House of Commons, by refusing the second reading, save Great Britain from shame, humiliation, and disgrace, and Ireland from ruin, confusion, intestine strife, and, it might be, civil war and reconquest.
§ MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
said, that in deciding this question existing facts must form the basis. They could not revert to the methods of Cromwell and of William III.; Grattan's Parliament was now remote, and they had to consider, not the opinions of Mr. Pitt, but the facts of the case, and it was with facts that they had to deal. They were confronted now with three general propositions under which the problem of Ireland had to be faced. In the first place, there existed in Ireland that sentiment of race which formed an important factor in the settlement of any question of this nature. Secondly, in a country where the land formed the principal means of subsistence, the system of land tenure was an unjust one; and, in the third place, millions of Irishmen had emigrated to the New World, animated by a sense of the wrongs which their country had suffered, and carrying with them a sense of the miseries that had resulted from the British connection. That feeling had not died away under new conditions in the New World, but was handed down to their descendants. In addition, they were now confronted with certain special conditions at the present juncture. In former times Parliament had been composed to a very great extent of landowners or the Representatives of the landowning class; but under the extension of the franchise matters were now very different. Now the actual cultivators of the soil had a 534 direct voice in the management of their own affairs; and, in his opinion, it would be inconsistent and illogical to give them that power and not to take their wishes into account. Among the rural population, and in large towns as well, there was a strong feeling in favour of giving to Ireland those rights to which she was justly entitled, and a feeling that if they acted under the promptings of a sense of justice they would not go far wrong. It was felt that this Irish problem could not be delayed, but must be faced; that it could not be shirked or shelved, but must be settled in one way or another. It was perfectly clear that a step had been taken from which it would be impossible to recede. Under these conditions, it would, in his opinion, be absolutely fatal to delay any further settlement of thin question. The Irish people could not be educated into a sense of responsibility until they had the control of their own affairs, and 20 years of coercion would not do that. They had heard much on the subject of guarantees and safeguards in connection with that measure; but he held that the truest guarantee they could have was not one which rested on mere paper or parchment, but which was inscribed on the tablets of the heart of the Irish people, and which would spring from their consciousness that the greatness and the unity of the Empire were indispensable not to Great Britain only, but also to Ireland. They had been told over and over again that if legislative powers were conferred on an Irish Parliament that Parliament would at once proceed to enact a series of confiscations, spoliations, and what not. Those who brought that charge against the Irish Parliament now sought to be established forgot that this was not borne out by history. It was for the opponents of the measure to show that in times past regularly constituted Governments had resorted to spoliation. History, on the contrary, showed that when settled Governments were set up a sense of responsibility induced them to refrain from adopting any such course; and there was no good reason for supposing that an Irish Parliament when created would form any exception to the general rule in that respect. They had been told that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, and what was called the unity of the Empire, must be carefully maintained. Members in all parts of the 535 House were agreed upon those points; and until a few days ago Gentlemen sitting on his (the Ministerial side) thought that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was put in some jeopardy by the Bill. Although the power to be given to the Irish Legislative Body would be a delegated power, it was pointed out that there would be a practical difficulty in the way of the Imperial Parliament at any time resuming those powers. It was felt that if they were resumed in the absence of the Irish Members it would be grossly unfair towards Ireland; while if they could be resumed only with the consent of the Irish Parliament, then, as the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) had shown, the Imperial Parliament would have parted with a portion of its supremacy so far as one part of the Kingdom was concerned, thus introducing into the Constitution an element of rigidity that was alien to its spirit. Now, however, that dilemma no longer confronted them, but had been completely removed by what had taken place at the Foreign Office last Thursday. They were told that the Irish Members were to be retained at Westminster not only for fiscal but for Imperial purposes. The problem to be solved, when that measure was reintroduced by the Prime Minister, resembled that which was presented by the existing relations between Hungary and Crotia. The Crotians had a separate Body which dealt with questions that were specifically and exclusively Croatian, and yet they sent Members to the Hungarian Diet who voted only on matters of common interest. Those matters of common interest were reserved, and formed the subject of debate either at the beginning or the end of each Session. There, therefore, we had a case in which the difficulty that we had to meet had been faced, and to a great extent to the satisfaction of all concerned. Acting in accordance with what he conceived to be the dictates of justice, and also of that expediency which the House never lost sight of, he heartily supported the second reading of that measure.
§ COLONEL HUGHES-HALLETT (Rochester)
said, that there had not been a sufficient raison d'être shown for the Bill. Three points stood out clearly from the mass of arguments for and 536 against that Bill to which they had listened. The first was the justification for the Bill involving motives which had led to its introduction; the second was the security for its provisions, if they were passed, ever being fulfilled; and the third related to whether or not it came up to the final demands of the Irish people. He assured Irish Members below the Gangway that he desired to treat that question in a thoroughly calm and dispassionate spirit. With regard to the justification for that Bill or the motives which had produced it, he had been struck by the fact that the Prime Minister throughout the debates upon it had avoided making any allusion to that powerful organization, the National League, which had been described as the apostolical successor of the Land League. That organization had been the cause of the effect now exhibited in the Bill before the House. He maintained that the movement which had set this scheme in motion had come into existence not from any feeling that justice had to be done to Ireland in order to remedy grievous wrongs that were supposed to have been committed in the past, not from a feeling that the Irish people were entitled to make their own laws, but it was the outcome of the stern necessity imposed upon the country by the voice and the action of the National League. The mandate against the payment of rent and the raising up of the terrible system of "Boycotting" had terrorized, not only the masses in Ireland, but had succeeded in terrorizing the mind of the Prime Minister of England, and had forced him to lay a scheme of legislation before Parliament which must prove dangerous, if not destructive, to the interests of the British Empire. But was it really the case that Ireland was in favour of Home Rule? Was the demand for a Legislative Assembly in Dublin the free and unfettered expression of the Irish people? It was maintained by the advocates of the scheme that the answer was to be found in the fact that 86 out of the 103 Irish Members were returned to Parliament on distinctly Nationalist grounds. But was this result a natural or an artificial one? He did not say that it was artificial, but certainly he did not hesitate to say that it was not entirely natural. If the power of the National League had not hung over every Irish elector at the Elec- 537 tion, it was probable that he would not have voted as he did, and that if he had been entirely free no doubt he would have voted otherwise. The uneducated Irish peasant seemed to have voted as he was told by the parish priest and under the domination of the National League. He had been a great deal in Ireland, and had conversed with Irishmen of all classes, and he believed that there was not a man in Ireland who by his industry had become possessed of an independence, however small, and who had anything to lose, who, in his heart, was desirous of Home Rule. He granted that the proletariat and the small mechanic were in favour of Home Rule, and that the small shopkeepers in many cases might cry out for it; but he questioned whether the cry was genuine, and whether it was not the result of a feeling that by opposing the movement their interests might be ruined by the action of the National League. The farmers in Ireland made no cry for Home Rule. All they wanted was to get the land cheap. A great deal had been said in disparagement of Coercion Acts, and of the futility of this kind of legislation; but he wished to point out that coercion was nothing more than the simple insistence of a British Government for the maintenance of law and order in all parts of the United Kingdom alike. As a matter of fact, however, certain classes in Ireland found that agitation paid better than honest industry, and rebellion paid better than both. In order to remedy this state of things, Parliament was asked to establish a Parliament in College Green, or what the Irish Members called the restoration of Grattan's Parliament. He was inclined, however, to think that it would be much more like Tyrconnel's Parliament, which, to the best of his recollection, passed Acts of attainder against Protestants and English landowners. Supposing the Parliament proposed by this Bill were established in Dublin, it seemed to him that the Representatives of the Nationalist Party now or in the future would be subject to wire-pulling by a Council sitting in Chicago or New York. But, assuming that the Irish Nationalist Party were able to cut themselves adrift from the influence of the Party in America, what guarantee had they if the Bill passed that no further concessions would be demanded? The conditions under 538 which the Irish Parliament would be called into existence furnished no adequate guarantees that the authority of the British Parliament would not be impaired. There was no stipulation provided which would be of any practical value; and it must not be forgotten that the forces which sent the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) into Parliament, when the time came for him to bring forward measures of Home Rule for his countrymen, might and would confront him in such a manner as to defy the passing of any laws which civilized communities must require in order to preserve their social and Constitutional existence. He asked whether this scheme of autonomy for Ireland was brought forward by the Prime Minister in the honest conviction that it would cut the Gordian knot of the Irish difficulty, or to suit the exigencies of Party? Was it founded upon the honest conviction that it would restore prosperity to that country, or was it extorted by fear? Was it honestly introduced with the object of preserving law and order in Ireland, or was it a mere capitulation entered into with the object of retaining place and power in England? It had been declared that the Prime Minister entertained no idea of the ultimate separation of the two countries; but who could insure us against the time when it might suit the convenience of the Leaders of the National Party to demand such a separation? In such a case, until that separation was obtained, Ireland might become the camping ground for hostile nations, and the Business of the Imperial Parliament might be brought to a deadlock by the votes of Irish Members. The Irish Party had obtained as their breakfast the disestablishment of the Irish Church. They had now got this Bill for their dinner; and they might demand Separation for their supper. Lord Beaconsfield had declared, many years ago, that Home Rule meant the dismemberment of the United Kingdom, and that those who favoured such a policy were false to their Sovereign and to the country, and might live to lament the disasters which their policy had brought upon the nation. The Prime Minister had held similar language; while in 1873 the Chancellor of the Exchequer had warned the House that governing Ireland according to Irish ideas meant our not 539 governing Ireland at all. The old proverb said that it was only the first step which cost; and that freely translated into Latin meant facilis est descensus Averni. And if they once lent themselves to carrying this Bill it was impossible to predict where they would finally find themselves landed. If Ireland suffered under any real grievances, by all means let them endeavour to remove them; but let them cease to treat her as though she were a nation of children, to be first coerced and then coddled. If Ireland were to be treated on the same lines as England, Scotland, and Wales were, she could have no real cause of complaint. If they were to adopt the wise and prudent policy towards Ireland that he had suggested they might yet see the murky clouds that now environed her lifted and the sun of prosperity and contentment shine over her and illumine with its beneficent rays those who, if left alone, were a warm-hearted and a loyal people.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
I am not one who has taken up the cry of Home Rule recently; but one who, since I have had a beard on my chin, have advocated the right for the Irish people which I, as an Englishman, claim for my own country—the right of self-government. There may have been sudden conversions on the side of the House from which I speak; but you must remember that sudden conversions are not necessarily false ones. St. Paul was converted suddenly, but his conversion was real; and it is idle to suppose that, before he saw the light from above, he had not many searchings of heart. Although there have been sudden conversions on this side of the House—the conversion, for instance, of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, doubtless, by-the-bye, will be able to explain the process by which he has arrived at his present position of mind—I want hon. Gentlemen opposite, in fairness, to believe that there are a very large number of Members in this quarter of the House, some who were in the last Parliament, but, notably, many who have come into this Parliament, who hold the Democratic view, and believe that peoples everywhere have the Divine right to govern themselves, and to shape their own destinies. If I have been struck with one thing in this debate more than by an- 540 other, it has not been with the change of opinion I have heard expressed by some hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House. I admit that it is rather remarkable; but more remarkable still has been the reticence of right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House. Some here may have changed their views; but my difficulty is to know what is the real opinion of those who lead the Tory Party? I think the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) especially might be called upon to state in this debate what his views are. I notice that he seems to look on and observe the duel on this side of the House. If I might do so without offence, I would compare him to Iago, and recall a very remarkable scene in the play of Othello. I can imagine the noble Lord peeping from behind the Speaker's Chair, and, whilst he observes the Roderigo of West Birmingham proceeding to make his onslaught upon the Cassio of Mid Lothian, saying to himself—Now, whether he kill Cassio,Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,Every way makes my gain.