§ [FOURTH NIGHT.]
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six mouths."—(Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said, he thought a large portion of the House would agree with him that the incident which had just closed was one of the most deplorable which had happened during the present controversy. The words of the Prime Minister, uttered 12 years ago, had been repeated over and over again in the country and in the House. A distinct interpretation had been put upon the words. The only reasonable interpretation—whatever the right hon. Gentleman might have had in his mind when he spoke them, and whatever explanation he might seek to give to them now—had been put upon them; and now, after the right hon. Gentleman had remained silent all this time, when he was about to hand over the control of Ireland to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, to place the lives and the fortunes of 5,000,000 of the Queen's subjects in Ireland in the hands of the Leaders of the Land League and the National League, he attempted to avoid responsibility for the description which he applied to those men 12 years ago by attributing it to the Irish Leader, who was now no more.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I said the Irish Leader. I slated it repeatedly, as the hon. Member will see if he refers to my speech.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, that was precisely his point. It could be proved that the language used by the Leaders of the Land League, such as the hon. Member for East Mayo, by the hon. Member for West Belfast, as he was then—he did not know where the hon. Gentleman had taken refuge now— and by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, was infinitely more violent, more 31 lawless, more worthy of the description of the Prime Minister, than any language used by Mr. Parnell. Mr. Parnell during all that time was a moderating influence on those hon. Members. It was with Mr. Parnell that the Prime Minister treated over and over again; it was with Mr. Parnell the Prime Minister signed the Treaty of Kilmainham; and if, was an unworthy act on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to now try and cast the responsibility for the violence of the language then used on the man who was dead, and before whom the right hon. Gentleman had often quailed in the House. The right hon. Gentleman took his policy from Mr. Parnell; he consulted Mr. Parnell; and he entertained Mr. Parnell; and though he (Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett), in his comparatively brief experience, had heard the right hon. Gentleman make many contradictions of expression as well as reversals of policy, he had not seen anything worse than the attempt of the right hon. Gentleman to shift the responsibility for his own past expressions on the memory of Mr. Parnell. When his remarks on the Government of Ireland Bill were interrupted by 12 o'clock on Monday night, he was speaking of the feeling in Ulster against the measure. No one who had seen, as he had seen, the unanimous and most impressive protest of the men of Ulster on last Tuesday against Separation could ever doubt their resolve and their power to oppose it to the uttermost. Such masses of stalwart, orderly, determined citizens, in scores and even in hundreds of thousands, he had never looked upon before, and probably should never see again. Like their Puritan ancestors, the courage and tenacity of the Ulster Protestants were strong and deep. No Government could ever afford to despise the resistance of such men. Ulster was resolute against the Bill. The Chamber of Commerce of Belfast, representing some £80,000,000 of capital, had unanimously protested against it. So had the Chamber of Commerce of Dublin. So had the stockbrokers, bankers, and the landowners generally. And the voice of Ulster in such a matter as this was not to be lightly put on one side. Almost all the industry and trade and prosperity of Ireland was to be found in that Northern Province, where the labour and the tenacity of a thrifty, intelligent, and hardy race had, in the face of a climate far more 32 severe than the rest of Ireland, turned a comparatively bleak and wild region into a very garden of industry and prosperity. Belfast alone contributed over £3,000,000 to the Imperial Revenues of Ireland. The capital and labour of Belfast contribute 44 per cent. of the whole Customs of Ireland. The great shipbuilding yards of Belfast were famous throughout the world. Her tobacco manufactories, her distilleries, her linen trade, were unique, and afforded a marvellous contrast to the backwardness of the South and West of Ireland. The loyal population of Ireland, who detested this measure, numbered, at least, one-third of the Irish people. The Protestants numbered over 1,200,000, and the dissentients were so infinitesimal in number as to make the overwhelming force of Protestant opinion still more remarkable. No Government could afford to despise such a vast mass of hostile opinion. The most impracticable and absurd feature of this Bill, however, was the retention of the 80 Irish Members. The Prime Minister said in 1886 that it was impossible to devise a scheme by which a distinction should be made between Irish and Imperial affairs; that "it passed the wit of man to draw such a distinction;" and especially, that "it passed the wit of himself and his advisers." The speech in which the right hon. Gentleman expounded his change of front on this subject, on February 13, showed that though he had consented to retain the contingent of Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, his view as to the difficulty of deciding upon the questions on which they were to vote, or not to vote, was practically unchanged. The present scheme created not only three separate constituencies for Ireland, but also created two separate majorities for the Imperial Parliament. Nor did the Prime Minister on April 6 make any serious attempt to deal with the tremendous difficulties that this retention must cause. All the hope that the Prime Minister could hold out was that the Irish 80 might not often see fit to be with us at Westminster. What a broken reed to rely upon when they knew that the whole policy of the Imperial Government, the fate of their measures, and their very existence would be at the mercy of these 80 Gentlemen from Ireland. Well did Mr. Frank Hugh O'Donnell prophetically write on February 4— 33No vote will ever be worth six months' purchase, so long as you keep 40 or 50 couples of wolf-dogs able and ready to fly at the Imperial throat.No one exactly knew when the Irish 80 would or would not be allowed to vote in the Imperial Parliament. They would, however, be entitled to vote upon all Votes of Want of Confidence; and, so far as could be understood from the speech of the Prime Minister, there would be many questions incidental to purely British Bills or Motions upon which a Debate might be raised by the Irish 80, who might then vote. The provision, of the Bill, indeed, which allowed each House of Parliament to decide how the voting or non-voting of the Irish 80 was to be settled, read very like a gerrymandering artifice by which the present majority could always bring in the Irish 80 whenever they wished. For example, in many cases the Adjournment of the House might be moved upon a question relating to Ireland, and in such a way as to involve the fate of the Ministry, and the Irish Members might be called in to vote. The result would be most comical, if it were not so fatal to the dignity and the fixed policy of a great nation. Suppose that the question of the Disestablishment of the English Church was raised in the Imperial Parliament. The Conservative Party would have a majority in such a Parliament, and would reject it. The next day a Motion of Want of Confidence in the Imperial Ministry might be moved. The Irish Members under this Bill would be allowed to take part in it, the Conservative Government would be defeated and obliged to resign, although it had a distinct majority in the Imperial Parliament. The Party which thus defeated the Conservative Government by the vote of the Irish Members might itself be defeated and turned out of Office the next day upon a purely British question, on which the Irish Members were not allowed to vote. The result would be that all government would be impossible, and this country would be reduced to a more futile condition than the French Republic, which had had 30 Ministries in 22 years. Such a scheme as this had only to be considered in the incredible absurdity of its simplest operation to awake public condemnation. Then what were the safeguards for the minority in Ireland? There was the Upper Chamber!—the 34 Legislative Council of 48 Members, who were to be elected by ratepayers paying over £20. This Council was to he so cleverly manipulated that there was no chance of the Loyalists being able to return more than 17 or 18 out of the 48 Members of the Upper Chamber. It was well-known that the Nationalists would be able to elect to the Legislative Assembly at least 80 out of the 103 Members of which it was to be composed. The Loyalists, in consequence, would always be in a minority of 110 in the two Houses, whose vote was to finally settle the great questions at issue. Then there was the so-called veto of the Viceroy; but, except when this veto was exercised under the impulse of the British Cabinet, it would be a dead letter, because the Irish Cabinet, which would consist of the Leaders of the National League, was never likely to assert itself in favour of the loyal minority. Suppose the Viceroy should receive instructions from the Sovereign—that was, from the British Cabinet —to exercise his veto or his authority in favour of the loyal minority, how was he to go to work? The entire Executive of Ireland would be in the hands of the Irish Cabinet—the Police, the Judges, the Local Authorities. The Irish Ministry would have nothing to do but merely to oppose a passive resistance to the orders of the British Cabinet issued through the Viceroy, in order to render them perfectly nugatory. What, then, would be the position of the Irish Viceroy? He would find himself standing helpless between the Irish Legislature, the Irish Cabinet, the British or Imperial Parliament, and the British Cabinet; with two, if not four, opposing influences and sets of pressure brought to bear upon him. If he used the veto under the impulse of the British Cabinet, he would be denounced by the Irish Legislature, and repudiated by the Irish Cabinet. If he refused to use the veto in the Imperial interests, he might find himself the object of an attack from the forces of the Crown. In the case in which the Irish Ministers and the English Ministers differed a deadlock might occur in both countries. The Irish Ministers advised the Viceroy not to veto a Bill. The English Ministers advised the Viceroy to veto it, and if he refused the Crown threatened to withdraw the Viceroy. Both sets of Minis- 35 ters might, at the same time, threaten to resign unless their advice was carried out, and the result would be a deadlock in both countries. It was, therefore, perfectly clear that the veto would be valueless. The veto of the Viceroy, if he offered to carry out, for instance, the orders of the Supreme Court, or attempted to interfere on behalf of some oppressed and injured Loyalist, would be rendered absolutely futile and nugatory by the existence of the majority. The Viceroy's veto would be less exercisable than the veto of the Crown had been for the past 50 years with regard to our Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had told the House that the Bill was to afford the prospect of a "real and continuous settlement" of the question in dispute between Ireland and Great Britain. Of all the statements of the Prime Minister, this was the least likely to fulfilment. The Government were going to give the most keen, excitable, and ambitious people in the world all the outward paraphernalia and appearance of a nation, and were going to deny them the first conditions of nationality. The Irish were to have a separate Parliament and a separate Executive; but the Parliament was not to have the right of dealing with religion or education, or external trade or taxation. It was not to have the right of setting up an Army, a Militia, or a Volunteer Force. It was not to have the primary right of a nation, that of treating independently with other nations. The Government were going to trust in a body of men with whom they had not long since been in the keenest dispute; with whom they had even imprisoned and denounced, and who had returned the compliment by denouncing them in language without stint and moderation; they were going to leave to these men the real settlement of the grave and crucial question as to whether this Bill was to be final or not. The man who believed that this Bill was anything more than a lever, or that it was regarded by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway as anything more than a lever, by which to obtain further concessions in the direction of complete independence, had been singularly blind to the lessons of history during the past 12 years. The four propositions that the Prime Minister, in moving the Second Reading 36 laid down regarding autonomy and incorporation, were of the most factitious character, and the conclusions the Prime Minister drew from them were most fictitious. The right hon. Gentleman drew a distinction between autonomous Union and incorporated Union. By the latter he meant Union of Legislatures. By the former he meant the retention of independent Legislatures; and the super-imposition of some higher authority. His first proposition was that no incorporating Union effected by force had ever prospered. Having laid down this first proposition he proceeded to a second, which was that the incorporating Unions which had flourished had been those favoured by incidents of history, geography, language, and race, and where, if force had entered at all into the original combination, it had soon ceased and given way to harmony. He (Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett) never read or heard two propositions so incomprehensibly inconsistent with each other. Had the right hon. Gentleman never heard of the logical fallacy of petitio principii? Did he not see that in his second proposition he had begged the whole question? Having begun by denying that any incorporating Union ever prospered, he promptly proceeded to allege that those which had prospered were those favoured by history, geography, language, and race. Could he possibly devise a more exhaustive list? Next he proceeded to give a list of those incorporated Unions which had prospered. They included France, Italy, and Spain, all of which had brought about their Unions by force. The right hon. Gentleman generally forgot England in his arguments. England was an example of an incorporated Union which was carried out many hundreds of years ago by force, and which had vet prospered above most other Unions. The United States was another instance, while Germany—the most powerful and most prosperous State almost of Europe— though not an example of completely incorporated Union, owed her prosperity and greatness to the steps she had taken in the direction of incorporated Union. The only cases which the Prime Minister could quote against incorporated Union were the trifling and ridiculous cases of Holland and Belgium, and the right hon. Gentleman pointed with satisfaction to the fact that these two 37 States were now entirely separate and Independent. This was exactly what Unionists said would happen in the case of Ireland, if Parliament once began to tamper with the existing Union. The right hon. Gentleman's example of Austria was not at all in point, nor was the case of Poland in any way analogous, though it was refreshing to feel that the right ton. Gentleman was now prepared to hold up the treatment of Poland by the "Divine Figure from the North" as a warning. He had never gone so far in the way of condemnation of Russia before. His third proposition was that autonomy had always promoted the attachment of the receiving to the giving Power, and he had actually quoted Turkey as an example, citing the obscure case of Samos and Rhodes. Had the Prime Minister actually forgotten the practical result of granting autonomy in all the principal Turkish Provinces? Was he not aware that Servia, Moldavia and Wallachia, Bulgaria and Roumelia, wore all granted autonomy, and that each and all had used their autonomy to obtain complete or practical independence? His fourth proposition was that Unions accompanied by legislative autonomy had been attended in all cases with success, either complete or considerable. No proposition more inaccurate and more demonstrably false was ever made to that House. The right hon. Gentleman had cited four cases—Austria-Hungary, Norway and Sweden, Germany, and the United States. Not one of these had any real analogy to that of Great Britain and Ireland. There was no nation, ancient or modern, no country in the history of the whole world, in which Union had not meant strength, and in which the principle of semi-independence or autonomy had not meant weakness, decay, and too often ruin. The history of Austria afforded a striking example of the inevitable weakness which separate Parliaments and separate Administrations involved. Austria was undoubtedly the weakest of the Great Powers of Europe, not because of any inferiority in her people, of courage and capacity, or of patriotism in her rulers, but simply and solely because of the Separatist tendencies within her borders which had been allowed to spread and develop. The dual system which prevailed between Austria and Hungary of 38 separate and independent Parliaments was only worked with difficulty by the adoption of a plan which would not be tolerated for a moment in this country. The direction of the Imperial Finances, of the Imperial Army, and of the Imperial Foreign Policy of Austria was removed from the control of the Austrian and Hungarian Parliaments, and was placed in the hands of the Emperor alone. He appointed those Ministers, and they were responsible to him. Moreover, Hungary was kept united to Austria very largely by external pressure. The intense dread and hatred felt by the whole Hungarian people for the Russian power which over-shadowed them on the north-east, bound Hungary to Austria by ties of I interest, which would not exist in the case of a separate Irish Government. The influence to which a separate Irish Executive and Parliament would be liable would be the by no means always friendly influence of the French Republic and of the Irish population in the United States. Foreign influences would, therefore, draw Ireland away from England, while they bound Hungary to Austria. The Croats had, too, obtained a sort of autonomy, and they were often only kept in order with difficulty by martial law. The Czechs of Bohemia were also clamouring for autonomy and a separate Parliament. The Wallachians of the extreme east, the semi-Italian population near Trieste, and even the people of the Tyrol, to a certain degree, had been, or were being, drawn to demand separate Administrations. One great difficulty and problem before Austrian statesmen was to deal with the ever-increasing tendency towards disintegration and separation. When the history of this generation came to be written, there were three, or perhaps four, great names, outside those of English statesmen, which would be noted for the benefits their possessors had been the means of conferring on their countries and upon mankind. The names to which he referred were those of Cavour, and perhaps Garibaldi, of Bismarck, and of Abraham Lincoln. These great men would be famous for all time, and would live till history was no more, for the glorious work of unity and consolidation which they had achieved for their own nations and their own race. They found their countries either divided or 39 threatened with separation; they adopted and enforced the policy of union. They succeeded in each and every case in destroying and wiping out the fatal principle of separation and dismemberment. They restored the Italian, the German, and the American nations. Cavour and Garibaldi found Italy as she had been for centuries, divided and broken into a number of separate and often hostile Principalities and Governments. Italy was, to quote the Prime Minister's own phrase, "a mere geographical expression." Cavour and Garibaldi made Italy one united people. They established one Italian Monarchy, one Italian Army and Navy, and one Italian Parliament. The result was that Italy had gone on since, through and owing to her unity, prospering and to prosper. For centuries, also, Germany had been divided. Her divisions had caused her to be the prey of her enemies on the East and West and South. A great Monarch and a great statesman achieved, after immense sacrifices, the Imperial unity of Germany. I am aware that there is still in Germany subordinate Parliaments and even reigning Princes; but the movement in Germany has been distinctly towards unity and towards reducing those separate Governments, and it is a movement which is certain to strengthen and increase, and not to go backwards. Whatever may be the regrettable vagaries of his old age, no one will ever deny the splendid part which Prince Bismarck has borne in carrying through German unity. Thirty years ago the great Republic of the United States, inhabited by a people mainly of English blood and English faith, deriving all its best traditions of law, religion, and civilisation from this country, and its best national elements as well, was threatened with separation then much as the United Kingdom is threatened with separation now. In that case, however, there was far more to be said for the American Separatists, who numbered one-third of the whole American people, than there is for the Irish Separatists, who number less than 1–12th of the United Kingdom. The majority of the American people deliberately undertook the most tremendous civil war of modern times in order to maintain and re-establish their Union. That was a struggle such as the 40 world had never before seen. It was carried on for five long years. It involved the loss of 2,000,000 gallant lives, and the expenditure of infinite treasure. In the end the cause of Union triumphed, and it triumphed through the tenacity, the ability, and the patriotism of one still strong man, President Abraham Lincoln. I know that an attempt has been made to compare the 45 States Governments of the United States to a separate Irish Parliament. The analogy is ridiculous, and absolutely false, and could only have occurred to the mind of some academical philosopher, who is totally unfitted for practical politics. There is a far closer analogy between our present local government system of County Councils and the State Legislatures of America, than between those Legislatures and a separate Irish Parliament. It was, indeed, to prevent a separate Congress for the whole Southern States that the North undertook the great Civil War of 1861. It is an interesting coincidence that the present Prime Minister of England was then on the side of the Separatists of the United States, just, as he is now the chief apostle of separation in the United Kingdom. I believe that, the people of the United Kingdom, when this issue is put before them clearly and simply, and not involved as the Radical Party involved it at the last Election, and are again trying to involve it now, in a cloud of bye-issues and electoral bribes, that the people of the United Kingdom will decide in favour of Union, just as did 30 years ago the people of the United States. If the progress, the wealth, and the prosperity of the people of the United States appear now to be almost boundless, it is mainly because they came to this great national decision 30 years ago, that any sacrifice was worthy to be undertaken in order to maintain their Union. So long as that great country exists, so long will the people regard and revere the memory of Abraham Lincoln, the champion of this Union. The names of Bismarck, Cavour, and Lincoln would always be enshrined in the annals of their countries, because they were the foremost Unionists of their day. The present Prime Minister, if he succeeded in passing this pernicious measure, would go down to history not as one of the great unifiers 41 and consolidators of an ancient and great people, but as the first and chief of British Separatists. It was midsummer madness for a statesman to propose in the 19th century to start in a great country like the United Kingdom to reverse all the lessons of history, and to fly in the face of all the teaching of experience, ancient and modern. He maintained that this Bill if passed meant ruin to Ireland; it meant placing the best part of that country under the control of the worst part, the loyal under the disloyal, the honest under the dishonest, and the peaceful and the industrious under the idle and the thriftless; while for England it meant the undoing of the great work of consolidation and unity which had been going on for a thousand years. "Repeal the Union; restore the Heptarchy," said a great statesman 50 years ago—namely, the late Mr. Canning. This was as true now as it was then, and this Bill, to his mind, meant setting a fatal canker at the heart and centre of the greatest and most magnificent dominion the world had ever known.
