§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [8th August], "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
'MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.'"—(Mr. Barton.)
And which Amendment was,
At the end of the Question, to add the words "That we feel it, however, to be our duty humbly to submit to Your Majesty that it is essential that Your Majesty's Government should possess the confidence of this House and of the Country, and respectfully to represent to Your Majesty that such confidence is not reposed in the present Advisers of Your Majesty."—(Mr. Asquith.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Debate resumed.
§ (3.43.) MR. W.E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
I conceive that we are engaged in a Debate one of the most singular, in many of its features, that is to be found among the records of this House. In the first place, in regard to the method of procedure which has been adopted; Her Majesty's Government being, as has happened to former Governments, seriously in question as to their existence 196 and the approval of their policy after the result of a General Election, had before them two descriptions of precedents which it was in their power to examine, and either of which they could have followed. One of these was the class of procedure represented by the course taken by the Government in 1841 and again in 1859, and on both of these occasions what proved to be the outgoing Government did not resign on being aware of the result of a General Election, but incurred the delay of meeting Parliament, with the view, apparently, of setting forth in a Queen's Speech the scheme of policy upon which they wished to stand. One sees, of course, the advantage of the course then pursued, and the disadvantage is, of course, the delay in public business. But in 1868 a different course was adopted by the judgment—as I think, the sound and manly judgment—of Lord Beaconsfield. Being aware that he was in the predicament likely to issue in the loss of his Ministerial position, he, without incurring any of the delay caused by meeting Parliament and going through the form of a Debate on the Motion of Want of Confidence, resigned at once. The convenience of that precedent was so much recognised that it was followed by the Liberal Government in 1874, by the Conservative Government in 1880, and again by the Liberal Government in 1886. It may be said that in this convenient course there is the disadvantage involved, that the country, when the Government disappeared, was not put in full possession of its prospective intentions. Well, Sir, this may have been a disadvantage; in the one class of cases that advantage was gained; in the other class of cases a great deal of public time was saved. But Her Majesty's Government have not thought fit to follow the one class of precedent or the other, but they have adopted a course which includes the disadvantage of each. They have incurred the delay which is consequent on this mode of proceeding, but they have made no communication of policy to the House; they have supplied no material for debate in respect to their prospective intentions, and they have struck out for themselves a third course of proceeding, in respect 197 to which I cannot perceive that it possesses any recommendation except that it is a novelty, without any advantage whatever attending on its adoption. So much for the method of the procedure upon which we are now engaged. There are other and more serious matters which have to be observed, but certainly I would note, with reference to the future, that I think, considering the weight and the almost unbroken continuity of these four precedents to which I have referred, I cannot help hoping that course will be pursued, and that the House will not find itself embarked in a Debate so singular, so anomalous, so barren, as this Debate in which we are now engaged. When we go a little further into the matter we come to the root of the argument, which was explained in a manner that leaves nothing to be desired in the admirable, able, speech of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Asquith). We have met to decide what is the res acta and the res judicata. There is a recognised tribunal of appeal. It is admitted that, when the condition of the country and the condition of its Ministry and. the policy of that Ministry are submitted to the country at a General Election, the result of that Election is binding and conclusive. Well, Sir, upon all evidence recognised in such cases, and which was recognised in each of the four instances I have quoted, we have gone through that process in full, and notwithstanding that we have gone through that process we are here met to discuss—we hardly know what. We know, indeed, what is meant by the Amendment to the Address, because that Amendment calls upon us to recognise and to record the decision of the country; but what is meant by the Motion made to intercept, to prevent, or delay the adoption of that Amendment I know not, and it has not yet been explained. Is it or is it not a fact that the judgment of the nation is a judgment without appeal? If it is a judgment without appeal, on what duty are we now engaged? Is it possible that it can be conceived by the occupants of the Treasury Bench that this is a suitable and fitting occasion for fighting through all the battles of the last six years? But if not, what are we now debating? If 198 we were to fight those battles through with what object or with what issue could it possibly be done? Certainly those battles, whatever else may be said of them, were sufficient in number, in importance, in intensity, and in continuity of purpose to place the country in full possession of the situation of parties and of policy. The country never had such opportunities, I believe, of comprehending the issues before it. I have known many cases—there has been the case of Reform, and the case of Protection—but never was there an issue, a great issue, submitted to the country which was so fully, so largely, so diversely, so exhaustively discussed as the issue which has been before the country during the last General Election. The Government are perfectly aware of this. They know quite well that a majority have come to this House prepared to give effect to the verdict of their constituents, and they could not do otherwise. The deliberative part of the process was disposed of in the last Parliament, and by the General Election. We on this side of the House solicited the judgment of our constituents on certain grounds; those grounds, stated and recommended by us, were approved by them, and having been approved by them, what is it the Government have to urge in reply? Are we to have a detailed defence of the whole policy of the Government, of the measures they have passed, of their reasons for refusing to pass other measures, and of the administrative system they have pursued? Sir, it is too late for such a defence. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House is aware that if his lips distilled all the honey of Nestor, if his voice were clothed with all the thunders of Jove, still this is a settled and determined question, and a Debate interposed upon the merits of the case—if it is to be on the merits of the case—would, in my judgment, have no more propriety and no more meaning than if, on an ordinary occasion, after you had delivered the judgment of the House from that Chair, a Division being challenged, and you, Sir, had stopped all further discussion, an attempt were made to re-open and renew the whole matter of the Debate. Now, that is not only my opinion, it is 199 an opinion entirely supported and made good by the speech we heard last night from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What was the purport of that speech? Did it contain a word in defence of the Government? No, it was entirely an impeachment of some Government that has not been formed, which is to exist in the future. The right hon. Gentleman suffered judgment to pass against him in default, and occupied time in a manner which is called academic in character, in a manner more fitted to a Debating Society, as it appears to me, than to this House, in debating what would be the position of a Government which might have to be formed on the retirement or withdrawal of the present Government, and what would be the merits of that Government. The right hon. Gentleman generally is known for his devotion to the use of what is called the tu quoque argument, but on this occasion that argument was deserted by my right hon. Friend altogether. It was impossible for him to make a speech of objection and accusation by way of tu, quoque, or in any other manner, to a Government not yet called into existence, that has done no act good or bad. What was the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman? He said in this case it is proposed to carry, as he anticipates, a measure of Home Rule by an Irish majority. He had been told by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Asquith) that the majority was no more Irish than it was Welsh or Scotch. He said it was proposed to carry such a measure by an Irish majority, and he did not explain why a distinction was to be drawn between the Irish votes in this House and the votes by Members from Wales or Scotland, nor did he meet the fundamental and conclusive objection taken by my hon. and learned Friend, that we have no title to distinguish between votes for the purpose of invalidating the authority of any decision at which this House may arrive; and to make such a distinction for the purpose of impairing in the slightest degree that full and plenary authority is really to strike at the root of the Constitution of the United Parliament and at the Constitution of the United Kingdom. But there is one sense in which I am not at all indisposed to recognise that it is an 200 Irish majority, and that is in the sense with which we are familiar in all the proceedings of this House. It has been recognised again and again, by the present Government and others also that in cases where one of the three Kingdoms, or one of the four Divisions of the country, has some strong and special interest, and where a large majority of the Representatives of that Division of the country have a decided opinion one way, and give forth the judgment of that portion of the country in a form that cannot be mistaken; it has been recognised, again and again, that such an incident, though of course it cannot have anything to do with adding to, or impairing, the authority of the regular vote, yet has been recognised as an element in favour of arriving at conclusions in consonance with the view expressed by the Representatives of that part of the country. That has been done by the present Government, and done, I think, with great propriety, in a rather remarkable instance, in the case of Welsh intermediate education. In the case of Wales a system of intermediate education was introduced, and rules and provisions were adopted for the purpose of giving effect to that system, very different from those prevailing in England, and adopted by the Government entirely, and, as I think, wisely, in deference to the general wish of the Representatives of Wales. Is it to be supposed that in the case of Scotland—although I admit, in the case of Scotland, it is quite true that the Government and the House have shown very insufficient acknowledgment of the wishes of the people of Scotland—but is it to be supposed that any hon. Member would venture to rise in this House and, in a case specially affecting the particular interests of Scotland, urge, as a reason why the wishes of Scotland should not be gratified, that the majority by means of which the vote would pass would be likely to consist in whole, or great part, of the Members from Scotland? No, Sir; the truth is that these observations about an Irish majority, are observations that, in deference to bad traditions, Gentlemen allow themselves to make in the case of Ireland, when they would not venture to make them in reference to any other part of the United Kingdom. 201 Ireland has undoubtedly—that cannot for a moment be denied—a great and special interest in the question of Home Rule; and if we are shown that great and special interest—far greater upon any showing of the case than Great Britain or than England—that is a reason why you should approach the consideration of the subject with favourable predispositions, and it is anything rather than a reason why you should allege a preponderance of Irish votes as ground for indisposition to the adoption of the measure. Therefore, if the majority is an Irish majority, that is a recommendation and not a disadvantage. This was one of the main arguments of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What was the course of argument he pursued? As I have said, he did not venture a word in defence of the proceedings of the present Government. I am not finding fault with him, because I fail to see how anything but a character of utter unreason could attach to our proceedings if we were to hold this as an occasion on which the merits of our discussions of the last six years were again to be urged on one side in argument and contested on the other. But my right hon. Friend, in his kindly and benevolent care for the fortunes of a coming Government, which, he supposes, may emerge into the light of day, was so kind that he began to observe upon the difficulty which that Government would experience. There is an hon. Member in the House who has declared that he does not repose his confidence in the right hon. Member for Midlothian. That may be so. And that hon. Gentleman I have been told—I am not of his intimate acquaintance—also says that he is very strongly against the continuance in Office of the present Government. If so, and if he does not repose his confidence in any other Government—if he unhappily finds himself in that unfortunate predicament—no doubt he will find opportunities of saying so, and of voting accordingly. But while we have to decide for to-day the question of confidence in the existing Government, Her Majesty's Advisers entirely leap over that subject of debate, dive far into the future, and substitute for that 202 issue the merits of a future Government, whose demerits they assume and whose demerits they allege as the sole ground why they are to be continued in Office. He also says that there are a section of Irish Members who he believes will not support the coming Government. I do not find fault with the right hon. Gentleman for the infelicity of his arguments; I do not think that he had any others at his command. He said there were a section of Irish Members who would not support the coming Government. However, that speech of my right hon. Friend was almost immediately followed by a speech from the Leader of that section, who at once declared that he joined in the condemnation of the present Government, and he declines to substitute for the question of the condemnation of the Government that now exists the question of the condemnation of a future Government, which, according to all the rules of common sense, as well as the rules of Parliamentary procedure, must be judged upon its acts and words when it has come into existence, and cannot possibly be judged while it remains a nebulous hypothesis. My right hon. Friend again appeared to be extremely well pleased when he said—"Ah, you have got a majority, but your majority is not all returned upon Home Rule. Some of them were returned upon the London question, and not upon the Irish question." Now, Sir, I believe my right hon. Friend had himself to admit, in the course of his speech, that whereas he had consulted a great number of Liberal election addresses he found that in some of them Home Rule was less prominently mentioned than in others. Well, I am not at all surprised at that. But what does it signify, supposing it were true—and in my opinion it is not—that a portion of Members had been returned to this House on one ground and a portion upon another ground. What would that signify in the view of the present question, as my right hon. Friend has to admit that they have all of them been returned for the purpose of putting a period to the existence of the present Government? Well, Sir, I never happened to hear in the course of my experience so singular a defence of an Administration which has been 203 put upon its trial for its life. But I own we are placed in a position of difficulty by the course which has been adopted on the opposite side of the House—that is to say, as I have contended, this matter being a subject that has been fully considered and decided by the country in conjunction with us, its Representatives, we are not in a condition to go back upon it with profit, with relevancy or propriety, and fight over again the battles in which we were so long engaged during the last Parliament. What, then, are we to do? Shall I re-state that argument? I will re-state the main grounds upon which I believe the country decided this great issue. Her Majesty's Government had been wont to speak of the success they had achieved in Ireland. We, Sir, deny that suggestion. We do not admit that the case ever existed in Ireland which they represented as existing. In my opinion, Ireland has been in a state of peace since the year 1884. The facts of the case are these, and cannot be altered: that in the years 1886 and 1887 there was an increase of a few hundreds in the number of agrarian offences; but that increase of a few hundreds did not represent a transition from a state of peace to a state of disturbance. It represented nothing of the kind. It represented that extreme pressure of agricultural distress. When that pressure occurred, Her Majesty's Government were urged and invoked and pressed by every means from this side of the House to meet it by a temporary provision while the inquiries were being made which were necessary to determine the question whether the people were able to pay their rents or not. Her Majesty's Government unfortunately turned a deaf ear to all those representations, and to the Bill of Mr. Parnell, and to the demands made that they should make some temporary provision or expedient that would enable us to tide over the difficulty. Then came a small increase in the number of agrarian offences, and that small increase was made the pretext for representing that the country was in a state of disturbance and for the introduction of a Coercion Bill which, according to our allegation, was never introduced or constructed at all for the purpose of repressing crime, but was a Bill 204 constructed for the purpose of collecting rents, by carrying into the province of criminal procedure that which properly belonged to civil procedure, by discountenancing and narrowing the application of trial by jury, and by substituting the administration of the law through a set of Judges whose decisions could not command respect, because they were known to be entirely dependent for the retention of their office upon the discretion of the Executive Government. On that question of the distress in Ireland, I must admit that great good was done by the Land Act of 1887; to the credit of that good Her Majesty's Government are entitled in all respects, except that it was fatally too late; because, undoubtedly, in consequence of their delays the country had been agitated, and what was called the Plan of Campaign had been established—a most unhappy and a most evil symptom of the social and political condition of the land. Yes, Sir, they did good by that Bill, and they did good by doing the very thing which, up to the moment of their doing it, they declared to be impossible on the ground that it was impolitic. Gentlemen are probably aware—and those who are not aware should be aware—that that was the ground upon which the Government declared in 1886 that it was impossible for them to interfere with the judicial rents established under the Land Act—that was the very thing which they did in 1887, and which, undoubtedly, did needful good to the country. The right hon. Gentleman did enter, undoubtedly, into grave conflict with the occupiers and cultivators of the land in Ireland on the subject of their relation with the landlords. They established a state of things against which he made war, and the cardinal condition of which was that the strong action of public opinion in Ireland, the moral opinion—I do not say now what description was given to it on the other side of the House; the question is not now a question of merits, but a question of success—a strong action of opinion was created in Ireland against the taking of the evicted farms, and upon that question of the taking of the evicted farms, not in one particular place like New Tipperary, which was 205 a special and exceptional development, but in the large number of counties where these evictions had taken place—the question whether these evicted farms were taken by bonâ fide tenants and again put into cultivation was a test to determine whether the repressive system of the Government had succeeded. We often called for a Return; we desired to know in what condition these farms were. All our information was to the effect that the very large majority of them have never been taken at all. And if that be so, that is of itself a proof of the total failure of this system of repression. Her Majesty's Government would never give us that information. With regard to their success, then, we do not admit it; we deny it. With regard to their system of governing Ireland by coercion, that is, indeed, a sad and painful subject. I will not enter into the details of it. We hold as strongly as any hon. Gentleman in this House the necessity of firm, just, and steady enforcement of the law in Ireland. It is a part of the dominions of the Queen, and it is one of our complaints, and the main complaint against this system of government, that it renders impossible that steady, firm, and consistent administration of the law, because you cannot have such a system of administration permanently established until you have brought the provisions of the law and the sympathies of the people into harmony. (A Laugh.) I see I do not convince the hon. Member (Colonel Saunderson). He is disposed to meet the establishment of such a proposition rather with ridicule. He is quite content, apparently, that the Government of Ireland should place the provisions of the law on one side and the sympathies of the nation on the other. We do not believe in that system of government. It is not the system upon which England, Scotland, and Wales are governed. Ireland ought to be governed on the same system as England, Scotland, and Wales. While we hold that opinion of the necessity of enforcing the law, we hold just as strongly the opinion that to enforce upon Ireland such an instrument of government as a permanent Coercion Act is not only a violation of the equality of civil rights between Englishmen and Irishmen, but is in the highest degree injurious to respect 206 for the law and for its administration. An appeal was made to me last night on this subject by my hon. Friend the Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy). Our opinion is, in respect to that Act, that it ought not to retain its place upon the Statute Book for a moment longer than is required by the condition of Parliamentary time. (Ironical Laughter.) I see that those Gentlemen are prepared to go further than I am, and think it is an Act which ought to be repealed at once, irrespective of Parliamentary time, and to the prejudice of other questions; but I cannot quite accompany them in these extreme views. With regard to the system of administration in Ireland, it was, as we conceived, open to every objection that can tell against a system of administration. It was inconsistent, and it varied in the most important particulars between the earlier and later portion of the period. It was conducted in an arbitrary spirit, and I could easily show this by reference to the arrest of Father McFadden on the charge of murder, and his subsequent release from prison without reparation or apology. It was marked, in our opinion, by gross instances of illegality. And, finally, I am obliged to say that the pretended reparation which was offered to Ireland, in the shape of the Local Government Bill, was, instead of being a reparation, one of the worst wrongs that have been inflicted on that country, for in that Bill, in the fourth clause, was contained a provision—noticed by us at the time in the Debates, and impossible to be denied—that all the schemes that were to be formed for local government by the County Councils, when they were established, were to be placed at the mercy of the Joint Committee, in which effectual provision had been made for the predominance of class interests; and having been so placed in their hands, they were to be altered, abbreviated, enlarged, and then published in the form of law as might seem good to that Joint Committee. These are, briefly stated, our reasons for disapproving entirely of the government of Ireland and denying its success. With regard to the better measures of the Government, when we found those which we could cordially support, we 207 gave that support; and I name with pleasure the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the reduction of the National Debt. But with regard to these measures in general, what we had to complain of was this—that when the measures were good, they were so imperfect, and fell so far short of their necessary and legitimate purpose, that the late Parliament has bequeathed to the present Parliament a heavy task in the amendment of those measures to bring them into decent conformity with the objects they had in view. I need not do more than mention the omission of the great question of arrears from the Irish Land Act of 1887—the arrears so carefully included in the Crofters Act for Scotland, for Scotland could not be trifled with—the state of the English County Councils Act, the state of the Scotch County Councils Act, on which I think, in no less than twelve separate cases, the Scottish Members endeavoured to urge the claims of Scotland without the smallest effect—and many others; the useful measure of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chaplin) for the creation and encouragement of small holdings, with respect to which he knows very well we consider that that measure is vitally maimed and defective until there is included in it compulsory power of taking land, and until Parish Councils are established to give effect to its provisions. It is hardly necessary for us to remind the House, in reciting these grounds of