[Cheers.] I beseech hon. Members who sit behind the noble Lord to be chary with their cheers when he addresses the House. They will make a mistake if they bestow too much confidence upon him. You tell us on this side of the House that the Prime Minister converts us, and leads us in ways we do not wish to go; but I have no complaint with hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am not going to say a single word that will give offence to one of them, because, if the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary do not carry this Home Rule Bill, as is very likely, owing to the action of Roderigo, the noble Lord is the man in whom I place my confidence. The Tory Party is the Party which will do the great thing the Liberals failed to do. Therefore, it is with especial regret I look upon the action of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). I would not in this House say one word disrespectful to the views and the character and the conduct of the noble Marquess. He is a Whig of the pure type. I am a Radical of the dangerous type; but I respect the noble Marquess. I have honoured him ever since I entered this House; and, 541 although I can seldom follow him, I commend the dignity and honesty with which he supports every view he puts before the House. I deplore the position in which he is about to be put in regard to this Home Rule Bill. I know what is going to happen. There have been so many prophets that I venture to prophesy. I prophesy that if the acts of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), the Radical Member, result in the defeat of the Bill which contains the very essential principle of Radicalism, the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale and his Whig Friends will see, as we have seen three or four times in this century, the Tory Party allied to the Radical Party, and reinforced by the Irish Party, carrying a Bill after all. Now, as the question has been approached in half-a-dozen different ways, I should like the House to permit me to put before it in 20 or 30 sentences the point of view from which a Radical looks at this question of Home Rule. I was particularly struck by the generous words in which the Prime Minister excepted the people of Scotland from any charge that they were concerned in the evil government of Ireland in the past. I freely admit it; but I wish the right hon. Gentleman had gone a little further. I wish he had generously added—as I think he would if he had thought of it—that the English people neither have a right to be charged with complicity in the nefarious Acts by which Ireland was bound to England in this unholy union, and by which she has been mismanaged for so many years. If any part of this Kingdom is to be charged with the evils of the past, it cannot be the common people. They had no power until 1867. In 1867 half of them gained power, and the first use they made of their power was to hold out the right hand of fellowship to the people of Ireland. Since 1885 the whole people of the country have had power; and as they have had no complicity in the misgovernment of the past, so I, one of themselves, the Representative of a Democratic constituency, say that the people of England—the common people—haee no will, no inclination, no interest in perpetuating a state of things under which Ireland feels bound to act in antagonism to England; but, on the government for the people; Turkey co- 542 ercing Bulgaria, the Divine right of self-contrary, as Englishmen, believing that they would resist to the death every attempt to misgovern them, or to govern them against their will, so they will give to another nation—their brothers in blood and in heart—the same right to govern themselves as they enjoy. Why is it I propound this Radical doctrine? For three reasons. First of all, because I admit that we have misgoverned Ireland in the past. Nobody denies it. There is not a Member who dare rise on that side of the House and say that we have governed Ireland well. We have mismanaged Ireland. There are people who look with a light heart at the matter; but, in my opinion, the historian, the impartial historian—not the historians who write nowadays in the daily newspapers, but the impartial historian of the future—who comes to write the history of the connection between England and Ireland in the 19th century, will not point out the petty details which hon. Members opposite occupy themselves with, but will write in broad characters this damning accusation against England—"A diminished population, languishing industries, ruined agriculture, the people in heart and soul opposed to yourselves," he will say; "this is the record the English have made in 86 years of government." That, Sir, will be our condemnation. But it is not merely when I look at Ireland I claim for her this right to self-government. Common shame makes me do it. Common shame ought to make every Radical do it, and it ought to make the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham do it. I do not speak to the Conservatives in the House, or the Whigs either. ["Hear, hear!"] I hope hon. Members will not think I mean to be disrespectful. If I am to speak to anyone at all, I would rather speak to those who, I think, are going astray, than to those who are, I think, consistently following their own principles. I admit hon. Members opposite are consistently following their own principles, and I would rather speak to erring brothers on this side of the House. Now, look at what we have done. There is not a country in Europe, where the people have sought this right of self-government, but we Radicals have supported it. If it was Russia coercing Poland, the Divine right of self- 543 government for the people; Austria coercing Italy, the Divine right of self-government for the people; but when it comes to England governing Ireland, not as Ireland wants, but as England wants, then we seem to forget our principles and deal out to the Irish people a very different meed to what we deal to those at a distance. There has been one exception to this; I allude, of course, to the case of America. I have never heard during the course of this debate the case of America fairly quoted; but I will put before the House my case if von, Sir, will permit me. In the case of America the argument was this. The people of the Northern States, by force, compelled the people in the Southern States to remain in the Union. What I want to know is, What was the Union? What is the Union between England and Ireland? What was the Union between England and America? Thirteen Sovereign States met, and after solemn argument and prayer bound themselves in solemn bond that they would stand together. But how did we obtain the Union with Ireland? Not with prayer, but bribes; not with argument, but base corruption. If the Irish people wish to withdraw from that Union, we have no moral right—we may have the right of force—to stop them. If these people make a solemn bond with us, binding themselves and the two nations, then, but not till then, our moral right exists. I have heard in this House declarations that we can compel the people of Ireland to stand to this Union. I say as an Englishman, knowing my own people in the North—hard-headed, clear-minded men—that although they would hold the Irish to any bond they might enter into, they entirely revolt against the idea that they should use the sword to compel the carrying out of the present Union. It is no Union of which we can be proud. It is no Union in the eyes of the civilized world; and, therefore, I say it is time that this base and unworthy Union should be done away with, and that there should be substituted for it a Union which, in my judgment, will bind the two nations together more closely than they have been bound together before. I do not object to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite opposing this measure; but I should like to ask the House, how can any Radical oppose it? 544 The very essence of the Radical creed is that a country should be allowed to govern itself; and yet we have Radicals in this House opposing this measure, and proposing some sort of plans of their own. I have not yet ascertained positively what those plans are; but, whatever they are, they seem to err in one particular point; they never seem to consider the Irish people as a people, or to imagine that Irishmen have hearts and souls of their own. The Radical Leader, as he is called, does not seem to think that Irishmen are to be treated as men of flesh and blood. He seems to think that they are so many manufactured articles, to be disposed of at so much a dozen, a heavy discount being allowed if the business be intrusted to him; and, therefore, he objects to the plan put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and I understand he is going into the Lobby against him. I have got a quotation here, and I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is not here to enjoy it, for I should like him to recollect what he said in September, 1885. He said—Two million voters, hitherto silent and unheard, will now demand attention, and the claims which they make, and the rights upon which they insist, will be an important factor in our future legislation. The programme which satisfied a limited electorate is much too restricted for the new constituencies. This has even attracted the attention of the 'Stupid Party.'I beg hon. Gentlemen opposite to understand that these are not my words. I should address them much more respectfully. These are the words of their trusted ally. Let me resume the quotation—They based their hopes—that is the Tory Party—on the expectation of differences in our ranks, of a great secession from the Liberal camp. I do not think there are any of us who will be tempted to desert our old camp in order to make new political allies with that heterogeneous combination which includes Free Traders and Protectionists, Ulster Orangemen and English Roman Catholics, Licensed Victuallers and Established Churchmen, Tory Democrats and Fossil Reactionaries, all uniting their discordant voices in order to form a mutual protection society, and for assuring to each other place, privilege, and power.Sir, after that quotation, I do not wonder that the noble Marquess at the head of the Tory Party (the Marquess of Salisbury) said he would use the right hon. Gentleman, but he would not trust him. 545 I do not want to say any more about the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham; but I wish him to consider—no doubt he has considered, he does nothing without consideration—to consider what he is going to defeat this Bill for, in support of what policy is he going to give his vote? I am not going to explain that policy at any length. Twenty years of coercion the noble Marquess promised us. ["No, no!"] Well, then, I will substitute an Elizabethan euphemism, and say a Government firm and stable—a firm Government by those who, in the face of a General Election, dare not renew the Coercion Act. I have been in the House only some four or five years; but I have seen enough sitting here, and seldom speaking, watching hon. Gentlemen, and especially right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench, long enough to know that whatever else we may look for—and I look for many things from them—I do not look for a Government firm and stable. Nor do I look for it from any Government on that side of the House or this. No; not till we get a Radical Government. Hon. Members entirely misapprehend the Radicals of this country; they are firm, and they will find that out when the Radicals come into power. The noble Marquess, if he did not ask for 20 years of coercion, at any rate proposed that £150,000,000 should be spent in deporting 1,000,000 Irishmen. ["No, no!"] Well, I am unfortunate. I cannot please hon. Members when I quote what was said. I will put it in another way. He said he would not propose it, yet the money would be better spent in that way. ["Hear, hear!"] Oh, I am glad I am right this time. Then here it is I join issue with hon. Gentlemen and with the noble Marquess. I would rather spend £150,000,000 in any way in the world than in deporting the sons of toil from either this county or Ireland. I deplore the aristocratic offensiveness of the proposal. Speaking as a son of the poor, there is nothing I object to more than that any one Marquess, or anyone else, should make the deportation of 1,000,000 of men from their native country a high question of State. If there must be deportation, I can tell you a much better way of spending the money. A shipload of Marquesses, a few Earls thrown in, as many Baronets, 546 especially the newly-made ones. In that way if we spent £150,000,000 we might get a good return; but of the men who work and make the wealth of the country, I tell the noble Marquess and all those who agree with him, we will keep as many in the country as possible. I have very little more to say; I thank the House for listening to me so long. I want hon. Members opposite just to realize the fact that what we feel, what I feel, speaking for myself and my constituents—and I feel I can speak on this matter for my constituents—I only wish that all my hon. Friends on this side of the House could honestly say the same—speaking for myself and my constituency, we feel this—we do not want separation from Ireland; we do not want to injure by one jot or tittle the great fabric of the British Empire; but we want union with the Irish people by agreement and by affection. We deplore the circumstances of the past 86 years; we think they have brought harm to Ireland; we are sure they have brought shame to England. We say the time has come for a new state of things; and we believe that in the proposals of the Prime Minister for giving Irishmen the management of their own affairs we have proposals that will bring peace between the two countries. For 86 years Ireland has protested against this state of things. Up to 1829 inarticulately, from 1829 to 1885 semi-articulately, and since 1885 with the articulate voice of a great people. I say we are bound to listen to the voice of those Gentlemen, who represent Ireland. I know all the time I am speaking—at least, I think so—that when the division on this Bill is called, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government and his supporters will be in a minority. ["No, no!"] I say I think so; and, Mr. Speaker, I cannot but recall the analogy between now and 100 years ago. That analogy has been referred to in eloquent terms by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) in his magnificent speech; but I will just refer to it again in a word or two. A hundred years ago there was a great Minister, venerable, venerated, potent—like the right hon. Gentleman who is at the head of the Government now; not even the voice of faction could say of that great Minister of 100 years ago that he was not patriotic, and did 547 not love his country, for in the darkest days of her misery and degradation the elder Pitt took hold of her fortunes when her soldiers were flying from the enemy, when her ships were driven from the seas, and when her spirit failed within her. He, by the magic power of his patriotic soul, brought England to the height of her fortunes, and delivered her from all her enemies. He was a patriot, and he loved his country, did this great Minister. In his old age, and when tottering on the verge of the grave, there was a great question—as there is a great question now—of the right of an English-speaking people over the sea to govern themselves according to their own ideas; and this patriot Minister, the great-souled Chatham, in his old age proposed to Parliament some such measure of conciliation and justice as the Prime Minister proposes now. Then the Whigs and Tories—aye, not the Tories alone—the Whigs, ever faithful to their tradition of giving as little reform as will suit the petty circumstances of the time—the Whigs and Tories of the time united to defeat the Minister and his Bill. His Bill was defeated, and the Minister passed into his grave. Within a few brief years, the time for conciliation having passed, the English-speaking race over the sea asserted by arms its right to that self-government God means a people should have; their efforts succeeded, and England was degraded. It will be an evil omen if, after 100 years, the miserable experience of that time should be repeated by a British Parliament now. Happily, there is one difference between 1776 and 1886. In 1776 the common people of the country had no power; they were but carriages drawn by the power or will of their own politically, aristocratic steam engine; they had no Now ft is different. If the verdict of this House—a verdict of a heterogeneous Party of Tories, Whigs, and so-called Radicals—if a verdict here should defeat the Bill, repeating the blinded course taken by Parliament 100 years ago, then I trust the Prime Minister will appeal from the House to the country; and sure I am—it may be not the first time nor the second time, it may not be by these hands, but at some time not far off, and by one Party or the other—the right of the Irish people to manage Irish affairs on their own soil will be 548 conceded by the Parliament of Great Britain.