§ MR. DAVITT (Cork, N.E.)
Mr. Speaker—Sir, I trust the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will acquit me of intentional discourtesy if I say that I must pass by the speech just delivered as containing no new argument against the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ MR. DAVITT
We have heard this speech before, not, perhaps, so eloquently delivered as it has been this afternoon, but the House is familiar with the same arguments, the same contentious, the same predictions, the same attacks upon the supporters of this Bill. Well, Sir, I do not think the Prime Minister will be induced, after reading this speech, to withdraw the Bill from the consideration of this House, nor do I believe the supporters of this measure will slacken their efforts to carry the Bill through Committee and pass it into law. I hope, Sir, that the hon. Gentleman has found ample compensation in the length of his speech for what has been irreverently tinned the agonies of prolonged retention. One thing, at least, the speech will tend to do, especially on these Benches—it will deepen the conviction, which has been growing for a long time, 42 that this Empire will never be rightly governed, that public confidence in the proceedings of this House will never be fully established, until the hon. Gentleman is sent for and commissioned to form a Ministry of absolutely virtuous and infallible statesmen. He will pardon me, I hope, if I consider the speech which was addressed to this House last night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) as more germane to the present stage of this discussion than the speech to which the House has just listened; and I hope he will also pardon me if I consider the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as a more formidable opponent to Home Rule than even a member of the British aristocracy. The right hon. Gentleman charged the Prime Minister with having been in a hurry in the introduction of the Home Rule Bill of 1886. He contends now that Ireland was doing well before that year, and that contentment and prosperity were growing amongst the Irish people. Well, Sir, allow me to call as a witness against the right hon. Gentleman evidence which I think he will not repudiate or gainsay—After 80 years of stormy Union, Ireland is still hostile and unreconciled. Coercion has failed to extort submission. Concession has been powerless to soften her animosities. I do not wonder sometimes that disappointment and even despair should fill the minds of men when they see the efforts—the unexampled, unremitting efforts—that have been made in the last two Sessions by the English Parliament to do justice to Ireland met by words of menace and insult, and followed by worse than words —by deeds, by disorder, by crimes of violence, and by cowardly assassination. Every nerve should be strained to detect and to punish the authors of these crimes, but we should blind ourselves to the teachings of our history and to the experience of every other country if we did not recognise in the existence of these crimes, and in the unfortunate fact that a large proportion of the population sympathises with those who commit them, an indication of a social condition altogether rotten, which it is the bounden duty of statesmen to investigate and to reform. There are only two courses open to us. You may, as some truculent writers have urged, abandon altogether the idea of the Constitutional Government of Ireland, and rule that country as a conquered dependency. How long do you suppose such a state of things would last? How long do you suppose that Englishmen with their free institutions would tolerate the existence of an Irish Poland so near to their shores?Sir, what did the Prime Minister attempt to do in 1886 but to put into practice the senti- 43 ments, and principles, and the proposals embodied in the speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham delivered in 1883 and from which I have now quoted, a speech de-livered almost immediately after Mr. Parnell and the Irish Leaders had been charged with following a policy which would lead to the dismemberment of the Empire? Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, in his speech last night, said that the late Mr. Parnell had made a demand in connection with the Home Rule Bill of 1886 for the right and power of safeguarding Irish manufactures by means of an independent tariff. No such demand, I assert, was made by the late Leader of the Irish people in connection with the Bill of 1886, and with the permission of the House I will quote from a speech delivered in the House on this very question on the 2nd June, 1886, by the late Mr. Parnell. He said—I have been reproached, and it has been made an argument against the honesty of my declaration regarding the final character of the settlement, that in a speech at Wicklow I claimed the right to protect Irish manufactures. This Bill gives no such right. Undoubtedly I did claim that right, but it was not when the Liberal Party was in power. That speech about protection at Wicklow was made at a time when we had every reason to know that the Conservative Party, if they should be successful at the polls, would have offered to Ireland a statutory Legislature with a right to protect her own affairs, and this would have been coupled with a settlement of the Irish Land Question upon a process of purchase larger than that now proposed by the Prime Minister. I should never have thought, I never did think, and I do not think now, of claiming a right of protection from the Liberal Party. I never expected it. Therefore I recognised this settlement as a final settlement without protection.Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman quoted some words of the late Mr. Parnell last night, spoken after the unhappy differences had arisen in Ireland, and asked the House what value could be attached to assurances such as those given in 1886 in the light of words subsequently spoken. But, Sir, this rule, I contend, must be applied all round if it is to have any value in the judgment of this Assembly. The right hon. Gentleman himself has said things and given assurances to the Irish Members, to the Irish people, to the British public in his Radical days not long ago, which conflict diametrically with his utterances 44 and proposals to-day. The overwhelming majority of the Irish people and the Irish race abroad, as well as at home, accepted the Bill of 1886 as a satisfactory settlement of the Irish Question, and would have acted loyally upon that acceptance if that Bill had become law. I assert the same of this Bill now before the House. I go further, and say that 13,000,000 of the Irish race, scattered round this world, will accept this Bill as a pact of peace between Ireland and the Empire, to be honourably upheld on both sides. Now, Sir, I contend that this statement of mine, which will be repeated by every one of my Colleagues with whom I have the honour of serving, is compatible with the intention of the Irish Members to strive in Committee to convince the judgment of this House that the Bill is faulty in some clauses, and can be amended to the mutual advantage of Ireland and the British people. Of course, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham can and will discount the value of my assurances on this matter on the ground of words and acts of mine in the past. I admit, frankly and fully, that he has a stronger case in this respect against mo than he has against the memory of the late Leader of the Irish people. It is quite true that I have been not only an enemy, but a sworn enemy, of this Empire during the greater part of my political career. I have not made this statement in this House for the first time. I have declared it over and over again in every part of Great Britain during the last 12 years, and the House will, I hope, pardon me if I decline to make any apology to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, or to any of the opponents of this Bill, for this part of my past political career. I have been right or I have been wrong. If wrong, I should be wrong still if Ireland were to be ruled by force against her will by means of centralised despotism without parallel in any European country outside Russia, to quote the right hon. Gentleman's words, when a few years ago he denounced that system of government against which I worked, conspired, and rebelled. If I was right, and judging from the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition at Belfast a few days ago, in which he implied, if he did not declare, that it 45 would be perfectly legitimate to rebel against a law which would be passed through this Imperial Parliament, I was right, then someone owes me a very handsome apology for nine years and two months' experience in gaol. Sir, these facts about my individual career may give the right hon. Gentleman good grounds for doubting the sincerity of my assurances in this House now, but I venture to say that in my belief the great majority of the British democracy will not cast those doubts upon my words. This Bill, Sir, is a compromise between two extreme antagonistic principles, between absolute independence, such as I once dreamt could be won for Ireland, and government by force and unconstitutional means on the other hand. This Bill is the result of reform and not the consequence of revolution, and, therefore, the friends of peace in Ireland and in Great Britain can accept it, and do accept it, as containing all the terms and conditions of an honourable and lasting compact and union between the people of Ireland and Great Britain. It is in that sense that I accept this Bill, subject to humble efforts on my part to try and convince the judgment of this House that some of its clauses might be amended to the advantage of both countries. I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman in what he said upon the financial proposals contained in this Bill. I think arguments and contentions were met in advance on the First Reading of this Bill by the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry. The right hon. Gentleman said in effect last night on this part of the measure— "Find out what is Ireland's fair share of the Imperial contribution, and let that be her portion under the Bill; if her taxable capacity be 1–15th, let that be her proportion." "Very well," I say, "agreed." We do not want to shirk our fair share of Imperial expenditure under Home Rule. We do not want Home Rule to cost the British taxpayer one single penny; but let the right hon. Gentleman define our fair share according to Ireland's taxable capacity, and that we will agree honourably and cheerfully to pay. But what is the taxable capacity of Ireland? I will pray the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I give a few figures which will show what I think under this standard 46 Ireland's taxable capacity should be, and Ireland's fair contribution to the Imperial expenditure under Home Rule. Judging the taxable capacity of any country, we must take into account the wealth of that country, and the earnings of its industrial community. In Great Britain, or rather, I should say, in the United Kingdom, there were in 1890, 48,000,000 spinning spindles, of which Ireland had only 900,000, or only 1–15th of the whole. I he number of power looms in the United Kingdom were 820,000, of which Ireland had only 28,000, or only l–29th of the whole. The coal raised in the United Kingdom in 1891 was 185,000,000 tons. The coal raised in Ireland was 105,000 tons, or 1–1,760th part. The shipping in the United Kingdom in the same year amounted to 62,000,000 tons, while Ireland possessed 500,000, or l–124th part. The paid-up capital of Registered Companies in Ireland in the same year was only 1–46th of that of the United Kingdom. The assets of Building Societies in the United Kingdom in 1890 were returned at £52,000,000; those in Ireland in the same year amounted only to £730,000, or l–72nd part. The capital of Industrial and Provident Co-operative Societies in 1890 in the United Kingdom was returned at £15,290,000, of which Ireland had £3,890 only, or 1–4,000th part. Well, I respectfully submit to the judgment of this House that if you compare Ireland's wealth and Ireland's taxable capacity in this matter with the wealth and taxable capacity of Great Britain, it will be found that the amount which Ireland is expected to pay under this Bill will be too heavy and too unjust to impose upon Ireland, and in this connection I have the authority and sanction of a very high economic writer, Mr. Giffen. In his article on the economic value of Ireland to Great Britain, which appeared in The Nineteenth Century in 1886, he pointed out that the taxable income of Ireland was about £15,000,000, as compared with £800,000,000 for Great Britain, and that Ireland had in reality been paying £3,500,000 too much in taxes in proportion to her resources. I would respectfully ask the House to consider those facts and figures when we get into Committee, and to resolve, as I am sure that the House will, to deal not only justly 47 towards the Empire, but fairly towards Ireland at the same time. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham expressed himself as desirous of knowing how conflicting the opinions on the Irish Land Question would be reconciled to the provisions of the Bill, and he was desirous also of knowing how Irish landlords would be dealt with in a Home Rule Parliament. Speaking for myself, I will frankly explain to the House and to the right hon. Gentleman what my views are upon this part of the measure now before the House. I believe that the retention of the Irish Land Question in the hands of this House for three years, and the withdrawal of it during that period from the purview of the Irish Legislature is a mistake. I may be wrong in my view, but I respectfully submit it to the House that if there is any question essentially Irish, any question which concerns more intimately than any other question the life and the existence of the Irish people, it is the Irish land, and I contend that if a Home Rule Parliament is competent to deal with all Irish questions, it ought to be considered competent to deal with this one also; and I may remind the House on this point that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham himself in 1885 proposed such a change in the Government of the administration of affairs in Ireland as would hand over to the Irish people the control of the Irish land without any interference on the part of the Imperial Parliament. I think that the fears of the right hon. Gentleman on this head centre largely in myself, because Radical proposals of mine and others in the Home Rule Parliament. True, I have no love for Irish landlordism. It would be very singular if I had. But the interest of the Irish landlords will be fully safeguarded from possible attack on my part by the Court of Appeal, and it is provided for in the Bill; but they will have a higher protection still in the considerations which will weigh with every Nationalist, who will have to choose between a wise and prudent and just use of national self-government and the consequences which would inevitably follow if we attempted oppressively or unjustly to visit the sins of a bad system upon the accidents of its existence. The right hon. Gentleman may doubtless 48 say in reply that the value of these assurances must be discounted in the recollection of what I have said on this subject in former years. Very well, but what was it I did say? "The ticket from Kingstown to Holyhead compensation" speech, I think I hear the hon. Member for South Tyrone answer, who I see is sharpening his tomahawk for the benefit of my scalp when I sit down. But what was actually proposed by me in that speech made 11 years ago? I do not accuse the hon. Member of intentionally misrepresenting me, but I do say that words have been taken from that speech, and have been uttered inside and outside of this House, as if they contained the whole purpose and object of that speech. Now, I think the hon. Member for South Tyrone will not accuse the London Times of being very favourable or very considerate towards me in its criticism. The Times did me the honour of reporting my speech delivered in Liverpool in 1882 fully, and the editorial comment of The Times upon that speech was this—It is characteristic of Mr. Davitt's cast of mind that he believes in the accomplishment of his plan without wrong; to any man, without loss to the State, with full compensation to vested interests, and with relief to the taxpayer as well as to the tenant.In a Home Rule Parliament, as in this House, we may have to seek light and leading on this great social problem from high authorities in this country. Let me ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham what objection he takes to a laud system founded on the following principles:—I have sometimes speculated upon what would have happened in this country if it had been possible to establish private property in air. I have no doubt whatever some one of our Kings would have been found who would have conferred a monopoly upon his favourites, and there would have been slaves willing to admit this monstrous pretension and to submit their lives and the substance of their families to the caprice of a few private individuals. Lawyers would have lent their skill to weave a network and to forge a chain for the human race, and there would have been some pious and devoted men who would have brought the sanction of religion to these monstrous pretensions. Do you think that this is an extreme and an absurd illustration? At least you cannot deny in view of all your local history the evidence by which you are surrounded, of a people that has been doomed to extinction, that men have died of the monopoly of land, just as men might have been suffocated for want of air under the circumstances that I have put to you.49 I dare say we Irish Radicals shall have to make many proposals in an Irish Parliament before we finally settle the Irish Land Question, but we will not legislate even against Irish landlords in accordance with the spirit and the meaning of this extract, which I have read from a speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in Inverness, in September, 1886. It is going a great deal further than I am willing to go, Radical as I am, upon the Land Question. In a Debate in this House in 1886 the right hon. Gentleman, dealing with the Irish Land Question, spoke these words—I do not admit for a moment that there is any sanctity about judicial or other rents. If rent cannot be paid and leave a fair subsistence to the tenant, no doubt the landlord must bear the loss.We are accused of having preached the doctrine of plundering of the Irish landlords. I maintain that if the principles and the teaching of the right hon. Gentleman were put into practice they would amount to far greater plunder of the Irish landlords than anything that was proposed in the days of the Land League. But, Sir, I will quote another distinguished authority upon this question, the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who in Ireland is regarded as a distinguished authority in favour of land reform, and is accepted in this House as a distinguished authority in favour of landlordism. The hon. Member in his Radical days, not very long ago, speaking in Preston on the 26th October, 1885, said—It is quite impossible for any man out of a lunatic asylum to defend the House of Lords.That is the august Assembly which the hon. Member now hopes and expects will reject this Bill. The hon. Member continued—But it is there, and it has been there a long time, and I know that the English people are dreadfully conservative. In Ireland we might make quick work of it.The hon. Member, who delighted the House a while ago with accusations against hon. Members sitting near me of having preached revolutionary and incendiary doctrines, should have remembered that the hon. Member for South Tyrone, if he only had the House of Lords over in Ireland, would make short work of it. But what did the hon. Member say in the same speech?