objection to the policy of Her Majesty's present Government, that we made all the efforts which our limited command of the House's time would permit to bring forward measures of our own which are thought by the Liberal Party to be vital to the welfare of the country. For example, we tried to obtain the appointment of District Councils and Parish Councils, to place the police under the County Councils, to place the licensing under the County Councils, the adoption of local option, the application of principles of religious equality to the countries of Scotland and Wales, the shortening of Parliaments, the payment of Members, amendment of the system of registration, the establishment of what is called one man one vote, the equalisation of the 208 Death Duties, and many more such proposals. (Laughter.) It is all very well for Gentlemen to amuse themselves, and I do not grudge their amusement at these measures. But what is the fact? The fact is that these are the issues which have been placed before the country. I do not speak of every one of these as standing in the same category, and I will not say that every one of them has the assent of every one on this side of the House; but, speaking generally, they are the measures which represent the essential character of Liberal policy, and they are the measures which in conjunction—and I say even in subordination to the great question of our relations with Ireland—have received the distinct stamp of the approbation of the country. I admit that a debate of this kind cannot be altogether retrospective. It is impossible that the various and keen interests that are felt by numbers of Members in the public questions that have been opened—it is impossible that these should not make themselves felt in the shape of pressure upon those who are supposed to guide in any way the councils of Parties, or who have taken a prominent part in the proceedings of this House for the purpose of obtaining some light, for the future. It is not, however, for me to say—I do not think I have any right to anticipate—who are the persons who are likely to govern this country if the vote of the House to be given on Thursday evening should result in the displacement of the present Government. It is not possible, I think, even if a new Government were in existence, for them to say what they would undertake to submit to Parliament six months hence. Now, I am bound to go a little further, and to say I think if they were prepared to pledge themselves to the adoption of the suggestion which was made last night, in the event of their being called to Office—namely, of a Session in the month of November—I think they would only show a very inadequate sense of the magnitude and variety of the subjects with which they had to cope and the volume of work they would have to go through before they could be in a position to meet Parliament. It cannot be said with propriety, in my opinion—even if I 209 consider myself as giving an abstract opinion—what would be the various subjects that ought to be brought, and in what order, under the consideration of Parliament when it shall meet at the regular time. But I admit that there is one marked feature of the present situation which makes it necessary to say a few words, and that is the remarkable competition—if I may so call it—which has been established between the interests and claims of Ireland on the one side and the interests and claims of Great Britain on the other side. No one, I think, who hears me will for a moment doubt that there is much substance both in the one and in the other of these considerations. I take first the question of the claims of Ireland, because ever since the year 1886–I might perhaps say 1885–they have been to the forefront of the battle. That is the position they have held all along; that is the position they now hold. To the vast mass of legislation which the country desires to be provided for it as soon as may be, at the hands of its chosen Representatives, I apply that declaration concerning Ireland to its place in competition with other subjects. The right hon. Gentleman last night was disposed to deny, as I understand him, that the majority of those who sit on this side of the House had been returned upon the Home Rule Question. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, I think, stated that so far as he and his friends were concerned they had made Ireland the determining question. I freely concede to him the right, as well as the duty, of saying what it is they have made the determining question. Then I claim the right for us to say what we have made the determining consideration, and I contend that through all these six or seven years, not always with equally absorbing predominance, but in the main and in a degree perhaps never equalled in our Parliamentary history, the question of Ireland has been the determining question. Now, Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy) put to me, with regard to Ireland, two questions, upon which I will give him such answer as I think the state of the case admits. They might be called bye-questions, in relation to the present great situation; 210 but they are bye-questions of such a nature that I quite understand the interest he feels about them and his desire to know whether I can give him information on the subject. The first of them related to what I think has been known by the name of amnesty, and we know that the right hon. Gentleman the present Home Secretary has had in view the consideration of the sentences passed on persons who were imprisoned some eight or ten years ago. The second related to what is known as the case of the evicted tenants. In regard to the case of amnesty, I am sure my hon. Friend will agree with me when I say that it is impossible for those who are not responsible Ministers to give any pledge or understanding to deal with criminal cases, either in respect of the revision of sentences or the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, because that duty can only be properly performed by those who have full knowledge of the facts and possess full responsibility. At the same time, I have no difficulty in reminding my hon. Friend that in every case of criminal conviction it is the duty of the Secretary of State, at any time when cause may appear, to examine allegations of miscarriage of justice, and not only allegations of miscarriage of justice, but to consider all circumstances which may point either to the mitigation or the remission of any sentences that may have been imposed. In regard to long sentences, I believe I am stating what is known to the world in general when I say that regular rules are established for the review, at fixed periods, of these long sentences, in order that questions of their mitigation or remission may duly and fully be brought under consideration; and a Home Secretary, to whatever Party he belongs, finds it a necessary portion of his duty to go through sentences requiring re-examination. Well, Sir, with regard to the evicted tenants, the insertion of special provisions in the Land Act of 1889 for meeting the case of the evicted tenants shows the importance attached by Parliament—I think I may say without distinction of Party—to that subject. Unfortunately, the time allowed in that measure proved to be insufficient for the object in view. Quite apart from any question of the 211 change of Government, I venture to express the hope that during the coming autumn voluntary arrangements may, for the sake of all persons concerned, be arrived at, between landlords and tenants, and that in this way all necessity for further legislation may be obviated, which further legislation undoubtedly might, if these arrangements were not arrived at, become requisite. I pass on now to say a few words on the great question of the claims of Ireland in regard to the settlement of her government. I will not enter into the particulars of that settlement. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke at one time as if he were in painful ignorance as to the principle on which any measure for giving autonomy to Ireland would be founded; but I observed at another part of his, speech, when his object was to cast reproach upon the coming measure, he entertained no such difficulty. He made his assumptions without any hesitation as to the inconvenience which would arise from the presence of Irish Members in this House to interfere in British questions; and his memory did not appear to be burdened, nor did the consciences of any who sat near. him appear to be burdened, by the recollection that those inconveniences had already been rather smartly experienced by those sitting on this side of the House when in 1885, by combination between the Irish Party and the whole of the Conservative Party—then most ready to embrace them with open arms—Gentlemen sitting near me were ejected from Office, an ejection of which I have never, in public or private, made the smallest complaint. But, Sir, I cannot enter into the question of the particulars of the Home Rule Bill; its principles are perfectly well known, and they are limited, on the one hand, by the full and effectual maintenance of that Imperial supremacy which pervades the whole Empire, and, on the other hand, by the equally full and effectual transference to Ireland of the management and control of her own local concerns. As to the question of the admission of the Irish Members to this House, I have done everything that could be done. I have pointed out, in addressing my constituents with feelings of its expediency, the various 212 modes in which such a thing may be done, the various forms of inconvenience which might be thought to attend it, the strong desire of the country that in one of its forms or another it should be done; and I have explicitly indicated that if a Liberal Government were called to Office it would plainly be the duty of that Government on its responsibility to select the best of these forms—a question it cannot possibly decide until it is in a position of responsibility, and, having selected it, that it should do its best to incorporate it and pass it into law. Now, Sir, the question—if I may so far trespass on the indulgence of the House as to speak of myself personally—the question of Ireland is indeed to me almost everything. I have endeavoured throughout my career to fulfil my obligations in public life, and I may say that the question of Ireland is almost, if not altogether, my sole link with public life. It has been for the last seven years my primary and absorbing interest, and so it will continue to be. That question is one which for me has far deeper and much more far-reaching concern than any other. This Parliament, it seems to be assumed, will address itself seriously, as indeed I hope and am sure it will, to the question of the Irish claims for self-government in all Irish affairs. The Home Rule Bill, it is anticipated, will pass through this House. If it receives the assent of the majority of the House it will go to the House of Lords, and I cannot wonder at my hon. Friend the Member for North Longford experiencing some anxiety as to its future—its further destinies—because, undoubtedly, there was a period in my recollection, namely, in the time of the Government of Lord Melbourne, when there was a majority of this House in favour of a Liberal policy towards Ireland, and when that majority found itself constrained to be content with passing certain measures through this House year after year, with sending them to the House of Lords, there to be fatally mutilated or altogether lost. That being so, I must venture to say that I think when such a Bill has passed this House, springing as it will out of a tenacious controversy that has lasted for seven years, and has been carried on with such zeal and ability 213 on all sides and with such diversity of circumstances and such careful consideration of detail—I think, Sir, when that Bill comes before the House of Cords, it may justly be said that never before will the Lords have had before them a greater question as to the Empire at large, never before them a greater question, possibly, as to themselves. Into other subjects I do not intend to enter, because I do not think any beneficial result would arise from my taking such a course, and. my hon. Friend did not invite me to do so. He did, however, invite me to signify my opinion as to what would he the position and duty of the Liberal Party in the unhappy and deplorable event of the rejection of such a measure by the other House of Parliament. I will not argue now upon the probability of that rejection. (A laugh.) I am very sorry to hear even a single exhibition of anything like levity in this matter, and I am sure even any Member who might be inclined to look at the question from the point of view which Party supplies, will feel that before we emerge from this complex situation circumstances may happen which will be no laughing matter, and it is our plain, absolute, and primary duty to avoid all language and all sentiments which may tend to aggravate the difficulties which will attend the settlement of this grave question. When my hon. Friend asks me what would be the duty of the Liberal Party under a Liberal Government in such a case, the only answer I can give him is this—that I do not think a repetition of the transactions in the time of the Melbourne Government, between 1835 and 1841, would be at this moment either politic or just, and on this ground in particular: that in our view, at least, the sentiments of the people of this country towards the people of Ireland have undergone a fundamental change—at least, among our friends and constituents who have returned us here, prejudices against Irishmen do not now exist. We have to consider obligations to English as well as to Irish sentiments with a view to the adjustment of this great question. Sir, if I am asked what would be the duty of the Liberal Government in such a contingency as has been shadowed forth, I must say, in the first place, I 214 cannot in words fully express what I think of the earnestness and the intensity with which I desire that no such contingency should arise. If it did arise, I must also admit that I cannot entertain any doubt as to the duty of the Liberal Government. It would be impossible for any such Government to regard the rejection of such a Bill as terminating its duty. So far as the essence and substance of that measure were concerned, the obligations of the Liberal Government would utterly forbid acquiescence, and those obligations to promote the settlement of that great subject in the best manner would remain unweakened and unchanged. I do not think, Sir, that, under present circumstances, it is right to go beyond that general declaration. But then I have said that there are the claims of Great Britain, and it must not be supposed they have been overlooked or undervalued. The effect of the conflict of the last six years has been undoubtedly to retard the fulfilment of the hopes of Ireland; but it has, on the other hand, led to an immense and accelerated development of British wants. I think it quite impossible to point to any six years of our history in which there has been anything approaching that development, or the zeal and ability with which the people of this country are prepared to urge the prosecution of measures necessary to meet these wants. I am not now going to name them—it would be vain to attempt it, but I wish to say this, without the smallest prejudice to what I have said in regard to Irish subjects: that together with Irish questions and upon the same footing it would be the absolute duty, in my opinion, of a Liberal Government to make a serious and resolute effort—aye, even in the year 1893, to deal—I do not say with the whole case; I think that would be beyond the scope of the Session—but to deal with a sensible, aye, a considerable portion of those measures. That, I think, is no unfair adjustment of the question which undoubtedly arises at this moment. While there has been so long a possession of the field in a very great degree by the Irish Question, there has also been this remarkable and probably unexampled development of British wants and desires. And now, 215 Sir, I will only say one word more. We have heard in this Debate of an attempt to coerce Great Britain. No, Sir; there is no attempt to coerce Great Britain. Great Britain cannot be coerced. Scotland is a portion of Great Britain. There is no attempt to coerce Scotland, for Scotland has returned a majority of more than two to one in favour of the Irish claims. There is no attempt to coerce Wales, for Wales has returned a still larger majority—a majority larger in proportion than Ireland herself—on behalf of the prosecution of Ireland's claims. What is meant by the Party opposite, I presume, is an attempt to coerce England. Now, Sir, England never can be coerced even by the joint action of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, in questions where she has a strong, deliberate, and clear conviction. Sir, the case is a very peculiar one. It is a partnership of three Kingdoms, a partnership of four nationalities, for the Principality of Wales, if not a separate Kingdom, may claim in a great degree a separate nationality. Such is the relation of these three Kingdoms that England in itself contains, I suppose, nearly three-fourths of the population and wealth of the entire aggregate. What is the lesson that ought to be learnt from this state of things? England in that combination has a giant's strength, and the lesson to be learnt is that she should not use it like a giant. In that direction England has shown a great disposition to learn, and we have seen, by the large change that has taken place in the expression of sentiment on a recent occasion, that she becomes more and more accessible to earnest petitions from our Irish fellow-subjects, and more and more disposed to do them justice. It would be most unfortunate if the Party opposite, or any Party in this country, ever came to place undue reliance on what I admit to be the enormous and overpowering strength of England as against the comparatively insignificant strength of the other members of the combination. It would be most unfortunate in the sense of being most impolitic, and would lead to trouble—I am speaking of Parliamentary trouble, for I am not resorting to threats—and policy and prudence, I think, direct 216 that England, with that vast and overwhelming strength, should be merciful and considerate in the use of that strength. Yes, Sir, for after all moral force in some of these great national causes will fight a not unequal battle with that force which is material. It is moral and not material force that has brought forward the Irish claims to the present position. It is moral, not material force which will lead, I think without doubt, to the peaceful adjustment of whatever questions may be raised—different probably in order and degree—but, at any rate, whatever questions may be raised between England on the one side and Scotland and Wales and Ireland on the other. It is the predominance of that moral force for which I heartily pray in the deliberations of this House and the conduct of our whole public policy, for I am convinced that upon that predominance depends that which should be the first object of all our desires, as it is of all our daily official prayers—namely, that union of heart and sentiment which constitutes the truest basis of strength at home, and, therefore, both of strength and good fame throughout the civilised world.
§ (4.53.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A.J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
Mr. Speaker, it is not my desire this afternoon—it is fortunately unnecessary—to drag into our Debate subjects which have been in the past, and may again be in the future, matters of controversy. That desire of mine will, I think, become evident when I pass by without a word the peroration of the right hon. Gentleman, in which he has had the courage to inform us—us who have watched pretty closely the course of events in Ireland during the last twelve years—that the force which that country has exercised on the course of British politics is derived from moral considerations. Surely, in the whole copious vocabulary of the English language there is not an adjective more infelicitous which the right hon. Gentleman could possibly have chosen. If he had said that they had used material methods to obtain their ends—if he had said that they had used immoral methods I should have understood him; but that of all adjectives he 217 should have selected the single word "moral" does indeed show an oblivion of facts, which I should have thought to have been burned into his memory by the bitter experience of five years of government, when he was at the head of the Administration, but which I, at all events, do not for a moment wish to call particularly or in greater detail to his recollection. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman appears to consider it a matter of great complaint that this Debate should have arisen at all; he spoke on this subject with a kind of sense of ill-usage. But surely up to this time the course of the Debate has hardly justified the objection of the right hon. Gentleman. We have had an interesting and somewhat nebulous speech from the right hon. Gentleman himself, and speeches not at all nebulous, and almost equally interesting, from the Leaders of two sections of the present Opposition who we understand are going to unite to expel the present Government from Office. Had these three speeches stood alone it would have been worth while having this two days' Debate, and I propose before I sit down to expand some of the morals which may be drawn from these important utterances. Before I do so may I pass very lightly over what I conceive to have been a reply by anticipation on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to a speech which he supposed I was going to deliver. He has stated, I believe, in public that I propose to review the whole course of the present Administration during the six eventful years during which it has held power; and with the view of discounting beforehand any effects which my rhetoric on that subject might produce, the right hon. Gentleman has given a short sketch of his view of the successes of the present Government in dealing with Irish questions and the legislation of the United Kingdom. I never thought of inflicting on the House any defence whatever of the present Government. I conceive what we have done in the past is now a matter of history, and has to be judged, and can only be judged, by historians; and although I have no doubt whatever as to what that verdict will be, I do not wish at present either to anticipate or defend it. But I think the right 218 hon. Gentleman need not have put himself to the trouble of repeating here, almost verbatim, some of the speeches which he has recently delivered before his constituents, and, at all events, if he felt constrained to take the trouble to utter again his well-worn version of the origin of the Plan of Campaign, of the rejection of Mr. Parnell's Bill in 1886, and of the condition of tranquillity in Ireland which existed at the time of the passing of the Coercion Act, he might have done—I will not say me—but the Party on this side the honour to consider some of the objections we have before raised upon the historical accuracy of the right hon. Gentleman's recollection. For my part, I have refuted till I am sick of refuting the astonishing fables which, under the guise of the history of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman put forward on these various occasions; and if I have failed to convince him in the past that he is entirely mistaken in every single one of the statements he has made, I can hardly hope now, at the end of the eleventh hour, to bring him to a better frame of mind. But I may remind him, when he says that Ireland was tranquillised in 1884, that he himself proposed to prolong the Coercion Act in 1885. I may, perhaps, remind him that in 1885 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division (Sir George Trevelyan), speaking with the authority of an ex-Irish Secretary, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), speaking with the authority of a present Chief Secretary, and Lord Spencer, speaking with the authority of a Viceroy of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman will not deny, absolutely traversed the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that Ireland was in such a state of tranquillity that no criminal legislation was necessary.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
But that does not affect the statement that Ireland was in a condition of general peace. What Lord Spencer said was that there were two particular provisions of the Coercion Act which it was intended to keep alive, dropping all the rest.
§ MR. BALFOUR
No, Sir. But if the right hon. Gentleman will do the two right hon. Gentlemen who are 219 sitting on either side of him the honour of studying their statements with regard to the condition of intimidation in Ireland in those years, he will see that I have not in any way exaggerated the fact. I recollect that the right hon. Gentleman himself in 1886, on the occasion when he introduced the Coercion Act, did not speak of Ireland as being in a state of tranquillity, but, on the contrary, an essential part of the argument by which he endeavoured to commend his scheme of Home Rule to this House was that, as a matter of fact, they could not govern Ireland on the same principles as they governed England, and that without Home Rule it was necessary to have exceptional legislation. And I may further remind him that, in the first place, he directly misquotes the Government when he says that they brought in the Coercion Act or the Crimes Act of 1887 upon the statistics of agrarian crime. He is wrong when he states that, because I distinctly said that that was only one and not the most important part of the Government case. The right hon. Gentleman has altogether left out the intimidation and the terrorism which prevailed. It was chiefly on the intimidation and terrorism which prevailed that we based the necessity for the Act. But we did point to the statistics of agrarian crime in that year, and we showed—and showed conclusively—that agrarian crime in Ireland had been steadily rising for the few years preceding; and we also showed that the amount of crime then existing in Ireland was far larger than the amount of crime which the right hon. Gentleman himself thought an adequate justification for introducing the Crimes Act of 1871.