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN (Antrim, N.)
I am sure that every Member of this House is desirous that this debate should close without unnecessary delay. The Bill is practically dead. [Cries of "No!"] Yes; it is dead, and buried too. The debate has sunk into a hollow discussion upon a measure which will never appear again in the same form; and even if it should re-appear it is very doubtful whether it would be accompanied by the measure which the Prime Minister has declared to be an inseparable part of his great scheme. Under these circumstances, I think that any ordinary Member who intrudes in the debate owes an apology to the House. My apology and my excuse are that the views of a large body of Irishmen, of whom I am one, have not been laid before the House, at any rate by one of themselves. I am not an Orangeman nor am I a Nationalist. And if I may venture to say so, I do not agree in the estimate which each of these Parties passes upon the action of the other. If I may say so without offence to Orangemen, I cannot deny to the Nationalists the possession of patriotic motives; and I am certainly unable to agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General (Sir Charles Russell) in the statement that the utterances of the Orangemen are mere bluster and brag, and that they are nothing but the tools of their superiors. The Orangemen are a very independent body, jealous, and properly jealous, of interference. They are, in fact, the democracy of the Protestant element, and are quite capable of directing their own actions. Still, I am bound to say that I do not agree with the violent language which some members of that Party have used; and I desire to avoid, as far as I can, giving offence either to the Orangemen or to the Nationalists. But I wish, as an Irishman, to state what my objections to this Bill are. I object to it on two grounds—in the first place, because it appears to me to place Ireland in a very degraded and humiliating position; and, secondly, because it opens the door to absolute separation and independence. These two arguments are contradictory, as the hon. and learned Attorney General said the other night; but that is not my fault. 549 The Bill itself is contradictory. I have tried to understand it as well as I could. I have read it over and over again; and I think I have listened to everything that has been said about it. Whether the Government have thrown as much light upon it as they could I do not know. I rather think they have not, because I observe that, at the historic meeting held at the Foreign Office, a young and artless Member of the Party rose and begged the Prime Minister not to commit himself at that stage to any definite statement which might hamper him later on in the year in the framing of a new Bill. That seemed to me to be a most extraordinary request to make of the Prime Minister. I think the hon. Member cannot have studied the speeches of the Prime Minister with the same care that I have done. Did the Prime Minister ever commit himself to any statement? But the right hon. Gentleman was equal to the occasion. With admirable gravity, he thanked his youthful adviser and promised he would follow his advice. I think the most suspicious and most sceptical of the Tory Party will believe that the Prime Minister will religiously keep that promise. With the Bill before the House, and such statements as the Government have vouchsafed—definite or indefinite—in regard to it, one thing is clear. It has been said over and over again. This is a Parliamentary contract, or a Parliamentary compact. Now, I am not aware that there is any difference between a contract and a compact; but I have always thought it was essential in any contract or compact that the terms should be clear, precise, and definite. That is not the belief of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Chief Secretary said that this was not a "cast iron Bill;" and what he prided himself most of all on in the measure is its adaptability. His words were that he prided himself most of all on its "flexibility of adaptation." That notion of flexibility of adaptation is greatly in favour with some of the Party opposite. I think the House was very much enlightened the other day by a speech from the Treasury Bench, in which a Member of the Government said that he had always thought that in advocating Liberal politics he was supporting a Party who were prepared to alter their policy "as frequently as circumstances demanded." 550 That was the language of a young Member of the Government; but you do not learn the secrets of the Party from "an old Parliamentary hand." I think the Chief Secretary was right in claiming "flexibility," the governing principle of the Liberal Party opposite, as the leading feature of this Bill. To my mind it is a very novel and very dangerous idea to have a compact vague and flexible. I think I can retort on the Chief Secretary that we in Ireland are not fools or children, and I say—"Tell us exactly what you are binding us to." Nothing is so dangerous, and so likely to lead to quarrels and bickerings, as a vague and flexible compact. I have said that I object to the Bill, because it is likely to lead to the degradation of Ireland. Let me leave out for a moment the flexible quality of the Bill, and let us see what it is the Bill really purports to concede to Ireland. We have often heard hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway say that they would not be satisfied with anything less than Grattan's Parliament. We all know what Grattan's Parliament was. It was as near independence as it could possibly be. But does this Bill concede Grattan's Parliament, or anything like Grattan's Parliament? What is more, does it concede a Parliament at all? Why, we were told that the other night in the speech which the Secretary to the Treasury praised so deservedly to-night. The hon. and learned Member for Wisbech (Mr. Rigby) is a great Constitutional lawyer, and he told us that this Body the Government propose to create is not a Parliament; that there cannot be two Parliaments; and this is not a Parliament at all, but a Legislative Body, just like a Local Board, or a parcel of Judges meeting to devise rules under the Judicature Act. The hon. and learned Member for Wisbech went on to combat the very admirable arguments of the hon. and learned Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay), and, commenting on some of his observations with regard to the omission of the clauses in the Colonial and Indian Acts which had been referred to, said that there was nothing in it, but that the clause, if not expressed in the Bill, was plainly understood. Well, I do not venture to differ from the hon. and learned Member. He is a Member of my own Profession, and a great Constitutional authority. Hon. 551 Members opposite, commenting on the arguments of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, always say that there is nothing in them; and here they say that, although that clause is not in the Bill, it is plainly understood. But do hon. Members below the Gangway know what the clause is. Let me read it to them. It is this, only substituting "Ireland" for "the Colonies," and "Irish" for "Colonial"—Any Irish law which is or shall in any respect be repugnant to the provisions of any Act of Parliament extending to Ireland shall be read subject to such Act, and shall to the extent of such repugnance, but not otherwise, be and remain absolutely void and inoperative.["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members below the Gangway say "Hear, hoar!" Do they know where they are? The Act of George I., which has been before referred to, contained two clauses, and two clauses only—one was, that the Kingdom of Ireland should be subordinate to the Kingdom of Great Britain, and that the King and Parliament of Great Britain could make laws which were to bind Ireland; and the other was to the effect that the English House of Lords should be supreme over all actions at law in Ireland. That Act was so obnoxious, so hateful, to the Irish people that they almost rose in rebellion, and Grattan's Parliament was the result; and yet this Bill is actually re-enacting both of those clauses—one you will find in Clause 36, and the other the hon. and learned Member for Wisbech tells us is understood, though not expressed. That I think is a very degrading and humiliating position. But it does not stop there. Irishmen are forbidden to legislate about many things—for instance, about trade. But trade is the one thing which, if Ireland has a Parliament of her own, we are told she will try to revive. They are forbidden to legislate about foreign politics. The hon. and learned Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay) says that in a certain class of foreign politics which create difficulties with England the people of Ireland have always taken a deep interest; and he instanced the exploits of the Mahdi. I will make a more pleasing reference. I have myself a clear recollection that one or two hon. Members sitting below the Gangway have taken a very lively interest in the affairs of India, and their interference has been of public service. 552 But all that is to be changed. I was astonished to hear the Secretary to the Treasury say to-night that Irishmen may not even discuss these matters. I do not find that in the Bill. Why, these matters are discussed at almost every Board of Poor Law Guardians in Ireland; and yet the Legislative Body of Ireland is to sit mute, and if an hon. Member happens to rise and refer to any of them, I suppose the Irish Speaker would call him to Order, and say that he was trespassing on very dangerous ground. I say that that is a degrading and humiliating position, and while you are pretending and making believe to concede Grattan's Parliament, what you are really doing is to restore the state of things which Grattan's Parliament was intended to do away with. You are creating a Body which will be more fettered and hampered than the Irish Parliament which preceded Grattan's Parliament, and which was restricted by Poyning's Act and the Statute of George I. That is my first objection to the Bill. My second objection to the Bill is that it opens the door to separation. That is due to this very element of flexibility. I have shown, I think, how different this Bill is from what the Irish people have been led to expect. The result will be that when these limitations and restrictions are recognized, and thoroughly understood in Ireland, the feeling of discontent created by the Act of George I. will be produced by this Act. And then some new Lead or may arise—possibly one of the hon. Members who sit below the Gangway, or, if they find themselves so fettered by the declarations they have made, it may be some other and some younger patriot, who will say, in words we all remember, that "No man has a right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation." And then he will try to evade the Act, and for a time he will be the most popular man in Ireland. Will it be difficult to evade this Act? I am prepared to say that any man could easily drive a coach and six through almost every section of this Bill. Take one case—take the case of the Volunteers. Ireland would be prohibited from legislating on that subject. But there may be Volunteers without any legal enactment. As far as I know, the old Irish Volunteers did not owe their existence to statute; and what has been before may be again. If 553 troublous times come, and there was a war with France or America, a body of Volunteers would be an awkward factor if the Irish people became dissatisfied with this Act. It is said there may be Volunteers; but how are you to pay them, and how are you to arm them? I do not think there would be much difficulty about that. We all know what enormous subscriptions have come within the last few years from America to Ireland to forward the cause of Irish independence, and I cannot help thinking that what has happened already may happen again. But I take leave to say that over and above that there is nothing whatever in the Bill which would prevent the Irish Legislature from devoting taxes raised in Ireland to the payment and equipment of Volunteers. And so it is with regard to trade. The new Body is to be forbidden to legislate upon, or even, if the Secretary of the Treasury is right, to discuss, questions of trade. I cannot think he is right about that, but it may be so. But I do say there is nothing in the Bill which would prevent the Irish Parliament from giving bounties to Irish industries, if they desired to drive English trade from the country. It is said that Ireland would be bound by the statutory contract into which by this Bill she would enter, or England should recall the boon. That might be so, if we knew what the terms of the contract really were; but that is the very thing we do not know. If the terms of the contract were definite and found within the four corners of the Bill, I could understand a person saying—"You have overstepped the limit, and must take care what you do." But what this Bill does is this—it says—"You must not legislate with regard to certain things; but with regard to all the rest you may be as free as air." If that is so—if it is so flexible—where are you to draw the line, or to say that an Irish patriot is overstepping due limits? I can understand what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that the time may come when it would be necessary to reconquer the country with "the unanimous voice of a united people, and the consenting conscience of the civilized world." I think we should have some difficulty in getting the unanimous voice of a united people, or the consenting conscience of the civilized world. I can understand 554 that, however; but I cannot understand how the abiding sense of England's greatness can keep Ireland within the strict limits of its duty. It has never done so yet. The Prime Minister once said to Lord Spencer, and Lord Spencer has repeated the observation, that England could do what she liked with Ireland—that she could drag Ireland behind her as a mighty man-of-war drags through the sea a little eight-oared boat.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Meaning, if England were in the right.