— 50We have not got such reverence for authority there. We have not the reverence for Dukes, Lords, and landlords over in that part of the Empire that you have.But the same hon. Member, whose eloquence and earnestness are admitted by all Parties on this question, speaking in Edinburgh on the 18th February, 1886, went even a little further, for what did he say? He said this—and I would ask the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to it—It may be said that this is handing the thing to Mr. Parnell. My answer to that is— we live in circumstances in which the majority of the country must rule, and what the Imperial Parliament must see is this: that, whilst the majority rules, the minority should be protected. I hold that the control of the Imperial Parliament being maintained, the minority has no right to demand anything more. In conclusion. I would say we are in the midst of one of the greatest crises in English history. I have no sympathy with men who go about talking about civil war. It is a fearful thing, and I should be the last man in the world to say a word even to bring it into contemplation. I protest against incitements to civil war.If we do no worse injury to Irish land-lords in a Home Rule Parliament than frame laws upon those principles propounded by the right hon. Gentleman and the Member for South Tyrone—and I am sure we will not—where is the root of their fears and anxieties? I should like now to say a few words in reference to the 9th clause of the Bill. On the subject of the retention of the Irish Members in this House I confess that my opinion has undergone a radical change since 1886. I was strongly in favour of the 24th clause of the Bill of that year. Our experiences of the Imperial Parliament up to that time were not such as to make Irish Nationalists sot a very high value upon a continued representation therein. This House had been identified with the past misgovernment of Ireland. Then, again, the general foreign policy of the Empire had been such as would not recommend it to the people of Ireland, whose sympathies with other subject nationalities incline us to oppose all Jingoism, and to favour more pacific and more enlightened relations between civilised communities. But the labours of the Prime Minister during the past seven years, the change which has come over the feeling of this House towards Ireland, the growing friendliness of the democracy of Great Britain towards our 51 cause, and the new spirit of sympathetic attention to the social welfare of the people of India and of other dependencies which is supplanting the rule of force and of mere officialism—all this, Sir, has caused Irishmen, like myself, to view the question of Imperial representation for Ireland in another and a more favourable light to that in which we looked upon it in 1886. Sir, I am strongly in favour of the retention of the Irish Members in this House, for two reasons. First, the Home Rule Constitution will offer Ireland no external political status. We will be cut off from International intercourse with the political world. Our influence upon the question of the relations between the Empire and other countries, in which the Irish race are scattered, would count as nothing if Ireland were not represented here. Secondly, I am in favour of the retention of the Irish Members, because the British Members will interfere potentially in the affairs of Ireland. The veto power, though exercised by the nominal Representative of the Crown, will be an instrument in the hands of the direct agent of the Ministry, which British Members will elect, and thus in every act, of the Irish Legislature the Representatives of England, Scotland, and Wales will have the power to intervene, through the will of the Imperial Governor General of Ireland. For this reason alone a jealous regard for the rights of the Irish Legislature will necessitate an Irish representation in this House. I regret the senior Member for Northampton is in favour of evicting the Irish Members from this House. The Leader of the Opposition startled the House in his speech on the First Reading by attributing to this measure a trinity of parental origin. I confess I can only understand the opposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton to the retention of the Irish Members in this House on the supposition that he is, politically speaking of course, the product in disguise of a landlord, a brewer, and an Established Church parson. I can well understand how the Representatives of these three powerful interests in this House should wish to see Irish Nationalist and Radical Members as far away from the Division Lobbies as College Green in Dublin; but I confess I find it difficult to understand how any British Radical can be in favour of ex- 52 cluding the Irish representation from this House even under Home Rule. Sir, let the Irish representation remain as it is. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh, though they are anxious to preserve every particle of evidence of the integrity of the Empire. There is no greater proof of the integrity of the Empire than the retention in this House of the Irish representation, subject, of course, to any modification which future redistribution of seats may make. Let Ulster have her full quota of Members here, and thereby take from the Unionists of that. Province the plea that this Bill will deprive them of their fair share of representation and of interest in this Imperial Parliament. Well, Sir, if I am not wearying the House, I would offer a few words to the House with reference to the use that is being made of Ulster in the discussion of this Bill; and before I deal with the observations of the opponents of the Bill that have been made in speeches delivered last week and yesterday, I may be allowed personally to disclaim here, and not for the first time in public, certain expressions that have been attributed to me about Ulster Protestants by some of their Representatives. It has been said, Sir, in this House I believe more than once, and frequently in the country by Unionist speakers, that I declared in an interview in 1886 that after Home Rule the Protestants of Ulster should be left to us, the Nationalists of Ireland, and we would make short work of them. I wish to assure this House that I never uttered such words, that I never even entertained such thoughts or sentiments, and I hold in my possession letters written to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and by the late lamented Leader of the Tory Party (Mr. Smith), apologising for having attributed to me those sentiments. The hon. Member for South Antrim, in a very | able speech delivered last week, contended that the Protestants of Ireland were opposed to the enactment of the Act of Union 93 years ago. I assume the hon. Member will admit that the Orange organisations of that time were Protestant and not Popish Bodies. What did the Orange Lodges say of the Act of Union? Orange Lodge No. 883, at Newtownbarry, on the 18th February, 1800, passed this resolution— 53That Orangemen ought to come forward, as Orangemen and Irishmen, and declare their sentiments against a Legislative Union which now or any other time would be of the most fatal and pernicious consequences to the real liberty of Ireland.And, as I am reminded by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Louth, this was two years after a horrible massacre had occurred in the same County of Wexford. Lodges Nos. 780 and 785, in Dublin, on the 10th March, 1800, passed this resolution—That the Constitution of 1782, under which our country has advanced to greatness with uncommon rapidity, is that which, as Orangemen, we have sworn to defend and will infallibly maintain.Sir, if hon. Members here quote the threats and resolutions of Orangemen in Ireland to-day against this Bill, are we not justified in reproducing the language and threats of Orangemen against the Act of Union 93 years ago? Orange Lodge 652, at a full meeting held in Dublin on Monday evening, 3rd March, 1800, passed this resolution—That we consider the friends of that abominable measure the Union with Great Britain as the greatest enemies of our most gracious Sovereign—a measure which would destroy our existence as a nation, and eventually involve the rights, the liberties, and even the lives of the people of Ireland. That for the above considerations we solemnly protest against that destructive measure, and do call upon our brother Orangemen by every lawful means to support the Constitution for which we risked our lives and properties in the hour of danger.I could continue to quote similar resolutions from Orange Lodges in Belfast, Tyrone, and other parts of the North of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Mid Armagh, whom we Irish Members on these Benches recognise as a good and sterling Irishman, though we are sorry he is a powerful opponent of this Bill, came here the other night and told an affrighted House that Ulster will not obey the law if this Bill is passed, that, he had enrolled himself in some organisation, and that he looked forward to the possibility of having to spend long years of his life in penal servitude. He also gave us his authority, as a Constitutional lawyer, that it would be neither treason nor treason-felony to oppose and rebel against such a law as is contemplated in this Bill. The hon. and learned Member will in all probability, especially if the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition ever gets 54 into power again, become an Irish Judge. Membership of this House by Irish Tory lawyers has been a means to an end, the climbing to the Irish Judicial Bench. A future Judge, therefore, says that it will not be treason or treason-felony to oppose a law which will be passed by this Imperial Parliament and receive the signature of the Queen. Mr. Speaker, would that I had met some Constitutional authority of that kind in the guise of a Judge some 23 long years ago! But I would in the friendliest possible spirit towards the hon. and learned Member, as one who has had some long and sad experience of penal servitude, advise him strongly against running his head against the law either in Ireland or in this country. He will never reach the Bench by way of the dock, and the luxuries and comforts and pastimes of penal servitude will be poor compensation for the surrender of the prospect of sending others to the political purgatory of Dartmoor and Portland. It is contended by opponents of this Bill that there are two Irelands to be considered, and that one of them is opposed to Home Rule. It would be more true to say there are two Ulsters, one thoroughly Nationalist, and the other holding Unionist opinions largely fostered by landlord influence. The demonstrations going on in Ulster now against this Bill are inspired by landlords, and the expenses are paid by landlords. [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Members' say "No," but show mo a list of subscriptions containing £20 from the whole industrial population of Ulster towards the expenses of these demonstrations, and then I will withdraw my statement. I deny that the majority of the people of Ulster are opposed to this Bill. I maintain the majority of the Northern Province are in favour of this Bill, and that a large majority of the farmers of Ulster are in favour of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. They want fair rents or compulsory purchase of the landlords' interest in the land. These they know they will never get from the landlords of Ulster; these they are certain to obtain from the Home Rule Parliament, which will be largely the legislative organ of the tenant fanners and agricultural classes of Ireland. I will not weary the House with reference to the speech delivered 55 in Belfast by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition; but I will, with the permission of the House, say a few words upon the argument of Belfast as put forward against this Bill. Sir, the reasoning which convicted Tenterden Steeple of having caused the Goodwin Sands is about as conclusive as that which attributes the prosperity of Belfast to the Act of Union. The comparative prosperity of Belfast is entirely due to locality and the operation of economic causes. The invention of machinery destroyed in Ulster the weaving industry and other cottage industries which obtained all over Ireland 40 or 50 years ago, and the people, deprived of this means of earning a livelihood in their own villages, flocked into Belfast and helped to build up its population and prosperity. Then the security which the Ulster Custom gives the farmers of Ulster enables them to put their savings in Belfast banks, and it was out of the capital thus deposited that the prosperity of Belfast was built up. We are told that the population of Belfast has increased 180,000 since the Act of Union. Is that due to the beneficent operation of that measure, may I ask? If so, to what cause must we attribute the loss of population in Antrim and Down, the two counties in which Belfast is situated, equal to the gain of population in the city? What influence has deprived Ulster of 700,000 of her population during the period of the growth of the population of Belfast? Will this House kindly bear those figures in mind when the Ulster Members ask us to feast our eyes upon that wonderful growth of Belfast under the fostering care of the Union? They are continually inviting us to look at Belfast as a proof of what wealth can be accumulated by an industrial community. Well, if we examine into the wealth of Belfast very closely we will find that judging by the assessment of Income Tax the people of Dublin are paying £20 per head, while they only pay £11 per head. I contend that you have to-day in Belfast as much poverty, as much underpaid labour, as much hardship of factory life and general social discontent as can be found in any city within the United Kingdom. I contend that we, the advocates of this measure, instead of being in any way inimical to 56 the prosperity of Belfast, are anxious that that prosperity should continue to grow, and I believe that under Home Rule that growth will be rapid. Those who are opposed to this Bill, and who ask us to allow the present system of government to continue in Ireland, carefully ignore the fruits of the Act of Union. We say that the system of government established in Ireland under that Act is the greatest failure of any system of government ever established in any civilised country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said last night that before 1886 Ireland was in a condition of greater prosperity than in former years, that there was a marked improvement in the social condition of the people, and the hon. Member for Sheffield, who spoke this evening, boasted about the great prosperity which has obtained in Ireland during the last seven years, and which is in fact flowing to Ireland now, if we, who are the advocates of Home Rule, would only allow it to prosper. Well, we do not accept these statements. What do the actual facts of the case say? Take the number of persons relieved in the workhouses of Ireland annually during the last 30 years. In 1860, with a population of 5,900,000, there were 170,000 people relieved in the workhouses of the country; in 1890, with a population of 4,600,000, there were 334,164 persons relieved in Irish workhouses, showing an increase of 164,000, or nearly 100 per cent., upon a population which had decreased 1,300,000 within the same period of 30 years. Take again as evidence of the fruits of the Union what the Census of 1891 disclosed. The Census of 1891 shows that there are 870,000 inhabited houses in Ireland, and out of these there are no less than 300,000, or over 36 per cent., built mostly of mud. This condition of things exists after 93 years of the Act of Union, and not as a result of a Home Rule Government. The three modern tests of that good government which promotes civilisation are the housing, feeding, and clothing of the people governed. How will the Act of Union stand the application of these tests? I have already dealt with one test. The Congested Districts Board Report just issued gives us some valuable information on the two other 57 tests. This Report states that the so-called congested districts run through eight counties on the Western seaboard, and contain a population of 550,000, or more than one-ninth of the whole of Ireland, and the Poor Law valuation of this one-ninth is £1 0s. 3d. per head. On page 8 of that Report we read—Even in the most prosperous of the congested districts the standard of living is low, the diet being altogether vegetable, with the exception of salt fish at times, which is used more as a relish than as an article of food. The houses, furniture, and bedding are too often unhealthy, mean, and comfortless, and the weekday clothing is frequently ragged and scanty.'This statement, which refers to one-ninth of the total population of Ireland, comprised in eight counties of the 32, might, with perfect accuracy, he applied to 1,000,000 more people scattered through the remaining 24 counties, 