§ MR. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman may hold the opinion that the fact that the Irish Members oppose a Coercion Act is a sufficient reason for not passing it; but that is not the argument he addressed to the House. I have shown that the right hon. Gentleman is historically wrong when he states that Ireland was in a tranquil state when the Government introduced their Crimes Act. And further than that, my answer is that 220 Ireland was in a far less tranquil state, on the figures before me, when we introduced our Crimes Act, than it was when he introduced his Crimes Act in 1871. That is one of the examples of the right hon. Gentleman's perversion of Irish history. I might go on and make an equal exposure of the fallacy of the right hon. Gentleman's argument as to the origin of the Plan of Campaign. I might refer him to the undoubted fact that Mr. Parnell's Bill dealt only with the arrears of tenants who had had judicial rents fixed. It was never pretended that it would relieve other tenants whose rents were in arrear; but those who invented that form of criminal conspiracy, as everyone knew, privately, from the first, have avowed publicly that the Plan of Campaign was a political weapon forged by politicians for political ends. I pass now from the review of Irish history which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the consideration of his general objection to the line we have taken in meeting Parliament on this occasion, and in discussing the present and future aspect of public affairs. I must protest against the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of precedents. In meeting Parliament we are strictly following the best precedents. We are following strictly the precedents of 1841, for example, and of 1859. We are not following the precedents of 1868, 1874, 1880, or 1886. I quite admit that. I have two replies to that objection of the right hon. Gentleman. My first reply is that the older precedents are precedents of far longer standing—that the older precedents have behind them a far longer concatenation of authorities to support them, and that the precedent of 1868 is an absolutely novel precedent. I have to remind him, in the second place, that the circumstances of the present time in no way resemble those which prevailed in the years 1868, 1874, or 1880. On those occasions the Opposition was returned by a majority absolutely overwhelming in its character and absolutely homogeneous in its character. The Leader of the Opposition in those years came back to this House at the head of a majority on which he could absolutely rely to out- 221 vote not merely what is called the regular Opposition, but the regular Opposition in combination, or not in combination, with any other section of the House. There is no parallelism to that state of things at the present time. The present Government are in a minority, but who is in a majority? The present Government may have lost the confidence of the House, but who has obtained the confidence of the House? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Fife (Mr. Asquith) yesterday appeared to think that this question was a mere question of arithmetic—a question of addition and subtraction, and that the only authority that could be appealed to was Cocker and the multiplication table. But I do not think that that is the view which has hitherto been taken upon such occasions. The outgoing Government, and the House generally, have a right to review the situation, and to estimate the forces that are arrayed for and against them; to consider the position in which the country at large is placed; what are the prospects of future administration and future legislation; and that they should avail themselves of that opportunity on an occasion like this, when the Party opposed to them is broken up at least into three divisions owning different Leaders, surely requires neither explanation nor justification. I observe that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Fife, and the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us (Mr. Gladstone)—and who is not now in his place—resented very much the calculation of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he analysed this majority into its constituent parts, and calculated it upon the basis not of Party but of country. The hon. and learned Member for Fife said that you might just as well contend that the Government was kept in Office by the Scotch and Welsh votes—and asked why choose this particular line of cleavage in order to try and throw discredit upon the Party to whom you are opposed? Well, I will give ample reasons why we should adopt this mode of choice. I will show conclusively to the House that this division of the non-Unionist Party into Nationalists and Gladstonians is of the very essence of 222 the present situation, and that it cannot be left out of account for one moment by any man who desires to form an estimate of the present situation. I will give one reason based upon some of the arguments that have been used—and I shall deal with them very briefly—that Home Rule is not, and cannot be, a question of Ireland alone. It is, and must be, a question of the dissolution of partnership between England and Ireland upon equitable terms; and each of the two partners has an equal right to determine what dissolution is to take place, and if it is to take place. And those who say that the interest of England is only a sentimental interest—those who say that after all the only people concerned in Home Rule are the Irish people, I would remind that we have it explicitly on the highest authority that the Irish Members are to be left here as Members of the House of Commons at Westminster. They are to have an important, and perhaps a determining, voice who shall constitute the Government of the day. And the English nation, therefore, as distinguished from the Irish nation, may find itself, indeed must find itself, now and then at the mercy, not of the English Representatives, but of the Representatives from England and from Ireland combined. Therefore the interest of England is at least as great as the interest of Ireland in any question of Home Rule, and we have a right to point out that one of the two partners at least in this ancient partnership objects, and objects strongly, both to the terms on which you propose to dissolve the partnership, and to the fact of the partnership being dissolved at all. But there are other reasons why this analysis into Irish, and non-Irish Members is absolutely necessary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian has before now had to contemplate the possibility of his being placed exactly in the position in which he now finds himself. He had before now to consider what would be the position and prospects of the Party of which he is the head if they were in a minority in Great Britain, but were in a majority through the assistance of the Irish Members, 223 He therefore—and not I—is the person who first made himself responsible for this analysis by nationalities of the British House of Commons. I suppose the words are familiar to many here; but they are so apposite that, even at the risk of wearying the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), I will take the liberty of reading them. "I will suppose," says the right hon. Gentleman, whose absence I very greatly regret—that owing to some cause the present Government disappeared, and the Liberal Party is called to deal with the great Constitutional question of the government of Ireland in a position where it was in a minority, dependent on the Irish vote for converting it into a majority.By a happy prescience the right hon. Gentleman foresaw the exact situation in which he would find himself in the year 1892–I tell you seriously and solemnly that, though I believe the Liberal Party to be honourable, patriotic, and trustworthy, yet in such a position as that it would not be safe for it to enter into the consideration of the particulars of a measure in respect of which, at the very first step of its progress, it would be in the power of the Party coming from Ireland to say—Unless you do this and unless you do that, we will turn you out.The right hon. Gentleman is in that position. He has called our attention, in the extract from the speech I have just read, to the very analysis by nationality which we have indulged in. He has pointed out to us what the position of the Liberal Party would be if that contingency should occur—how humiliating of itself, how dangerous to the interests of the Empire; and are we, when his prophecies have been thus fulfilled to the letter, to keep silence in obedience to the Constitutional objection of the hon. and learned Member for Fife (Mr. Asquith); and are we not to show the House the fact that the non-Unionist majority of this House is only partly composed of followers of the right hon. Gentleman, and is, in a large measure, composed of allies who are also his masters? That is a dominant factor in the present political situation. I have called the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway the allies and masters of the Party opposite. Will anybody deny the truth of that assertion? Many are the situations in history in which you have seen one 224 country first conquering another, and then compelling it to fight side by side for the destruction of some third Power. That is the position of the Liberal Party. They have been conquered by the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway; they are marching under their banners, accepting their creed, and aiming at their object, the destruction of the Unionist Party, which their joint forces outnumber. But, at all events, we may be allowed the privilege, before we resign the Offices which we hold, of asking what are the terms and what are the conditions under which this alliance has taken place? I listened with very great interest to two speeches last night, one from the hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy), and the other from the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), only the first of which, I think, was heard by the right hon. Gentleman, and certainly only one of which was answered by the right hon. Gentleman. These two hon. Gentlemen represent, and represent with great ability, two sections of the Nationalist Party, which I may, perhaps, without offence describe on this occasion as the Nationalist Party which has been squared, and the Nationalist Party which has not been squared. Now, what are the demands put forward by these two Parties, jointly or separately? The first demand, made, I think, only by the hon. Member for North Longford, was that the Crimes Act, until it should be repealed, should, at all events, be suspended, and, in so far as it is not suspended, should be administered according to public opinion. Well, that is a very vague request, and the answer to it was even more vague. I would remind the hon. Member that at this moment the greater part of the Crimes Act is not in operation over the greater part of Ireland. A clause empowering change of venue, a clause empowering special juries, and a clause permitting summary jurisdiction in cases of riot are in operation, I think, over Ireland generally. Therefore, if there is any change made in the present situation, it must be by suspending these three clauses also. Do I understand the hon. Member for North Longford to require this change, and do I understand the right hon. 225 Gentleman the Member for Midlothian to have agreed to the suspension of these clauses? That is a very clear and a very precise issue. In the negotiations which have gone on between these two gentlemen they must surely have come to an understanding on this point. Why should the subject be surrounded by all these clouds of mystery; why is it still part of the nebular hypothesis? Who is going to be the successor of my right hon. Friend the present Chief Secretary we know not; but if he is going to attempt to govern Ireland without maintaining some power of changing venue, without some power of dealing summarily with cases of riot, I do not envy his task, either in or out of Ulster; and I do not say that it is out of Ulster that all his difficulties will occur. I am very curious to know if there should be some unhappy recrudescence of the difficulties which assailed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle in 1886; and if he has to deal—
§ MR. BALFOUR
Do you anticipate it? And if he has to deal again as he had to deal before with some of the difficulties arising out of the unhappy history of Ireland in that part of the country, whether he is going deliberately to abstain from employing the weapons put into his hands for enforcing the law by means of the Crimes Act or whether he is not? I think it would he very interesting to know that. I think it would be also very interesting to know what he means to do in other parts of Ireland. Is he going to depend upon hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway for keeping order in the South and West of Ireland? Is he going to put himself in the humiliating position of keeping order in that part of the country by the aid of men who have not always shown themselves on the side of order? If he is not going to rely upon them, but simply upon the ordinary law, I tell him he will fail, as every one of his predecessors has failed. It is only by using the power that hon. Gentlemen to whom I have referred have got, and by using that power unsparingly, to carry out a policy precisely opposite to that hitherto 226 carried out, that he can hope to do without these exceptional means of enforcing the law which are at his hands at present, and which every one of his predecessors has unhappily, from time to time, been obliged to use. I should like, before I leave that first condition of hon. Members below the Gangway, to ask precisely what is meant by administering the law according to public opinion? Public opinion in Ireland upon this important subject as it is represented by hon. Members below the Gangway is in favour, as far as I can make out, of boycotting, of intimidation, and of all the other methods—I hope, in the main, short of physical violence—which have reduced parts of the country to a hell upon earth. Is that the public opinion which is to be regarded in administering the law in Ireland? Under this vague phrase of the hon. Member for North Longford what is concealed? What is the precise meaning, in the compact which took place between him and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, of the clause which says that the law is to be administered according to public opinion? How much has the hon. Gentleman asked for; how much has been given him? Surely we have a right, before this Debate closes, to know whether the price of the seventy-five Gentlemen who hold your political fortune in their hands has been the lives, the property, and the security of the loyal portion of Ireland? ("Oh!") I observe some hon. Members dislike this discussion. I pass to the second condition—and I will be as brief as I can—imposed by both the Leaders of the Nationalist Party with regard to the dynamiters now in prison under the Treason Felony Act. And here I noticed that only one name was mentioned—the name of Egan. As the House is well aware, my right hon. Friend near me has himself stated in the House that there were circumstances in the case of Egan which made it different from the case of some other persons who were convicted under that Act. But I apprehend that, although Egan's was the only name mentioned, it was not in regard to Egan that the chief interest was felt, and I am curious to know 227 whether under the pledge extracted by the Members below the Gangway, and under the nebulous statement made by the right hon. Gentleman above the Gangway, there is any understanding that Daly, for example, is to be at once let loose upon society. The right hon. Gentleman said something about there being a period at which criminals undergoing long sentences had their whole position inquired into. But that period in the case of Daly will not occur for two years. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is under a pledge to anticipate that period? Is it a part of the compact under which the seventy-five hon. Members of the Nationalist Party of Ireland are to be taken into your Lobby on Thursday to vote against the Government that Daly and his associates are to be let loose upon the world? The third question I have to ask you is about the evicted tenants. I noticed that there was a considerable difference on this question between the Leader of the Party which has been squared and the Leader of the Party which has not been squared. The hon. Member for North Longford asked for an inquiry. The hon. Member for Waterford asks for something rather more substantial. I confess that from the point of view of those hon. Members and of those who voted for the most extravagant Bill brought in last Session on this subject, a great deal more ought to be granted than an inquiry. Who are these Plan of Campaign tenants who are now evicted? They are the instruments that you have used to gain your political objects. If they are without roofs over their heads at this moment it is your doing; then you are going to give them an inquiry. If they are without food to eat it is your doing, and you are going to give them an inquiry; and when you have given them an inquiry, what are you going to do for them then? I suppose there are some thousands of tenants now in possession of farms from which others have been evicted. (Laughter.) That is my belief, after having taken some trouble to investigate the facts.
§ MR. BALFOUR
Well, the hon. and learned Gentleman, no doubt, hopes to be the humble follower 228 of a Government that will give him anything he asks for. I say that, having made some investigation into this question, I believe there are certainly more than two thousand, perhaps more than three thousand, tenants in possession of evicted farms. ("No!") These men whom you propose to turn out neck and crop if you can pass a Bill—well, of course, you cannot—what are you going to do for them then? These men whom an ex-Cabinet Minister—and I suppose a prospective Cabinet Minister—went down to encourage in their wrongdoing with promises of the assistance of any Government of which he might be a Member, what assistance would they be prepared to give to those unfortunate persons? Certainly, I see little prospect of substantial aid being given to them. But why it was thought worth while to wave before the eyes of those unfortunate persons this absurd—I was going to use a stronger word—this absurd expedient of a public or a private inquiry I cannot imagine. Do you think you could keep them quiet by that? Do you think you could keep their friends quiet? Will you keep them from starving? Will you keep them out of want? You know well enough that this is a merely colourable pretence, that will enable you to give your votes in favour of gentlemen whom you think will become your very subservient tools in the future. Well, on one more subject there were a great many questions asked by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) on which no answer has been given at all. His speech was fully reported. It comes from a not unimportant Member of this House. How was it that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian absolutely ignored every one of these questions? I imagine that he found it inconvenient. I have not been one of those who, though very anxious for information, have made any attack on hon. Gentlemen opposite for not giving details of their Bill. There seemed to me to be perfectly adequate reasons why they should not do so. In the first place, I do not believe that they know them. I do not believe they know what it is. In the second place, I believe, when their Bill comes before us, if they carry out half the promises 229 they have made on the subject, they will make themselves a spectacle before the whole of the civilised world, and no man is bound to make of himself a spectacle before it becomes absolutely necessary. But it really is rather important to us to know, as soon as we can, certain broad principles which hon. Gentlemen are always talking about, and on which, therefore, I presume they have made up their minds, but on which they have never yet told us in precise terms what they mean. One of these things was alluded to to-day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian—namely, the supremacy of the British Parliament. I listened with all my ears to him, and for the life of me I cannot conceive what he meant. The hon. Member for Waterford was perfectly clear and explicit in his demands. He said plainly enough—No Bill will satisfy the Irish people which enables the British Legislature, upon any pretence whatever or in any circumstances whatever, to meddle with Irish affairs, to legislate for Ireland, or to disallow anything done by an Irish Parliament.That was a perfectly precise and explicit demand. Is that demand to be granted or not? If it is to be granted, how do you mean to defend yourselves before the English people? If it is not to be granted, how do you mean to deal with the seventy-five Gentlemen from Ireland? Although the Member for Waterford speaks for a small section of the Nationalist Party, is there a single one of the seventy-five Gentlemen there congregated who will dare to get up and say that on this question the Member for Waterford does not speak the mind of the whole of the Nationalist Party? Is there a single man on those Benches who, with or without a compact with Gentlemen opposite, will dare to state that he means to allow the British Parliament to intervene to control the actions of the Irish Parliament? There is none—not one cheer is given, not one reply; and I take it that the supremacy of the British Parliament, which has been flaunted at the English Elections as a reason why Home Rule should be granted to Ireland, is a mere matter of paper and sealing wax, that it is 230 to have no operative effect at all, and that the Irish nation, whom you say you are going to content, will never be contented without that absolute control which is inconsistent with any supremacy of this Parliament whatever. There is one more point, which is, perhaps, the most important of all, with respect to which hon. Gentlemen have made categorical demands to right hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite. What is to be the position, in the legislative labours of this House, to be occupied by the Home Rule Bill? On that both the Member for Longford and the Member for Waterford have agreed in demanding not only that it should be brought in first, not only that it should be passed first, but that, if it is rejected—as we all know it will be rejected—("Oh !")—in another place, the same operation is to be repeated, and that so long as the incoming Government hold Office it will be their bounden duty, Session after Session, to go the same weary round, to make the same barren efforts, to bring in the same preposterous measure, and to occupy our time, year after year, with, I will not call them legislative labours, but with interminable discussions which can be of no earthly good to any class in the community.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to make such a statement as that. I referred to concurrent legislation.
§ MR. BALFOUR
I recollect perfectly well what the hon. Member said. He said he would permit concurrent legislation for England; he was good enough to say that. In other words, in the interstices of the Home Rule Bill are to be introduced the great list of legislative changes which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian read out of an extract from his own Newcastle speech. That is the demand of Ireland. If that demand is not granted, if Home Rule is put in the background, I suppose the Irish Members will exercise the power of which they have very justly boasted more than once, and will extrude the incoming Government from Office—an agreeable prospect for Gentlemen opposite. They can now estimate exactly what is meant by the confidence of 231 Parliament. They tell us that we do not possess that confidence. I dare say we do not: Thursday will show. Do they think that they possess it? I understand a general possessing the confidence of his soldiers when he can lead them whither he will, and direct his manæuvres as he chooses. Is that the confidence which hon. Gentlemen possess? They know very well that it is not. They possess the confidence of the House much in the same sense in which a slave possesses the confidence of his master when he knows he will be scourged into doing any operations, however revolting to him, when he is required. Gentlemen below the Gangway may be sparing, or they may not be sparing, in the use of the rod. We cannot prophesy. But for hon. Gentlemen opposite to come to us and tell us that we should at once, without discussion in this House, give up to them the Seals of Office because they possess the confidence of the country is, as they will find out sooner or later, greatly to abuse Parliamentary language. Therefore it is that we, who are the beaten Party, look forward with hope and confidence to the future, and you, who are the victorious Party, look forward to that same future with perplexity and in despair. We know that the future is with us. We know, and we know after this Debate as we never could have known it before, that if the work of social and domestic legislation is to be undertaken by this House at all, it is to be undertaken by Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House, and not by Gentlemen who sit on that. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Fife (Mr. Asquith), in an eloquent peroration to an eloquent speech, told us last night that we, the Conservative Party, had abandoned our historic position, and that by entering upon the course of legislation which has signalised the present Government we have been truckling to the Liberal Unionist Party, and had abandoned convictions that had always been dear to us. The fact is that my hon. and learned Friend has not given this matter as much study as he ought to have given to it. He has drawn his picture of the Conservative Party from those caricatures which doubtless did excellent duly on many a 232 Radical platform in Scotland and England. But he will study it better in the authentic records of this House. If he will look at the Statute Book and consider our social legislation, and will consider who has in the past dealt with these social questions, he will find that in absolute amount we have done far more than the Party to which he belongs, and that, relatively to the number of years we have been in Office, our record is even better. What is the use of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian getting up and giving us a string of the measures that he has tried to pass during the last five years and has failed to pass? Of course in Opposition he could not pass anything. I blame him not. I do not think, however, he deserves much credit for this barren string of unfulfilled legislation. The point is, what is done by the Party when it really has control over the time of the House; and when you compare what has been done by the Unionist Party and by the Conservative Party in the past, and if you compare it with what has happened in any similar period of time by the Party of which the Member for Fife is one of its great ornaments, I think you and he will find that the events point out that it is with us and not with them that the future treatment of these great questions must essentially depend. I do not mean to enumerate the legislative proposals which if we were to remain in Office we should make, because I have done it already with the utmost publicity which I could give to them, with the full assent of my colleagues, speaking as a Member of the Government and responsible for what I said. I have publicly stated in detail the kind of legislation to which I think this House should devote itself to accomplishing in the immediate future. You propose to turn us out, and therefore that legislation will not be undertaken by us. Will it be undertaken by you? Is there the slightest prospect in the future that you, who, as I understand, have got on your shoulders first a Home Rule Bill, secondly the repeal of the Crimes Act, and thirdly the destruction of the House of Lords—is it likely that you, who have got in the forefront of your programme these agreeable tasks, are going to find much 233 time in the interstices of these important labours to pass that legislation which this country so heartily desires, when you are bound by the action of your allies below the Gangway? Of this I am convinced, after having seen a great deal of the recent Election like other Members, possibly more than many people, and being thus in a position to estimate the course and growth of public opinion—I believe that this country have returned Gentlemen opposite under an absolutely mistaken conviction. They have returned them under the belief that they are going to deal with the Newcastle Programme. They are not going to deal with the Newcastle Programme. They have returned them under the belief that when they are once in Office they will be able to compel them to deal with these social questions. They will not be able to deal with these social questions. Therefore it is that I am sure that sooner or later the disappointed electors will turn to the Party which has the will and which has the leisure to press forward all these great subjects to a legitimate issue. They will be sick, and sick very soon, of Nationalist domination. They will be sick of impotent administration; they will be sick of these abortive and barren attacks upon the Constitution of the country, and they will turn to a Party which has surely shown itself, in the last six eventful years, not unworthy to frame the laws or to guide the destinies of this great Empire.