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN
Yes; but who is to be the judge of that? It would be all very well if there were a supreme arbitrator to whom we could have recourse. The Prime Minister may depend upon this—that a very different view of what is right would be taken in Ireland from that taken in England. For the last 86 years England had been doing what she thought right in Ireland; but during a great part of that time, and certainly during the last few years, Ireland has said that England has been doing wrong. Who is to decide between the two? Even now, at the last moment, the Prime Minister comes forward and says that Ireland has been right and England wrong. That is not what he said a few years ago. I have heard him in this very House say that he was pursuing the path of justice, and that in the end what was just would prevail. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] I am glad the right hon. Gentleman agrees to that. But has it turned out so? Has the path which the right hon. Gentleman has pursued pacified Ireland; if so, what is the meaning of this Bill? Upon that ground, and upon these two points, I object to the Bill as an Irishman; but, as an Ulster man, I have a special objection to it. I have a special objection to the inclusion of Ulster in the Bill. Whether, in the result, the Prime Minister has determined to include Ulster or not I do not know. As far as I could gather from his speech when he introduced the Bill, he left somewhat uncertain the question whether or not Ulster is to be included; but the recent utterances of the Treasury Bench lead me to the conclusion that the Bill is to include Ulster. We have heard the subject discussed with rather a light heart by my hon. and learned 555 Friend the Attorney General, who has said that he is an Ulster man himself—and so he is, and in Ulster we are very proud of him, and whether we agree with him in political views or not we are all delighted at the success which he has obtained at the English Bar and in this House; but there is one thing for which I do pity the Attorney General, and it is this—that in ignorance of this Bill and of the blessing which it will confer upon Ireland, and upon Ulster in particular, he should have transferred his home and his fortunes to England. That is an error which I am sure the hon. and learned Attorney General will be anxious to repair; and if this Bill were to pass I think the only difficulty the hon. and learned Gentleman would have would arise from the profusion of choice at his disposal in selecting a residence in Ireland. I must say, however, that, in the meantime, the opinion of the Attorney General would have had more weight with me had he selected for his home—as I have done—Antrim instead of Surrey. The hon. and learned Gentleman greatly amused the House by reading certain foolish speeches which were delivered by Irishmen at the time of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. Whether that was worthy of the hon. and learned Gentleman I do not care to inquire; but he read some extracts with great dramatic power, and made very amusing comments upon them. As to threatening to die, that, I am sorry to say, is in Ireland a common form. The Irish Volunteers were always threatening to die in the field; and I can assure the House that the Orangemen have no monopoly whatever of this noble desire for death. The desire is equally common, and, perhaps, even more wholesale, among hon. Members below the Gangway. I find that the hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) has used the most alarming expressions. The hon. Member has said that hewould never raise his voice upon any platform except to proclaim that Constitutional means might fail, and if they did fail it was the duty of every Irishman to look into his heart and see whether he was prepared to do and die under the green flag.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
I beg the hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon; but I should like to know the date of that speech, in order that I may know whe 556 ther that was the occasion on which I was referring to the doctrine laid down by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill).
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN
I think I can satisfy the hon. Gentleman. The date of the speech was the 24th of May, 1885, which was before the noble Lord had spoken upon the subject; and, therefore, the hon. Member must have been the original.
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN
It may be that it was in order to prevent such a general catastrophe that the Prime Minister has brought in this Bill. Returning to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, that hon. and learned Gentleman proceeded to argue that the opposition to the Bill in Ulster was not serious, inasmuch as similar expressions had been used by Ulstermen at the time of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, and nothing came of them. But, Sir, the two cases are not parallel in the slightest degree. At that time the Presbyterians, who have been justly called the right arm of Protestantism in Ireland, supported the Prime Minister in his proposal for disestablishing the Irish Church. At that time the only persons who felt any deep resentment at the proposal were the members of the Established Church. The Presbyterians, who form the largest body of Protestants in Ireland, either stood aloof or supported the measure, and the Dissenters were altogether indifferent. Now, however, things are entirely changed. Now the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland are united with the members of the Disestablished Church. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head; but I can assure him that, with some very trifling exceptions, which really are not worth mentioning, the whole Protestant Body of the North of Ireland are united against this measure. Well, I think the consequences may therefore be very serious, and in this way—If this Bill is passed, capital will, undoubtedly, to a very large extent, be withdrawn from Belfast, and a large number of persons will necessarily be thrown out of work; and if those persons 557 feel that their want of employment is due to this measure, and if the whole Protestant Body in that part of Ireland are found to be united, I venture to think that the consequences may be very serious indeed. I do not think that it is consistent with either the highest form of statesmanship, or with good sense, to argue that because nothing followed upon the foolish things which were said under one set of circumstances, therefore nothing would follow upon things said now, when the circumstances are entirely and absolutely different. Those who take the optimist view of the matter have asserted that this measure will not affect Belfast. But are hon. Members aware how it has affected Belfast already? The fear of the passing of this measure has already so affected that city, that trade and business have come to a standstill; no man buys goods unless he sees exactly when and to whom he can sell them; and I have been informed by a gentleman on whom I can entirely rely that the absolute loss, in the depreciation of local securities, has already reached £1,000,000 sterling. Now, I should like to know why Ulster should be included in this measure? It is said that the measure has been brought in because the people of Ireland decline to be bound by laws which come to them with a foreign aspect and in a foreign garb. But the Imperial laws have never worn a foreign garb or aspect in the eyes of the people of Ulster; whereas, if our laws are to be made by the Nationalist Party in Dublin, they will most certainly come in a foreign garb and aspect to us. Belfast has nothing in common with Dublin. Belfast is bound up with Liverpool and the thriving Lancashire towns, and also with Glasgow; but with Dublin it has little or no concern. Now, there is one thing which has rather pleased me in the course of this debate, and that is that hon. Members below the Gangway are beginning to disparage us very much. They say that Ulster is neither prosperous nor well-conducted; that Belfast has not increased since the Union; and that, in point of fact, they can get on well without us. Then why do they want to include us in this measure? Somebody has said that the sober common sense with which we are sometimes credited might be of use; but the hon. and learned Member for 558 South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy) has, I think, disposed entirely of that argument. I heard him the other night challenge comparison between the Members who sit on those Benches and the Conservative Members for Ireland; and I am bound to say, with the unanimous applause of those who sit beside him, he decided the issue entirely in his own favour. I am not going to quarrel with the hon. and learned Member for that; I should be very sorry to place myself in any comparison with him. I am very glad to find that even that reason for the Bill has been cut away. We have, certainly, the gravest apprehensions, and are those apprehensions without foundation? In the first place, I should like to know what the Government are going to do with the Land Bill, which they say is an inseparable part of this measure? I can only make a passing allusion to it. As it is referred to in the Bill I suppose I may say one word about it. Now, the Members of the Government who have spoken upon that subject are Lord Spencer, Lord Ripon, and the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and what they say is remarkable. Lord Spencer says that all the Members of the Cabinet are agreed upon it, and that it was a mistake to suppose that he had any peculiarly strong views upon the subject himself. The noble Lord said further that for the peace of Ireland, for the good government of Ireland, this question must be settled by the Imperial Parliament, and not left to the new Body; that it would be too great a strain upon them; that it is too enormous a burden to throw upon the legislation of a young and untried Legislature that will have enormous difficulties of its own to cope with. Lord Spencer added—"There will be no peace in Ireland if the Land Question is not settled." After that declaration—that there will be no peace till the Land Question is settled—are you going to leave that question out? If these views of the Government are correct, are there not some grounds of apprehension? Then there is another matter, and I think a very serious matter to all persons who have property, and to all persons who are engaged in business, and that is the way in which the Government have dealt with the Judges of Ireland. Certainly, this is the oddest 559 thing I ever came across. The Prime Minister said—Some of these Judges, by no fault of their own, have been placed in relations more or less uneasy, with peculiar influences, and what, under the new Constitution, will in all probability be the dominating influence in that country.And then the proposal is made for hustling the Judges out of the country. That proposal is so grotesque and so extraordinary that, for my part, I may be pardoned for thinking the Prime Minister was not serious about it. My own mind turned to a Chief Justice who, in Shakespere, had placed himself in uneasy relations with the coming Sovereign; and I could not help thinking that this was a piece of by-play arranged between the Prime Minister and his new allies for the purpose of inaugurating this new era of peace and conciliation with proper dramatic effect. The Prime Minister's words, speaking on behalf of his Parnellite allies, are almost a copy of the wards used in regard to the Chief Justice to whom I have alluded—What! rate, rebuke, and roughly sent to prisonThe immediate heir of Ireland! Was this easy?May this be wash'd in Lethe, and forgotten?And then I thought the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), or, perhaps, the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy), would take up his part, and would consider what these Judges had really done, and would be able to say—You are right;Therefore still bear the balance and the sword.With this remembrance,—that you use the sameWith the like bold, just, and impartial spirit,As you have done 'gainst us.If the hon. and learned Member had taken up the Prime Minister's challenge in that spirit he might have gone on to say they had come—To mock the expectation of the world;To frustrate prophecies; and to raze outRotten opinion, who hath writ us downAfter my seeming.But the hon. and learned Member was not equal to the occasion. The hon. and learned Member the other day received the Prime Minister into his favour as a father welcomes back a prodigal son. 560 He greeted him with the homage of lips unaccustomed to flatter and the choicest passages of the Hebrew Prophets. He has forgiven the people of England centuries of wrong; but the hon. and learned Member draws the line at the Irish Judges. He has no forgiveness for them.
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN
I beg the hon. and learned Member's pardon. I am in the recollection of the House. I heard him—and I heard him with deep regret—only the other night, refer in very uncomplimentary terms to Mr. Justice Lawson, and I must say that I was much surprised that no Member of the Treasury Bench rose to repudiate the hon. and learned Member's allegations. I know that Mr. Justice Lawson is a good lawyer, and I believe him to be an honest and upright Judge. I do say that it is a very alarming thing to us that the Judges of Ireland, in whom we have confidence, and who have acted fairly, justly, and impartially, although they may have given offence to some persons in the exercise of their duty, should be replaced by a completely new set of officials open to new influences. Passing from that, we are told that we ought to trust the Irish people. Well, I would trust them as far as a man may. It is said that a sense of responsibility will make them just and considerate, and endow them with every virtue under Heaven. I should have more confidence in the success of the experiment if those who recommend it were themselves about to undergo it. And I must say, also, that I should have more confidence in its success if it could be proved that in any one single instance—I do not say they have not—if it could be proved that in any one single instance up to the present time hon. Members below the Gangway had interfered to suppress outrage and "Boycotting." I do not say that they have not done so; but there is no proof that they have. I can understand that, when their power was growing, it might have been too much to hope that they would interfere to suppress and put down and destroy that which was the very source of their power; but why did they not interfere when their power was established? There is one case which has created a very pain- 561 ful feeling in the North of Ireland—that of the City of Cork Steam Packet Company. The "Boycotting" of that Company is one of the most alarming incidents, so far as trade and commerce are concerned, that has occurred in recent years. The war—if I may call it war—with that Company began on October 7, when the power of hon. Members below the Gangway was completely established; and no one could doubt that they were about to come back to this House with at least 80 or 90 Members. They might then have interfered; and I am sure that the slightest word from them would have stopped the outrage at the outset. The Steam Packet Company were subject to the laws which regulate the rights and duties of common carriers, and were bound to convey anybody's goods. Unfortunately for themselves, they carried the goods of some persons who had made themselves obnoxious to the National League. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: HOW?] The hon. and learned Member asks me how. I did not try the case. Let the hon. and learned Member, who is in the secrets of that Court, say how it was that the Company gave offence to the National League.
§ MR. PYNE (Waterford, W.)
I rise to Order. I wish to know whether the hon. and learned Member is in Order in saying that the Company, in which I am a shareholder—namely, the Cattle Association—had not the right, as well as any other trading Association, to start a Company to carry cattle if they so desire?
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN
I think the hon. Member is a little mixed. Whether the hon. Member belongs to the Company that was "Boycotted," or to the Company started with the object of ruining it, I do not know. I do not wish to go further into the case than to say that the fact remains that the Cork Steam Packet Company were "Boycotted," and that their trade was ruined through the influence of the National League. Then what did they do? They employed their vessels to carry coals. But the National League sent out bands of music to the wharves, and forbade the landing of the cargoes. A peace has now been patched up, but upon what terms? For two months the Cork Steam Packet Company have to carry free cargoes for the persons who 562 have done their best to ruin them, and then at half rates for two months more.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
Perhaps the hon. and learned Member will allow me to interrupt him. [Cries of "Order!"] I wish to say that for the last three or four years I have been intimately associated with the National League as its Secretary, and I never had a word to say as to the dispute between the cattle trade and the Cork Steam Packet Company. It was purely a question between the Cattle Trade Association and the Cork Steam Packet Company. The National League never interfered in the matter.