1,000,000 of a total population which has been reduced 4,500,000 in 50 years; in other words, 1,500,000 of our remaining population who are barely clear of the starvation point, and the Irish starvation point is marked the lowest in the social scale of civilised nations. One test more of the fruits of the Union, the saddest of all tests—that of the increase of lunacy among the Irish people. The increase of lunacy in Ireland during recent years has gone on alarmingly. In 1871—and I was unable to go farther back for want of statistical information—in 1871 there were 16,505 lunatics confined in asylums in Ireland. In 1881 the number increased to 18,414, and in 1892 the number increased still to the alarming extent of 21,188, or 32 per cent. of an increase, although the population decreased 13 per cent. since 1870. What is this saddest of all the misfortunes of our people due to? I assert it is due to the impoverished conditions of social existence which obtain in Ireland, and above all to the favourite fruit, the choice method of ruling Ireland by the Act of Union—the vandalism of eviction— destruction of the homesteads of the people in the interest of the governing landlord minority. What a credit these fruits are to your Act of Union! What a boast for a mighty Empire! What a result of the governing capacity of the minority into whose hands this House has given the rule, the care of the lives and destinies of the Irish people! And in face of these facts the right hon. Gen- 58 tleman the Leader of the Opposition is anxious to know why this Bill is brought in—why the Castle system of Irish government should be interfered with or changed. We say that the Bill is necessary in order to cure these evils. We say that nothing less than such a measure of justice and Constitutional reform as is embodied in this Bill will bring about the necessary cure. Let me for a few moments take a little higher ground, and view this subject of your past government of Ireland from a philosophical standpoint. What, in plain language, has been the general character of England's government of Ireland. Let me just ask what have been, and are still, the chief characteristics or racial tendencies of the Irish people? Intense devotion to their religion, an almost supernatural attachment to their homesteads and the soil, a steadfast and almost religious love of fatherland. These are the three great governing principles of Irish character. How has England's rule of Ireland dealt with these, the greatest of human as of Irish feelings? Need I answer the question? Instead of governing such a people on the lines of least resistance, in accordance with the dictates of enlightened reason, which would save from outrage and insult and injury the institutions and customs, and even the prejudices, of a sensitive race, you warred against each and all of these great principles, and you have been beaten by them, as you deserved to be, and will again. Your penal laws were abolished, your tithes were abolished, your Established Church was abolished, your rack-renting and do-as-you-please-with-your-own landlordism has all but been abolished, and Dublin Castle is confronted by this Bill. The fight which is being fought against this Bill was waged by the same class, by similar threats, by the same predictions, against every other reform which demanded religious freedom and social security for the people of Ireland. Nothing that is said or done now by Ulster bigotry or Tory opposition has even the poor merit of originality. History is full of it, and history is sick of it. It was uttered in 1829; the same game was played in the '30's in the struggle against tithes; we all remember the civil war which was to come off in 1869; and here again we have the same malignant opposition, the 59 same theatrical posing of disloyal loyalists, the same silly and baseless fears, when a nation which has been infamously misgoverned in the sole interests of a class of greedy, selfish landlords is knocking at the gates of your Imperial system asking for a real and lasting union, willing to bury and forget past injustices on condition that she shall be ruled in future, not by a Government of the landlords, by the landlords, for the landlords, but by a Government of the people, by the people, for the people. The favourite argument against this Bill is that the Irish people will not rule their own country in accordance with justice and sound sense. We are only too familiar with this kind of reasoning. It was once truly written by the London Times, about the struggles of another nation to obtain a Parliament, that—The sophisms of tyranny are as notorious to the attentive reader of history as those of Jesuitry. Deny a nation the most ordinary rights and liberties, keep its people in ignorance of all that they ought to know, studiously impoverish them to break their spirit, teach them to regard their governors as their enemies, and when all this has had time to work itself into the mind of the nation, use the degradation yon have produced as an argument for the necessity of its continuance, and adduce the effects of tyranny as an argument against the admission of freedom.The Protestants of Ireland have nothing to fear from Home Rule, and nothing to dread from their Catholic fellow-countrymen. Catholics and Protestants live in political harmony together in the Colonies without any attempted interference with religious rights, and so they will in Ireland under Home Rule. At the present moment the Prime Minister of Canada is a Catholic, and two of the chief Orangemen of Ontario are Members of his Government. In Victoria the leading Orangeman of the Colony is, I believe, Premier, while the leading Member of his Ministry is the leading Catholic of the Colony, a former Member of this House, Sir Bryan O'Loughlin. If these happy results have followed in Canada and Australia as a result of Home Rule Institutions, surely we have a right to expect that under Home Rule in Ireland the same happy relationship will exist between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. I feel now that I ought to apologise to the House for having wearied your patience in what is, I am sure, too lengthy a speech, too pre- 60 sumptuous an indulgence upon the occasion of a first speech in this Assembly. I wish to say, in conclusion, that the democratic spirit of your Colonies, the institutions and laws which Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen establish wherever they set up a Government outside the shores of Great Britain, are coming home to you by way of Ireland. You cannot resist the invasion. They bring back the true nature of your British Constitution, purged of class ascendancy, a landed aristocracy, an Established Church, and other feudal and fetish political antiquities, out of harmony with the true purpose and progress of a democratic age. Home Rule is one of these institutions. It has made your Colonies what they are to-day—the glory of your Empire, the envy of other colonising Powers. Ireland demands it with overwhelming Constitutional right. Scotland will insist upon it, so will Wales. On the other hand, you are compelled by the force of absolute necessity to begin the work of meeting the inroad of the Home Rule principle, conferring Home Rule upon your villages, your districts, and your counties. You might as well attempt to stop the Falls of Niagara by Tory obstruction as to stem the tide of evolutionary change. It is flowing in on your old fogeyism and played-out systems with an irresistible momentum; and, were you not blinded by bigotry and race hatred, you would recognise and acknowledge the services which Ireland is rendering to Great Britain and to the Empire in forcing your attention and your legislation to the framing of such laws as will knit together, interlock, and consolidate in harmonious Federalism the great and mighty Empire which can only be held together by this cementing principle. You lost the American Colonies by refusing Home Rule. You have retained Canada and Australia by conceding it. You have impoverished Ireland by the blindness which lost you the fairest and richest inheritance ever owned by any nation.
§ MR. A. M. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)
I rise to Order. I wish to ask, is the hon. Member in Order in reading his speech?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
As the question has been asked of me, I am bound to 61 answer it. It is quite permissible to use notes in this House.
§ MR. DAVITT
I thank you, Sir, for the protection you have given me, and for the consideration every Irish Member in this House knows he will always receive at your hands. I wish to say I was not reading my speech; and now I will continue my closing remarks. The real issue in this contest is not the merits or demerits of this Bill. The Opposition shirk a full and fair discussion of the measure, both inside and outside this House. The evils which they pretend will follow from the Bill, if it becomes law, are expressly guarded against in its character and its clauses. It is not a Bill to Repeal the Union, but to make the Union a fair and a real measure for the Constitutional government of Ireland. It is not a Bill to create and uphold the rule of a "tyrannous majority," but to establish a system of National administration by and under which all Irishmen will stand as equals in the matter of religious, social, and political rights. The only injury the Bill can inflict upon the minority in Ireland is to bring them down to a level of equality of justice and of law with the rest of their fellow-countrymen. The Bill, therefore, is not the real issue in this light. It is a wider and more for-reaching principle—it is the question of the supremacy of the masses or the classes in the Constitutional government of these three islands. The classes are fighting for their political supremacy, and "Ulsteria" is but a means to that end. They fight democracy in Ireland because they fear its supremacy in Great Britain. The Irish Question blocks the way in this House. It keeps English, Scotch, and Welsh questions outside more or less. It arrests the introduction and consideration of great measures of social reform which are knocking loudly at the doors of this House for enactment. This is why the Bill is so vehemently opposed by the Opposition, why Ulster is encouraged to talk about rebellion and all the rest. How long, may I ask, is this obstruction to go on? Why does Parliament sit now for half the year to little purpose? Why are days and nights frequently spent in unprofitable discussions — the public becoming tired and indifferent—during the Session? The answer is still Ireland, Ireland. The Imperial Parliament has involved itself in a maze without 62 issue. It has undertaken a task which it cannot perform, and the sooner it gets rid of the burden the better for Ireland and Great Britain. [At this point Mr. Davitt raised aloft a large bundle of Bills yet to be disposed of.] I believe this Bill to be a pact of peace between Ireland and England, and I further believe that it will pass into law. The opposition to such a measure with such a purpose is either the cant of Party bigotry or the cowardice of political conviction. To widen the sphere of a people's national life has never yet in the history of human progress resulted in failure or produced political or social retrogression. It is oppression and discontent which arrest the growth and narrow the public life of civilised communities, begetting race hatreds and those other great evils which government by force and distrust must inevitably engender. Liberty, on the other hand, has ever had, and ever will have, an elevating and ennobling influence on mankind. It will expand the genius and give free play to the best energies of the Irish people in every sphere of intellectual, social, and public activity. It cannot possibly fail to produce that contentment, progress, and prosperity in Ireland with which nationhood has blessed every land upon which it has been bestowed. Sir, I firmly believe that the day when this Bill becomes law—the day on which the right to manage her own local affairs in her own way is conferred upon Ireland— that day will a new era of peace and prosperity begin for a long and cruelly misgoverned country, which will give to Ireland and Great Britain alike the strength of real and lasting unity, and the mutual happiness of seeing at an end for ever a long and disastrous Anglo-Irish strife.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, no matter how much anyone might differ from many of the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member who had just spoken, there was no man in that House who would not admit freely and frankly that he had made, not only a most able, but a most temperate and manly speech. De had met the hon. Gentleman in other and, perhaps, happier times, and, though he had heard him speak very often, he had never before heard him speak with so much force, moderation, and eloquence. An Ulster Member spoke under 63 many disadvantages on this Bill. He was told by a Minister that he did not represent the opinion of Ulster, and he was told the same thing by some who had never seen Ulster in their lives. Notwithstanding those disadvantages, he was prepared to deal with the arguments which had been brought forward in support of this Bill. But first he would address himself to the argument which ran through all the speeches made in that House, and on platforms outside the House, as to why the Irish minority refused to trust the Irish majority—that was the argument as to faith and trust. They were told that the Irish minority were actuated by fear and not by reason. He, for one, frankly admitted that the Irish minority, be that minority what it might—he was not speaking of its numbers —were afraid to trust the Irish majority. The first duty devolving upon him was to show cause for this lack of faith and to account for this lack of trust. He wanted to point out what, perhaps, the hon. Member for North East Cork (Mr. Davitt) knew, that half the difficulties of Home Rule would be got rid of if it were not for the Home Rulers. There was as much objection to the Home Rulers themselves as there was to Home Rule, and he maintained he was bound to show the reason for this distrust and want of faith. He must speak frankly; but he was not going, he was happy to say, to make many references to speeches, for he maintained that was a most dangerous thing at this time. The first thing he desired to do was to refer the House to the period of the Land League agitation. The father of the League sat opposite, and he was proud of the title. What was said of the League by the Prime Minister? He said that "crime dogged its footsteps." What was said by his then Attorney General, now Mr. Justice Johnson? It was often put upon the right hon. Gentleman, but the right hon. Gentleman did not say it; it was the statement of his Attorney General. He said—The men who officered and manned the League were steeped to the lips in treason.That being the character given by the Prime Minister and his Attorney General of the day, he now asked the House who manned or officered that League? They were asked why they distrusted these men, and he would tell them why. Four 64 of these men were in the United States. One of them the Grand Jury of the County of Dublin found a true bill against for murder, and he escaped. Another fled, and no doubt for good cause, at the time of the Phœnix Park murders. There were four of these men, who officered and manned this League 13 years ago, who dared not set foot in England. One man was in his grave, and he at all events would throw no dirt at his memory. The remainder of them sat upon the Benches opposite. These men had no word against crime, save and except the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt), and he gave him credit for it. The League, and the men who manned and officered it, spared neither age nor sex, and no cry that came from woman or child in their hour of desperate extremity ever wrung one word of remonstrance from one of these men, save from the man who had just spoken, and yet they were asked why they distrusted them—men who never had the manliness to say a word against the dreadful outrages and crimes that disgraced not only Ireland, but humanity, and who had not the courage and humanity to lift up their voices against them. These men had no right to come to the Irish minority and ask to be trusted. But he left the question of crime and came to the ordinary doctrines of morality; he came to the period of the Plan of Campaign. Who worked that Plan? Hon. Members who sat on those Benches opposite worked it. What was that Plan called by the highest Court of Law in Ireland, by the Judge whom the Chief -Secretary (Mr. John Morley) singled out the other night as a really able and learned lawyer, the Chief Baron of the Exchequer? The Chief Baron pronounced it an "illegal conspiracy, an organised system of robbery." The spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church declared it to be "immoral in its essence," and even such an authority as The Daily News—[Laughter.]He admitted this was going from the sublime to the ridiculous, but even The Daily News admitted in a lucid moment that "the Plan was vitiated with dishonesty." Under these circumstances, what right had the House to ask them—and he was now speaking for the Irish minority—to trust these men when they had never 65 withdrawn their Plan, but boasted of it to this day? He came next to the question of personal freedom. During the whole 13 years they had had boycotting of men and women—of whole families in Ireland. What was the essence of boycotting? Not exclusive dealing — the law could not touch exclusive dealing, and he ventured to think it ought not—but the real essence of boycotting in Ireland was intolerance, the trampling out of all freedom on the part of the individual. No man or woman during that 13 years who dared to be honest, to assert the right to act honestly, was free from the danger of that terrible curse. The author of boycotting was the late Leader of the Nationalist Party, and the whole Party not only condoned, but advocated and approved it as a legitimate plan of agitation. Why trust men who, during these 13 long years, spent their time in stamping out every vestige of freedom of the minority: why should they come now and claim to be trusted? Now take the rights of conscience. The hon. and learned Member for West Fife, in that speech so redolent of Mark Tapley, said he never expected to find the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and himself (Mr. Russell) offered up to the stake.