(5.50.) MR.T.P.O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
The right hon. Gentleman has made one observation with which I entirely agree. He said that this Debate has not been fruitless. Well, I quite agree with him. A Debate which has produced such a speech as that to which we have just listened, and such a speech as that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night, is not fruitless. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was the speech of a beaten and desperate man. Now what did the right hon. Gentleman do? He alluded, with ill-concealed glee and approval, to what he is pleased to call the recrudescence of disturbance in Belfast. I denounce that statement and that appeal of the right hon. Gentleman as one of the most iniqui- 234 tous ever made by a Minister of the Crown, for what does it amount to? The right hon. Gentleman means to hint and suggest to the Orangemen of Belfast that they should repeat in 1892 the proceedings of 1886. What took place in 1886? The houses of Catholics were wrecked, the property of Catholics was destroyed, the lives of Catholics were taken, and the police of the Crown, to whose protection the right hon. Gentleman owes as much as any man in this House, were shot down in the public streets. That is the state of things to the recrudescence of which the right hon. Gentleman looks forward. What does it mean? That in order to embarrass a Liberal Administration the champion of law and order is ready to suggest disorder and disturbance in Ireland. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle has heard the language. I do not know whether he will be the successor of the present Chief Secretary; but if his administration be embarrassed by disturbance or riot in Belfast or in Ulster generally, then the words of the First Lord of the Treasury will come back to our memory, and we shall assert—and the facts will prove it—that these disturbances in Ireland are political events produced by politicians for political purposes. The First Lord of the Treasury was also very eloquent against us for not having been sufficiently eager in the defence of order, and his constant charge during the past six years is that we have promoted disorder for political purposes. I, however, deny the charge, and I say that if any disturbances take place in Ulster—I do not know whether they will or not—the law will be strong enough to deal with them, and I shall denounce the right hon. Gentleman for having deliberately incited them to embarrass his political opponents. The right hon. Gentleman was candid enough to say that the Coercion Act of 1887 was not passed simply because of the amount of grave and serious crime in Ireland. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not make the same admission on the platforms during the recent Election, for what did I find wherever I went, especially if I had followed the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T.W. Russell)? I found 235 that the Act of 1887 was defended as having been brought in because of cases of wholesale murder, of murder walking abroad in the daylight, of a state of crime in Ireland that made it almost a Saturnalia of wickedness. The First Lord of the Treasury allowed these statements to go uncontradicted in order that his Party might make profit out of them. To-night he has made the confession that the Coercion Act of 1887 was passed, not against crime, but against combination in Ireland. If he had made that statement on the hustings, the majority against him would probably have been a little larger than it is. The right hon. Gentleman has also complained of the Leader of the Opposition speaking of the moral force by which we have advocated our movement. He was quite qualified to make that statement. The patron of Pigott has a perfect right to complain of immoral methods of procedure in political warfare. I have never shared the somewhat pessimist conclusions of some of my hon. Friends upon the result of the late Election—first, because the majority of this House does not adequately and proportionately represent the majority of the votes of the country; and, secondly, because that majority, as I shall presently show, represents not free and pure elections on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but elections conducted under a system of public and universal debauchery unexampled in the history of this country. But if I had ever felt the pessimist conclusions of my hon. Friends, the speeches of the last two nights would be sufficient to dispel them. There was an elegiac tone pervading the speeches of the other side. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle once delivered a lecture on epigrams. I would suggest that he should take epitaphs as the subject of his next lecture, and largely quote the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Seconder of the reply to the Address. Then we had the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have watched the Chancellor of the Exchequer a good many years in this House. Yesterday evening saw his Nemesis. For many years he has used his great but maleficent powers in this House for the purpose 236 of defending every act of landlord oppression in Ireland, for the purpose of rejoicing over every Irish rooftree levelled to the ground; and he came last night and he supplicated the Irish Members—he begged, he implored, he beseeched the Irish Members—if they could not admit him as a sort of tenant, to leave him at least as a sort of humble caretaker on the premises. I shall return to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman presently, but I should like to say a few words about the speech of the hon. Member for Bordesley (Mr. Jesse Collings). The hon. Member for Bordesley was much shocked that he found in the Rugby Division a placard with these words, "Vote for Cobb and Parish Councils." My hon. Friend the Member for the Rugby Division is able to defend himself, but I beg to say this to him, with the assent of everybody on this side of the House: that a truer, more loyal friend of the agricultural labourers does not exist either inside or outside this House. I would like to ask the hon. Member for Bordesley two or three questions. I do not see the hon. Member in his place, but I should like to ask him, if he were there, in the first place, does he believe that Parish Councils are a good thing? I think he would have to answer that question in the affirmative. I would next ask him, has he any doubt that the next Liberal Administration will propose Parish Councils? I think he would also reply to that in the affirmative. Then my next question would be, does he believe that they will pass Parish Councils? I am afraid the hon. Gentleman will have to give a somewhat doubtful answer to that question, because undoubtedly his friends and allies on the other side will do their best to prevent the passage of that and all other Liberal measures of reform. But I will challenge the hon. Gentleman to say that there will not be an obstructive and unscrupulous opposition to Parish Councils if proposed by a Liberal Administration, and my answer to all this talk about the barrenness of the legislation of the next Government is this: that it will not be barren if the Liberal Unionists are true to Liberal principles, and if the Tory Opposition will be orderly, decent, and well-behaved in 237 their opposition. An hon. Friend below me says that that is a little too much to expect, and, to be candid, I do not expect it, for I have some experience, both in accord and in discord with hon. Gentlemen opposite, of the kind of Opposition they form when the Liberal Party is in power. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have attempted to analysee the majority of the present House. They have analysed it first on its composition in the House of Commons, secondly on its composition in the country, and thirdly on the kind of pledges by which it was returned. I am not the least afraid to follow hon. Gentlemen opposite in everyone of those examinations. The more its composition is analysed the better pleased we shall be with it. The First Lord of the Treasury was a Member of the Fourth Party during the Parliament of 1880 to 1885. I would recall to mind the great Party Division in this House in the end of June, 1885. We all remember the historic scence. There were 252 Liberals then in power and 264 the combined Opposition. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) was then a little younger, and he was, perhaps, a little merrier than he is now; and we all remember how he stood up on the first seat below the Gangway and waved his hat like an Eton schoolboy escaped for his holidays, and he was followed by other Members of the Tory Party. A short time afterwards the new Administration was formed, and the right hon. Gentleman the present First Lord of the Treasury then got upon the first step of the official ladder, up which he has since climbed so high. Did the right hon. Gentleman, who was then Secretary for Scotland, and his distinguished relative the Prime Minister, analyse the majority by which the Liberal Government was turned out of Office? There were 252 Liberals and 264 combined Opposition, as I have said; 219 were Conservatives, four were Liberals, and forty-one Irish Nationalist Members. The majority was twelve, and the forty-one Irish Members helped the right hon. Gentleman to get it. I will not presume to intrude upon the secrets of the interviews between incoming Ministers and the Sovereign, but I would ask—did the 238 First Lord of the Treasury refuse to tyrannise, by means of the Irish brigade, over the declared will of the English constituencies, which still, by a large majority, supported the Liberal Party that had been turned out of power? The right hon. Gentleman wants now to know the terms which have been arrived at between the Liberal Party and the Irish Nationalists. Mr. Speaker, there are no terms. Attempts have been made to analyse the votes recorded at the recent Election in this country. I am not unwilling to go into that question. I say that the majority in this House does not adequately represent the majority of votes given in the country, still less the majority of voters. I will give a few figures in support of that statement. In 1886 the Unionists had a majority of 76,000 votes, which was represented by a majority of 116 Members in this House. In 1892 the Home Rule Party had a majority of 227,000 votes, which is represented by a beggarly majority of forty. When we analyse the votes given in the country we find that they do not always mean voters. I have extracted from the Standard newspaper the case of an ancient plural voter of ninety-four years of age, which it had taken from another newspaper. It says—On Monday last he left his residence for St. Leonards, voted there, and journeyed back to Kent; voted there, and proceeded to Taunton on the Wednesday; voted there, and returned to Stroud on the Thursday, where he recorded his vote on the Friday morning.The Standard then makes this comment—if every Conservative was as enthusiastic and as energetic as this venerable old gentleman, we should not hear of so many constituencies being sacrificed for small majorities to the followers of Home Rule.I quite agree with the Standard newspaper in regard to that; but I will give you a case from my own personal experience. A man confided to a friend of mine the fact that he had given his sixteenth vote, that on the following day he was going to give his seventeenth, and that he would wind up the Election by giving his eighteenth vote on the day after. We all know that that kind of thing has taken place all over the country. What happened in 239 the Stretford Division of Lancashire? A large number of freeholders in Salford and Manchester were dumped down to South-East Lancashire, which has been sub-divided, and which was then represented by Mr. William Agnew, who I am sorry not to see here again. The result, as I am informed, was that there were not less than 6,305 freeholders who voted on the property qualification, and of these 4,892 were non-resident in the constituency, whilst the majority for the Member elected was 1,345. We now see what the Standard means when it says that if every Conservative was as enthusiastic and as energetic as the venerable old gentleman referred to, we should not hear of so many constituencies being sacrificed by small majorities to the followers of Home Rule. I could bring forward other instances as scandalous as this if necessary, but even then I should not have told half the case with regard to the manner in which the majorities were won. We know it is easier for wealthy men to get and retain twenty votes than for the working man to get one and retain it. We know that in constituency after constituency artizans have been disfranchised, not by tens or scores, but by hundreds and by thousands; and I contend that the Liberal Party will not discharge its duty to the nation, and especially to the working classes, if it does not put an end to this wicked and iniquitous anomaly. Take the case also of the register. The right hon. Gentleman and his Party deliberately arranged that the Election should take place on the old instead of on the new register. The choice on the next occasion will not, however, rest with the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. It is interesting to analyse the methods by which the Unionist candidates appealed for support in their Election. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury fought his Election on the gratitude of the textile workers, who by a singular coincidence presented to him a testimonial for his efforts on their behalf. But that was not his only cry. A man named Schofield died in Bury, leaving a large amount of property. The people of Bury naturally wished to obtain a share of the wealth which he had made in 240 their town, and they asked for £7,000 for the purposes of a recreation ground. By another singular and most fortunate coincidence the matter was finally settled within a few weeks of the Election in Bury, and the right hon. Gentleman was able to demand a renewal of the confidence of the electors of Bury on the ground that he had received a letter stating that the £7,000 would be given for the recreation ground. That is a matter to be explained either by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary to the Treasury. I have a placard here which also shows the "Reasons why working men should vote for Quilter" in the Sudbury Division of Suffolk. The first reason was that he had been most generous in contributing towards the Convalescent Home for poor people at Felixtowe; the second, that he had contributed towards an idiot asylum at Colchester; the third, that he had been a generous donor to St. Leonard's Hospital at Sudbury; the fourth, that he had been a true friend to the poor throughout the Division; and another that he had obtained numerous allotments for working men. Other reasons are also given showing that he had been a generous contributor to benevolent movements in the Division, whether connected with the Church of England or with Nonconformists. The Eight Hours Question has also been used by some Unionist candidates for Election purposes. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle has been attacked for the manly stand he made with regard to that question, and no doubt many Tory Members were delighted to find that Mr. Broadhurst has been excluded from the House for the same reason. I do not entirely share Mr. Broadhurst's views on the question, but he had his opinions with regard to it, and he had a right to stand by them. The gentleman who displaced him is now in the House not as an enemy to Home Rule, but as a supporter of the eight hours movement. Then there is the case of Mr. Hermon-Hodge. He began as an enemy to legislative restriction to eight hours, but when he was told that that would not do, with manly courage he came out a few days afterwards in favour of such a legislative restriction. I am reminded also of the case of the 241 hon. Member for South Tyrone. We raised in this Parliament the question of compulsory purchase in Ireland. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T.W. Russell) manfully spoke against it, and he denounced it, and I think he voted against it; but when he went to South Tyrone he found that unless he supported compulsory purchase he had no chance of being returned. The hon. Gentleman was equal to the occasion. He did not hesitate—he swallowed compulsory purchase. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave last night a list of the ways in which the wicked Liberals got into power, and he said it was the Machiavellian whisper about the dear loaf and the cheap loaf which did more for them than the question of Home Rule. In one of the Divisions of Sheffield it was fought on Protection, and we cannot doubt that if they had their way they would have Protection to-morrow. The head of the Government is a Protectionist. His speech at Hastings, on the eve of the Elections, was Protectionist, and I have no hesitation in saying that if they had the power they have the will to introduce laws by which a dear loaf would be substituted for a cheap one. But what I said I spoke of the Party in general. That is my complaint. The Tory Party is a Protectionist and Fair Trade Party in one constituency, and a Free Trade Party in another. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), quoting, spoke about a Mephistophelian whisper of a cheap loaf having more to do with the success of the Government in the counties than the Irish Question. I am afraid that is so, and I will read a placard which was issued in the Devizes Division of Wilts. The placard was headed£Cheap Loaf,and went on—Who has given it you? The Unionist Government, of which Mr. Long is a Member. When was bread so cheap as now? Vote for Long.Unfortunately that statement was neither Mephistophelian nor a whisper, and the electors did not vote for Long. They fought the Elections in some parts of Manchester on Bi-metallism; they fought Macclesfield on Fair Trade. Some of the Divisions of Liverpool were fought on Free Trade, and Mid- 242 lothian was fought on the question of Church Establishment in Scotland. Even in the same city they have had a different set of principles for different constituencies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, for instance, does not take the taxation of ground values as one of the articles of his creed. It would not do in St. George's, Hanover Square. But he will have to look after some of his friends, for some of the Tory candidates in the more eastern boroughs were quite ready to declare that it was a monstrous fabrication to say that the Tory Party had any objection to tax ground landlords. But they charge us with having kept Home Rule in the background: I charge them with having put beer very much in the foreground. I have a placard here in which the electors are advised not to vote for a Liberal candidate, because he would vote for Sunday Closing and thus take away from the working man the chance of having his beer with his Sunday's dinner. Here is another placard which reads like the Litany—Who would shut up the working man's public-house on the Sunday? Mr. Oscar Browning.This placard was issued in the interests of a young Member of this House, who has just become one of the supporters of the Liberal Unionist Whips.Who would prevent the working man having a glass of beer at all? Mr. Oscar Browning.Who would take good care he did not go without his own? Mr. Oscar Browning.Who has a club where he can get what he wants at any time, Sundays included? Mr. Oscar Browning.This is very much like that popular story of our youth— My Mother.Who would deprive every publican in the land of his livelihood? Mr. Oscar Browning.If you like and mean to have your beer in moderation, don't vote for Mr. Oscar Browning.That is in defence of the integrity of the Empire. The right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) had an experience which, I dare say, was shared by many Members on this side of the House. He was confronted with a cartoon, where there were two pictures in contrast. On one side, as a bloated member of a club—who, I gather, was supposed to represent my 243 right hon. Friend—who was comfortably ordering a magnum of port wine, whatever that may be, and on the other side was a picture of a poor working man at his Sunday dinner, and his child had come back with an empty jug, declaring that the public-houses are closed, and that he cannot have his beer. I here express a hope, Mr. Speaker, that before this Parliament comes to an end it will be made impossible for a working man, or anyone else, to send his child to the public-house. Sunday Closing is a legitimate issue, and I do not find fault with hon. Gentlemen opposite for putting it forward; but what I do find fault with is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who must know these facts as well as I do, should have the courage to come forward in this House and say that the Liberal Party put Home Rule in the background, and falsely imply that the Tory Party put Home Rule in the front. No, Mr. Speaker; it was the beer barrel they put in the foreground. The second charge I make is that the Tory Party were not satisfied with denouncing temperance legislation. I charge against them that they were not satisfied with denouncing the refusal to supply beer on Sundays, but that beer flowed freely and universally for the consumption of the electors. Some months ago I was talking to an hon. Member whom I met in a train, and I expressed the opinion that in the then coming Election the publicans would flood the country with beer. I was too true a prophet. I know that some of these charges will be brought before the tribunals of the country, amongst others the circumstances under which the First Lord of the Treasury obtained a victory in East Manchester. (Mr. A.J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!) If the right hon. Member looks forward to that investigation with confidence, I may say that I look forward with confidence as well. I shall not allude to it further than to say that the right hon. Gentleman is acquainted with a gentleman named Chesters Thompson. A lively debate has taken place in the Manchester City Council with regard to Mr. Chesters Thompson. Mr. Chesters Thompson is a gentleman on whom the right hon. Gentleman has lavished 244 so much of the language of eulogy as he had left from praising the Resident Magistrates in Ireland. Mr. Chesters Thompson was charged before the City Council with having used some offensive language which I cannot repeat in this House without being very properly called to Order. He denied that he had used the expletives which, I believe, are common in the bibulous conversation of smoke-rooms, but he was compelled to admit that he did say—I have told you what I think of you (this to a fellow-alderman); you are a liar; you are a beastly liar; you are a cowardly liar, and I brand you as a liar, and wherever I meet you and wherever you meet me you can think, 'That is Chesters Thompson, who believes me to be a liar!'This is the patron of the right hon. Gentleman, who is so finnicking in the selection of his society that he is ashamed to find himself in the same Lobby with the Irish Members unless they are voting to give him the Irish Secretaryship. I charge against them that not in one or two or in twelve constituencies, but in scores, beer was distributed freely. I charge that in one constituency beer was distributed gratuitously from carts which passed through the streets on the eve of the poll. In another constituency—indeed in many—either on the polling day, or immediately before, beer was supplied at one penny per quart. I charge that in many parts of the country barrels of beer were put into the houses of private men, and electors were allowed to visit these houses and get the beer free of charge, and that was done in the interest of the publican party and of the Tory candidate. I read in a journal in the West of England that in one constituency, on the polling day, a clergyman of the Church of England arranged that a cask of beer should be stationed near the polling booth in a rural parish, and to all who would accept it liquor was dispensed by a man in the service of the clergyman. The clergyman was a Unionist. I have yet to learn that any action for libel has been taken against that paper. I have it on the authority of the Member for East Bradford (Mr. Caine) that on the polling day men—strangers to the constituency—were stationed at nearly every public-house 245 in the Division and supplied beer to the voters. After the Election these men, to avoid identification, vanished into thin air, where the Judges cease from troubling and bribers are at rest. I solemnly ask this House, is that the way in which an Election should be fought? Was it for such practices as this that Act after Act has been passed in this House to put down corrupt practices? Hon. Gentlemen opposite claim to be defenders of the unity of the Empire. It is a noble idea, but it is my idea as well as theirs. It is the idea of every man on this side of the House; but I would scorn, even in the interests of the unity of the Empire, to win an Election by wholesale debauchery and wholesale corruption.