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN
If the National League never interfered actively, these things were done under its cover and sanction. ["No, no!"] Then, am I to understand that things have come to this pass in Cork, that, even where the League does not interfere, persons are afraid to carry on their legitimate business? Sir, I will pass from that. I have said nothing about the religious question involved, and I desire to say nothing on that subject; but, as everybody knows, there is a strong feeling in Ulster. It may be wholly unfounded. Perhaps the Catholics never did persecute; but I say there is a strong feeling on the subject in Ulster, and I do not think it can be entirely disregarded, and especially when we bear in mind that this Bill is founded on sentiment and sentiment only. Is it too much to expect that you should pay some regard to the feelings of the people of Ulster, even though they be sentimental, and not founded on good reasons as you think? There is one other argument, and only one, to which I will refer. It is said that we ought to have faith, and that we ought to have confidence in the declarations of public men. One hon. Member said—and said, I have no doubt, with truth—that the words which the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry used on a late occasion came from the heart. I do not doubt it for a moment. I am not questioning the sincerity of hon. Members below the Gangway. I give them absolute credit for sincerity; but I am bound to say—and I say it with something like shame—that recent events in this country have done a great deal to shake confidence in the permanence of the declarations of public men. I am not going into particular cases; 563 but I am perfectly certain that, in their own hearts, both the Secretary of State for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree with me. I am deeply obliged to the House for the kindness and attention with which it has listened to me, and I have only one or two words more to say. I would ask hon. Members now, before this Bill passes, to look forward and to consider what may happen supposing that it does pass. What will be the first thing that will occur in Ireland? Why, it will be welcomed with extravagant joy. There will be a delirium of excitement; and the humblest Member who may have assisted in passing it will be welcomed with the homage denied to the Heir to the Throne. What will be the next thing? After that will come the distribution of the spoil; and the spoil will be greater than any spoil that was ever at the disposal of the Executive of any civilized country at one and the same time. To the victors, of course, the spoil will belong. Next, after that, will be a measure to provide for the payment of Members—I do not say that that would not be perfectly proper—and then the trade of the politician and the vocation of the patriot will be the most lucrative profession in Ireland. Well, you cannot get on in a profession if you sit still and do nothing. And these new patriots—I am quite satisfied the old ones will do nothing of the kind—but these new patriots will take Grattan's advice—and who can blame them?—they will go on, as Grattan said, knocking at the Union, or so much of the Union as is left, and they will recall all the wild and extravagant words used by hon. Members below the Gangway and their supporters during the last few years. They will recall those expressions I mentioned just now about fixing the boundary to the march of a nation, and dying under the green flag. They will begin by asking if these Gentlemen have acted on those principles, and if they have really given them Grattan's Parliament, and then there will come something like discontent; people will be surprised that credit does not grow up in one night like Aladdin's palace, and that trade has not revived as a matter of course. Then there may come a famine; famines recur in Ireland. Then there will be disturbances, rash words, and rash deeds. 564 Then, possibly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer may interfere; but I think the end will be less tragic and more commonplace. I think the new Irish Constitution may end in universal bankruptcy and a regular smash. This is what you ask us—what the prosperous, law-abiding, and hard-working people of Ulster are asked to take part in—I assure you they desire nothing but to be left alone. You will not let us alone—is it too late to appeal to the common sense of the people, and to the teachings of history? Sir, I think it is not. We appeal to Scotland, and we appeal to England. Already one Scotch Member has given a response, and has in manly and eloquent terms declared that Scotland, Presbyterian Scotland, will never coerce Ulster men who are united to them in blood and religion. And, Sir, I do not despair of England. I trust the people of England—I trust the democracy of England. Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
§ MR. DWYER GRAY (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green)
I am astonished that the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim (Mr. Macnaghten) in his speech, which otherwise, so far as we are concerned, was of an inoffensive character, should have thought it necessary to introduce into it the suggestion that we are advocating this measure for the sake of procuring payment for the Irish Members in the new Legislative Body. I take it that if we are actuated by any motive of that kind it would be a very much better speculation for us to remain where we are; because I imagine the question of the payment of Members is likely to arise as speedily in the Imperial Parliament as it is in an Irish Parliament, and the remuneration here is likely to be of a very much more substantial character. The hon. Member alluded to the speech of the hon. and learned Attorney General, and while paying to the hon. and learned Gentleman a tribute of praise, he expressed a hope that he would transfer his services and his residence to Ireland when the new Legislative Body is established; but, at the same time, to a certain extent, he sneered at what he called the lightness and levity with which he said the hon. and learned Attorney General had treated a serious subject. Perhaps I may be permitted to remind the hon. and learned 565 Gentleman, who himself occupies a distinguished position at the English Chancery Bar, that he can also transfer his exceedingly valuable services to the Irish Bar, when this change shall have been accomplished, and then the levity and light-heartedness of the hon. and learned Attorney General will be counterbalanced and prevented from assuming an undue preponderance by the solidity of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House. The hon. and learned Member has alluded to the Cork cattle trade dispute, and he has led the House to believe that the action of the Cork Cattle Association was instigated by the National League. Now, I think the hon. Member ought to have endeavoured to make himself master of the facts before he made a statement calculated to prejudice the National League, and a large number of Irish Members connected with that organization in the eyes of the House. The fact is that the dispute was of a purely local character. The National League not only had nothing to do with it, but refused to have anything to do with it. It was essentially a trade dispute, carried on with vigour on both sides; but not stained by any of those excesses which frequently accompany trade disputes both in England and Scotland. It was a dispute between those interested in the regular cattle trade on the one hand, and those who had endeavoured to set up a trade competition to the detriment of that trade on the other, and after a struggle of a few months an amicable compromise was arrived at, not on account of extreme compulsion on either side, but a compromise brought about by mutual friends, and arranged to the mutual satisfaction of all concerned. If that is the most formidable accusation the hon. and learned Member has to make against the popular organization in Ireland, and if that is his sole ground for apprehending that, by this Bill, trade will be destroyed in Ireland, and that there will be general bankruptcy and a universal smash, then I think all sensible men will say that there is very little ground for the exaggerated fears the hon. and learned Member has expressed—fears which I venture to think in his own secret heart he does not entertain. These accusations against the popular Party in Ireland, of their desire to destroy trade in Ireland, and drag down 566 commercial enterprize, are not at all confined to the hon. and learned Member. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) in his place, and I would scarcely have ventured to intervene in this debate if it were not that I desired to reply to an attack made by the right hon. Gentleman upon me in his speech on the first reading of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman in that speech quoted an extract—an extract which I venture to say did not convey the true meaning of the article, but which, no doubt, was supplied to him probably by the agents of the Loyal and Patriotic Union—he quoted an extract from an article in a newspaper owned by me, The Morning News, published in Belfast—and he pointedly alluded to the fact that it was owned by me—which contained a suggestion inimical to the linen trade. That extract struck the House as being very extraordinary in a newspaper owned by me. I did not exactly recollect at the moment what that article could be, or how it could have got into any newspaper over which I had any control. I have since looked into the facts, and if the right hon. Gentleman desires to verify my statement, and wishes to allude to the subject in his speech, which I think I am almost entitled to ask him to do, I will forward him the series of articles on which he can form his judgment. In 1884 the linen trade of Ulster was in a state of extreme depression, and the Ulster Association, which represents all the manufacturing industry in flax in the North of Ireland, published a very lugubrious Report, pointing out the extreme depression of trade, and the fact that the area of flax under cultivation had been falling off from year to year, until it had reached a very low point indeed compared with what it was 10 or 20 years before. It had decreased from 380,000 acres in 1864 to something like 80,000 acres in 1884. I read the Report, and I was greatly struck with the figures it contained, and also with the fact that many of the flax mills were closed; that many limited companies had ceased to pay any dividends; and that their shares had ceased to be marketable, and were only quoted at nominal figures, although the shares were fully paid up. I was also struck by the fact that many of the gentlemen who had 567 been interested in the flax trade had failed, and that their mills were closed. I thought it was a good thing to investigate for my newspaper the cause of this lamentable condition of affairs. I asked a gentleman interested in the linen trade of Belfast, whose sole means of livelihood was the linen trade, who was, 20 or 25 years ago, engaged in the trade, and who was extremely competent to deal with the subject, to write a series of articles in The Belfast Morning News on The Decline in the Linen Trade: Its Cause and its Remedy. These articles were not intended to depreciate the linen trade, but were rather an independent attempt to investigate the causes which have led to the depression in the trade, and to make suggestions which might help towards its revival. These articles were written in a very independent tone, which may have been liable to misinterpretation. The article to which the right hon. Member referred was an allusion made by the writer to a speech made by a gentleman in America regarding the fact that the Belfast merchants had "Boycotted" the Dublin Exhibition, and what an effect it might have on the resuscitation of the linen trade and on public opinion, and more especially on Irish public opinion. He warned the people of Belfast that such narrow-minded conduct was not calculated to enlist Irish support in America. I am speaking in the presence of many hon. Gentlemen in whose faces I saw indignation when the quotation was read. These are, however, the facts of the case. The article excited a certain amount of controversy, and did good. I venture to say that if the right hon. Gentleman will peruse the whole series of articles, which I will forward to him, I am sure, with that spirit of justice and impartiality which is his great characteristic, he will withdraw or qualify the most injurious suggestions he made, doubtless because he had only received a garbled extract from a long series of articles. The right hon. Gentleman staked his great authority in this House upon the financial aspect, founded, no doubt, on certain figures supplied to him, I presume, from the same tainted source. [Mr. GOSCHEN: No.] The right hon. Gentleman says "No." That only makes the matter worse; because, if he knew the whole of the facts, he only quoted a 568 portion of them, and quoted figures calculated to mislead the House. Some of the figures may have been mentioned before in this debate; but in view of the emphasis which has been placed on the question of Ulster by the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim (Mr. Macnaghten) it is important to go into them again, and I crave the indulgence of the House while I do so. The right hon. Gentleman said that if Ulster were separated from the rest of Ireland, Ireland would be unable financially to carry on the work of Government. To prove this, he took Schedule D of the Income Tax, which deals alone with trade profit and professions. He compared, on that single Schedule, Ulster with the remainder of Ireland; but he said that from that calculation of the income from trades and professions the City of Dublin, the capital of Ireland, must be excluded. Upon that extraordinary calculation, he arrived at the conclusion that the Nationalist portion of Ulster only contributes some £300,000 under Schedule D of the Income Tax, while the non-Nationalist portion of Ulster contributes £2,500,000, I think. But will the right hon. Gentleman be astonished to hear that of that £2,500,000 he attributes to the non-Nationalist part of Ulster £2,100,000 comes from the town of Belfast. Therefore, if you exclude Dublin on the one hand, and Belfast on the other, this enormous preponderance under Schedule D disappears at once. Surely it is the merest folly to take the one great town in the South out of the calculation of the Income Tax derived from trades and professions, and to leave in the great town in the North, and then compare the two. There is a much fairer method of calculating the matter, and I will ask the House to consider it for a moment. I have taken the assessment for the Income Tax in an agricultural county not under the single Schedule of trades and professions, but under the whole four Schedules into which Income Tax is divided; and the result of that is that in the three Southern Provinces the assessment is £24,000,000, while in the Northern Province it is only £9,900,000. That is a very different comparison indeed from that which was made by the right hon. Gentleman; and I trust that when he comes to deal in his speech with the question of Ulster again, he will take 569 some general statistics which will give him a fair notion of the comparative wealth of the different portions of the country, and that he will not take one particular Schedule, leaving out one portion of the trades and professions of the country and including another, by which means it is only possible to arrive at an erroneous conclusion. Now, the Income Tax per head for Leinster is £10 6s. 9d.; while in Ulster it is only £5 14s. 5d. per head. That gives a very different notion of the comparative wealth of the North and South from that given by the right hon. Gentleman. But even in despised Munster it is £6 0s. 7d. per head, as against £5 14s. 5d.; and these figures prove where the wealth, as well as the intelligence, of the country is concentrated. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) procured a Return of the rateable value of property in Ireland, and this affords a fair criterion also. The result is exactly the same. Leinster stands valued at the rate of £3 13s. 5d. per head of the population; Munster £2 10s. 10d.; Ulster £2 9s. 11d.; and Connaught £1 15s. 2d.—that is to say, that Ulster stands lower than either Leinster or Munster. It is constantly dinned into our ears that Ulster is wealthy and prosperous, and that we represent the three impoverished Provinces, and want to seize upon Ulster because she is prosperous. But, as a matter of fact, so far as the rateable valuation is concerned, only one of the four Provinces stands lower than Ulster, and that is Connaught. The other two are rated at a higher figure. So that in neither the assessment for Income Tax, nor in the valuation for rateable property, does any Ulster county stand amongst the first 14 in Ireland. Therefore, no hon. Gentleman will, I think, venture to cite facts to bear out the assertion that it is because the other parts of Ireland are so impoverished and Ulster so prosperous that we want to have a central authority, instead of having the country cut up into districts. The Income Tax in Leinster, excluding Dublin, is £7 16s. 6d.; while if yon leave Belfast out of the calculation for Ulster the valuation is only £5 1s. 0d. Turn the figures as you please, if you take them fairly you will find that the views so persistently put forward are fallacious. It will be found that Ulster 570 does not occupy anything approaching the position of supremacy claimed for it by its friends. Another test by which the comparative wealth and prosperity of Ulster and the other portions of Ireland may be ascertained is the test of emigration. Emigration is the index of poverty and of discontent; and yet, as proved by the figures for 10 years, will the House be astonished to learn that emigration from Ulster has been higher than from any other part of Ireland? In 10 years down to 1881 the emigration from Ulster was 5.38 of the population; Munster, 5.26; Leinster, 4.68; and Connaught, 3.59. Thus the emigration from Ulster was not very far from double what it was from Connaught. I take it that there are fair methods of seeing if Ulster is contented and prosperous; but hon. Gentlemen who are always proclaiming the wealth, contentment, and loyalty of Ulster, never adduce facts and figures. I should like to know what right the hon. and learned Member for Antrim has to speak on behalf of Ulster at all? Hon. Members above the Gangway speak of themselves as Ulster Members; but why do not these Members remind the House that they are a minority even from Ulster? If the representation from Ulster is divided between the Nationalists and the so-called Loyalists, it will be found that the real Loyalists—the Nationalists—are in a considerable majority—a majority of some 20 or 25, and quite sufficient to constitute a working majority in regard to the Business of this House. Is it not astounding—I do not wish to be offensive—but is it not something approaching to impudence for hon. Members from what is called the "Imperial and Loyalist Province," although in a minority, to be perpetually telling us what Ulster will do and what Ulster thinks? If the House wants to know what Ulster will do and think, they will have to turn to these Benches to know, for we are the majority, expressing the Constitutionally-expressed opinion of Ulster. We are perpetually reminded of what the Protestants of Ulster will do, and what they will not do; of what yoke they will submit to, and what steps they will take to resist the edicts of this House by force of arms. They are continually speaking of Protestant Ulster as if Ulster is Protestant as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman the Member 571 for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) seems always to have fixed in his head the notion that Ulster is essentially Protestant, and he is much concerned to defend Protestant Ulster against being put under the yoke of the Catholics. He was not always so concerned for them. It is worth while to examine with a little care the pretensions of Ulster to be called Protestant Ulster, and to see how little right there is to that claim. As a matter of fact, the Catholics of Ulster enormously outnumber any denomination of Protestants in Ulster; and it is only by combining the other denominations in Ulster that you can secure a small percentage of Protestants over the Catholics. Even with all these denominations—Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Unitarians, Independents, Moravians, and Jews—and bulking them as one, you only get 52 per cent of non-Catholics who are not homogeneous in any sense, and 48 per cent of Catholics. It is only in four counties in Ulster, out of nine, that Protestants are in a majority at all. In the majority of the counties of Ulster the Catholics are in a majority in returning Members to this House numerically in five out of nine counties; and when hon. Members, without any justification, speak on behalf of Ulster, they speak of the four counties of Armagh, Antrim, Down, and Londonderry, because in those counties alone are they in a majority. If you eliminate Belfast, the Catholics are in a majority in the remainder of Ulster over all other denominations combined. I take it that the warlike pronouncement of which we have heard so much, and to which an evening paper devoted five pages the other evening, is not so much to be afraid of, or to alarm hon. Members; but even if there was anything in these warlike sounds, the fact that, take Belfast away, there is a majority of Catholics over Protestants of some 80,000 over every other denomination may make us feel not quite so much alarm. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), in a speech which he made some time ago in England, said that Ulster, tried by every test of wealth, education, and the comfortable dwellings of the people, would not be found wanting. I have already examined the test of wealth and education; let me try the matter now by the test of 572 the dwellings of the people, as we are challenged to do by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Let me take the case of dwellings of £1 and under—the worst class of hovels to be found—we find in Ulster 152,499; Connaught 105,008; Munster 92,632, and Leinster 85,040—that is to say, that in wealthy Ulster, in regard to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman challenges this test of the dwellings of the people, there are more than one-third of the whole number of the worst class of houses valued at £1 and under, and nearly double as many as in Leinster or Munster, and 50,000 more than in Connaught. Therefore, I am afraid that, taken even by that standard, Ulster has very little to boast of. But let me go from the worst class of houses to those of the very best class—namely, those rated above £12, and what are the facts there? In Leinster there are 18,745; Ulster 11,950; Munster 6,598, and in Connaught 2,452; so that neither tested by the worst nor the best class of houses does Ulster reach that point of perfection which we are continually told she has long ago attained. I therefore hope that hon. Members above the Gangway who may continue this debate will cease to speak either of Ulster as essentially Protestant, or as monopolizing the wealth and intelligence of the country. These figures ought to be a lesson to those who still presume on the ignorance of English public opinion to talk in this manner of what they call "Loyal and Protestant Ulster." The Dublin Evening Mail is the ostensible organ of the Orange Party in Dublin and in the South of Ireland. It is an organ of the strongest and most pronounced Tory principles. It has always fearlessly advocated those principles; but it is not without a certain amount of intelligence, and, on occasions, a certain amount of frankness. Writing, within the last fortnight, of these statistics, which had been published in another Irish newspaper, it deprecated the practice of speaking of Ulster as a single homogeneous Province, and suggested that Ulster ought to be divided into what it says should be "Celtic Ulster" and "British Ulster." It gave a list of the nine Ulster counties, and went on to say—The first four of these counties—that is Down, Antrim, Armagh, and Derry—constitute 573 what we call British Ulster; but the title of Derry to that name is precarious.Therefore, the Orange Tory organ in Dublin acknowledges that only four of these nine counties have any pretension to be called "British Ulster," and that the title even of one of the four is precarious. The article goes on to say—It is not merely in the interests of abstract truth or of convenience of nomenclature that we wish to discard the notion of Ulster being a homogeneous Province, a political unit, having as good a title as all Ireland to pronounce on its own political destiny. The pretended unity of Ulster is a danger to the cause of British Ulster. The Nationalists have the wit to see this, and are now parading the majority of one which their side obtained in Ulster at the late General Election as an argument for treating Ulster as a whole, and that whole Nationalist.That is exactly what the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) wants the House to do. But the Orange organ in Dublin tells us it would be dangerous to do what the right hon. Member for West Birmingham proposes to do. The writer goes on to say—We apprehend that if Mr. Gladstone succeeds in kindling a civil war in Ireland, a good many counties in Ulster will stand in for the College Green Parliament, and their share of whatever plunder is going.So that, whenever an appeal is made to the right hon. Gentleman to say what he will do for Ulster, and if he proposes to exclude Ulster from the Bill, the appeal must be made on behalf of three counties only which have a decided claim to be called Protestant; and I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would seriously stand up in this House and propose that 29 counties should be included under one national Representative Body or Council and the three Orange counties left out? If hon. Members above the Gangway will study these figures, I think they will see that they altogether dispose of their right to speak on behalf of Ulster, or to talk of "Protestant Ulster." Not a single Member who has taken part in this debate has attempted to deny these facts, or the natural deductions to be drawn from them. I have many more figures; but I am aware that the reading of dry statistics is very irksome to hon. Members who have to listen to them. I have endeavoured to show that Ulster has no special claim to be called wealthy, as compared with the rest of 574 Ireland, or to be called exclusively or mainly Protestant. But we are told that all the intelligence of Ireland is concentrated in Ulster—that it embodies not only the wealth but the intelligence of Ireland. [An hon. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] An hon. Member says "Hear, hear;" but I will leave the House to judge for itself. It would be most indecorous and presumptuous for me to express any opinion upon that subject, although I may have formed an opinion in my own mind. I will take a more legitimate test, the test of the percentage of persons able to read and write. I do not find that, judged even by that test, Ulster possesses that predominant position in regard to intelligence which is claimed for it, both in and out of this House. The number of persons who can neither read nor write were, according to the last Census Returns, in Leinster 58.5; Ulster 53.4; and Munster, where, of course, all the stupidity and ignorance are concentrated, 53.2, or practically the same as Ulster; and Connaught 41.5. Thus we have the fact that judged by the standard of education, Leinster is higher than Ulster. We have not been much astonished at the attitude taken by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). His action has been at least straightforward and open from the beginning. He has been a fair opponent, and we have towards him, although an opponent, nothing but feelings of respect. But I confess the attitude of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) has been a standing puzzle to me for some months. It is a matter of extreme difficulty to ascertain exactly what the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman are on this subject of Ireland on any given day. We know that, in 1874, he was a Home Ruler, and that he was then an advocate of the federal scheme of Mr. Butt; but more recently, in publications which, although not given to the world with his name, yet bear his imprimatur, and which, I think, he will not venture to repudiate, he discussed the system of federation, and had very strong faith in it as a settlement of the Irish Question. [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN dissented.] I see the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
If the hon. Gentleman 575 wishes to know why I shook my head I will tell him. I understood him to say that in some article supposed to have my approval, I spoke in favour of federation as a possible solution of the question. I assure him that he is mistaken. In that article I pointed out—in that article it was pointed out—[Laughter and ironical cheers]—hon. Members are really a little too hasty. As I have already stated in this House, that article was not written by me; but in that article, the general lines of which I am ready to say I approved, it was stated that federation would be a solution quite consistent with the unity of the Empire, and the attribution of large powers of local government to Ireland; but it was pointed out that it would involve so great a disturbance of the English Constitution that at that time it was outside the range of practical politics.
§ MR. DWYER GRAY
I understand, then, from the right hon. Gentleman that although he did not write that article, he is willing to take the responsibility for it. [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN dissented.] At all events, the Press of the United Kingdom attributed it to the right hon. Gentleman. When it appeared to be a popular article, and perhaps when it was assumed that it might contain the germ of a solution of the Irish Question, the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly ready to take credit for it. There was not a newspaper in the Kingdom which did not publish a statement that the article was that of the right hon. Gentleman, and contained his plan; and it was published in the Radical programme, which, I believe, the right hon. Gentleman ignores also. Am I also to understand that the right hon. Gentleman repudiates the second article in The Fortnightly Review? I take the silence of the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the second article as his assent to my assumption that he is, at least, responsible for the second article. In the second article occurs this sentence—In the first place, there is the proposal for National Councils, which was put forward with the authority of Mr. Chamberlain in the pages of this Review, July, 1885.So now we have this condition of affairs—that in 1885 the article was published with the authority of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
The statement that the proposal for National Councils was put forward with my authority is perfectly correct; but that does not make me responsible for the whole of the article, which was not written by me.