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Well, for sale. They did not apprehend anything of the kind; but any hon. Gentleman who ever read Archbishop Walsh's declaration in 1885, when he claimed the right of the Roman Catholic clergy to control and dominate politics, any man who had studied the Meath Election Petitions contest, and who had read Dr. Nulty's pamphlet, published since, would know that their complaint and their fear were of a very different character indeed. What those two Prelates did—and they were representative of the whole Church— what these Prelates had claimed was that politics came within the domain of morals and could not be separated, though the Irish Lord Chancellor, at a meeting in Leinster Hall, announced that they had assembled to divorce morals from politics. He had nothing to say against the Roman Catholic Church as a Christian Institution, but he objected to any Church being used as a 66 political machine; he had every respect for any Christian Church doing Christian work, but no respect for any Christian Church that sought to put political pressure upon the consciences of men. Why should gentlemen like the hon. Member for South Longford (Mr. Blake) —he was sorry the hon. Member was not in his place—go upon long pilgrimages telling the Irish minority they ought to trust the Irish majority. The hon. Member, like himself, had not even the merit of being an Irishman; he had no property in Ireland; he had no residence there; he had not lived in Ireland; he had come a distance of 3,000 miles, and knew absolutely nothing personally of the last 20 years, and what men had been called upon to suffer in Ireland, and yet this hon. Member went round the country telling them they had nothing to fear; they had only to trust, and all would be well. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. John Dillon), speaking at Kilmovee on the 5th December, 1886, said—When we come out of this struggle we will remember who were the people's friends, and who were the people's enemies, and deal out our reward to one and our punishments to (he other.He took that from The Freeman's Journal of December 6. It was absolute nonsense for anyone, either in the House or out of it, to tell them to trust these gentlemen when they had given them fair warning that they ought not to trust them. The fine theory that responsibility would make all the difference, he admitted, was worth consideration for a moment. He was told that once they made the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien) Minister of Agriculture, the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) Lord Chancellor, the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. John Dillon) Secretary of State for the Home Department or Minister of Justice, and the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) Minister of Finance, the whole situation would be changed; that the men who believed in boycotting would anathematise it; that the men who believed in the Plan of Campaign would denounce it; that the men who stood by the Land League would begin to abhor it. He did not believe that the Ethiopian changed his skin, or the leopard his spots in any such way. He believed, on the contrary, that the tendency of character 67 was to become fixed, and he was greatly confirmed in refusing to trust them by one of their own organs. They had been engaged in some very nice, he would not call them amicable, relations about the newspaper Press in Ireland; but The Daily Independent, the organ of the Party led by the hon. Member for Water-ford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), on the 29th March last used these words—We state what is in the minds of virtually the entire population when we declare that the columns of the Fallen Journal for the past month constitute an indictment against the self-restraint, the honour, and the capacity of a set of men who have been posing as leaders of the people, for which the annals of no other land could furnish a parallel from their beginning to their end. In the course of the shameful orgie—for we can call it by no more fitting name—the warring sections called each other liars and calumniators—imputed to one another almost every breach of faith of which men in positions of trust could be guilty, showed that they were lying in wait for one another to snatch a momentary advantage, even to the length of holding midnight Board meetings, disclosed the squalid affairs of the Fallen Company with an indecency unapproached in the history of limited liability bubbles, and in a word misconducted themselves in so gross and stupid a fashion as to make it impossible for any man or body of men to have the slightest confidence in them as long as grass grows or water runs.On the question of trust and faith he referred these gentlemen to The Daily Independent of the 29th March, Now he came to a point on which, he regretted to say, he must tax the attention of the Prime Minister a little. The right hon. Gentleman met a deputation the other day from the commercial classes of Belfast and of Ulster. He was not going to complain here of the manner in which these gentlemen were received, though he did not think it was all that might have been; and what was much more to the purpose the people of Ulster did not think so. The right hon. Gentleman asked these people to have faith also; he said—You think that the country is going to ruin. Do you know that Ireland was scarcely ever more prosperous than she was from 1782 to 1800, the period when Grattan's Parliament sat?He had the extract from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but he had summarised pretty much what he said, and therefore did not wish to weary the House with a long extract. The right hon. Gentleman stated in that speech that his authority was Lord Clare.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
admitted frankly that by a system of bounties, almost amounting to a regular system of protection, certain trades in Ireland did prosper during the period of Grattan's Parliament. And he went further, and admitted that the metropolis of Ireland prospered under Grattan's Parliament, and it would have been strange if it had not-done so. But he wished to give one or two figures—he would not weary the right hon. Gentleman with many—which cast some doubt on the general prosperity of the country. He would take the imports for three periods: In 1782 they stood at £3,400,599; in 1800 they "stood at £2,312,000; and in 1825 they stood at £7,048,000. Taking the exports, in 1782 they were £2,789,000; in 1800 they were £3,743,000; and in 1825 they were £8,531,000. Now, if he took the tonnage for Ireland in 1788, the gross tonnage of the Irish ports was 60,776; in 1793 it decreased to 50,187, a decrease of 25 per cent.; and from 1800 to 1836 it increased 157 per cent. Lord Clare had been quoted, and he had taken the trouble to examine his speech, and he would give one or two short extracts from that speech in proposing the Union. Lord Clare said—My opinions on this subject have not been recently or lightly formed; early professional habits had taught me to investigate the foundation of Irish titles, and of necessity to look back into Irish history; it had been my fortune to be called into active and forward public service, perhaps during the most eventful period of it. and, from a critical and attentive observation of what has passed in Ireland for the last twenty years, I am satisfied in my judgment and conscience that the existence of her independent Parliament has gradually led to her recent complicated and bitter calamities, and that it has at length become desperate and impracticable.The right hon. Gentleman might probably say that was an expression of opinion on a political issue, but he was coming now to the commercial. Lord Clare said later on—It is gravely inculcated, I know; 'let the British minister leave us to ourselves, and we are very well as we are.' We are very well as we are. Gracious God! of what materials must the heart of that man be composed, who knows the state of the country, and will coldly tell us we are very well as we are—we are very well as we are—we have not three years of redemption from bankruptcy or intolerable taxation, nor one hour's security against the renewal of exterminating civil war.69 How could a period of prosperity be reconciled with Lord Clare's statement that they were not three years from national bankruptcy? The right hon. Gentleman prohibited all reply from the Chamber of Commerce when he met them in Downing Street.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
An extremely long and most able statement of their case had been sent to me—the longest statement of the kind that I think I have ever received. I had studied it carefully, and I must confess I did not expect interminable speeches in support of it. I had also another deputation waiting to see me, and that deputation was compelled to wait a quarter of an hour in consequence of the length of the statements that were made.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he really thought the Prime Minister of a great country and in a crisis like this ought to have made such arrangements that, at all events, the deputation representing the commercial classes of Ulster would not have loft the room under the impression, rightly or wrongly, that they had been practically snubbed. Now, what about the prosperity of the country in view of the National Debt? In 1791 the Debt was £2,442,890, and the interest and charges were £142,716. In 1800 that Debt had risen to £25,662,640, and the interest and charges to £1,395,735. [An hon. MEMBER: Who made it?] Who made it? This Independent Parliament. And with the Debt rolling up, with a bloody rebellion just put down, within three years of bankruptcy, this is a prosperous country. The Belfast Chamber of Commerce was composed of men whose heads were screwed on the right way; and when the right hon. Gentleman received their reply, he would find a good many things in it that would hardly bear out his views, besides Lord Clare's opinion. He held that when they came to a question like this, when they came to deal with men's capital and with their businesses, it was only right and fair that they should be heard patiently by the Prime Minister and the Government, before they were disposed of. Now, why should the commercial classes of the 70 country trust these gentlemen—how had they proved their commercial capacity? Where were the commercial men in their ranks—where were they in Ireland? They knew perfectly well the commercial classes were almost entirely on the other side, and what was the commercial capacity of gentlemen sitting opposite? As he had already said, they had been trying for 12 mouths to manage a newspaper, and they had brought it to the verge of bankruptcy. One of the finest newspaper properties in Ireland they had practically ruined. What was their commercial capacity? Go and ask the shopkeepers of Tipperary. If they wanted to find out their opinion about the commercial capacity of the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) go and look at the ruins of the Arcade, which for all time could be quoted as a monument to his ability to manage a pure matter of business. The Prime Minister also asked the attention of the deputation to the question of Canada. The Prime Minister in the speech said—I recollect the days of perpetual discord in Canada; and have myself shared in the House of Commons in the discussions respecting it. I recollect the days when the investing of Canada with powers of self-government was accompanied with just the same prophecies on the part of those who differed that you now most conscientiously make. What has been the result? With these resources, with this population, a population and a revenue corresponding with your own, and with an internal division of race language, and religion sharper than exists in Ireland, Canada is happy, is contented, and is prosperous.That was being said all over the country, and they were asked to believe that Canada was rebellious and discontented up to 1839; that this country sent out Lord Durham as a Commissioner; that we gave Home Rule, and that discontent and rebellion wholly vanished. What were the facts? It was quite true that Canada was rebellious and dis-contended in 1837; that they sent out Lord Durham, and that Lord Durham made a satisfactory settlement; but Lord Durham's policy, he maintained, had no resemblance to the policy of this Bill. It was not a policy of disruption at all; it was a policy of consolidation. Instead of breaking up the country, Lord Durham amalgamated the two Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. But there was also this remark- 71 able feature about that settlement: The English Province of Upper Canada, comprising Ontario, had a much smaller population than Lower Canada—that of Quebec, which was largely French. These two Provinces were united; but would the House believe it—when they were united that House distinctly put into the Act that this Protestant Province, with its smaller population, should have the same number of Representatives as the larger Province, the avowed object being by that means to secure British ascendency, and to prevent the British minority being tyrannised over by the French majority? They had been referred to Canada; but Canada, so far as the year 1839 was concerned, had not the slightest bearing on the question. In a speech he made on June 3, 1839, Lord John Russell explained that they would not take numbers only as the basis of representation. The object, he said, that the Government had in view was to save the 150,000 British in Lower Canada from the domination of the French Canadians, and to give to the whole Province a British character. He said—If you were to have the British population of Lower Canada again subjected to the revived predominance of a French Assembly, it would excite the greatest discontent, and I am prepared to say, of just discontent.On the part of that population, as well as on the part of the Imperial Parliament, …. I think the true policy of this country, not only with regard to England and the Imperial Parliament, but as regards the future interests of Upper Canada, is to give a British character to the whole Province, to allow British laws and British legislation to have a thorough scope, to take care by all means that the French population shall not be oppressed, that they shall not suffer from any injustice, but at the same time not to allow their jealousies and their attachments to their own customs to stand in the way of that great progress, which I trust Canada is destined to make, and which alone can make either a Province or a State prosperous or happy.Mr. Freeman, the great historian, who was a Home Ruler to boot, declared that—This equal division of the representation was apparently unfair to the French Canadians, who far out-numbered the English of the Upper Province, but it was the secret of the success which attended the scheme, for the French were permanently out-numbered in the Assembly.In face of such a state of facts as this, the direct converse of what was proposed in this Bill, they were referred, 72 forsooth, to Canada of 1839, and told that was the success of an achievement in Home Rule. But there was a real analogy in Canada to which the right hon. Gentleman had not, referred, and which he had not found hon. Members opposite referring to on public platforms, not even the hon. Gentleman who had come 3,000 miles to tell them to trust the Irish people. If they wanted a real analogy to Irish Home Rule, they had to find it in the Province of Quebec at the present day. What were the conditions there? The conditions were practically the same as they would be in Ireland under this Bill. They had got, in the first place, two races inhabiting the Province. They had a large French population — mainly Roman Catholic and agricultural; they had also got a small English population — mainly Protestant and commercial. So far as that went, that was Ireland. They had got in Quebec Home Rule, and all the blessings that it could convey. They had got a Senate and a House of Representatives, and they had got also what he said they should have in Ireland if this Bill were allowed to pass. They had got in the Province of Quebec the domination of the Roman Catholic Church, in a way that it existed in no other part of the wide world to-day. He did not object to the Catholic Church, or to any Church as a Christian Institution, but he objected to it as a political machine. What was the result of this dual system of Government between the Church and Home Rule in Quebec? They had got, in the first place, corruption in the Government of the country. Nobody could deny that, in face of facts, and especially the fact that an ex-Prime Minister had within the last 12 months been tried before a Quebec jury. They had got a Debt rolling up, Quebec being the only Province in the Dominion which had a Debt. They had got an empty exchequer, a poor population, and a Church rich beyond the dreams of avarice. They had got education in the hands of the Church, and it was a farce. They had got the English minority paying five-sixths of the whole taxation of the Province, with no more power over the Government than they had over the Government in England. They were told that there was no Established Church in Canada, but the Roman Catholic Church tithed the income 73 of every farmer; it assessed the farmers for every church building, and for ecclesiastical purposes, and these assessments had the force of law, and were unregistered mortgages on the land. Whenever there was a deficiency in the public Revenue, they had a tax put not upon the whole Province as it ought to be, but they had the commercial classes of Montreal raided, and fresh taxation put upon them. When they were referred to Canada, he referred the Prime Minister to Quebec. When they were asked what the people of Ulster were afraid of his reply was that one Quebec was enough for the 19th century, and another ought not to be set up in Ireland. When they talked of a contented Canada, he asked them to look at Mercier unfurling the flag of Canadian independence. He now came to the question of safeguards. It might be said that these safeguards had been put into the Bill in order to meet the fears of the minority. He would state frankly what was the attitude of the Ulster people as to these safeguards. They held that if these men were capable of being trusted every safeguard that was put into the Bill was an insult. They said that if they could