§ (6.47.) MR. T.W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
It is, no doubt, entirely in accordance with the fitness of things that a member of a Party whose proudest boast it is that they are political mercenaries, and have turned out a Liberal Government as they now propose to turn out a Unionist Government, should take into their special keeping the consistency of hon. Members of this House; and it is also very proper that an hon. Member who, although he has been in the House more than a dozen years, never gave a vote in favour of the Sunday closing of public-houses, and never gave one atom of support to the temperance movement in his life, should express a hope that this Parliament will take the matter in hand; and I think it is still more proper that a Member of that Party, many Members of which have obtained their seats by the foulest priestly intimidation, should now stand up in this House and call in question actions at English Elections. I am thankful that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T.P. O'Connor) spoke before I had an opportunity of rising to take part in a Debate that concerns the Province of Ulster more deeply than it concerns any other portion of the Empire. Hon. Members have been discussing what is to be the nature of the Home Rule Bill; but, compared with the people the Ulster Members represent, 246 they have merely an academic interest in the question. We have a burning interest in it. I think the most remarkable feature in this Debate is not the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith), or anything that has been said at all, but what the right hon. Member for Midlothian left unsaid in regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond). That was either an intentional omission, or it was not. The right hon. Gentleman either accidentally omitted to refer to that speech, or he intended to give it the go-by. It was not the first time that the hon. Member for Waterford had delivered an inconvenient speech; it is not the first time that this Front Bench has burked the speech and retired from the House, and tonight I call the pointed attention of the House to the fact that a most important speech by a Member who represents at least 70,000 electors in Ireland has been deliberately let alone by the right hon. Gentleman who I suppose will be Prime Minister of England next week. I want to contrast the statement made by the hon. Member for Waterford with one which the right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) made only six months ago. The hon. Member for Waterford treated the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament as a mere figment, and said that he would only recognise a technical supremacy. That speech was not answered, and I ask the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton is that the kind of supremacy he meant when he spoke at Rawtenstall to the electors of Rossendale in January last? He did not say then anything like what is said by the hon. Member for Waterford. The hon. Member for Waterford said that if the Irish Parliament exceeded its functions there would be a Supreme Court to call it in question and restrain it. That certainly was not the definition of supremacy laid down by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. Speaking in Rossendale he said—If the Irish Parliament did attempt to interfere with or violate one of the fundamental bases of the Constitution, then the Imperial Parliament would be the shield of every man, woman, and child throughout the Queen's Dominions,247 Why did not the right hon. Member for Midlothian answer the hon. Member for Waterford on the floor of this House in the presence of Parliament in the sense of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton? There were electors to be won at Rossendale, but the votes have been squared here. As regards the other point raised by the hon. Member for Waterford, the question of the veto, what is his proposal? It offers no protection at all to the minority in Ireland. It was to be the veto of the Crown, acting on the advice of Irish Ministers—that is to say, the Members for Mayo, for North Meath, and for Louth, when they have 'got through their Election Petitions. At present we are left in this position—that the attitude taken up by the hon. Member for Waterford is unchallenged by the Opposition Front Bench. The English, Scotch, and Welsh Members have an academic interest in this Debate. Our all depends on it in Ulster, and in asking for further information from the Front Bench we are not exceeding our duty in the slightest degree. The hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy) made a remarkable speech, and if I were to describe that speech in the words of the hon. Gentleman who formerly sat for North Longford (Mr. Timothy Healy) I should say that it was a put-up job. Does the hon. Member for North Longford, or anyone else in the House, imagine that the evicted tenants are going to be put off with an inquiry? Does anyone imagine that the evicted tenants will be satisfied with the language of the right hon. Member for Midlothian in a letter he wrote the other day to the secretary of a society who takes an interest in the evicted tenants, that this was a subject that it would be well to bring into public view? These evicted tenants have been out for six years, and what I wish to impress on the House is that every right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench voted last Session for a Bill to give greater privileges to these evicted tenants than ordinary tenants in Ireland possess. If the scheme they voted for is carried out there is no reason why any tenant in Ireland should ever pay rent again. The right hon. Member for Midlothian 248 used language of the most ominous kind with regard to these evicted tenants. He said he hoped, in the interval between now and next Session, this matter would be fully considered in Ireland, and he added that perhaps the landlords of those farms would be well advised if they came to a settlement. How will the Irish evicted tenants interpret that? They will say that protection is to be withdrawn from those farms where it exists. Now, I say that the only result of that will be outrage on a large scale. I do not envy the task of the Chief Secretary in dealing with those evicted tenants, even though he may have a telephone between Drumcondra Palace and Dublin Castle. What, again, are we to understand by the statement that the new Government will govern Ireland according to public opinion in Ireland? Public opinion in Ireland during the last thirteen years has been expressed in favour of boycotting and in favour of coercing every man who differed from the majority. Is that to be the way in which the law is to be administered in Ireland? Public opinion in some parts of Ireland has run in the direction of attacking landlords. Is that to be the direction of the future Government? We have by no means got to the end of this question, and probably the new Government will find the problems awaiting them in Ireland more difficult than the framing of a Home Rule Bill. But, Sir, apart from the speeches delivered by Irish Members, there was a speech delivered by the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith). Of course he spoke from his brief, and it was his desire, plainly intimated, to narrow the discussion to the narrowest limits, but there was one thing he could not resist. He could not resist a fling at the Liberal Unionists. I do not forget, however, that these gentlemen were long ago doomed to extinction. It is now only a question in the rule of three how long we are to last, but then we were not to be here at all. And, the prophecies of last Parliament having come to naught, we are not inclined to attach any importance to the prophecies of the present. The hon. and learned Member said that the Liberal Unionists had dwindled from ninety-three to forty-seven, and he 249 added that it was a simple sum of arithmetic to decide when the end would come. But, Mr. Speaker, there are other dwindling Parties as well as Liberal Unionists. We were called apostates. All I have to say is, there must be a considerable number of apostates in East Fife. In the year 1885 the Radical Member was returned for my native constituency of East Fife with a majority of close upon two thousand. Now the hon. and learned Member has just scraped in by two hundred. There must also be a considerable number of apostates all over Scotland. Look at the position of the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson). He has managed to reduce a majority of 2,100 to one of eighty. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. W.E. Gladstone) has performed a feat worthy of a heaven-born statesman, because he has almost destroyed the Gladstonian majority in its very citadel. Let me remind the hon. Member for East Fife that there are other dwindling quantities in politics, and that probably the artizans of East Fife, whom he has treated much as if they were agricultural labourers of the South of England, will have something to say to him if he goes back for re-election. Now, Sir, the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T.P. O'Connor) has entertained this House with details of how the English Elections were won. I am going to inform the House, as a set-off, how some Irish Elections have been won. It is a pretty picture of this down-trodden country. If you have publicans in England we have priests in Ireland. Let me call the attention of the House, not to newspaper statements, but to statements from gentlemen who had the honour of sitting in this House in the last Parliament. Many of the old Members of this House will remember Mr. Corbet, the late Member for East Wicklow, who was no carpet-bagger imported from any part of England to that constituency. He was a resident there, and had been twice elected. But he has now been rejected; and let us hear what he has to say as to the cause of his defeat. Sir, I quote not from a Unionist newspaper but from a 250 Nationalist newspaper—the Daily Independent—of the 23rd July. In this newspaper Mr. Corbet is reported to have said—In Ireland the Ballot Act and the extension of the franchise have not secured freedom of election. There is no use mincing matters. Under episcopal and clerical influence, the exercise of the franchise has become a mockery and a farce, and unless a Rescript from Rome, or, failing that, an Act of Parliament from Westminster, puts a stop to the personal interference of priests at elections, save as regards the exercise of their own legitimate civil rights, Mr. Speaker might just as well issue his Writs to the Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland instead of to the High Sheriffs, and the franchise might as well be confined to the clergy themselves.You condemn publicans and beer. Heaven knows I have nothing to say in favour of either. They played no part in my election, and I am not responsible for other people. What has the hon. Member for the Scotland Division to say to this priestly influence? I tell him that there are scarcely a score of seats south of the Boyne which, if submitted to a Court of Law, would not result in the unseating of the Members who have been elected for that part of Ireland. Take another hon. Member. I differed from him widely. He, at all events, had no fear of beer, because he was its great advocate in this House. I refer to Mr. John O'Connor, who formerly sat for Tipperary. What does he say of this influence? He says—I have no doubt the day will come when we shall reverse the verdict of yesterday, but if we do not stand together and organise, it will be as well to abandon all representation, to give up the show and mockery, and to hand over an emasculated Ireland to the Bishops and priests of the country.What does my hon. Friend the Member for West Bradford (Mr. Illingworth), who represents the dissidence of political dissent, think of this? And, Sir, these statements are not confined to men who have been in this House. I take Canon O'Mahony. This rev. gentleman, speaking in Cork in the presence of Mr. Maurice Healy, said—In view of this further development of Parnellism, I wonder is there anyone in this city who thinks that it was going too far to say it was a crime, a sin, a mortal sin of the deepest dye, to vote for them or support them in any way.251 How is language like this construed by the Irish peasant? He is told that he commits a mortal sin in voting for Parnellism. Is that promoting freedom of election? Everyone knows what the effect of such language must be. I will go further, and take a Pastoral issued by Dr. Nulty, the Bishop of Meath, where, I ought to remind the House, a Petition has been lodged against the hon. Member who was returned. Imagine the effect of this language upon the peasant before the Election. The Bishop says—It is through our preaching and teaching—the Catholic Bishops and Priests—alone that the faithful receive the Divine faith and knowledge, without which they cannot be saved. It is exclusively through us that the clean and holy oblation of the sacrifice of the Mass is offered daily for the living and the dead on the thousands of altars throughout our country. It is through our ministry that the poor penitent gets forgiveness of his sins in the Sacrament of Penance. The dying Parnellite himself will hardly dare to face the justice of his Creator till he has been prepared and anointed by us for the last awful struggle and for the terrible judgment that will immediately follow it.Talk about beer, talk about publicans! Why, it is mere child's play compared with this state of things. And let us go further. This priestly interference is not even confined to influence of a spiritual character. Let this House understand now that there are two Roman Catholic priests committed for trial for assault at the door of polling booths. One of these reverend gentlemen knocked down an old man named Reilly, seventy-three years of age, outside a polling booth, and if the House will permit me I will read a delicious extract I have here, showing what a policeman thought of it. The sergeant of police, giving evidence at Navan, stated that the old man said to the priest—I want no instruction or direction from you, Father Clarke. I know myself better what to do than you can tell me.Was not that a proper sentiment to come from an elector even to a clergyman? What right had the clergyman to stand outside the polling booth at all and interfere with the freedom of election? And the sergeant added—I then cautioned Reilly to stop making use of such expressions.252 That will convey to hon. Members the terrorism that prevails in Ireland at election times. There are two parish priests committed for trial for physical violence at these elections, and there is one, Father Heany, who has escaped by the leniency of the magistrate—a man who, absolutely without the slightest provocation, knocked the hon. Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) senseless in the streets. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was very witty about plural voting, and he gave a graphic description of a man who had voted sixteen or seventeen times. I have a list of twelve men here who at the Election for West Belfast tried to vote for dead men, and they got six weeks' imprisonment each for it. And it is because these men were discovered that the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) is not the Member for West Belfast. I think it is, at all events, better for living men to vote sixteen times than for dead men to be voted once. And I have here a description of a scene at Louth—the seat won by the real Leader of the Irish Party. A man was killed, and at the trial a young lad absolutely confessed that he had attended the Roman Catholic chapel on Sunday night, and, acting under instructions given there, he had tried to personate his grandfather, who had been dead many years. Plural voting is not in it with this. And then look at the question of illiteracy. Take East Wicklow, the seat lost by Mr. Corbet. In 1885, 357 illiterates polled, and in 1892 education had gone so far back that 1,008 illiterates polled, and the astonishing thing, Mr. Speaker, is that only ten were cast for Mr. Corbet, while the rest went for Mr. Sweetman. These men were no more illiterate than I am. They were made so to vote, and "I vote public" has now become a well-known phrase. They wanted it to be known how they voted, and so they voted as illiterates. There is another question to which I must allude—we are now to have the Crimes Act repealed. I am exceedingly sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) has disappeared, because I have what he would consider a very apposite quotation from one of 253 his Scotch speeches. There was a time when the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Secretary for Ireland, and he learned a little during the few months he was at Dublin Castle. The Tories were trying to govern Ireland by the ordinary law, and the Liberals were exceedingly angry at them for attempting it; and here, speaking in Stirling to his constituents, is what the right hon. Gentleman said—The key of the whole of this question was this—that in many parts of Ireland, for certain classes of offences, especially offences of an agrarian character, they could not trust to the ordinary class of jurymen doing their duty, partly from ignorance, partly from prejudice, but mainly owing to the cruel and overpowering system of terror under the National League.That is rough on hon. Members below the Gangway—They could not be sure, with the clearest evidence, of being able to get a verdict. Now he maintained that in order to uphold the arm of justice in Ireland it was not merely reasonable, but necessary, to provide some measures which could overcome that difficulty, and it might very well have been made part of the permanent law.And yet the right hon. Gentleman I suppose, when the time comes, will follow his Leader into the Lobby for repealing an Act which was not operative, and the best portion of which he was ready in 1885 to see made part of the ordinary law. Mr. Speaker, there have been arguments, and there will continue to be arguments, as to the scope of the Home Rule Bill. But, whatever may be the nature of that measure, it can have only one meaning for the people of Ulster. It means their degradation as citizens. It will place their religious freedom, purchased at a great price, at the mercy of Archbishop Walsh. It will place their civil rights, wrung from Kings, at the disposal of the most unscrupulous body of politicians that Ireland has ever produced. It will place the commerce of Ulster at the mercy of men, some of whom have converted the smiling and prosperous town of Tipperary into a howling wilderness, and who, to carry out the basest of ends, have not scrupled to lay waste and bare great tracts of country, and to turn smiling fields 'into waste and desert places. This, and much more, any form of Home 254 Rule will mean to Ulster. Fortunately, by means of the appeal to the country, the views of Ulster at least cannot now be mistaken. The issue of the Election as regards that Province cannot be doubted. You were wont to boast in the old Parliament that the Representatives of Ulster sat below the Gangway. You then had seventeen Nationalists and sixteen Unionists. You have now fourteen Nationalists and nineteen Unionists. Wherever else you have been successful you have utterly failed in that Province. You laid your plans with the greatest care. Yes; whatever kind of Home Rule the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) may be in favour of, I know the kind of Home Rule that was dangled before the people of Ulster. The words were never mentioned there. It was called a reform of local government. It was called a reform of Dublin Castle administration, and Heaven knows what except Home Rule. You baited it with agrarian socialism, you tempted the electors with remission of taxation, and you pleaded the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone)—and I am free to admit here that that name is still a power in that Province. The people in some parts of Ulster have not forgotten that they went to bed slaves one night and arose free men. You pleaded the name of the right hon. Gentleman, but behind that illustrious name there was the mantle of Archbishop Walsh, and the language of the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. Timothy Healy). This was enough for Ulster men. Whatever form the Home Rule Bill may take, this, at all events, the Imperial Parliament may rely upon—that the Province of Ulster will resist it to the death, and in the language of the chairman of that great Convention in Belfast, "Ulster will have no Home Rule."
§ SIR HENRY MEYSEY-THOMPSON (Stafford, Handsworth)
The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has been kind enough to accuse the Unionist Party of winning their victories at this Election by beer, and 255 by keeping Home Rule in the background. Now, Sir, I have the honour to inform the hon. Gentleman that, in one constituency in England at least, Home Rule was kept continually in the foreground, and with the most satisfactory results. In the constituency I represent there was a majority of nearly three thousand in support of the right hon. Member for Midlothian in 1885, but that majority has now been converted into a minority of nearly two thousand. Does the hon. Member for the Scotland Division think that a majority of three thousand could be converted into a minority of two thousand by beer alone? I have listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith), and also to the speech of the right hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and I cannot say I learned much from either of them. But this much I learned—that both these hon. Gentlemen thought that, at the first blast of the trumpet given by the hon. Member for East Fife, the walls of Jericho should fall down and the Members of the Opposition should at once walk into the citadel of office they have so long and ardently desired. And I think the House will allow that if the walls of Jericho did not fall down it was not because the hon. Member did not blow his own trumpet loud enough. After that the hon. Member for East Fife proceeded to read us a homily, not on the whole duty of man, but on the whole duty of the Unionist Party, and according to him the duty of the Unionist Party, when they are returned to Office, as they were in 1885, is to fold their arms and refuse to do anything. They were to decline to carry any of the measures which the country really cared about, as the Separatist Party alone, according to him, had the monopoly of attempting to pass beneficent legislation. Now, Sir, he passed from that to accuse the Party I belong to of political apostacy. That charge, however, does not annoy me in the least. It is a charge that can be easily replied to. If you are to be an apostate from anything it must be from something in existence, and from some article or creed of political faith. 256 Now, Sir, I assert that Home Rule had no existence as an article of the Liberal creed prior to 1886, and therefore it is perfectly impossible that anyone could apostasise from a thing that had no existence whatever. This afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian said it was moral force that brought the Irish Question into the position it now occupies. I am bound to say, as a Member of the Liberal Unionist Party, that in my opinion that is not so. I and my colleagues believe that it was motive force, and not moral force—the motive force possessed by Mr. Parnell and his followers of turning Ministries out of Office—that has effected the change. We all remember the extravagant expectations held out to us if the Home Rule Bill were passed. Crime was to cease; peace and prosperity were to prevail; the Irish were to cease from coveting each other's property; and like the conclusion of a three volume novel—only in this case it was to end with divorce instead of a wedding—everyone was to live happily ever after. But when we escaped from the glamour of the right hon. Gentleman's eloquence—when we sat down quietly to consider what was the state of the case, we soon saw that we were not in the position of a fairy godmother scattering illimitable gifts from an inexhaustible treasury, but that we were sent here as men of business to act as trustees for the best interests of England, Scotland, Wales, and, as long as the present Union lasts, of Ireland also. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) alluded to the subject himself, and he said that the financial part of the Bill was the crux of the whole affair. In not arguing that question he, perhaps, showed a wise discretion. However, I intend to allude to it myself, as it is evident from what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) said this afternoon that he has not the slightest intention to make any change in his Bill in that respect. He alluded to Clause 4 of the Local Government Bill introduced by the present Government, and I am bound to say that he did not refer to it in what we may call terms of unlimited approval. When he spoke on this 257 subject at Edinburgh in the beginning of July he said—say, in my judgment, that it was the grossest and most wanton insult ever offered by a Legislature to a people.The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) did not leave this long uncriticised, because the very next day he pointed out that the expenditure of money, to the limitation of which, by reference to the Grand Jury, the right hon. Gentleman objected so strongly, only had reference to capital expenditure. I believe the Government inserted this restraining clause entirely for the benefit of Ireland—to prevent County Councils running their counties into debt and embarrassment. If the right hon. Gentleman is so extremely anxious that County Councils in Ireland should be allowed to run into debt to the utmost of their ability, it is clear that he does not intend to leave out of his Home Rule Bill the allowance of unrestricted borrowing by the authorities in Ireland. We might have thought that Ireland was to start with a very respectable National Debt, seeing that, in the apportionment which was made in 1886, she was to have at the outset a National Debt of over forty millions. The right hon. Gentleman, in his introduction of that Bill, spoke of the credit of Ireland as being an infant. That may be so, but I cannot avoid the thought that there is considerable ground for the belief that this infant may develop into a youthful Hercules, capable of strangling with one hand the agricultural prosperity of the South and West, and with the other the commercial prosperity of Ulster and the North. On one point I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He said he thought it extremely, probable that the Irish authorities would desire to borrow money for useful purposes. I quite agree with him in that, but I go further. I say it would be absolutely necessary for the Irish authorities to borrow money, and for this reason. You would have men in office who have been for years exciting the feelings of the most ignorant of the Irish population by promises of the grand things they are to have under Home Rule. A Parliament in Ireland would, perhaps, be able to change the law, but changing the law does not put money into the 258 pockets of the people. The only way to produce a fictitious prosperity would be by borrowing large sums of money and spending them in the country. The right hon. Gentleman used the word "useful" in this connection, but the word is vague and unsatisfactory. If useful means remunerative—that is to say, that the money borrowed and expended is likely to produce a good return—then I beg to differ entirely from the right hon. Gentleman; because we know that individuals and corporations and companies borrow money and expend it on their property in the hope of increasing their income, and have often failed entirely to do so. In such cases the considerations have only been commercial, but in the case of Ireland there could be no such limit. They would have to give political considerations the first place in the determination of the expenditure of the money. I do not believe that a combination of commercial and political aims in borrowing and spending money will be likely to increase the income of Ireland in anything like so large a degree as the income would be diminished by the interest they would have to pay on the money. We must also remember that this might be aggravated by the power given to Ireland to issue Bank notes. I am quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman said they would not have the power of dealing with currency and legal tender; but a free hand as to Bank notes would render the restriction of currency a dead letter. We are all aware that it is very easy to print Bank notes and to issue them, and it is also very easy by legislation to make them legal tender; but the difficulty begins when you have to redeem the promises you made when issuing these notes, and we know, also, that these promises can only be met by a proper reserve of gold to meet the notes when they are presented. Even the Bank of England has at times difficulty in maintaining a sufficient stock of gold, and in times of panic there is always talk of suspending the Bank Act, and permitting the issue of notes in excess of the legal regulations. Suppose, in time of panic and difficulty, the Irish State Bank issued notes in excess of the amount of gold ready to redeem them, could 259 England interfere in any way? I do not think she would be able to do so. If notes fell to a discount, you would be at once landed in difficulties of the most complicated nature, because we have undertaken responsibilities in connection with our legislation in Ireland. For instance, we have deprived the landlords of the control of their property; we have made them mere rent-chargers. And having taken away the control of a man's property, you are bound to see that the rent-charge is fully paid in lawful money. But suppose that Irish notes fell to the proportion of two £1 notes being required to procure £1 gold. Then take the case of a £50 per year tenant, who to procure gold would, at this rate, have to pay £100 in notes. How would you persuade that tenant that you had not suddenly doubled his rent? And, supposing the tenant will only pay £50 in notes, I want to know who will make good the difference to the landlord? Is it to be Ireland, or is it to be England only? This is a question which undoubtedly affects England and Scotland and Wales, because there is nothing more certain than that, if Ireland gets into great financial difficulties either on account of over-borrowing or the issue of Bank notes until they go to a discount, there will immediately arise an agitation against payment of the money due annually from Ireland to England. And if financial difficulties were to go so far that we had to resume the government of Ireland, we should have to take the responsibility of Irish debts. When the Unionist Party is attacked in reference to Ireland they are quite prepared to defend themselves. In place of the scheme to be offered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, I am prepared to proceed in this matter in the old English manner of acting tentatively. I wish to see Local Government brought in somewhat on the lines of the Bill introduced this summer by the present Government, and I wish to see the Irish nation accept such a Bill. I want them to work it successfully, and to show us that they can conduct their Local Government in such a manner as to make it the model and the admiration of the world. I should like to see the Irish nation send Representatives 260 here who would be the flower of the intellect and education of the country. And I should like to see these Representatives apply themselves as energetically and as ably to the framing and carrying out of measures for the benefit of this country as they have hitherto done in obstructing them. I am quite sure if they did this that Parliament and the country would be willing to grant them much greater concessions than they will ever wring from an unwilling House and an unwilling country, especially in a House composed as this one is, where there is a strong and powerful fighting minority—strong not only in the confidence of their constituents, but also in the knowledge that the large majority of the Members and also the electors of England are strongly opposed to Home, Rule.