§ MR. DWYER GRAY
The House will understand the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. But we are in this position. The article was published in July, 1885, which contained a scheme for the solution of the Irish Question; every newspaper attributed it, if not to the pen, at least to the inspiration, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham; during 18 months the right hon. Gentleman took every credit for that article; he never, in speech, or paper, or by any other means, denied that he was responsible for that article. He was responsible for an article published this year in the same magazine; the article published this year stated that the article of the previous year was published on the authority of Mr. Chamberlain. The right hon. Gentleman never denied that; but now he comes forward and says he is not responsible for it. The right hon. Gentleman, who has no difficulty in writing contradictions to the Press when it suits him, was in this case unable to write a letter of two lines to remove the belief, which we are now told is a misapprehension, that he was responsible for the article of last year containing a scheme for the solution of the Irish Question. I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman is willing to shift from himself a portion of the scheme of the article of July, 1885, because one of the strongest objections which he has to the scheme of the Prime Minister is on account of the two Orders, and the dual system of representation. The right hon. Gentleman alleged that this was not sufficiently Radical for him—it contains the principles of representation of property, and of the two Orders—but in the scheme of July, 1885, these principles were embodied. Whoever the mysterious and undiscoverable author of the article of July, 1885, was, he proposes that upon the County Boards there should be representatives of owners of property distinct from, and elected in a different manner from, the representatives of occupiers; and he 577 proposed to carry on that dual system. Thus we have embodied in the scheme the principle of the two Orders, which we are now told is sufficiently Radical to be in the Radical programme. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell us when he makes his speech, which we are all looking forward to with so much interest, what is his present opinion upon this question of dual representation, and whether he withdraws now from that portion of the scheme in the article which he does not deny is his own, and which The Fortnightly Review referred to as being published last year on the authority of Mr. Chamberlain. Now the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me to say that in the authorized document of this year, in contradistinction from the unauthorized programme of last year, when he was criticizing the various proposals, including that of National Councils, he was not opposed to the principle of federalism, and that he thought there might be in it the foundation of a system which would grant to Ireland sufficient rights of self-government, while maintaining the unity of the Empire. I have nothing to say against the system of federalism; no one, however, has grappled with the argument of the Prime Minister, or has shown how the objections which the right hon. Gentleman urged against that scheme are to be met. But in view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has no objection to federalism, and that he thought that in it might be found a solution of the Irish difficulty, it is a matter of some interest to know how he asserts that the principle of federalism would work. I do not know what are the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman upon the question of a Republic; but there was a time when he professed Republican principles. He has not, as far as I know, publicly repudiated his Republican doctrines; and he may, therefore, be assumed to have still certain Republican leanings or proclivities, modified possibly, to a certain extent, by the oath he has since taken; but, as I have said, he has never publicly withdrawn, or in any way repudiated, the notions of a Republican form of Government, of which, for years, he declared himself to be the advocate. Now, the article of this year shows the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman as to 578 how the system of federalism would I work. I will quote one sentence from it, which is very significant in face of the determination which he has announced to vote against this Bill, as showing the opinions which he held at that time, whether they were or were not acceptable to the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said in the article in The Fortnightly Review of February, 1886—It would be useless to impose benefits which would be scornfully rejected by those for whose advantage they were intended. Once more, in the history of Irish politics, we have to register the verdict—'Too late.'I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is going to do his best next Thursday, or when the division is taken, to register another verdict of the kind. But the chief point to which I desire to direct the attention of the House is the way in which the system of federalism would work out. The right hon. Gentleman said it should be adopted not only with reference to Ireland, but with reference to the rest of the Kingdom; he suggested two Legislatures, one for the three Southern Provinces of Ireland and one for Ulster; he went on to suggest that there might be similar Legislative Bodies for England, Scotland, Wales, and the Isle of Man—at any rate, he made out there would be six Legislative Bodies. The article says—There would be, therefore, six Legislatures, each with its separate Ministry, and it may be assumed with a single Chamber.In this, perhaps, some Radicals may find a solution of the most extraordinary attitude which the right hon. Gentleman has taken up; it may be that he is far more Radical, and that his schemes are more far-reaching, than anyone has an idea of. "In any case," he goes on to say, "the House of Lords, as at present constituted, must be abolished." I commend that to the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale, who has recently entered into an offensive and defensive alliance with the right hon. Gentleman, who, in former times, scarcely spoke of him with so much confidence as at present—And it is hardly conceivable that even the nominal authority of the Crown could be long preserved.That is the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman as to the ultimate effect of a scheme of federation, and in that, he 579 says, alone is be found the solution of the Irish Question. I think I am not wrong in saying that the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to the question of Republic versus Monarchy, is true to the principles of his earlier days, and that he has declared publicly that the Crown ought to be abolished—perhaps with the substitution of the right hon. Gentleman as Lord Protector. I do not know whether, following the example of Cromwell, he would propose to have hereditary succession—it is not perfectly clear—but I have shown that so recently as February last he declared that the ultimate effect of the federal scheme would be to abolish even the nominal authority of the Crown; and I presume that to-morrow, or next day, he will come here and give us his reasons for advocating the federal scheme in opposition to the scheme of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman goes on to say—The scheme, in fact, involves the absolute destruction of the historical Constitution of the United Kingdom, the creation of a tabula rasa, and the establishment thereupon of the United States Constitution in all its details. It may be that such a proposal would not be seriously objected to by consistent Radicals.We do not go so far—And it is probable that it would work without friction, and preserve a real union of the Empire—observe, without the Crown—for defensive and offensive purposes; but it is hardly conceivable that the people of Great Britain, as a whole, are prepared for such a violent and complete revolution.Well, Sir, I do not think they are, and I do not think that the 40 individuals who, to-day, renewed their allegiance to the right hon. Gentleman in the Committee Room upstairs quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman's proposals mean nothing else than the super-session of the Crown. It is extremely difficult to follow the windings of the career of the right hon. Gentleman for the last few months. In the same article he declares his adhesion to the scheme attributed to Mr. Giffen for the settlement of the Land Question, his only objection being that the payment to the landlords would be too high, and might make too large a demand on the credit of the country. But far, from deprecating in February last the dealing on a gigantic scale with the Land Question, 580 the right hon. Gentleman uses these words—Materials exist for a great transaction without risk or taxation which would place the Irish people in the possession of the land of their birth.The article goes on to point out that it involved a large payment to the landlords, and represented—A capital sum which affords a basis for an immense operation.Nothing less than an immense operation would satisfy the right hon. Gentleman in February last; but now he says he will not allow the British taxpayer to be pledged "in the way of land purchase." So, in February last, if he, and not someone else, had the manipulation of the scheme, the right hon. Gentleman was, in the first place, prepared for a scheme of Republicanism which he foresaw would result in the overthrow of the Crown, and, in the next place, was ready to pledge the taxpayers of the country for an immense sum. But the right hon. Gentleman must deal with the Irish Question as a whole; and he goes on to say that the claims of the whole of the 600,000 cultivating tenants of Ireland would be entitled to serious consideration, and would not be lightly rejected. Now, we have been greatly puzzled to know what scheme the right hon. Gentleman has at present; but I think it would be still more interesting if, when he speaks on the question now before the House, he will give us a little more information as to his scheme of last February, and how it is that he so strongly objects to the Prime Minister's touching even a portion of it. But, Sir, if it is difficult to understand the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman, it is impossible to understand that of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). I do not intend to try to explain the gyrations of the noble Lord; but I have some information as to the course adopted by the noble Lord in reference to the last Election which may be of some slight interest to the House. Speaking at Birmingham he said, on the 23rd of October, during the last Election—It was contempt for Colonial opinion and Colonial aspiration, which more than 100 years ago cost us the loss of our American Colonies.But now the noble Lord is urging that the Irish opinion and the Irish aspirations should be treated with contempt. 581 In October and November last the opinions of the noble Lord, as far as we can judge, have shown themselves to be of a very different character. Why will he not express now the opinions which he did then? Speaking at St. Stephen's Club, on the 20th of May, 1885, the noble Lord is reported to have said—I believe most firmly that this ought to be the attitude of the Tory Party—that they ought to be anxious and careful beyond measure not to be committed to any act or policy which should unnecessarily wound and injure the feelings and the sentiments of our brothers on the other side of the Channel of St. George.The Marquess of Salisbury, speaking in Her Majesty's Theatre the other night, thus alluded to "our brethren on the other side of the Channel of St. George;" he calls them aliens in race in religion and in sentiment. The House will be glad to know whether the noble Lord adheres to the opinion which he announced in Birmingham, or to the opinion of the noble Marquess. But I wish to call the attention of the House to the fact that in the autumn of 1884 there was inaugurated in London, with a considerable amount of splutter, a Limited Liability Company, called by the name of the Conservative News Agency, Limited. The capital of that Company, whether it was paid up or not I cannot tell, was stated at £100,000, and the President of it was Lord Randolph Churchill. There were a good many distinguished Conservative members of the Association, the object of which was thus stated in the prospectus issued at the time, and published in The St. Stephen's Review—it was to "advance Constitutional principles, and especially to prepare voters for the coming General Election." That was published in July—the object of the Association being also to supply Provincial newspapers, scattered throughout the entire of the United Kingdom, with information of interest to the Conservative Party in articles stereotyped, or in proof. There were some 300 Conservative newspapers associated throughout the United Kingdom which were instructed in true Conservative principles by the noble Lord and his associates with a view to the working of the General Election on the Conservative platform. Well, Sir, this new Association, week after week, issued leading articles, London letters, political and 582 social articles of various kinds, and in No. 7 appeared the first of a series of articles on Home Rule by Lady Florence Dixie. Those articles did not advocate a limited Parliament, but advocated the concession of Grattan's Parliament in its entirety; it advocated the restoration of what had existed before. I take an extract from the first of these articles, and their importance does not lie in their ability, which is the characteristic of everything written by Lady Florence Dixie, but in the fact that, with a view to the next General Election, they were circulated broadcast by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, for the purpose of educating the electors. The first article contained the following:—Ireland will, and shall, obtain Home Rule. The wild shriekers who formerly cried "never" are now racking their brains to discover how little the Irish will accept.… Home Rule is a Conservative measure. The Irish people ask but to re-establish what has been. They ask, through its instrumentality, to be made contented subjects of the Queen and loyal adherents of the Empire. Nothing to my mind is so revolting as to witness the opposition of Conservatives in Ireland to the National cause. It is a spectacle so unnatural as to cause disgust and resentment; yet I cannot believe that it will last. I am acquainted with many Conservative landlords and Loyalists in Ireland, and I know that the sentiments of many of them are in favour of Home Rule,This article appeared in an enormous number of newspapers throughout the United Kingdom—it appeared in the noble Lord's special organ, The St. Stephen's Review, and was issued in a special sheet to the various newspapers with the compliments of the Association. It was supplied to me, in my capacity of proprietor and conductor of The Freeman's Journal, for publication in that journal. For that occasion only The Freeman's Journal was taken into favour, and was supplied with advanced proofs of the article for publication in Ireland, in order that the Irish people should be made aware of the attitude of the Conservative Leaders, especially the younger Leaders, towards the Irish people. In publishing these articles in The Freeman's Journal, I was very careful to point out that they were supplied by the Conservative News Association and by the noble Lord; and I marked it as a sign of the times, and a hopeful indication of the Conservative attitude, and used it as an argument why Irish voters in England should support the Con- 583 servatives at the Elections. How sadly is my confidence in the noble Lord shaken! But, surely, he will scarcely venture to contradict or repudiate his responsibility for the circulation of these articles. Early in September, 1885, I was supplied with another article from the same source, in which the author says—There is no half-way course, and the sooner British statesmen recognize the fact, so much the better.She goes on to define a strong policy of concession, and says—Of her own free will, Great Britain should hand back to Ireland the Parliament which she wrested from her in 1800.She proceeds to glorify Grattan's Parliament, and tell the history of its overthrow—It is for Great Britain seriously to ask herself whether it is practicable to restore to Ireland her undoubted right to have a Parliament of her own? I firmly believe it is the only policy which will establish friendly relations between Great Britain.Lady Florence Dixie goes on to point to the noble Lord himself, who we know is extremely modest, and does not allow compliments to interfere with