not trust these men without safeguards then they ought not to be trusted at all, and they maintained that these safeguards were absolutely worthless. Let them take, for example, the safeguard as to the supremacy of Parliament. They were told that the supremacy of Parliament was enshrined in the Preamble of the Bill. He had no objection to it being so enshrined. He did not think it mattered much; let it rest. They were told that the ultimate right of Parliament to legislate for the Empire was unquestioned, and they knew it. They knew that Parliament could not only legislate over the heads of an Irish Parliament, but also over the heads of a Canadian Parliament, or, indeed, over every Parliament in the Empire. But what use was the right when they parted with the Executive power? He would take a Canadian illustration. In 1878 the Dominion Parliament in Canada passed an Act exactly on all-fours with the Direct Veto Bill. The Act was challenged, and it came before the Privy Council in England, who decided that the Dominion Parliament was within its rights in legislating for the whole 74 Dominion on this question. The judgment went back to Canada, and they would naturally conclude the Act went into force. Under ordinary circumstances it would have done. It so happened, how-over, that the Dominion Parliament had no Executive power in the Province no more than they (the Imperial Parliament) would have in Ireland, and what the Provincial Legislatures told the Dominion Parliament was very likely what the Irish Parliament would tell them. They said, "You have passed the measure; we did not want it. You thought it was for our good, but you never asked us whether it was or not. You can enforce it as you like." What had been the result as to that Act—the Scott Act—in Canada since 1878? It had been a dead letter, and no attempt had been made to enforce it. Supposing this Parliament was set up in Ireland, he admitted the Imperial Parliament would retain the right to legislate. But supposing that something took place in Ireland that was wrong. Suppose they passed a tyrannical and confiscatory measure with regard to the land; it was said it could be corrected by the Imperial Parliament. They could, it was true, pass an Act of Parliament, but how were they to enforce their Act in Ireland? They had parted with every policeman and with every shred of executive power, and as soon as they had passed the Irish Parliament might say, "You can enforce it at your leisure." He held that the supremacy of Parliament was undoubted, but it was of no use in such an emergency. He might be told that the veto would be effective. He wanted to know how long an English Ministry would stand out against an Irish Parliament with 80 Members sitting there in the Imperial Parliament? They knew that the veto would be a farce, a delusion, and a snare under any such circumstance. He now came to the safeguards against property. They were told that property was not to be taken without due process of law, and without just compensation. He had got his own ideas about the due process of law, and about what would be the feeling concerning just compensation. The hon. Member for North-East Cork made merry upon this Laud Question at his (Mr. Russell's) expense. He wanted to say this once for all. It was quite true he had appeared both in the House and the country to 75 have played an inconsistent part on this Land Question. He represented a tenant-fanning constituency, and it was perfectly true that he had often defended the interests of the landlords in that House. It was quite true he had oscillated between the one Party and the other. He had done so because be thought the right had often been with the one and often with the other. He came into the House neither to defend the one nor the other unless he thought them to be right; therefore in his action he bad not been inconsistent, but had been fulfilling the pledges he gave to the people he was proud to represent in that House. The Chief Secretary, speaking at Chelmsford some five or six years ago, said the time was close at hand when they would have to prevent tenant-farmers confiscating the property of the Irish landlords. How did he carry out that idea in the Bill? The Bill, so far from protecting property, provided for a fresh confiscation of Irish land. If this Bill were passed and it became an Act, the Irish Government would have power to dismiss every Civil servant on six months' notice. The Irish Nationalist Members had already told them they would clear out the Land Commission. The Assistant Land Commissioners were made permanent Civil servants of the Crown two years ago by that House, and now they were going to put them on six months' notice. What was possible—nay, what was probable, if the Irish Members were true to themselves, true to the people they represented, and true to their own word? They had only to give six months' notice, and these 35 Assistant Land Commissioners would be turned out by the Irish Parliament, who would put in creatures with Plan of Campaign ideas of the value of land. And mark what had not been commented upon before. The Land Question was reserved for three years to that House. What did that mean? Three years hence the first of the rents fixed under the Act of 1881 would come up for revision, and then these Campaign valuers would be let loose. In face of these facts it was idle to talk about the due process of law and just compensation. It was not much use quoting words by the Members of the Government; but if he were to quote any, they would be those of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who, in an article in The 76 Nineteenth Century for February, 1886, said—The honour of England is pledged to their (the landlord's) rights. At no cost can we abandon them. "We could not look other nations in the face were we to throw over men whose property we continued so lately by the Act of 1881.Had he (Mr. Russell) not proved they were abandoning them, and that, too, in. the most shameful way? Take the safeguard of the Second Chamber What was the use of Radicals attempting to set up a Second Chamber at this time of day? They were denouncing a Second Chamber here, and were setting one up in Ireland. They were denouncing property qualifications here and establishing them in Ireland, and they expected to make them believe that either one or the oilier was likely to last. It did not matter whether they lasted or not. A Second Chamber might be a good thing in itself; he had no doubt it was, but he said it was absolutely valueless as a safeguard. Under no system of representation could the Irish minority secure more than 20 in the Irish Legislative Council. The Irish minority were crowded into special localities, and not spread over the country. He did not claim that the minority in any country should rule. He claimed that the majority should rule, but it should be a. majority of the country itself—the majority of the United Kingdom. He maintained that the majority of the United Kingdom was not in favour of this Bill; it had not been consulted on the Bill, and if the Government were anxious to know the opinion of the country on the measure, let them go to the country upon it. To put this Second Chamber forward as a safeguard was perfectly absurd. Again, the Irish Parliament was to be incapable of establishing or endowing religion. He admitted that it was not likely to endow the Roman Catholic Church directly. The Government, however, said that the question of the Church Establishment was one for the Scottish, Welsh, and English peoples to decide. Why, then, handcuff the Irish people in the decision of a similar question? It was not done to protect the Irish minority. It was because the Government knew that they dare not leave the question in this position; it was because they were afraid of the 77 English and Scotch people. If he wished to establish and endow the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland he should not think of paying the priesthood. That would be the worst possible way of doing it. They had only to get rid of the lay Roman Catholic teacher under the National system of education and substitute the Religious Orders, and then they were endowing the Roman Catholic Church in as direct a form as if they endowed the priesthood. He now came to the Irish Members' clause. The first objection he took to it was the gerrymandering of the Irish representation, which was one of the most shameful things that ever was done. Take the Schedule as to the Irish representation in that House, and what did they find? The County of Antrim, with a registered electorate of 36,000, was to have four Members: the Boroughs of Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Kilkenny, and Newry, with 14,000 electors, were to obtain five Representatives. He called that impudent gerrymandering. This, indeed, was not a Bill merely to establish an Irish Parliament; it was a Bill to reduce Parliament to impotence, and he confessed he had seen nothing more extraordinary than the position which had been taken up by Gladstonian Members. In May of 1886 they were all for exclusion of the Irish Members. In June of that year they went to the country, and the whole of the Party that had voted for the exclusion of the Irish Members at once took the Irish representation to their arms and declared that they could not think of parting with them, and they then argued for their retention. Now, however, the same hon. Members were going to vote for a Bill which neither retained nor excluded the Irish Representatives. Now, suppose the Bill to be passed—which was a large assumption—that the new machinery had come into operation and that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was still in Office—another largo assumption—and that he proposed to go on with the Newcastle Programme —taking, say, the Direct Veto Bill first, which was perhaps the largest assumption of all, just let them see how it would be. When a Division took place the other day on the Welsh Local Veto Bill there was an English majority against it; and if the Direct Veto Bill was taken, with the 78 Irish representation excluded, the right hon. Gentleman would be defeated, much as he should regret it, by the British vote. Under ordinary circumstances, in such a case the Government would resign and would retire. But did the Bill provide for this being done? Not at all. The right hon. Gentleman could not carry his Bill, but he could summon all the Irish Members on a Vote of Confidence and retain his seat. Thus, while the right hon. Gentleman would be incapable of legislating in accordance with the wishes of the British majority, he would still be capable of keeping his seat by the aid of the 80 Irishmen outside. There must be two majorities in that House if the Bill passed in its present shape. It was a total mistake to suppose that the Unionist Party in 1886 had no difficulties upon this question. They had a choice of difficulties; to retain the Irish Members was a, difficulty, and to exclude them was a. difficulty. That was the real truth of the matter, and he should have thought the real way of solving the question was to let it alone. He now came to the last part of what he had to say on the question—namely, as to the Province of Ulster. A good deal had been said about Ulster, and the hon. Member for North-East Cork had claimed that the majority of the people of Ulster were in favour of this Bill. In the last Parliament there was an Ulster majority in favour of the right hon. Gentleman. There was no such majority in his favour now, but, on the contrary, there was a majority against this Bill. The hon. Member for Islington the other night gave as a, proof that Belfast was not so prosperous as Dublin or Cork that there were fewer £20 valuations in Belfast than in Dublin or Cork. This was the kind of food with which the Gladstonian Party was fed. The working-men of Dublin and Cork lived in old houses with five, six, and ten families herded together in one house, while the Belfast working-man lived in a self-contained house. His (Mr. Russell's) position was this: There were not only two Irelands, but two Ulsters as well. He did not care which Ulster they took, whether it was the geographical Ulster or whether it was the old Ulster of the Plantation. He said that Ulster, as a whole, had returned a solid majority against the Bill. 79 If the doctrine of counting heads was to be persevered in, it might be said that Ireland returned a majority for the Bill, but there was a majority in Ulster against it. If the Government must give Home Rule to Ireland because the majority in Ireland demanded it, why must they force it upon Ulster when the majority in Ulster told them they would passionately resist it? He was not pleading for a separate Ulster. The time for that had not come, but the day might come when it might be necessary to do so. They could defeat the Bill without appealing for it. What was the situation in that Province? Let them take the question of crime there. In Protestant Ulster, which sent Unionist Members to this House, there were 10 or 12 policemen for every 10,000 inhabitants, while in Kerry, Clare, and Limerick there were 49 policemen for every 10,000. [An hon. MEMBER: Whose fault is that?] It was the orderly population of Ulster —the population that did not need policemen—that the Government were going to coerce, and it was disorderly Ireland which needed policemen, to which they were going to hand over the law-abiding people of Ulster. The Prime Minister made an extraordinary statement to the deputation from Belfast the other day. The right hon. Gentleman said that if the population of Belfast had increased in the same proportion as it had increased in the 18 years before the Union, it would now have reached 700,000. In 1782 it was 13,000, and at the Union it was 25,000, which was an increase of 12,000 in 18 years, so that, had that increase gone on, the population would only be 69,000. But let them take Belfast as it was. There, at all events, there was a steady increase in the population. It had grown from under 30,000 in 1800 to 275,000 in 1893. In Belfast and in the district and towns round about there were prosperity and industry. He would ask the Gladstonians how they accounted for that prosperity—not in Belfast alone lot them remember—and for the different state of things existing in the South and West. It could not be the law or the administration of the law, because they were the same both in Ulster and Munster. The main difference between those two Provinces was that in Ulster there was a law-abiding spirit which 80 had boon chased out of Minister. The only crime of Ulster was a passionate attachment to the Empire and the Imperial connection, and for that she was to be cast out and betrayed. What was the duty of an Ulster Representative under those circumstances? It was one of great responsibility, and the responsibility must be discharged. He had no right to threaten the House or the country. No man could quote from any speech of his any incitement to civil war, or anything like it. The position of the people of Ulster was very simple. They said they had done no wrong, and that they were proud to belong to the Empire. While they did not deny the right of this country to cut them off, they denied its right to fix their masters and to sell them into slavery, which was really what the Government was proposing to do. It was said that the Church Act of 1869 produced all these disturbances. But the great Presbyterian Body, as well as the Methodist and other Nonconformist communities in Ireland, were largely in favour of that Act. The first vote he (Mr. Russell) gave as a citizen was for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. The words of only one man—a clergyman, who was now dead, and of whom he wished to say nothing—had been quoted to show that the country had been threatened in reference to the passing of the Church Act. The Ulster people were not then united in favour of the Church. A large number favoured Disestablishment. He wished to say they wore solid now. The hon. Member for North-East Cork would not be able to bribe the sturdy Ulster tenant-farmers into accepting this Bill or any Bill like it. What were the Government going to do with that Province? Were the men who had been travelling all over the country protesting against coercion, who stood by moonlighters and knaves of every kind, who denounced the application of the law to those law-breakers, and who had made England ring with the cry of coercion—were they going to admit that they were prepared to coerce Ulster, not for crime, not for wrongdoing, but for passionate loyalty to the Empire? They went about the country saying that no law was worth anything that was not founded upon the consent of the governed. How were they going to get the consent of the Ulster people to this 81 law? They knew they would not get it, and they would have to eat all the brave words which they had been using for the last six years, and apply that coercion to men who had done 110 wrong, and who were bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. They would not carry peace into Ireland, but a sword. They were not peacemakers, but mischief makers. The people of this country were face to face with this dishonouring Bill. Why were there no meetings to defend the Bill? Was there nothing to elucidate and explain? The Government were not trying to defend their policy, because they knew it was indefensible. If they succeeded in what they were doing they would turn more than 1,000,000 of loyal subjects into men who would hate and despise the name of England, and who would bequeath to their children's children the memory of a great wrong and an infamous betrayal. That was what they were trying to do, and that was what he believed the people of Great Britain, with their big bounding hearts, would prevent them from doing. He hoped the House would forgive him if he had spoken more strongly than he ought to have done; but he had done so because he believed it to be his duty, not only to his constituents, but also to the United Kingdom. He had spoken the sentiments that prevailed in Ulster, and he trusted they would have the serious consideration of the House.
§ *MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
said, that when he heard the hon. Member for South Tyrone speak, he always rejoiced that he (Mr. T. W. Russell) was not an Ulsterman. When things more bitter than should be said by any Irishman were to be said, a man who was not an Irishman had to be sought for in order to say them.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present.