*MR.D.NAOROJI (Finsbury, Central)
It may be considered rather rash and unwise on my part to stand before this House so immediately after my admission here; and my only excuse is that I am under a certain necessity to do so. My election for an English constituency is a unique event. For the first time during more than a century of settled British rule an Indian is admitted into this House as a Member for an English constituency. That, as I have said, is a unique event in the history of India, and, I may also venture to say, in the history of the British Empire. I desire to say a few words in analysis of this great and wonderful phenomenon. The spirit of the British rule, the instinct of British justice and generosity, from the very commencement, when Parliament seriously took the matter of Indian policy into its hands, about the beginning of this century, decided that India was to be governed on the lines of British freedom and justice. Steps were taken without any hesitation to introduce Western education, civilisation, and political institutions in that country; and the result was that, aided by a noble and grand language, in which the youth of that country began to be educated, a great movement of political life—I may say new life—was infused into a land which had been decaying for centuries. The British rulers of the country endowed it with all their own most. 261 important privileges. A few days ago, Sir, you demanded from the Throne the privileges which belong to the people, including freedom of speech, for which they have fought and shed their blood. That freedom of speech you have given to us, and it enables Indians to stand before you and represent in clear and open language any desire they have felt. By conferring those privileges you have prepared for this final result of an Indian standing before you in this House, becoming a Member of the great Imperial Parliament of the British Empire, and being able to express his views openly and fearlessly before you. The glory and credit of this great event—by which India is thrilled from one end to the other—of the new life, the joy, the ecstasy of India at the present moment, is all your own; it is the spirit of British institutions and the love of justice and freedom in British instincts which has produced this extraordinary result, and I stand here in the name of India to thank the British people that they have made it at all possible for an Indian to occupy this position, and to speak freely in the English language of any grievance which India may be suffering under, with the conviction that, though he stand alone, with only one vote, whenever he is able to bring forward any aspiration, and is supported by just and proper reasons, he will find a large number of other Members from both sides of the House ready to support him and give him the justice he asks. This is the conviction which permeates the whole thinking and educated classes of India. It is that conviction that enables us to work on day after day, without dismay, for the removal of a grievance. The questions now being discussed before the House will come up from time to time in practical shape, and I shall then be able to express my humble views upon them as a Representative of the English constituency of Central Finsbury. I do not intend to enter into them now. Central Finsbury has earned the everlasting gratitude of the millions of India, and has made itself famous in the history of the British Empire, by electing an Indian to represent it. Its name will never be forgotten by India. 262 This event has strengthened the British power, and the loyalty and attachment of India to it, ten times more than the sending out of one hundred thousand or two hundred thousand European soldiers would have done. The moral force to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) referred is the golden link by which India is held to the British Power. So long as India is satisfied with the justice and honour of Britain so long will her Indian Empire last, and I have not the least doubt that, though our progress may be slow and we may at times meet with disappointments, if we persevere, whatever justice we ask in reason we shall get. I thank you, Sir, for allowing me to say these few words, and the House for so indulgently listening to me, and I hope that the connection between England and India—which forms five-sixths of the British Empire—may continue long with benefit to both countries. There will be certain Indian questions, principally of administration, which I shall have to lay before the House, and I am quite sure that when they are brought forward they will be fairly considered and, if reasonable, amended to our satisfaction
§ (8.30.) MR. E. H. HULSE (Salisbury)
In rising to oppose the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) I confess I have derived some benefit from hearing this Debate; but I also have had an opportunity during the recent electoral struggle throughout the country of gauging the feelings, not only of an urban constituency with agricultural surroundings, but of villages in the West of England, and of hearing and learning the main point of controversy on which the verdict of the rural constituencies was given. In our large towns, of course, foreign policy has been discussed, but I think the action of the Government has very seldom been criticised. There were but few words of controversy as to the occupation of Egypt, and as to recent troubles with Portugal. The greatest condemnation which has ever been suggested as to the action of Her Majesty's Government has been in reference to the intricate question of Maltese marriages. 263 Therefore, it seems idle to suggest that the foreign policy of the Advisers of Her Majesty during the past six years has been called in question, much less condemned. I can only trust, if the united action of the opponents of Her Majesty's Government is successful in the crucial Division which will decide the fate of the present Ministry, that, as many of our opponents have had the honesty and the courage to pay a tribute of approval and respect to the foreign policy of Her Majesty's present Advisers during the past six years, and that that policy has been so successful and has secured for Great Britain once more her rightful place in the Councils of Europe—I trust that the policy of continuity which was so gracefully and so gratefully acknowledged by Lord Salisbury, after the short change of Government in 1886, may be the ideal of the statesman who may, for a short time, perhaps, be the successor of Lord Salisbury in the conduct and control of our relations with Foreign Powers. Removing this subject of foreign policy from the sphere of Party controversy, and placing it, as I think very rightly, upon the plane of non-controversial subjects, may I be permitted to express an earnest hope that the national policy of Great Britain may ever be continuous, as it is only thereby that our foreign policy can be successful. During the recent campaign an attempt was made to draw away the consideration of the working classes from the real point at issue, as, for instance, by introducing the old cry of the cheap and the dear loaf; but, except in some of the rural constituencies, such an attempt has been a conspicuous and entire failure. In the rural districts, however, insinuations took the place of arguments, and passion and prejudice have been instilled into the minds of unappreciative and, I am afraid, in many cases uneducated voters. I do not think anyone can deny that the battle in the boroughs has been fought upon the broad issue of the Union, and that Her Majesty's present Advisers have been supported in the great centres of industry; and I believe the House realises that from the verdict of such constituencies as London, Liverpool, and Glasgow, not to mention the verdict of the Midlands, 264 it is quite clear that, so far as Home, Rule is concerned, as an abstract proposition, and on the issue of the establishment of a new and independent Parliament in Dublin the voice of the working men of England has been very distinctly and very decisively heard. What victories have been achieved, and what seats have been lost by the Party to which I have the honour to belong have been won by our opponents upon the Labour Question, and issues other than the disintegration of the Empire, of which Lord Beaconsfield warned us in such eloquent and impassioned language twelve years ago. Every country Member knows that the question of Home Rule was of no interest whatever to the working men so far as the rural population was concerned. They have not—certainly not in the West of England—decided whether they will support a Home Rule scheme when it is submitted to them, for the very simple and sufficient reason that they have not been told what it is. They do not know, and in many cases they do not care to know, and they do not understand what Home Rule is. It was pointed out to the working classes in the country districts that on general principles they should support the Liberal Party, and the grounds for that support which were offered to and accepted by the rural voter have been not political, but social—English, not Irish. The subjects which I myself have found interesting to country audiences have been, without doubt, the improvement of village life, the reform and revision of the Poor Law system, and the subject of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is so enlightened an advocate—I mean the provision of old age pensions for the poor. I am afraid that in our country districts there has been controversy of such a character as not to encourage, and certainly not to improve, political discussions in the country. We have had a very amusing speech from the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), and in face of that speech perhaps it would he only right that I should be candid enough to admit that I do not claim perfection for the Party to which I belong. Many times 265 before has this House witnessed a change of Government and a reversal of policy, but I trust that the House will hesitate before it takes, as I think, the stupendous step of reversing the Irish policy of the Government during the past six years. I hope that we may not witness a return to those dark days, and to the horrors and outrages of the years 1882, 1883, and 1884. Should we not rather prefer measures to men; should we not pursue the policy of Imperial development rather than venture upon an unknown field of internal reorganisation; should we not, to use a homely phrase, act better by leaving well alone? I am confident that many Irishmen believe that Imperial credit is essential to Irish progress and to the development and improvement of Irish industries. Left to her own resources, with dissension among her people, especially on the part of those who possess the capital and the enterprise, it would be folly to assert that the Irish national credit would be equal to, or would in any way be better than, that Imperial credit which Ireland now has the advantage of by co-partnership with Great Britain, with her vast and boundless resources. I would appeal to hon. Members opposite, before they change places with us, to consider carefully the promises they have made to their constituents. I want to know how they can support the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife before they know something more definite as to what the Irish policy of their Leaders is to be? The pledges and promises given at election times are, we have been told by a very witty and distinguished Member of the Opposition, very soon wiped out by the tears of the recording angel; but I would remind hon. Members that these promises and pledges are not forgotten in the constituencies or by earnest politicians, who perhaps have been unwilling to throw in their lot with the Liberal Unionist Party, and have contented themselves by asking their candidates to pledge themselves to support only such a scheme of Home Rule as will not lead to separation, and as will not be the 266 forerunner of the disintegration of this Empire. Over and over again we have heard that the rights of the minority will be protected, but I should like to ask what guarantees have been offered to this House that this will be done? What official suggestions have ever been made by those who desire and expect to be the responsible Ministers of the Crown for the protection of the minorities? As a very young Member of this House, I have watched very carefully the events which have occurred in Ireland during the past few years, and I do appeal most earnestly to Members who sit on the opposite side of the House, not to their political convictions, but to their personal experiences and knowledge of the great benefits accruing from the Irish policy of Her Majesty's Government during the past six years as their guide. I shall look forward with some satisfaction to going into "the cold shades of Opposition." It may, perhaps, be a little more agreeable and preferable to a young Member than constant attendance as a supporter of the Government of the day, and perhaps I may find it will be more congenial to be "in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility;" but I felt I could not record my vote upon issues so momentous and upon questions so grave without taking part in this Debate. I maintain that the attacks upon the Irish policy of Her Majesty's Government have entirely failed in the country, though, of course, the promises which have been made to the rural voters in response to the claims of labour have borne the small fruits of success which the Opposition, in the present position of affairs, now possess. I earnestly trust that in the decision which the House will give upon the point at issue it will be guided by considerations of past experience rather than by what I may fairly call chimerical promises of future gain.
(8.46.) MR.W.KENRICK (Birmingham, N.)
We are told by some of those who are prepared to face with full satisfaction the taking that leap in the dark known by the name of Home Rule that they are not going to argue with us or to endeavour to convince us 267 and that they are to use their majority, such as it is, to silence us. They are to put us down by what they call a "brute vote." We may be silenced, but we shall not be convinced, and certainly not confuted. This majority, which was described the other night by the hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) as a small but fighting majority—how was it got together, how was the slender battalion recruited? It seems to me that that is a very pertinent question. It has been raised on both sides of the House, and various explanations and interpretations suiting either Party have been given. I am inclined to inquire whether this majority of forty was really the result of a straight issue put to the people on the question of Home Rule? We all speak with the greatest authority when we speak from our own experience. Well, as regards Birmingham and the Midland Counties, I am free to confess that the issue was put fairly and squarely to the electors both by the Unionist Party and by the Unionist candidates, and what was the result of that appeal to the electors? Why, they rejected Home Rule by an enormous majority! In the Counties of Warwick, Worcester, Stafford, and Shrewsbury, thirty-five Members were sent in opposition to the policy of Home Rule, and only nine Gladstonian Members in support of it. That is, in fact, a majority of four to one condemning the policy of Home Rule. On the other side a great many questions were submitted to the electors, and it is not easy to disentangle the dominant issue. In my constituency my opponent was a Labour candidate and a Home Ruler, but he talked very little about Home Rule, though he expressed the opinion that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had been spared by Providence to settle the Irish Question. An hon. Member who supported my opponent during the Election argued persuasively that Home Rule, rightly understood, was itself a great Labour question, seeing that it would bring prosperity to Ireland; but what little evidence we have had goes to show that the influence of Home Rule, not as an 268 actual reality, but as a threatened possibility, has not been to increase the prosperity of Ireland, to give confidence to the commercial classes, or to raise the value of securities, but, on the contrary, to induce the fear that, if it came, every man who has anything to lose in Ireland would, as soon as possible, leave the country and take his capital with him. I am also bound to say that what I have observed in the South West of England confirms the statement that that which was submitted to the electors in that part of the country was the big Liberal loaf against the little Tory loaf. Out of the 465 English Members there is a majority of seventy-one against Home Rule, and there is a small majority if Scotland and Wales are added. It has been urged that we should not consider from what parts of the United Kingdom the majority comes. When we are acting as a United Assembly I admit the cogency and force of that argument, but it seems to me a different thing when the question before the House is not that of legislation for the United Kingdom, but breaking up the United Kingdom and putting the Constitution itself into the melting pot. Even if it could be shown that Home Rule Rule would be a benefit to Ireland, which I strongly disbelieve, it can be proved, at the same time, that it would be injurious and dangerous to the United Kingdom, and no cause could be of greater consequence than the security and welfare of the country at large. There are also good reasons to be derived from the strongly-marked religious and social divisions in Ireland against the proposal to grant Home Rule. The agrarian war is now happily suspended, and all reason for it has been removed by generous legislation. But it is quite possible to conceive that the war may be renewed, and that the conspiracy to drive out the landlords, who have been stigmatised as the English garrison, may be revived under a new but equally immoral aspect, and that it may have the sanction of a Parliament in Dublin. For my own part, I have always held that, so long as Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom, it has a fair claim upon the resources of the United 269 Kingdom to settle the agrarian question. But now we know that among the powers claimed by the Nationalists is that of dealing with the land. That is included in the irreducible minimum with which they will be satisfied. Besides the Land Question difficulty, we have to consider the religious, class, and race hatred in Ireland. I believe it would pass the wit of man to devise any scheme of Home Rule by what effective guarantees could be provided for the protection of the minority. Does the present political action of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and priesthood of Ireland give reason to expect toleration or moderation in the exercise of power if it should be granted to them? The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) has given most remarkable instances of the unjustifiable influence of the priesthood in recent Elections. That unjustifiable influence has existed for many years, but since the break up of the Nationalist Party there has been evidence from within the ranks of its exercise. The Dublin Daily Independent has stated that the service of priests as election agents were sought because of the undue influence they might have; and United Ireland has declared that the illiterate voters are obliged to declare, in the presence of the priests, the names of the candidates for whom they voted; that the voters were brought up in batches by clergymen, received inside by clergymen, and that they voted in their presence. The interference of clergymen in England is generally considered undesirable, and has been reprobated; but what occurs in England in that respect is but the faintest shadow of what goes on in Ireland. Even the correspondent of the Star was struck, during the candidature of Sir John Pope Hennessy, with the extent to which the parish priests in Ireland had to do with the Election, and he wrote stating that it was impossible for people living in England to imagine it. I am not, therefore, surprised that the Protestants of Ulster, and that very many Roman Catholics, are not content to trust their political liberties to agencies such as these, or that the Belfast Convention should protest against being handed over to their 270 enemies by a Parliament in Dublin, elected by such men. It was only natural that they should make a solemn appeal, which went to the hearts of Englishmen, that they should not be, deprived of the protection of the English Parliament and laws, in which they claim to have an inheritance. I believe with the late Mr. John Bright, that there is no grievance from which Ireland has ever suffered that cannot be remedied by an Imperial Parliament, and I believe, at the same time, that the minority can only be protected and justice done while England and Ireland remain under one Parliament. There' was about the speech of the hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy) a vagueness and a tenderness which suggested that the questions addressed to the Government were less spontaneous than a matter of arrangement. But in the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) tenderness was replaced by severe, nay cruel precision, which I should imagine was anything but pleasant and satisfactory to Gentlemen on this side of the House. The hon. Member for Waterford demands that Ireland shall continue to block the way, and it is clear that right hon. Gentlemen have got a severe and exacting taskmaster. We must remember that, though the hon. Member for Waterford represents but a small section of the Nationalist Party, he represents the extreme section, which in Ireland has generally won the day; and, moreover, it must be remembered that the demands he has made are the demands of the whole Party. With respect to the retention of the Irish Members, the right hon. Member for Midlothian has been to-night in his explanation as vague as he always has, been. He declared that it was a matter for after consideration, forgetting that he had previously said that the problem of retaining the Irish Members at Westminster when Home Rule was granted passed the wit of man. But the hon. Member for Waterford declared that any attempt which might be made to grant Home Rule to Ireland, and yet retain the Irish Members at Westminster, will be a conspicuous failure. The financial arrange- 271 ments of Ireland will always prove a burning question if you are to have Home Rule. Unless you have a full and adequate representation of the Irish Members at Westminster any demand which is made on the Irish people will soon come to be regarded as a tribute paid to an alien people. The hon. Member for Waterford did not intend the Glandstonian Party to continue to live in a fool's paradise, and he made it plain to them that when they cross the floor of this House they will have reached a fool's purgatory. I was never more satisfied than now to belong to the Unionist Party, which has a clear, avowed, and safe policy. The fears as to the Irish demands have been abundantly justified by this Debate. It cannot be long before a fresh appeal is made to the country, and I am pleased to think that the issue will be a clear one. The question will be whether the Home Rule Bill is to satisfy the demands of the Irish Nationalists or the prudent resolve of the English people, and I venture to think that the Bill will meet with the same fate as its predecessor.
§ (9.20.) MR. C. J. DARLING (Deptford)
I am sastisfied that the Government has taken a proper course in inviting this Debate, but, at the same time, I feel a certain amount of difficulty in voting against an Amendment proposed in the terms in which this is proposed and argued upon as it has been in this House. If one considers the two propositions; that it is well that the country should have confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers, and that this House has not confidence in the present Government, we must admit that it is well that there should be that confidence, and that to assert that the present Government possesses that confidence is to assert that which is not strictly, in all respects, accurate. But I have something further to do. I have not only to say for myself that this House has no confidence in the Government, but I have to represent a number of other people, and these people have confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers. A large number of persons, 272 with excellent means of judging, who have not been misled by beer or cheap loaves, nor by any appeal except the highest possible appeal to the highest possible intelligence, having been called upon to decide between me, who have often been reminded in this House of my manifold imperfections, and a late colleague of the right hon. Gentleman, an Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, came to the conclusion, unassisted by beer and not led away by loaves, and only moderately influenced by posters of any possible colour, that they have confidence in Her Majesty's present Advisers. Therefore, I am obliged, on their behalf, to vote that this House has confidence in them. What reasons have been given why the country should not have confidence in them? The country is not like a cynical Member of this House; it has confidence in somebody. If it has not confidence in Her Majesty's Government, in whom has it confidence? That is my difficulty. I do not know where the country has reposed its confidence. Who has confidence in those who, on Friday next, will replace Her Majesty's Government? I suppose the Russians have, I suppose the French have, and I suppose the Dutch are beginning to have some. They have confidence that we shall again see that foreign policy which we remember so well six years ago. We shall see, I have not the slightest doubt, the Russians expressing confidence in the next Government, and the highest gratification that they have taken the place of Her Majesty's present Ministers. We shall see the French, who want to occupy Egypt, expressing the highest confidence and regard for Her Majesty's Government; and we shall probably see them addressing to Ministers a proposal that they shall carry out the professions of Opposition and evacuate Egypt in favour of the French. But there is a hope that Lord Rosebery will be the Foreign Minister, and he is in sufficient accord with the foreign policy of Lord Salisbury for the country to hope he will carry it out against the policy of the right hon. Member for Newcastle and the right hon. Member for Midlothian. But the Russians and the French are not, after all, so easily 273 swayed as the sympathetic majority of this House, and they will not give their confidence until they know that the majority is going to remain some time in power. Therefore, I say, it is much better that this Debate should take place in the face of Europe, and that every foreign Ambassador and attaché should listen to it and send a note of it to his Government. What they will tell their Governments is that the Government which is going out is strong in the support of a united majority, and that the new Government is backed up by men whose support may be withdrawn on Monday next, and may be withdrawn on some matter which no Foreign Power can appreciate. It is well, therefore, that we should have had this Debate, that it may be seen that if this Government has not an absolute majority in this House, it has a far more solid amount of support than can be looked for by the Government which is coming in. There are other reasons why one would like to say a word in the course of this Debate. The hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) seems to think there is no justification for this Debate—that it is enough to take some paper like the Graphic, and, by means of a ladder or some such pictorial representation, see how many there are on one side and how many on the other. The hon. and learned Member said there was nothing to discuss. I regret to say his speech was more redolent of the forum than was appropriate in a speech addressed to this House. The indictment had been drawn, the jury had been empannelled, the Judge had taken his seat, the verdict had been arrived at, and the sentence was to immediately follow. How did he come to that conclusion? Merely by saying that there were forty or more on one side of the House than on the other. Is it, then, true to say, "La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure?" Why, only a few months ago, if we said there was a majority of sixty or so on this side of the House, we were told, particularly by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), that that was no sort of argument at all, and that the persons who had the most reason on their side generally had 274 the smallest number. And he told us that to make use of a majority was to do that which in almost any circumstances was wholly unjustified, and that the mere fact that you had a majority proved neither this nor that. Now all is changed. I have nothing to recant. I have always had the greatest respect for minorities, and the smaller they are the more I respect them. It must be so—the side of the élite can never be the largest in numbers. But I know the country is not governed on these principles. I almost wonder, however, that the country is governed on the principles it is, but I have always accepted them, because I was told that they were established by our forefathers at the, cost of their precious blood, and that, therefore, we should value them. For my own part, I have not always admired, and do not admire now, the, Constitution of this country above that of all other countries in the world. But one has to submit—and I am sure I do most cheerfully—that the majority should govern this country for a time. But one also has to admit that the, majority never governs it for very long—that the people of this country come, to the conclusion in a year or two, or three, or six at the outside, that for the majority to govern is a perfectly indefensible manner of government, and that the minority should be made into, a majority in their turn. At the present time hon. Members opposite have a majority, or something like one. The hon. and learned Member for East Fife says it is enough to say that his Party has a majority of about forty, and that no more debate is necessary. I venture to think that the Debate which has taken place shows conclusively how thoroughly unjustified that statement was. This has been an interesting and. instructive Debate, not from anything I have said, but from what I have listened to. It has been a most interesting Debate, if only to sit and listen to the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) asking questions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, and to observe the right hon. Gentleman making a long speech and not answering one of them, and going away before anyone could ask 275 him another. Now, what are we reproached with? We are reproached with having in the past done a variety of things we should not have done. The hon. and learned Member for East Fife says we have abandoned our Tory principles. That is entirely new to me as a reproach coming from a Radical, because I have always understood that we had no principles to abandon. I have always understood that whatever principles we had died when the House of Hanover came in, and since then we have lived upon other people's. What principles have we abandoned? I do not know. But whatever principles we have abandoned we can say that we have not adopted any others. We have not abandoned the principle of passing legislation for the improvement of the social well-being of the people in order to tinker with the Constitution. It is the other side that are continually and suddenly abandoning their principles, and, as to those of them who do not, the hon. Member for East Fife calls them "political apostates." Now, Mr. Speaker, we have been informed by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) that the elections in various constituencies have been won on various issues. It can hardly be in the memory of anyone that a certain issue was presented to the country with the result that every constituency voted upon it. Fun has been made of an hon. Member—not one sitting on this side of the House—because he secured his seat by subscribing to the funds of a Home for Idiots. I did not do that. I am not in the habit of providing refuges for Members of the Radical Party, and I gave no subscription, therefore, to an institution of that character. There no doubt have been elections won by this kind of promise and that kind, by a generous subscription here and there. We must not reproach these people. We admit that scarcely a single constituency is won by argument—mine is an exceptional constituency—by pure dry argument about matters of interest to politicians. This Election was won by various means, and I do not know that it was won by worse means than any other. At all events, if it were won by unworthy means, we did not win 276 it, and therefore we have reason to be satisfied. But I was rather struck not with the instances given by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool as to the seductive influence of beer, because I do not appreciate the charms which that liquid has—but I was rather struck with the instances given by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), who showed that election after election was won in Ireland by the interference—the improper and the unworthy interference—of the Roman Catholic priests. I was somewhat struck by those instances, and I supposed after that allegation someone who knows them would have got up and defended them against that attack. But no, absolute silence has been maintained. There were the instances given of the Pastoral published by the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland, of cases of interference in the elections at the polling booths, and of the priests getting themselves adopted as personation agents, all the cases of interference being given as following after the publication of the Pastoral; and after hearing this I was not surprised that the hon. and learned Member for East Fife should have said Roma locuta est. When I read the result of the county elections I said, Bos locutus est. But the hon. and learned Member has let the House into the secret. Roma locuta est—the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland have spoken, the priests have acted, and the case was finished. Now hon. Members understand out of the mouths of the junior Members of the Radical Party, precisely to whom to attribute the victory that Party has won. I hope the Presbyterian constituents of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife will like the result, which is that every question that does not interest Roma is to be put on one side. I do not fancy the people of this country, and particularly the people of London, are going to be content with the reception which has been given to matters which interest them since this Parliament met a few days ago. Having just gone through an election, I do not want to give my personal experiences of what the people of London expect—I say I do not want to give my personal experiences, 277 because the experiences of no man interest anybody else, although few people realise that. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must know perfectly well that the matters about which they talked on the platform, and which got them support and a cheer and a vote, were not high-flown speeches and Constitutional discussions concerning Home Rule. They were questions as to what the Government would do after it got into power for the people of England, what legislation the Government would pass to make them happier and richer, to give them more employment and more amusement as well. Does anyone suppose that there is amongst the people of England the wild enthusiasm which characterises this House as to whether the Irish Members are to stop here or not? I do not believe a Parliamentary candidate would get an extra vote by declaring to his constituents that he was prepared to allow the Irish Members to sit at Westminster as well as having a Parliament of their own in Dublin. Constituents of Gentlemen opposite will ask them when they go back, Have you even discussed the Eight Hours Bill, OF One Man One Vote Have you discussed the question of taking away from Ireland the over-representation it has got? Have you tried to satisfy the Welsh? They will only be able to answer that they have resolved to give Ireland a Parliament, and to have the Irish Members here as well. How, the people will ask, did the Parliament in its first meeting show its sympathy with the demands of the English people? Did not the Labour Members instantly make a great figure in the Debate? Why are the tribunes of Hyde Park dumb? How is it that the men who have been leading the people almost to riot have not said a word? The people will merely be told that it was not convenient to the Irish Party that a word should be said. We heard to-day that pathetic remark of the right hon. Member for Midlothian that he intended to devote the remainder of his public life to Ireland. I do not mean to imply any reproach, or that there is anything ignoble in it. Ireland is fortunate beyond its deserts, but I think the result will be the disappoint- 278 ment of the democracy of England, or of Britain, if you like that better. What have they done that all his interest in them should cease? There are other questions quite as important as Ireland, and he has deserted the English people. His sole link with public life is Ireland, and when that work is accomplished there is no more interest for him in public affairs. There is no power left in the Liberal Party to do anything except pass Home Rule, and there is no feeling of enthusiasm on the part of the English people for Home Rule, except that it might be quickly got out of the way and English questions might be considered. It is well that we should have had this Debate, if only for that sentence, that the people may know that the result of this Election has been to bring back into power the Irish Party, which has prevented legislation for England during the whole time that the right hon. Member for Midlothian was last in Office. The hon. Member for Waterford enjoyed reading to the House that fable about Sinbad and the Old Man of the Sea. I wonder he does not pursue his researches a little further into the Arabian Nights, and study another legend about the doings of an ancient woodcutter and forty other persons. I congratulate the Irish Members on the share they have had in this Debate, for whatever service they have done to their own country it is certain they have done no little service to ours.