business—Do I see arising amidst the Conservative ranks a young Leader who is facing the Irish problem, and recognizing the right of the Irish people to govern themselves? Shall it be from Conservative hands that Ireland will receive back her long-lost freedom? Something tells me that it will be so.In a further article, just before the Elections in October, the writer argues in support of the practicability of Home Rule. This was also issued in the same way as the others. The writer says—I think a Parliament at College Green is eminently practicable. A day will come when this will be acknowledged. Then why should everything be done too late? Is there no patriot British statesman who will arise and tell his countrymen the truth—who will wipe away this disgraceful stain of injustice, and give Ireland her just rights?On November 13, immediately prior to the Election, to keep the system up, and keep the Irish vote true to the Conservative cause, we have this article—Legislative independence far from its proving a source of separation and disintegration, as Mr. Chamberlain and others would have us believe"—and now, I may say, we have the tables turned—we have the right hon. Member for West Birmingham going for 584 federation, and the noble Lord the Member for Paddington going for I do not know what, but declining to go for Repeal of the Union—as Mr. Chamberlain and others would have us believe, and would insure the true union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In this course alone true unity is centred—any other must be productive of disunion and discontent.And this Conservative News Agency not only circulated articles from the National League, but from other sources. The St. Stephen's Review of December 19th, 1885, also published an article from Mr. Bellingham, late M.P. for Louth, advocating Home Rule. What are we to think of the position taken up by the young Leaders of the Conservative Party in view of the Election? They established a large organization, subscribed large sums of money, and associated themselves with newspapers in England, Scotland, and Wales by a system of supplying articles to those newspapers, in order to secure that they all should speak with one voice on the question of the day. And this is the class of literature they supplied in order to educate the voters up to the point of Home Rule, or, if not that, to deliberately deceive the Irish voters, and lead them to believe that the young Leaders of the Conservative Party would use their best endeavours to secure for Ireland not only the Repeal of the Union, but Grattan's Parliament, if the Irish vote were cast for the Conservatives. I am glad that I happened to preserve these extracts I have read; it was only through an accident that I did so, for I scarcely, at the time, thought them worth drawing attention to. ["Hear, hear!"] I can understand the right hon. Gentleman saying "Hear, hear!" I can well understand that he would have preferred that I should not draw attention to these extracts. Perhaps he will tell us what the exact position of the Conservative News Agency (Limited) is at this moment, and whether the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) still occupies the honoured and trusted position of President of the Association. I feel I have already occupied the House too long, and I will say but a very few words in conclusion. We are told by some that by passing this Bill we shall drive capital out of Ireland. I do not believe that we shall do anything of the 585 kind. We are told that we shall destroy the industry of the North, and that capital will leave Belfast. Why, Sir, capital at this moment could not leave Belfast. Capital is locked up in Belfast, as everyone who is interested knows, and it is as impossible to realize it now as it has been at any time during the past seven or eight years. There is not a Bank in Ireland that has not large sums locked up in mills in Belfast, and not one-tenth of this capital could be realized in the event of great capitalists endeavouring to transfer their capital from Ireland to England, or other countries. Therefore, these statements as to driving capital from Ireland are all bunkum. It is impossible for capital to leave the North, for the reason that it must hold on to an industry which, I am sorry to say, is in a very depressed condition—and that not in consequence of any agitation which has taken place. The same state of things has existed eight or 10 years in consequence of the undue development of the linen industry during the American War. We are told that capital will leave other parts of Ireland. What capital? What English capital is there in Ireland? I am not aware of any, save one class. If we could procure a Return of the names of the shareholders in Irish Limited Liability Companies, Irish Railway Companies, Irish Insurance Offices, and other industrial enterprizes of every kind, I venture to say that not 5 per cent of them would be found to be English. Not 5 per cent of the capital of Irish industrial enterprizes is held by Englishmen. I was, some three years ago, greatly struck by a speech made by the Chairman of the London and North-Western Railway Company at a meeting of the shareholders of that Company—so struck by it that it has never left my memory. At that time there was a bitter contest going on in regard to the mail contract between Holyhead and Dublin. The Irish Members desired that the contract should be in the hands of an Irish Company; but the London and North-Western had obtained it, and were struggling to maintain it. Well, Mr. Moon, the gentleman to whom I refer, met the shareholders, and made a speech on the subject which I never forgot. He stated that they had more Irish shareholders and a larger amount of Irish capital invested in the London and North-Western 586 Railway Company—that English Company—than the whole capital of the City of Dublin Company, which was called an Irish Company. [An hon. MEMBER: Than there was English capital in the Irish Company.] Not at all. There would be nothing at all in the assertion that there was more Irish money in the London and North-Western Railway Company than there was English money in the Irish Company; but he said there was more Irish money invested in the London and North-Western Railway Company than the entire capital of the Irish Company. If we could arrive at the facts carefully by statistics, I have not the slightest doubt that there is at least three or four times the amount of Irish money invested in England that there is English money invested in Ireland, with, as I say, the exception of one single class of investments—namely, advances by way of mortgage on Irish land. We in Ireland can well afford, as far as industrial enterprizes are concerned, to do without English aid. I am not aware that we ever had English aid to any substantial extent. During the period from 1848 to 1865, when Ireland was in a state of perfect tranquillity, when the Viceroy was congratulating the Queen, year after year, on the increase which was taking place in the flocks and herds, and when emigration was going on largely, withdrawing a large part of the poor population, I am not aware that there was any influx of English capital into Ireland. The only investments to any considerable extent of English capital in Ireland are loans upon Irish land; and I think those loans, far from benefiting any section of the community, have proved a curse to the country. They tempted Irish landlords into extravagance; they tempted them to come over here, and vie with men far richer than themselves in display and ostentation. They caused them to get plunged into debt, and the result was that they were induced to put pressure on their tenants, and to raise their rents. This has brought something like ruin upon the Irish landlords and tenants. Why was it that we had this influx of English money in the shape of mortgages on Irish land? Was it from a philanthropic impulse? Nothing of the kind It was simply because any money lender, any Insurance Company, any capitalist with a large sum to dispose of, and not 587 knowing what to do with it, could procure from 4½ to 5 per cent on a first-class mortgage on Irish land; whereas only from 3 to 3½ per cent was to be obtained on similar security in England. One and a-half or two per cent more was to be got out of Irish than out of English mortgages. Money was lent on mortgages on Irish land for the same reason that it is lent on mortgage on American land. There was nothing of philanthropy in it, and no desire to promote the interests of Ireland. The only reason was that those who invested got a higher usury; and if these investors suffer now from the condition of things that they themselves have helped to bring about, I do not think there is any section of the House which should feel any particular commiseration for them. The loans they made to the Irish landlords, so far as we are concerned, have been a curse to the country; and this is the only kind of investment of English capital in Ireland that has taken place to any extent that I have the slightest knowledge of. And now I should like just for a moment to consider the commercial effect of the defeat, or even serious postponement, of this Bill. I say its effect will be extremely disastrous. We are told that in consequence of the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and his Friends this Bill is going to be defeated. For my own part, I do not believe these flimsy forecasts; but if the Bill be defeated, I fear that the result upon Ireland will be extremely disastrous. It is a marvellous thing for me to find some Members below the Gangway opposite telling us that they are going to vote against the Bill, not because they share the opinions of Gentlemen above the Gangway, which opinions we can understand and respect, not because of any opposition to the Bill on the principle propounded by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), but because they do not think the Bill good enough for us. They desire, they say, to frame a complete measure. I often wonder whether this is a real excuse—whether they really are serious. I think it is, on the part of some of the Leaders of the Party, merely a transparent excuse; that it is an excuse to cover an inveterate hostility, not only to the Bill, 588 but to the author of it, and to conceal a feeling of pique, and jealousy, and spleen unworthy of any man, or of any men pretending to be statesmen, dealing with a great question of this kind, affecting the lives, liberties, and happiness of millions of Her Majesty's subjects. I do believe that there are some hon. Members below the Gangway who are really thinking of voting against this Bill because they think it would be injurious to Ireland. I would ask them to consider for a moment what they think would be the effect of the rejection of the measure. I was speaking within the last three or four days to a gentleman practically at the head of one of the greatest—I think we may call it the greatest—commercial institution in Ireland. He looked forward, as all who are aware of the condition of affairs in Ireland do, with something like consternation to the rejection of the Bill. He looked forward with the utmost possible hope and gratification at the prospect of its being speedily passed. The institution he is connected with is probably more intimately bound up with the commercial prosperity of Ireland than any other in the Three Kingdoms, and its managers are probably better able to judge of the commercial effects of a measure of this kind than anyone in Ireland. Well, such was the opinion of this gentleman; but, at the same time, he said he would rather see the Bill rejected than see it mutilated, and he suggested to me to urge on every person who might have influence to urge on the Government, above all things, to maintain the provisions, and rather take all risks than mutilate the measure. Crossing over from Boulogne a week ago, I met an English gentleman at the head of one of the greatest firms in the United Kingdom, which has agencies and branch offices in every great town of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. He expressed himself strongly in favour of this measure. I asked him what, in his opinion, would be the effect upon the great business which he carries on in every great town in Ireland? I asked him whether, as an Englishman, he was apprehensive that it would injure his trade in any way, and he said it would have no effect. But what he said was seriously affecting his business, and would probably affect it still more seriously, was the condition of suspense 589 and uncertainty into which they were plunged, which checked all kinds of commercial enterprize. That is the position in which some people propose to plunge Ireland for the next 12 months. The Times the other day threatened that the English merchants in Mincing Lane were about to stop our credit, and that if this Bill passed they would supply us with no more tea and sugar, and so on. We could with equanimity bear to be deprived of supplies from Mincing Lane. We could ourselves make up for the deficiency. It is said, however, that that would have the result of dragging down two or three Irish banks. Well, I do not think the action of any merchants in England, or of the whole combined commercial community in England, would affect the stability of a single Irish bank; but the paralysis of trade throughout Ireland and the complete suspension of all but an absolutely necessary amount of business which would follow the rejection of this Bill, and the state of uncertainty in which we should be plunged, would have the most deleterious effect upon business. With some knowledge of the facts, I say that Ireland is not in a position to stand the terrible strain to which she will be subjected in the next six months or 12 months if the Bill be rejected. If hon. Gentlemen opposite go with a light heart into the Division Lobby against the measure, not because of their apprehensions as to the result of the Bill on the United Kingdom, but because, forsooth, they consider themselves better framers of Constitutions, and better able to judge of what the ultimate results of the Bill will be, than the Prime Minister, who has been 50 years in this House, and whose experience is unrivalled, I venture to warn them that possibly they may not be able to regard the results of their handiwork with much satisfaction. I have no apprehension that any outbreak of outrage of a serious character in Ireland will follow the rejection of the Bill. I do not believe anything of the kind. I believe the Irish people are sufficiently politically educated and sufficiently strong to keep their souls in peace; and I await with perfect confidence the result of the struggle, no matter how long it may be protracted. But if the suspension of our Irish legislation results in the landlords resorting 590 to eviction, then I warn the House that no coercive legislation, that no power which you possess, that no power that we possess, will be sufficient for the prevention of outrage. It is no use talking to desperate men, thrown out on the roadside, helpless and homeless, of the good intentions of English Members—it is no use telling them they may have this measure 12 years hence, when there is nothing before them but the workhouse. What they want is some immediate relief; and if you refuse this Bill or delay it, and Irish landlords avail themselves as far as they can of the interregnum for purposes of eviction, then I certainly regard the future outlook in Ireland with something approaching to consternation. I do not believe that great as is the influence of hon. Gentlemen around me with the people of Ireland, and loyally as I believe that influence will, under any circumstances, be exerted to check outrage—I do not believe it will be in their power to check it any more than it will be in your power to check it, no matter what course of coercion you adopt. I do appeal to hon. Gentlemen to consider seriously the nature of the step that they are about to take in voting against this measure. The spirit of the Irish people is now such as certainly in my experience, which extends over 15 years, I never saw equalled. This Bill does not meet the entire demands put forward by the Irish nation. It is essentially in the nature of a compromise; but the Irish people are now willing loyally to accept that compromise. I am satisfied they will one and all be ready to stand by it, and carry it out in the spirit and the letter. What they will be prepared to do 12 months hence neither you, Sir, nor I, know. In the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, you may have to inscribe on your annals 12 months hence, when he comes to bring forward his federation scheme, the words you have had to inscribe so often on the records of English rule in Ireland—"Too late."
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. J. Chamberlain,)—put, and agreed, to.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.