§ *MR. KNOX
said, the hon. Member for South Tyrone commenced his speech by making an announcement that he (Mr. Knox) was very pleased to hear—namely, that he did not intend to quote speeches. But the hon. Member had proceeded for an hour and a quarter to do little else than quote speeches, some delivered in the year 1800 and some later 82 —but all speeches. The hon. Member had attempted to convict the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister inaccuracy in the statement he had attributed to Lord Clare when receiving the Belfast deputation the other day. To do that he had quoted a speech Lord Clare had made on another occasion. It was true it was not easy to reconcile those two speeches, but it was equally difficult to reconcile speeches the hon. Member for South Tyrone had made on different occasions. The question they had to consider on this Bill was a very wide one, and he (Mr. Knox) would not attempt to cover more than a small part of it. He would not deal with the wide Imperial issues raised in the measure. He intended to deal with that aspect of the Bill which directly concerned the Province, part of which he represented, and he might claim that he represented that Province with as good a right as the hon. Member who had just spoken; for while the hon. Member's majority was 300, composed of bogus voters, who were put on the register by a technicality of the Registration Law, and who were held by the Court of Appeal to have no right to be on the register at all, his (Mr. Knox's) majority was 4,500. As an Ulster Member and as an Ulsterman born and bred he did not want to say anything against Ulster, or anything bitter about the Ulster people. He was as proud as any Member of that House of the dogged tenacity shown by the Ulster people, and by the Ulster Catholics as well as by the Ulster Protestants; but he confessed he found it difficult to view with pride some of the things said by Ulstermen at the present moment. They heard people saying that Ulster was preparing for war, and he should like to read an extract to show how they were doing this. They heard a great many speeches stating, in the abstract, what would happen if the Bill became law; but he thought that sometimes, when they got down to the concrete, and saw what it all meant in plain English, they could estimate the real danger. He bad road the other day in The Belfast News Letter, the leading Conservative paper of Ulster, a proposal for instructing the inhabitants of Belfast in the use of arms by means of lectures illustrated by diagrams on the blackboard. That was the practical form which these speeches 83 took, and he confessed that he did not think that the opinion which men of sense would have of the common sense of Ulstermen would be increased by such writings or speeches. He did not believe that there would he any attempt at rebellion in Ulster. He had a better opinion of the common sense of Ulster-men than to think they would make such fools of themselves. He did not believe that Ulstermen would he foolish enough to accept, without further inquiry, the gratuitous opinion of the hon. Member for Mid Armagh that, in rebelling against the Imperial Parliament, they would be doing nothing contrary to the law; and he did not think it likely that the people of Ulster would take, at his own valuation, the military leadership of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. He could not believe that they would make such fools of themselves. The fact was that, owing to historical circumstances more than to their own fault, there wore certain phrases which had become, not poetry, as was said by the hon. Member for West Fifeshire (Mr. Birrell), not rhetoric, as was said by the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Paul), but a part of the ordinary woof and texture of their speech. They had been accustomed, from their earliest childhood, to talk about Deny walls and the Battle of the Boyne. Their first notions about a horse had usually been derived from King William's horse, which was invariably represented to them as prancing, and unless they happened to learn in after life something of the outside world, they went through life imitating King William's horse, poetically, rhetorically, or at least metaphorically prancing. Ulstermen, however, never mistook metaphors for realities, and they had a keen eye to business all the time. He would give an example. He read the other day that a distinguished jeweller in Belfast struck a very beautiful medal in commemoration of the visit of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and appended to the notices of the fact the statement that every man who was present at that demonstration ought to possess one of these medals. This gentleman was as good a Home Ruler as he (Mr. Knox) was, but he saw the opportunity of making 84 profitable use of the present political temper of Ulster, and of course availed himself of it. Circulars had been issued broadcast by traders in Ireland saying that owing to the lamentable state of the country they were unable to give further orders. Undoubtedly the information had been spread abroad by leading Unionist merchants among the Unionist retail traders in Ireland that it would serve their purposes to refuse any orders to English commercial travellers, and he knew that English travellers had in many cases been refused orders. What did this mean? It meant that the orders were being given to the Irish Unionist wholesale houses, which were doing better trade than they ever did before. He did not, however, say that there was no man in Ulster who now honestly intended to fight. There were many deluded people in the Province who thought a civil war was coining, and this was not the first time they had had people so deluded. He did not believe, with the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt), that the conduct of the men who said they would fight against the Irish Chinch Act was entirely theatrical posing. He believed a great many of them were in deadly earnest when they declared they would fight rather than submit. He knew this because they went so far as to plank down their money in this belief. There was an hon. Member of that House who did a roaring trade in rifles and revolvers at that time. He laid the foundation of what was now an ample fortune by selling rifles and revolvers in 1868. He sold them at a very large profit—nearly 100 per cent. He only refrained from mentioning the name of his hon. Friend, because he was still liable to be brought up and punished for supplying these rifles and revolvers in 1868. The Ulstermen did not fight at that time, not because they were braggarts or cowards, but because they found they had been deluded, and that, instead of the Irish Church Act aiming at the extinction of their religion, the Irish Church became more prosperous as a voluntary Church than it had been before. When he said that he did not believe that this Bill, which would soon be an Act, would lead to civil war; he said so, not because Ulstermen were braggarts, not because they were cowards, but because he believed 85 the Act would do no harm to Ulster, but rather do much good. They had heard a good deal of Protestant ascendancy. He had to say that that was a misnomer. He would describe it as the ascendancy of a section of a sect of Protestants, who might probably lose by this Bill. The Protestant Episcopalian landed aristocracy were the only gainers by the Union. They had gained, firstly, in rents, which had been levied—and were still to a large extent levied—on the improvements of the tenants. At the time of the Union the rental of Ireland was £5,000,000. It rose to £15,000,000. It was still £12,000,000. This immense increment could not be properly described as unearned increment. Unearned increment was an increase of value due to the general improvement of the community, and which should go to neither landlord or tenant, but to the State. In Ireland there had been no such general improvement. The increase in the value of the land was due solely to the improvements made by the tenants. The tenants had brought about an increase in the value of the land by their labour, and the landlords had pocketed it in the form of rent. That was one of the things which the section he had referred to had gained by the Union, and there was likely to be some loss sustained in that respect in the future. In the second place they had secured an undue share of the public offices in Ireland, and in this connection he had to thank the hon. Member (Mr. Leese) for his speech the other night in which he proved clearly that a section of the Protestants of Ireland had had an undue share of public offices and public places. In the third place the Irish Protestants had had opportunities of University education, which was not enjoyed by the masses of the people. It was quite possible that those particular advantages might be lost. He hoped Trinity College would not be destroyed—he did not think it would be possible under the Bill to destroy it—but he trusted the undue share of advantage which the landlord class now secured from Trinity College would be taken away by giving to the Catholics of the country equal opportunity of education in a Catholic University. It was possible, too, that the present undue share of offices would not be given to that section of the lauded aristocracy 86 after Home Rule. He thought it possible that under Home Rule the landlords of Ireland would find their rents reduced, and find themselves unable to confiscate their tenants' improvements. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had said that after this Bill was carried it would be possible for the Irish Government to appoint the Sub-Commissioners to fix rents. But was that worse as a matter of moral principle than to have rents fixed, as they were now, almost entirely by men in sympathy with the landlords? Probably hon. Members above the Gangway would say it would be better to have rents fixed by men who were not in very keen sympathy with either landlords or tenants. That state of things would be secured under the Bill, for, while it was very probable that the Sub-Commissioners would be men who sympathised with the tenants, there would still be an appeal to the Commissioners whose positions were secured for life, and who were, with one exception, in sympathy with the landlords. He would, however, frankly admit that probably under Home Rule the landlords of Ireland would find their rents reduced. He did not think the constituents of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) would have been willing to return him to Parliament had he not assured them at the last election that without Home Rule their rents would be reduced. The hon. Member during his election campaign advocated what he had denounced in the House of Commons—namely, the compulsory expropriation of every landlord in Ireland. He said nothing would do but to turn them all out, and that if they were allowed to remain temporarily in the meantime rents must be very largely reduced. The Nationalist Members asked no more from the Irish Parliament than the hon. Member had demanded from the English Parliament. He (Mr. Knox) came from the landlord class, though personally he had ceased to have any direct connection with it, in the same way as the Duke of Abercorn and Lord Londonderry had so ceased. He had sold his property partly because, with what would be called business instinct, he had thought it better to sell, and partly because his principles were in favour of a peasant proprietary, and he thought he might carry them out on a small scale. Coming from the landlord 87 class and having almost all his kith and kin belonging to it, he believed that though the landlords might lose somewhat in the reduction of rents and compulsory expropriation—he hoped not on unfair terms — which would probably follow on Home Rule, he did not believe that in the end the landlords of Ireland would be losers. The Irish landlord class had an honourable record of service in the Army, in the Navy, in the Church, at the Bar, in Indian Administration, in almost every career except one: they had not gained honour as landlords. He did not think they would be any the worse or would play any less honourable a part in the future history of their country when they had every occupation open to them except that in which they had disgraced themselves. But, after all, the landlord aristocracy were a very small section of the Irish Protestants. The real question was whether the mass of the people of Ulster would lose by Home Rule. He asserted that the mass of the Ulster people had rather lost than gained by centuries of English rule. The Protestants had suffered less than the Catholics, because, in the first place, they had a certain security in the Ulster Custom against their rents being unduly raised. They had some security in land tenure, and they also, even the poorest of them, had occasionally picked up some of the crumbs of patronage which fell from the landlord's table. Still, at the present moment Ulster was not better off than the other Provinces, either in wealth, in education, or in increase of population. According to the last Census the valuation of Leinster was £4 0s. 4d. a head, of Munster £2 18s. 9d., of Ulster £2 14s. 10d., and Minister had gained considerably more than Ulster in the last 10 years. The figures for Income Tax showed Ulster in the third position again. With regard to education, he admitted that Ulster Protestants, having had the advantage of education for so many years while the Catholics were not allowed even to keep schools, ought to be better educated than the Catholics. As a matter of fact, however, Ulster was not better educated than the rest of Ireland. The figures showed that according to the Census the people of each denomination were worse educated in Ulster than in any other part of Ireland. According to the last Census 88 the proportion of those who could read and write was in Leinster 74.6, in Munster 71.9,in Ulster 70.7, and in Connaught 61.8 per cent. Up till 1881 Ulster was ahead of Minister in education. Now Ulster had fallen behind Minister and stood third on list. Turning to the figures respecting the education of boys and girls between 10 and 20 he found that Minister was forging ahead, that Ulster was falling still further behind, and that the percentage in Ulster was only two better than that in Connaught. If the present state of things went on for another 10 years Connaught would have caught up and beaten in education the Province which contained Belfast. No doubt Donegal somewhat brought down the average in Ulster, but speaking generally, and comparing the Nationalist counties with the Unionist counties, it would not be found that the Nationalist counties came badly out of the test. In Cavan 71 per cent. of the people could read and write, while 70 was the average of the whole of Ulster. Cavan was by far the most Catholic and most Nationalist county in Ulster. Comparing Cavan with two counties well-known to the House on account of the truculence of their Representatives, the Counties of Tyrone and Armagh, he found that in Tyrone only 66.6 per cent. of the population could read and write, and in Armagh only 65.5 per cent. He heard an hon. Member saying that this was due to the Nationalists in those counties, and he was quite ready to deal with that point. He would compare the Protestant Episcopalians of the North with the Catholics of the South. The percentage of Protestant Episcopalians who could read and write in Antrim was exactly the same even to a decimal as the percentage of the Catholics who could read and write in Clare. Members heard frequently about the ignorance of the people of Kerry, and they would be surprised to hear that the percentage of Protestant Episcopalians who could read and write in Armagh was almost exactly the same as the percentage of the Catholics in Kerry. It was further the fact that the Catholics of County Dublin were better educated than the Protestant Episcopalians of any Unionist county. Therefore, he did not find that in education the masses of the people of Ulster had gained much from English 89 rule. As to population, much was said about the increase of the population of Belfast. Of what good was it, however, if while one city increased, all the rest of Ulster steadily declined in population. There was a decrease of 10 per cent. in the population of Antrim, in which County Belfast was chiefly situate, in the last 10 years, whilst the County of Monaghan for the last two Censuses had shown a greater decrease than any other county in Ireland, the decrease having been over 25 per cent. in 20 years. This decrease was not confined to the county districts, for of 32 Ulster towns having a population of over 2,000, 21 declined in population during the last 10 years. Under all the circumstances, he did not think that an Irish Parliament, however wickedly inclined, could make the state of things in Ulster much worse. The Ulster Protestants had at present liberty to worship, liberty to work, and liberty to pay rent. They might have a little less rent to pay under Home Rule, but he did not think that in any other respect their liberties would be curtailed. They were to have the protection of a Second Chamber. The hon. Member for South Tyrone made light of that Second Chamber, because, he said, the minority of the people would not have a majority in it. Of course, it was not possible always for the ingenuity of man to create at once a House of Lords in which the propertied classes would be able to control the mass of the people. The Government, however, had gone as near as human ingenuity enabled them to this point, and he calculated that if opinions wore to remain as at present in Ireland, there would be an actual majority of Unionists in the Second Chamber. The Ulster Protestants would also have the protection of the Imperial Parliament, and there would be for every Irishman an appeal against injustice to the highest Court and the most just tribunal in existence,—namely, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which was the Supreme Court for over 300,000,000 of human beings in India and the British Colonies. It might be asked whether there was any means by which that Court could enforce its decisions. The Executive of the United States had a military force of only some 25,000 men, and had no police to speak of under its control; yet it was enabled to enforce 90 the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Imperial Government of Great Britain would have control of a military force at least 15 times as large as that of the United States; and he asked why it should not be as well able to enforce the decisions of the Privy Council as the United States Government was to enforce the decisions of its Supreme Court? Remembering all the checks introduced into the Bill, how could injustice be done? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, in the speech in which he opened the Debate, said he did not anticipate any religious persecution in Ireland, yet the main argument of hon. Members outside the House was that they expected to see the fires of Smithfield re-lighted. They were ashamed to say before an assembly of educated men that there would be actual religious persecution, and he hoped that before long they would be also ashamed to make such absurd statements to the British elector. The Financial Secretary to the War Office under the late Government brought out with an air of discovery the important fact that it would be possible under this Bill for an Irish Parliament to pass a law declaring the children of divorced persons who had re-married to be illegitimate. He (Mr. Knox) admitted that it was possible such a law might be passed, for the doctrines of the Catholic Church and of the Anglican Church as well prohibited the marriage of divorced persons. But perhaps the hon. Member would be surprised to learn that at the present moment, under the august sanction of the Imperial Parliament, persons divorced in Ireland were not allowed to re-many. The old Divorce Law of England, permitting only a divorce, a mensâ et thoro, still prevailed in Ireland. Therefore, this terrible thing which the hon. Member had conjured up had been already done by the Imperial Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol spoke of the possibility of an Irish Parliament indirectly endowing the Catholic religion in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that it might be possible for the Irish Parliament, by giving large grants to managers of schools, indirectly to endow the Catholic, religion. Well, he did not think it would be possible under the Bill, and even if an 91 attempt wore made to do it, it would probably be ultra, vires; but whether it was possible or not, it was no reason for refusing to pass this Bill; and in any case there would be an Irish Opposition to oppose any such attempt as successfully as a similar attempt was defeated by the Liberal Party in this House in the case of the Free Education Bill, when an effort was made by the late Conservative Government to introduce a provision giving Church clergymen who were managers of schools a grant larger than was required for school purposes. Again, the right hon. Gentleman had suggested that the Conscience Clause might not be carefully observed in Ireland. He was convinced that, so far as vigilance could secure its observance, an Irish Ministry would not fail in its duty; and if, in some cases, through carelessness or through the proselytising tendencies of individuals some abuses did occur, it would not be worse than the system which obtained in many English rural parishes, and certainly was not a sufficient reason for refusing Home Rule. Then came the question of taxation. He failed to understand how an unfair share of taxation was to be laid upon Ulster. Apart from Excise, there was not a single tax which did not touch the South more than Ulster. The Irish Unionist Alliance were asserting that if Home Rule were passed the Probate Duty grant would be withdrawn, and the loss to Ireland would have to be made up by new taxation. That would mean an extra 4s. 6d. per year payable by every family in Ulster. Although he would be sorry to see