§ (10.3.) MR. TIMOTHY HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
I do not know that the House has ever listened to a speech of the same length with less meaning, less point, and less wit, laboured though it was, than that of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. We have in this Debate a purpose more grave than that to which he has directed the attention of the House. He has endeavoured to call attention to some of the questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond); but those questions were not put with the intention of assisting the Party to which the 279 hon. Gentleman belongs. From us they deserve no sympathy; they are entitled to no gratitude; and any questions we have found it necessary to put we have put in the discharge of our duty to our constituents. When a chance of uniting the two peoples is presented to this House, the mischievous speeches of some Members, and some political intriguers outside, deprive Parliament of the opportunity. In the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), so far as he is personally concerned, we have the assurance that there is no breaking away from the promises that have been made and the hopes which have been held out to the Irish people, and that he will endeavour, as far as lies in his power, to settle the Irish Question. I wish to address myself rather to his followers who wish to remove the idea, settled for years in the minds of the English people, that English legislation is not to be proceeded with till the Irish Question is cleared out of the way. Any doubts that have been raised in Ireland as to the future policy of the Liberal Party are the result of speeches made in England and of writings in England, and not of anything said by any Member of the extreme section of the Irish Party. There are one or two points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman which I am bound to say will cause a feeling of uneasiness and dissatisfaction in Ireland. Our duty on this subject is to be frank. We have no desire to aid Gentlemen on the other side of the House, but our position, while of any service to Ireland, has been one of complete independence on both sides. While we desire to throw out men who have shown themselves incapable of appreciating the feelings and difficulties of Ireland, it is our duty at the same time to warn those who may assume Office—though we have no desire to embarrass them—that there are questions in Ireland to which they will have immediately to direct their attention, unless they wish to give their opponents an opportunity of creating embarrassments an d difficulties. I was sorry the right hon. Gentleman dismissed the question of the evicted tenants with so few words. That question is to us of the very first import- 280 ance, and it is one which it will be impossible for the Liberal Party to neglect. The present position of these tenants and the hopes held out to them compel the Liberal Party to take the earliest opportunity of endeavouring to come to their relief. On that question all sections of the Irish representation on this side are united, and this difficulty is the first which will present itself to the Liberal Party in the government of Ireland; and to postpone the question, when an Autumn Session might be held, and an easy settlement arrived at, will give the landlords a chance of gathering strength to make the position more embarrassing, and to increase the number of "planters," and is the most foolish policy the Party can adopt. These tenants, by their sacrifices and struggles in 1886–7, won the Land Act of 1887 from a Government which had no sympathy with Irish sufferings. Their position is precisely the same as that of those who. were relieved by the Act of 1881, and we ask on their behalf, not that you should amend the Act of 1881 or go beyond the Act of 1887, but that the men who fought for the Act of 1887 should be allowed to participate in its benefits. I see no difficulty in the way of the Liberal Party taking up the question immediately. The question of the number of "planters" is a bogey raised by the Conservative Party, and it is a perfectly absurd and ridiculous question. In only a very few instances "planters," who were offered exceptional terms, from whom no rent was taken, and some of whom were actually paid, were induced to take evicted farms, but they have no intention of taking up a permanent abode among people who would be hostile to them for generations. It is absurd to say that some wise provision to compensate these men for the time they have lost might not be combined with some scheme which would enable the old tenants to purchase their holdings. Such an Act would not occupy much time, and if the Liberal Leaders are wise in their generation, and know how this question is burnt into the Irish heart, they will take the opportunity of immediately turning their attention to it. There was another 281 point which will cause a sense of disappointment. It is hard on occasions of this kind to press one in the position of the right hon. Gentleman for full and frank statements as if in Office; and though we cannot forget how much we owe to his wonderful energy and unselfishness, we also remember the doctrine he has taught, that if we are to accomplish anything for our country it is by perfect independence of him and every other Party in this House. The statement he has made in respect to the review of the sentences of political prisoners is not calculated to give satisfaction, but is likely to create a feeling of discomfort and trouble in the future. I am always amazed at the manner in which English Members treat this question of amnesty. If you look hack at the history of Ireland you will find that every agitation has had its root in the desire for amnesty. You allowed that desire to gather force until by its pressure on the House it was bound to be recognised and action taken upon it, but before that time it had laid the foundations of a new agitation and a new difficulty. That is the position in which you stand with regard to the question to-day. We have no sympathy with the objects of these men, and no excuse for those who were guilty; but if you say that every two or three years long sentences shall be reviewed, you are holding out hopes and giving an opportunity to men who wish to create a fresh difficulty in the government of Ireland. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and those who are likely to co-operate with him not to be regulated by the conduct of past Governments in this matter, but to take a broad and generous view of the question, and, as they are endeavouring to allay national feeling in Ireland and to repair the disasters of the past, to seize this golden opportunity of blotting out every shred of groundwork for agitation in future in connection with political prisoners. If the Liberal Party are wise, they will take the opportunity of dealing with these two questions, if not by legislation in the autumn, by promises so definite and clear that they will leave no uncertainty in the mind of 282 Ireland as to what the policy of the Government will be. There is nothing difficult or impossible to a Liberal Government in making a just settlement of the case of the evicted tenants.
§ (10.20.) COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I should not have ventured to intervene in this Debate but for the fact that the Irish Question is apparently the pivot on which Imperial policy turns; and, speaking as I do in the name of perhaps the most powerful section of the Irish people, I feel it my duty, on their behalf, to say a word on an occasion which I believe will be always of historical interest. The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down appeared to imagine that some sympathy was felt on this side of the House for him and his friends. I assure him that is a mistake. The so-called Nationalist Party in Ireland is now divided, I believe, into two sections. We have no sympathy with either; we equally dislike them both, and if ever the opportunity should occur of overturning them both we should take it. The speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian and of the hon. and learned Member for Fife appeared to me to be constructed on similar lines. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian and the hon. and learned Member for Fife both appeared to take exception to the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government in consenting to meet Parliament and to challenge a Vote of Confidence; but both these Gentlemen appear to forget or to overlook this fact, that almost up to the present moment they were absolutely in the dark as to whether they possessed a majority in this House or not. They knew the moment the elections were over that they did not possess a British majority; because it is a fact which cannot be denied that if the votes over Great Britain were taken the Unionist Party would still be in a majority; and therefore it altogether depended on the course that would be pursued by hon. Gentlemen from 283 Ireland below the Gangway. Now, the support of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway is an inconstant quantity. It is very hard to calculate from day to day or from month to month on which side they will vote—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian desires to get their support, and when I listened to his speech I wondered very much what effect that would have on the Irish Nationalist Party. The first part of his speech does not, I think, require any comment. The only part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman which can, I think, be of any interest to the House was that part of it which dealt with the Irish Question, and what he proposed to do with the Irish Question when his hypothetical Government came into power. What did he say? That part of his speech, I think, was quite touching. He said that the Irish Question was the last link that bound him to public life. He said he intended to devote the remainder of his life to carrying to a satisfactory conclusion the great Irish problem. He intends to bring in, he said, a Home Rule Bill. What that Home Rule Bill is to be we do not know. He gave no inkling to the House of any kind or description of its main principles. But he proposes to bring in a Home Rule Bill, and he says he will carry it through the House of Commons. I suppose he possibly may; perhaps he may not. I look upon it as extremely problematical; but even if he did carry it through the House of Commons, he says he then proposes to send the Bill to the House of Lords. And then the accents of the right hon. Gentleman became tragic in the extreme. He did not intend, he told the House, to act as Lord Melbourne did. But he intended to send the Bill up to the House of Lords; he made certain threatening allusions, I think, to what might take place in that august Assembly, should they reject that measure. He did not tell us exactly what he would do; but he said what shall be the course that the Liberal Party shall pursue in case the House of Lords rejects the Home Rule Bill? We listened with bated breath to hear what course the right hon. Gentleman and his Party would pursue. 284 There may have been Members of that august Assembly listening within these walls to what it was that he intended to do. "We do not intend to resign." If any Member of that august Assembly happened to be within these walls, I am sure they felt much relieved that they did not intend to resign; but he hesitated to go on with those legislative projects which he developed at Newcastle. What then was to happen to the Home Rule Bill he did not inform the House. I wondered what the hon. Member for Waterford thought of it all. As to the other Gentlemen from Ireland who do not belong to the Party of the hon. Gentleman, I do not think it much matters what they think; they are not their own masters. There was a time when a tragic figure used to rise on those Benches opposite and direct the movements of the Home Rule Party. Mr. Parnell at that time was master of the Nationalist situation. But the figure that directs and guides seventy at least, or seventy-one, I think, of hon. Members from Ireland does not sit in this House. He is an Irish priest who lives in Dublin, and it is not a question of what hon. Members below the Gangway think, or what they intend to do with regard to an Irish measure. The question is what Archbishop Walsh intends to do. So that we have now the Nationalist Party divided under two heads—we have the Redmondite-Parnellites and the Walshites. This, I think, differentiates the present condition of affairs from all preceding circumstances that have occurred in our Parliamentary history. We had O'Connell and his brass band, who had the power of turning out the Government in his day; but he was a Member of the House of Commons and could be dealt with here. Then we had Mr. Parnell, who had absolute authority over almost the lives of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He could starve them out if he liked. If so, the House of Commons could deal with him. But now we have seventy Members of the House of Commons returned absolutely by an Irish priest and his acolytes in Ireland—("No!")—absolutely dependent upon him for their election.("No, no!") It is all very well for hon. Members to say 285 "No." They would not say "No" in Ireland. We cannot deal in the House of Commons with the reverend gentleman; and the question we have now got to ask is, not what the Leader of the House of Commons intends to do with his majority; the whole question depends upon what Archbishop Walsh indends to do. I defy contradiction. ("No, no!") I do not care for "No, no!" I require proof. What is the opinion of Roman Catholics on the subject. This is the opinion of a Roman Catholic newspaper, edited by a Roman Catholic, which I think worthy of being read to the House. It simply recites what occurred at an Irish election, and this is what this Roman Catholic paper says on the subject—When priests leave their congregations without Mass on Sunday and lead them instead to a political meeting; when a priest rides at the head of his congregation armed with a hunting crop, and finding himself in a position of strength attacks his neighbours who differ from him in politics: when punishment in this life and in the next' is openly proclaimed as the consequence of voting for the Parnellite candidate, it is no wonder that an ignorant constituency can carry everything their own way. This is what happened in East Mayo, and in many other constituencies. We know very well by what means the melancholy humbug has been returned.The "melancholy humbug" may be the hon. Member for East Mayo.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
The Independent. (Laughter.) I understood that was a Roman Catholic paper. When I listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife, it struck me that the hon. and learned Member had overlooked the peculiar nature of the majority by which he hoped to obtain a seat on the Treasury Bench. The hon. and learned Member did not appear to me to take a just view of the value of the great questions of the day. He seemed to have in his mind but one question, which obscured and dwarfed all the rest. Unionist Members, whether Irish, English, Scotch, or Welsh, look 286 upon Home Rule as the most important question of the day; but in the mind of the hon. and learned Member the question of supreme importance is that right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench should get out, and that he should get in. The hon. and learned Member asked what right had anyone to say that the majority by which he and his friends hoped to get into power was more an Irish than a Scotch or a Welsh majority. It is very easy to show that it is an Irish majority. It has already been shown by some of his own friends. The forty men whose votes will decide on Thursday who are to sit on the Treasury Bench are Irishmen, and it is because of that fact that we have a right to say that the majority is an Irish majority. The hon. and learned Member made a mistake if he thought he was dependent on those old-fashioned Liberal majorities which existed in former times. He is sitting on the very lips of an Irish volcano. Indications have been given that an explosion may not be very far distant, and that explosion will perform the same fate for the hon. and learned Member that it is to perform for the Unionist Government on Thursday. Is it to be believed that the British people, when they realise that the Government of this country is to be carried on, not by a Party dependent on free British support, but by a Government whose foundation is based solely on the will of an Irish priest and his followers, will be satisfied to allow such a state of things to continue? It cannot be believed, especially as the objects which the English and the Scotch and the Welsh people most desire are to be put aside, and the whole energy of the Party is to be devoted to carrying a Home Rule Bill, the rejection of which by the House of Lords is not to cause the resignation of the Government. Such a policy is not one which will satisfy a freedom-loving people. On behalf of those whom I represent, I say that events have absolutely justified the stand we have made against Home Rule. We have all along said that the prevailing power in Ireland is the power of the Church of Rome. It is impossible to 287 conceive, in the nineteenth century, in this civilised country, the hold the Church of Rome has over the Irish people. Bishop Nulty, a distinguished Prelate of that Church, in a charge he delivered, divided the Home Rule Party into two sections. There are the seventy sheep who accepted the voice of the shepherd, who take not only their religion but their politics as well from the priests of their Church; and there are the Pagans, the followers of the hon. Member for Waterford. The question is whether the Pagans or the sheep of the Church of Rome are to prevail. Those whom I represent absolutely refuse to accept the rule of either one or the other. I must say that it is hard to conceive how any Radical Member of this House can consent, even for a moment, to follow either one or the other of those bodies. Who could have conceived the possibility of the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) going to Canossa and consenting to sit on the Treasury Bench, at the will, and by the authority, of a priest of the Church of Rome? And yet that will be the right hon. Gentleman's position on Thursday. It was impossible, before this Debate took place, to conceive that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, with his historic past, would have consented to terminate a great and successful life amid a scene of unparalleled political degradation. No degradation, to the mind of an Englishman or a Briton, could be more odious or disgraceful than that which will be entailed by sitting on the Treasury Bench by the will and by the authority of an Irish Roman Catholic priest. The fact is that Archbishop Walsh will be the chief Member of the Cabinet. I do not know to what extent he will deem it right to intervene in foreign affairs; but, so far as the Irish Question is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian will be absolutely tied to the cassock of this Irish Prelate. I do not admire the political principles of the right hon. Gentleman; but to me it is a sad thing to see, at the end of his great and successful life, an old, and, in many ways, a noble Englishman, dragged at 288 the chariot wheels of the most bigoted priesthood that has ever existed in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman may carry the Home Rule Bill by the aid of a majority of this House; but there is another obstacle that will have to be encountered besides the House of Lords, and that is the loyal people of Ireland, who are determined to reject it. The right hon. Gentleman has said that all this talk about the resistance to the measure by the loyalists of Ulster is mere idle wind, but hon. Members from Ireland know what that resistance means. But no one who has observed the course of recent events can deny the enormous effect which has been produced, especially in Scotland, by what has recently taken place in Ireland. (Laughter.) You may laugh at me. No words in the English language can express my utter indifference to whether you do so or not. But no man who came over to Belfast would laugh at the twelve thousand Ulster loyalists who represented the backbone and the sinew of that country; and I say that, whether the House of Lords rejects this Bill or does not, we reject it, and that although you may occupy the House of Commons in years to come with academic Debates upon the value of this Home Rule Bill, when all is said, and even if you pass this Bill, I say, in the name of my people, we will reject it.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
No man has a better right to say that than I. I say, in their name, that we will reject it; and that if you ever try to erect it in Ireland we will crumble it into dust.
§ (10.53.) MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
The last Parliament had become so accustomed to the speeches of the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down that it was never considered necessary to seriously notice them. The boast of the hon. Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), that he and his friends would resist the Home Rule Bill if 289 passed by Parliament and sanctioned by the Queen, is a boast so absurd, to anybody who has had acquaintance, as I have had for many years, with the Province of Ulster, that it is hardly worth noticing at all. The hon. and gallant Member spoke, with considerable effect to his Orange friends around him, of the interference of certain priests in Irish affairs. He said that the Irish Home Rule Party was controlled by Archbishop Walsh. Well, I can assure hon. Members upon both sides of this House—and the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, I think, will admit in common fairness the truth of what I say—that there are at least a number of Members in this House representing Irish constituencies—Nationalists to the heart's core, who fought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian when he opposed the National demand, who suffered in prison under him and under the present Government, who fought for years the present Government and every Government, and who are as attached to the Nationalist cause in Ireland as any man in this House can claim to be—who, I say without fear of contradiction, are quite as determined that an Irish Parliament, when assembled in Dublin, shall be as free from undue interference by the Church of Rome as we are resolved that it shall be free from the undue interference of this House and of this country. The hon. Member for North Armagh and his friends have for many years past used with very great effect against Home Rule the arguments which he has used once more to-night. He has endeavoured to frighten the people of this country into the belief that, when an Irish Parliament is established in Ireland by this House, it would be controlled by the Catholic clergy of Ireland, and that the Catholic Church would probably be placed in an ascendant position to the disadvantage of the Protestants, Presbyterians, and the various other sects in Ireland. That argument has had the greatest possible effect in many parts of this country. I myself know hon. Members, sonic of whom are sitting on these Benches, representing English constituencies, who have discussed this 290 argument with me on occasions when I have visited parts of England to address English meetings; and I know, from having spoken in England and in Scotland, that one of the most powerful motives operating in the minds of some of the men wavering on the Home Rule Question is the very motive put by the hon. Member and his friends—that an Irish Parliament would be controlled by the Catholic clergy. It is true that the Members of the Party with which I am associated in this House are not very many in numbers; but I may re-assure English and Scotch Members that though we are few in numbers we represent, according to the last Election, 70,000 determined Nationalists in every portion of Ireland, each of whom declared by his vote his dissatisfaction with the present government of Ireland, and his determination not to be satisfied till a National Parliament of the Irish people was set up; but every one of these 70,000 men also voted to show you English and Scotch Members that even Irish Catholic Nationalists can be as independent of influence unduly exercised by Catholic priests as Scotchmen and Englishmen themselves would be. Therefore I say, in view of this fact, and of the agitation of the last two years in Ireland against the undue interference of priests wherever it was exercised, that the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh cannot with effect use his argument about priestly domination and dictation; and, so far from getting an argument from recent events in Ireland calculated to uphold the declaration of the hon. and gallant Member, there is not a thinking Scotchman or Englishman in this House or in the country who will not believe that an Irish Parliament will be as free and independent as any other Parliament, and that the Irish people will as independently exercise their opinions. The collapse of the Tory Party at the present time must be great indeed when they are driven to such a last resource as to put up the hon. and gallant Member to try to keep themselves in power by frightening hon. Members on these Benches with the bogey that if Home Rule be passed Ulster will go into 291 civil war. I had the advantage for seven years of being an Ulster Member. I know the people pretty well. They are, in my opinion, the most likely people on the face of the earth to repel any invasion of, and to fight to the bitter end, for their rights and privileges, religious or civil. They would throw aside their ploughs and spades and fight to the end; but I am equally certain that there is no people on the face of the earth who would be so slow to enter into a rebellious movement, who would be so slow to give up their ordinary duties for agitation or civil war, as the Ulster people, so long as they are left alone and their rights are not invaded. And when the Irish Parliament is established, and when those hard-headed and quick-witted Northern men—industrious, sober people as they are—find that their Catholic fellow-countrymen in Ireland are independent men, and that they are not inclined to interfere with the religious or civil liberty of any people or section in Ireland, and when they find that through the Dublin Parliament justice, equality, and fair-play are meted out to the North as well as to the South, I predict that in a very short time indeed the people of Ulster will be the strongest supporters and the staunchest upholders of the Irish Government and the Irish Parliament. Those who are so suspicious now will be re-assured, and they will not for a moment think of leaving the Parliament of their native country and of giving up their industrial lives in order to follow the standard of the hon. Member for North Armagh and to draw the sword upon their fellow-countrymen, who are as much interested in the welfare of Ireland as they are. I do beseech Members on this side for Scotland and England, and especially those who were not in the last Parliament, when they enter upon the consideration of the Home Rule Question, not for one single moment to allow themselves to be alarmed or betrayed from giving a hearty support to Home Rule by any speeches such as that of the hon. and gallant Member; and when they are told about priestly dictation, and it is said that an Irish Parliament 292 would be controlled by Archbishop Walsh, I beg them to remember that the heart of Ireland, the capital of Ireland, the place which will be the seat of the new Government, the great city of Dublin, is at the present moment represented by men who were, unfortunately, we regret it, opposed by Archbishop Walsh and by the priests of the district, but who, nevertheless, although Catholics themselves, considered it their duty, as independent men in politics, to take their own course, though they might be so opposed. I am a Catholic myself. I appreciate with sadness the tone adopted by the hon. and gallant Member. I know there is a section of the people in the North of Ireland who, unfortunately, for Party purposes, are not above attempting to re-light that hateful feeling of bigotry which existed between Catholics and Protestants. That is a hateful and loathsome attempt, in the opinion not only of the Catholics of Ireland, but of nine-tenths of the coreligionists of hon. Members opposite. The best answer that can be given to the argument of the hon. and gallant Member is the conduct of Irishmen like my few colleagues and myself, who are devoted to our religion, who hate Orange ascendancy, but who are determined that the Protestants in the North of Ireland as well as the Protestants in England and Scotland shall see that while we are Roman Catholics in our religion we are not bound to, and will not, take in any degree our political teaching as well as our religious teaching from the Church of Rome. I would not have referred to the hon. and gallant Member at this length but for the fact that there are a number of new Members in the House. He usually comes into a Debate in the way that a farce is included in a theatre bill when the leading item is a tragedy or a serious play, and it may be well to point out to new Members that though he is warlike to the last degree in appearance; that though he declaims with his hand up-raised in the manner of a general ordering his victorious troops to charge; in spite of these terrible appearances he is really perfectly harmless. I am not sorry that the Government have given the opportunity of 293 introducing this Debate, and I should like to say, as did the hon. Member for Dublin Harbour (Mr. Harrington), that I have no desire to speak in terms of bitterness of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. I recognise, as most Irishmen do, that he has done much for our country, and I think very few people heard his declaration to-night without being affected by it. I have never had any feeling with regard to the right hon. Gentleman but a desire to help him, and the only regret in connection with his whole career is that he did not allow us without interference to select our own Leader, without regard to the high standard of English morality. I admit that his tone on the subject of Home Rule was encouraging to some extent; but there will be a considerable amount of dissatisfaction in certain portions of Ireland that the right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to be more explicit. There are several subjects which might have been dealt with—the subject of the Coercion Act, the political prisoners, and the evicted tenants. I have not gathered that there is any intention to repeal the Coercion Act. At present it is suspended, but the people of Ireland wish to have that Act wiped off the Statute Book. The right hon. Gentleman will have a majority of forty, principally composed of Irish Members, and he could, without much trouble, sweep away the infamous Act which has caused so much misery. Then, with regard to the political prisoners, I was not satisfied with the declaration on that subject. Is their cause to be considered or not? If it is not thought advisable to declare that they will be released, it should be made known that there will be an immediate inquiry. It is not right, and Ireland will not be satisfied if there is no declaration on this subject, and the House ought not to rise before some pronouncement has been made. To people who are suffering it is a long look out till next February. It may appear a short time to hon. Members who are going to holiday resorts and to their amusements, but it is a long while for the wives and families of these men, about whose conviction I should say there is grave doubt. There is nothing 294 unfair in our demand, and I think the right hon. Member for Midlothian ought to send the message of hope to Ireland that an inquiry shall take place. With respect to the evicted tenants, I say very much the same thing, and unless we have an explicit declaration as to what will be done there will be great disappointment and discontent in Ireland. The longer the question is delayed the more difficult it will be to deal with, and I beg the incoming Government to re-consider their decision not to have an Autumn Session. In the name of mercy let us meet in November to endeavour to do something for these evicted tenants. Further, the Irish people require the Home Rule Question to be dealt with honestly, fairly, and persistently by the Liberal Party; they will require an investigation into the case of the political prisoners; they will require an immediate dealing with the question of the evicted tenants; and they will require that that stigma and insult, the Coercion Act, shall be repealed on the first possible opportunity. I am going to give my vote to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian and his colleagues. But I must be allowed to say that I came into this House under the leadership and inspired by the teaching of the late Mr. Parnell. His teaching was that the Irish Members should be absolutely independent of all English Parties; that we should vote for whichever Party did most for us; and that we should vote against the Party which had done the least for us. I say I am going to vote against the present Government, because for six years they have tyrannised over the Irish people, persecuted them, imprisoned them, and they have attempted to degrade them and drive them from their native land. I am quite impartial, because I have had the honour of suffering imprisonment for considerable periods under both the Tory and Liberal Parties, but I shall vote for hon. Gentlemen I see below me now, because I have faith in them. I have faith in the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). I have never heard him in this House say anything except that which was for the benefit of Ireland. He never was a Coercionist, and 295 he has always been a friend of Ireland, at least so the men I know best in Ireland regard him. Because of my strong belief in him, and because I believe you cannot put much worse men in Office than are now there—I do not say this in any insulting spirit—I am going to give my vote to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. I think it only fair and reasonable to give him the opportunity of doing what he has pledged himself to do. If the right hon. Gentleman is not able to deal with the various matters brought before him as we expect he will, we can only have recourse to the methods taught us by Mr. Parnell—of standing quite independent of each English Party; and so as we vote against the Tories to-day, if the Liberals do not come up to our expectations it will certainly be our duty to vote against them to-morrow.
§ (11.24.) MR. J. ROSS (Londonderry)
The course of this Debate is being followed by the people of Ulster with intense anxiety, which will not be diminished, but intensified into alarm, when they come to-morrow morning to read the speech which has been delivered this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. But before I say one word with regard to that remarkable utterance—remarkable not merely for what it contained, but remarkable also for what it did not contain—I have one word to say with regard to the people of Ulster on the main question. Whether Ulster's destiny may be as dark as many of us fear, or whether we may survive that destiny—whatever our fate, we wish it to be known that our gratitude to the present Government is imperishable, and that our confidence in them remains undiminished. We know the facts connected with Ireland of our own knowledge. It is not second-hand knowledge. We have not derived it from the election van or from the magic lantern. We have heard with our ears, and seen with our eyes, and we know that six years ago we lived in a country stormed by anarchic forces, where life and property were insecure, and conspiracy was in full force, 296 which had for its object the paralysation of the law; and we know that through the action of the present Government the forces of anarchy have been defeated; we know that conspiracy has been broken up, and that it is owing to the present Government we have been able to live for six years in a civilised country. Well, Sir, the time has come when the Government to which we owe so much is to be replaced by another. I listened with the greatest possible anxiety to the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon to learn what assurances he would give to the people of Ulster, and I heard not even an allusion to them from the beginning to the end. On the contrary, there was an omission from the right hon. Gentleman's speech of an extraordinary character. In the course of the Debate last evening the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) made a startling and extraordinary demand on behalf of the people of Ireland. He demanded that the Imperial control of which we heard so much during the General Election was to be a sham. He demanded that the only veto should be subject to the advice of Irish Ministers, and if that is to be the statutory Constitution which is to be granted to the Irish people then the worst fears of Ulster are realised. Though hon. Members who sit under the Leadership of the hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy) were appealed to again and again to say if they had any other expectations, they were silent. Not one of them said he expected or would accept anything less. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian rose in his place to-day we all watched with anxiety to hear how he would deal with that important matter, and the right hon. Gentleman never said one word on the question. The silence of the right hon. Gentleman under circumstances such as these constitute a subject of the gravest anxiety to us. We are told there are five thousand evicted tenants in Ireland, and that the Irish Party expect that the first act of the Liberal Government will be to re-instate those tenants in their holdings. Well, Sir, how is that dealt with by the right hon. 297 Gentleman the Member for Midlothian? He did not deal with it directly, but he uttered an ominous threat, and insinuated that it would be well for the landlords of the farms to make some terms with those evicted tenants in the autumn. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that several of the "planters," especially on the Luggacurran estate, have bought their estates out, and that the landlords have nothing to do with them? How does he intend to deal with cases where men have settled on the land and bought it under an Act of Parliament? The next demand made on the right hon. Gentleman was that he would institute some inquiry into the case of certain prisoners; but I confess that I was quite unable to ascertain what the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman was. The third question of the hon. Member for North Longford was that the Crimes Act of 1887 should be suspended immediately a Liberal Government came in. The hon. Member seemed to forget that in consequence of the suspension of the disease the remedy had been suspended, but he seemed to contemplate that the disease is to begin again, notwithstanding that the remedy is to be suspended. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had uttered several predictions with respect to the administration of the Crimes Act. We were told that the gaols would be full of people; that freedom would disappear; that crime would be driven under the surface only to re-appear in frightful explosions. What has become of all those prophecies? They have been consigned to the limbo of the unfulfilled. There was another subject on which I should have liked to have heard the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. The Plan of Campaign is an article of faith with the Irish Members. How does the right hon. Gentleman intend to deal with it? If it were right a few winters ago it is right now. Will he deal with it as a criminal conspiracy, or will he back it up? The Chancellor of the Exchequer remarked that the right hon. Gentleman has an extraordinary knack of giving a mild name to a very strong thing. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Plan of Campaign was "a symptom," but he used no other word to connote it. But hon. 298 Members opposite have encouraged the Plan of Campaign by their words, and very often by their presence. If the Plan of Campaign make its appearance this winter how is the Irish Executive going to deal with it? We are told that they will deal with it according to the sympathies of the Irish people. In that case the Criminal Law will be absolutely unenforced. In the course of this Debate I have heard no criticism on any other subject than that of Ireland, and it is said that the present Government is to go out of Office simply because it has failed to satisfy the aspirations of the Irish people. I should like to know what Government ever will satisfy those aspirations? You might cast your name and fame and wealth into the bottomless pit of their aspirations; you will then be the poorer, but the Irish people will be no richer. But there is another Ireland which has aspirations also—aspirations to live in peace and on equality with their fellow-subjects, to enjoy the rights of free men, and not to be under the thraldom of an ecclesiastical despotism. That Irish nation is bound to you by the most sacred of all contracts. They have been planted by England on the soil, they have spent their resources in improving and cultivating it, and they have lived there in the faith that this great nation would never be false to its traditions and cast them off for the sake of making friends with those who were their foes. The right hon. Gentleman once blamed the people of the North of Ireland for not having spoken out when the conduct of the Representatives of the other parts of Ireland called for condemnation. The right hon. Gentleman cannot blame us now. We have indicated our views to you in no uncertain way. We have assembled our delegates in tens of thousands and our people in hundreds of thousands. We have held our own seats and we have assaulted and captured other seats in Ireland, and we have driven out of Ulster some of the leaders of the Party opposed to us. I do not know what may have been the means by which the elections in England were won, but I know the means by which the elections in Ireland were won, and I imagine the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. 299 O'Connor) was unfortunate in alluding to the means by which the elections in this country were won, because he gave the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) an opportunity, of which he availed himself to the full, to show the gross means which were made use of in Ireland. In the North of Ireland candidates came professing to be of the same faith as the people, and availing themselves of the great name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, and they put the Home Rule Bill in the background; but notwithstanding all their arts their policy was rejected, and they themselves failed in making any impression upon the Ulster seats. If the verdict were won in the same way in England as it was won in Ireland, it was not a verdict on the merits, but a verdict won by fraud, and as such it should be set aside. The people of Ulster want to know in what way the right hon. Member for Midlothian proposes to deal with them. Are we simply to be told that our fears are absolutely groundless? I think we, the people of Ulster, ought to be able better than anybody else to form some estimate of the dangers to which we are exposed. But our case is made light of and laughed at, and the people of England are called upon to adopt a generous policy. I say, if England wants to be generous, let her be generous at her own expense, and not indulge her generosity at the expense of the lives and property of the people she is bound in honour to stand by. Instead of bringing peace to Ireland you are bringing a sword, you are inflicting a wrong that will be transmitted to our children, and instead of removing the Irish difficulty you are doing all that in you lies to make the Irish difficulty eternal. It is not a fortunate thing to drive a people faithful to you to despair. It was not a fortunate thing to maltreat and trample upon your North American Colonies, and I doubt whether it will be more fortunate for England if she treats the loyal people of Ulster as she now proposes to treat them. Are you determined to drive our people to flight or fight?—because these are the only alternatives put before us, and we are not inclined to fly. I do not believe 300 the English race will be so false to all their traditions that, for the sake of buying a so-called union of hearts, they will betray those who have been true to them throughout such a long period of time. Although the victory is yours for the present, yet I believe the time will come when we shall gain the day, and when the English race, once for all, will say that they will never allow the English name to be disgraced by such an act as is contemplated by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I beg to move, Sir, that the Debate be now adjourned until Thursday.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Joseph Chamberlain.)
§ (11.45.) MR. TIMOTHY HEALY (Louth, N.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to protest against the further adjournment of this Debate. We have been brought here at considerable inconvenience for the purpose of taking part in it, and we have listened to the same speeches repeated over and over again. There is a Standing Order against tedious repetition, and in spite of that we have the same remarks made again and again. It is nothing but a waste of time. Last night we heard the hon. Member for Bordesley (Mr. Jesse Collings) for nearly two hours. (Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: Not so long as that.) And on Thursday we are to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Well, Mr. Speaker, why is the House adjourned over to-morrow? Why should the Government waste our time by bringing us here on Thursday, when we might have listened to the right hon. Gentleman to-morrow? I think the time has now come to take a Division. Jobbery is going on apace in Ireland. The Government, having appointed Mr. Cecil Roche, R.M., a Fishery Commissioner, have made Mr. Olphert a Resident Magistrate. All the time is being availed of by the outgoing Government for the perpetration of jobbery. I am credibly informed 301 that no less than twenty Tory revising barristers have been appointed with warrants in their pockets by a secret document signed by the Lord Lieutenant. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Derry (Mr. J. Ross) talks about Ulster, but he is Member for these Tory revising barristers. I am credibly informed that a revising barrister has been sent to gerrymander Derry by the outgoing Government. I protest against this further waste of time. I am informed that since Saturday no less than forty appointments have been made of sons-in-law, or prospective sons-in-law, of Members of the Government to positions in the Board of Works.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. L. JACKSON, Leeds, N.)
I do not wish to interrupt the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but there is absolutely not the slightest foundation for the scandalous imputation he has made.
§ (Repeated cries of "Withdraw!")
§ MR. HEALY
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I am quoting from the Dublin Daily Express, which described the proceeding as a "shameless job." But I have no objection, if the expression is thought to be disrespectful on the part of the Orange paper, or if it is unfounded, as I have no wish to become the means of circulating Orange calumnies, I have no objection—I am quite ready—to attenuate it to any extent desired. But my argument remains. We are wasting time for the purpose of perpetrating jobbery. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) and his friends to have this Debate going on, but, so far as we are concerned, we are sick and tired of 302 seeing this jobbery perpetrated, and I think it is quite time for us to divide.
§ (11.53.) EARL COMPTON (Yorkshire, Barnsley)
I do not know if I may be allowed a few words on the question of adjourning over to-morrow. (Cries of "Decided!") As I understand, the question is whether we should adjourn over to-morrow. ("No, no; that is decided!") I have no wish whatever to put the House to the trouble of a Division or anything of that kind; but I believe I shall be within my right if I move that the Debate be adjourned till to-morrow. ("No, no!") At all events I speak to the Question of Adjournment of the Debate, and whether it shall be resumed to-morrow or not. ("No, no!") Are we going to have a meeting?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of Order. I wish to ask you, Sir, is it not the fact that at the beginning of business to-day the House, by Resolution, decided that at its rising to-night it should adjourn to Thursday? Is it competent for the hon. Member now to go back on that Resolution?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is quite correct. A Resolution was passed this afternoon, "That this House, at its rising, do adjourn till Thursday." That question is therefore settled.
§ EARL COMPTON
I can then only speak to the Question of the Adjournment of the Debate. I cannot understand why the Debate is going to be adjourned at all. It seems to me—I do not know what arrangements have been made between the Government and the Front Opposition Bench—but it does seem to me that the time of the country is being wasted. We are having speech after speech, from either side of the House, but I should have thought we have discussed the question of Ireland quite sufficiently during the last six years. We have all made up, our minds how we shall vote 303 when the Division is called. We have not now a question before us as regards Ireland or any part of the Newcastle Programme; the only question at the moment is whether the Government are to meet with an adverse vote or not. The Party opposite will vote with the Government. The Liberal Party will vote against the Government. I do not include in the Liberal Party those who, still sitting on this side of the House, have no claim to the name of Liberals. Surely it is right that a protest should be made against this putting off of a decision. We do not want any more speeches. We are all quite well aware what we shall hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. We have all read his speeches delivered during the recent elections. Very able speeches they were; we have all read them, and we know the views of the right hon. Gentleman. We do not want to listen to another declaration of these views. His speech will have absolutely no effect whatever on the Division that will take place. He used, I think, all the force he has at command during the late elections, and great force it is. He will certainly not wean a single vote from this side of the House to the support of his views when the Division takes place on Thursday. Why it should be deferred to Thursday I do not know. It would have been perfectly easy to have carried through the Debate in two nights instead of spreading it over three.
§ EARL COMPTON
I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman. Why debate at all? We are all ready to go to a vote, and perhaps the vote will be taken a great deal earlier if the right hon. Gentleman does not speak. The question for six years has been before the country whether the present Government should remain in Office. That question is now decided, and can- 304 not be altered by any speeches here. It has been decided by the country that Her Majesty's present Government must resign, and they will have to resign. I think it would have been infinitely better to have concluded the Debate in two nights. Everyone worth hearing would have been heard, and we should have been spared some of the speeches we have had to listen to, but which have been perfectly useless in regard to the question before us. For my part, I think the country will view this dragging out of the Debate with a great deal of discontent and dissatisfaction. There is no question of policy towards Ireland now to decide, the question is confidence or no confidence in Her Majesty's Government.
§ It being Midnight, the Motion for the Adjournment lapsed, and the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Thursday.
§ One other Member took and subscribed the Oath.