the additional tax, he would point out that Leinster would suffer still more, and would have to pay 6s. 8d., and that, therefore, if any such tax were proposed by the now Parliament, the Leinster Members would be the first to denounce it. Again, if any fiscal proposal unfair to Ulster were made the Catholics of that Province would surely have a word to say as well as the Protestants. He knew it was said that the commercial and industrial people of Ulster were mainly Protestants, while the Catholics were largely concerned in agricultural pursuits, but the contention was not borne out by the Census Returns. The principal trades in Belfast were the linen, the whisky, the woollen, the shipbuilding, and the tobacco trade. In the shipbuilding trade the Catholics were in a minority, for 92 reasons little creditable to the Protestants. In other trades in which there was less opportunity for exclusiveness the state of affairs was different. In the tobacco and whisky trades Catholics were in an actual majority, in the woollen trades the numbers wore about equal, and in the linen trade Catholics formed 40 per cent. of the total. In the textile industries, in which women were largely employed, there were more Catholic women working in Belfast than were engaged in industrial pursuits in the three Southern Provinces put together. Supposing for a moment that the Irish Parliament might be willing to oppress the Protestant industrial minority, was it likely they would oppress the Catholics of Ulster, who formed so largo a proportion of the industrial class in that Province? Then it had been suggested that without actual deliberate injustice there would be such unwisdom on the part of the Irish Legislature that Irish industries might be made to suffer, and capital be withdrawn from the country. It was impossible to meet such an argument as that with a direct negative. It was, of course, possible that an Irish Parliament might do some foolish things, and thus drive away industries to the great damage of everyone in the country. It was equally possible that even the English Parliament might do foolish things also— perhaps adopt fair trade, for instance, and thus drive industries out of this country. But neither event was probable. It had been said that many foolish things had been said and done in the course of agitation by Irish agitators. It was not always possible to conduct agitations on businesslike principles, and there was not a man who had been engaged in them who was not conscious all the time that constant agitation had done great harm to the country. But so great had been the difficulty in getting the Imperial Parliament to listen to the most just claims of Ireland and to grant the smallest reforms which they had actually got by hard labour and keen agitation, that the Irish Members were compelled in the past to adopt the only method by which they could reach the ears of the Imperial Parliament. Knowing the difficulty of getting even. the slightest reform through the Imperial Parliament, knowing how, in spite of the direct promise of one of the most powerful of all British Ministers, 93 it took 29 years to get Catholic Emancipation, and that then it was only granted when the Duke of Wellington admitted it was impossible to hold Ireland down, knowing that though the Devon Coin-mission reported in 1843, its Report remained as so much waste paper until 1870 and even until 1881—knowing all these facts, and knowing also how the English Parliament would be occupied more than ever with pressing concerns of its own, was it likely that, in future they would be able to get their reforms without agitation any more than they had been able to get them in the past? If there had been foolish things done by agitators, and capital had been driven from Ireland by agitation, was not the best way to stop this agitation, and so bring capital back, to grant the Irish people a ready way of carrying out in a peaceful and lawful fashion their reforms for themselves? The Australian Colonies had carried many legislative measures which, whilst they had alarmed Conservative opinion in this country, had not alarmed English capital. At this moment, though the Australasian population was only equal to that of Ireland, though Australia was about 12,000 miles away, and though Ireland was only a few miles from the coast, of Great Britain, there were five times as many Australasian securities quoted on the London Stock Exchange as there were Irish securities. That was the effect of Home Rule in one case and Union in the other. English capitalists refused to put money in a country where agitation was necessary to get the smallest, reform, but they did put money into a country where reforms were carried out without agitation, and by the direct will of the people. He had, in what he had said, addressed himself mainly to those who were not favourably inclined towards the Irish Catholics, but he felt he could not sit down without saving that, for his own part, his chief reason for supporting this Bill was that he had absolute confidence in the just and generous tolerance which Irish Catholics had shown, and he believed would always show, to Irish Protestants. He thought the electoral history of the County of Cavan since the Reform Bill of 1867 was passed was as good a proof of the tolerance of the Irish Catholic as one would wish for. At the first Election after that Reform Bill, in 1868, two 94 Members were chosen for Cavan as a compromise. The one was a Conservative, and, of course, a Protestant, and the other was also a Protestant, though he then called himself a Liberal. He was chosen in the compromise as the nominee of the Catholic bishop and Catholic priests. He was a man not unknown in that House, for he now sat for North Armagh. Though the hon. Member for North Armagh had changed somewhat in his political views and in the language he used towards the Irish priests, he was always a strong, and even an extreme, Protestant, and it showed no want of tolerance on the part of the Catholic bishop and priests of Cavan that they should have chosen him as their Member. In 1874 a change took place in the representation of Cavan, and a Presbyterian from Belfast, the late Mr. Biggar, was elected. Mr. Biggar afterwards became a Catholic, but the people of Cavan had no notion at the time that he would ever change his religious views. When Mr. Biggar was taken away from them the people of Cavan selected him (Mr. Knox), a Protestant. At the last Election they went even farther. The Member for the other Division of Cavan was a Catholic who, in the unfortunate division in the Irish Party, followed Mr. Parnell. The people of Cavan looked out for another Member, and instead of the Catholic Member for East Cavan they chose another Protestant, a Presbyterian from Belfast, so that the Catholic people of Cavan wore entirely represented in that House by Protestants. He defied hon. Members in that House to show him in any other county, either in the North-East corner of Ireland, or in any part of England, Scotland, or Wales, any other constituency which bad shown so great an example of religious tolerance. He did not believe Protestants had anything to fear from their Catholic fellow-countrymen. They were Ulstermen as well as Irishmen. The hon. Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Barton) told them the other night that some of his ancestors had voted against the Union. He (Mr. Knox) could also claim that he had ancestors, Ulstermen and Protestants, who voted against the Union, and he was glad to be able to say that 93 years afterwards he, in the coming Division on this Bill, should vote on the 95 same side. His ancestors opposed the Union because they thought it would lead to agitation and discontent in Ireland, to division between class and class, and between sect and sect. He should vote for this Bill, because he believed it would, if carried into law, prevent agitation, reconcile classes and sects, and bring peace to Ireland and the Empire. The hon. Member for Mid Armagh, further to discredit the Irish Parliament, also referred to the fact that in 1791 and 1792 some of the Protestants in Belfast and the district joined Wolfe Tone in founding the Society of United Irishmen. He (Mr. Knox) was not ashamed of the fact that his ancestors were Wolfe Tone's friends, and joined him in that measure, and though some of them differed with him in his later policy they never lost his personal friendship. They joined in founding the Society of United Irishmen with no hostile intent to this country. They received the congratulations of France, which at that time was at peace with England, because they were spreading notions of liberality, fair play, and justice. They wished to make all Irishmen one; they wished to put down the feud between the Peep o' Day Boys and the Defenders; they wished to restore peace to Ulster and to Ireland, and to secure to both Catholics and Protestants equal rights, privileges, and advantages before the law. It was for the same objects—it was to make Ireland peaceful and prosperous—that he would give his humble vote for this Bill.
§ MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
said, he hoped no one would form his ideas of Ulstermen from the description given of them by the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down. If Ulstermen were what the hon. and learned Member had described them they would be unworthy of any sympathy from the House, and there could be no reason why they should not be sacrificed as they were proposed to be sacrificed by the Bill. The hon. and learned Member had once been an Irish landlord; but happily for himself he had ceased to be an Irish landlord, and he seemed now to exist only for the purpose of making the most damaging charges against the landlords 96 of Ireland. He hoped, however, that no one would form his ideas of the Irish landlords from the description the hon. and learned Gentleman had given of that class. In this Debate he intended to speak on behalf of his constituents— the working people of Londonderry—and would give their views on this matter which concerned them so vitally. They were not a class that had given the House much trouble. They had had no pecuniary assistance from the House, and wanted none. They were a hard-working people, and they depended on themselves alone. They knew it was not in the power of any form of Government to make the poor rich, or to remove all the mud hovels in Ireland and build stone houses in their stead; but they depended on the Government for the protection of the laws to enable them to carry on their industries. He resented the statement that the agitation against the Bill was carried on by landlords' money. The people he represented paid their own way, and had not been assisted in their agitation against the Bill by the money of any class or person. Hon. Members who supported the Bill had shown extraordinary ignorance of the conditions of life in Ireland, and he was not without hope that when hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House knew the full facts of the case they would see, and see in time, the dangers which threatened the country if the Bill passed into law. He was sorry to say he had heard hon. Gentlemen opposite rejoice at the possibility of having to put down armed resistance in Ulster. Those hon. Gentlemen were like men who fought in the dark, and who showered blow after blow on their own friends, who, in their ignorance, they fancied were their enemies. Those hon. Members did not know the real state of things in Ireland, but the Secretary for Scotland did know the facts, and, therefore, the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman was great. The Secretary for Scotland once maintained a courageous struggle against murderous. tyranny in Ireland, and called for assistance in that struggle. It was extended to him by the Loyalists, who thought they might depend upon him, but his defeat at the Election was followed by an extraordinary change on his part, from which the Loyalists had suffered enormously. The ordinary voter had no time to 97 inquire into the right and wrong of the case; he looked to the leading men. No doubt the conversion of the right hon. Gentleman affected a very large number of votes at the General Election; and now the right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the Government which had formulated in a Bill everything that he had once denounced. They had a right to call on the right hon. Gentleman to explain how he came to leave the Party that he approved of in 1886 and go over to the Party which he then denounced. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech did, indeed, say that at one time he distrusted the Irish Members and that now he trusted them. But what were the reasons which induced him to change his opinions he had not explained. This was the same right hon. Gentleman who said, speaking at Hawick on February 10, 1883—If you want to get at the truth, you must never forget that there are two Irelands—the Ireland of men of all parties, and creeds, and ranks, and callings, who, whatever else they differ upon, unite in wishing to preserve law and order, and the right of every citizen to go about his business in peace and safety; and there is the other Ireland —the smaller Ireland, as I firmly believe—of the men who foment and condone and sympathise with crime. It is the gravest mistake to underrate the numbers and the claim to respect of the party of order in Ireland. It is not a political Party It includes the great Liberal Party of the North, which, in its essential features, resembles the Liberal Party in Scotland.This also was what the right hon. Gentleman said about the much-maligned Party—the Conservative Party of Ulster—I never came across men more ready, at a crisis, cheerfully and unostentatiously to place patriotism before party than the Conservatives of the Sister Island. The Party of order includes every farmer who does not want to rob the landlord of his due, and who does not want to be forced to pay blackmail to agitation—every poor fellow who desires to be at liberty to earn a day's wages, by whoever they are offered him, without being shunned, insulted, beaten, and, too probable, murdered.Was that statement true or not? If it were true, how did the right hon. Gentleman explain how he came to be on the Treasury Bench? On another occasion the right hon. Gentleman said—As far as law and order and the peace of the country are concerned, there is no half-way house between entire separation and Imperial control.98 Was the present Bill a half-way house? Did it give entire separation, or did it retain Ireland under Imperial control? Again, the right hon. Gentleman said—It is proposed to give Ireland a Parliament of its own for Irish legislation, but to admit the Irish Representatives to the Imperial Parliament to discuss and vote on Imperial matters. It is a very anxious matter to divide the domestic from the Imperial functions of Parliament; … but I will say that Irish Members, under those circumstances, will not only be absolute masters of their own Parliament in Dublin, but our masters at Westminster as well.What did the right hon. Gentleman say to the present Bill, which would retain 80 Irish Members in the House of Commons? Again, the right hon. Gentleman said—That any responsible body of Ministers' whatever else they did, could put the police the enforcement of civil obligations, and the safety of the property of our fellow-subjects in Ireland in the hands of an elective Irish Parliament. I will not believe.Yet that was what the Government were doing now. Again, the right hon. Gentleman said—The poor, helpless, and uninfluential who insisted on fulfilling their obligations and the smaller and humbler offices of the law will now be left to the mercy of those who have not concealed their intention of paying them out whenever they got the chance.Was that true or not? Was that the effect of the Bill or not? The right hon. Gentleman further said—The real meaning of what has occurred is that the Government have obtained the Parnellite vote by losing the support of many of their more faithful and tried supporters in the House of Commons. I will not give the Irish uncontrolled care of law and order. Nothing but the police and the magistrates being under a strong Imperial Government preserves certain districts in Ireland from wholesale massacre. …. Coercion insures conviction and the carrying out of the ordinary law. The proposed Executive will be composed of members of the Land League who have been teaching that rent is robbery. … If I had supported that (the Home Rule) scheme after what I said to you, all I can say is that though you might be willing to elect me, I should not have ventured to look you in the face again.He did not propose to trouble the House with any more extracts from the right hon. Gentleman's speeches. He could cite them by the hundred. He had cited enough to entitle him to ask the right hon. Gentleman how he justified his being a Member of a Government which had 99 brought in this Bill? A number of hon. Members had been pleased to state their opinions of this Home Rule Bill. He would deal with the arguments of one of the ablest, whose speeches were always eloquent and always commanded the attention of every part of the House—he meant the hon. Member for South Edinburgh. He would observe, however, that a series of facts which would lead an ordinary man to one conclusion seemed to lead the hon. Gentleman to quite a different conclusion. The hon. Member stated that the career of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in Ireland convinced him that Home Rule was necessary. Now, what were the facts? When the right hon. Gentleman came to Ireland he found there anarchy, resistance to the law, disorder. He found the stocks and shares of the country at a very low figure, and when he left the country order had been restored, anarchy had disappeared, and the stocks and shares had gone up. It was now as clear as anything could be that the Government could impose Home Rule on Ulster only by an extraordinary amount of coercion. Nobody who knew anything about Ulster would dispute that, fact. It was all very well to say that the demonstrations in Ulster were got-up demonstrations. He ventured to say that no one who had witnessed the demonstrations with which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was received would deny that the enormous mass of the people present were actuated by anything but real feeling. He was sure Nationalist Members would admit that much. In point of principle, what case had Ireland against Britain which Ulster had not against Ireland? If Ireland was justified in having this Home Rule Bill enforced notwithstanding the violent and vigorous protests of Ulster and by the exercise of coercion, what logical distinction could be made between the case of Ireland as against Great Britain and the case of Ulster as against Ireland? He admitted that there was a certain portion of Ireland in favour of Home Rule, such as Donegal, Cavan, and a large portion of the County Monaghan. But he was speaking rather of Antrim, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Tyrone, and Armagh which had been always looked upon as Protestant Ulster. It might be said that Ireland was a nation and 100 Ulster was not. He had the greatest difficulty in knowing what was a nation. The nationality of Ireland was mainly shown by hatred of England, and when that hatred was removed what constituent parts of nationality would remain he failed to see. All the difference he knew between Ireland and Ulster was that Ireland was altogether surrounded by water and Ulster was only partly surrounded by water. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh said that if they applied the same criticisms to the British Constitution as they had applied to this Bill, the whole machinery of the British Constitution would be brought to a stop in a week. But there was a very great difference between the two cases. In the case of the Sovereign, the Lords, and Commons, long custom was just as binding as law, and it was quite impossible to violate it. But when forming a new Constitution you could not assume that Parties would forego any of their legal rights; you must have the law plainly stated, and it was no excuse for slovenly work to say that there were anomalies which might be got over by the exercise of forbearance. The Prime Minister had said that the Irish would act as reasonable beings, and therefore he would trust them. But why did not light hon. Gentlemen show that spirit of trustfulness in their own Bill where themselves were concerned? While giving no real protection to the minority in Ireland, why did they hedge round every English interest with every conceivable safeguard? Why did they appoint the Exchequer Judges to decide financial disputes between the two countries? Why did they not trust the Irish Government in whom they professed to have so much confidence? Then there was the question of the Sheriff. They would find that whoever drafted that Bill contemplated such a thing as Irish Sheriffs refusing to carry out the orders of the Exchequer Judge, who had power, under these circumstances, to appoint another officer, who, in his turn, was to have all the power of the Sheriff for the purpose of carrying out the judgment to execution. That officer would be a most unfortunate person. Fancy him going, say, to the County of Donegal to carry out the execution of an Exchequer decree. He might call out the posse comitatus; but how ever he would get them in again 101 passed his comprehension. He would very likely be compelled to eat the Order of the Exchequer Division, Seals and all. Something must occur if human beings were as they had been in the past. We must, some time or another, see this country engaged in a great war. Imagine a great war with the United States, and fancy Ireland being asked to contribute the money to tight with the United States, in which Nationalist Members said the greater Ireland existed. The idea was ridiculous and absurd. Suppose we were engaged in a war with France, and the English Minister sent over to the Irish Minister stating that England wanted a contribution from Ireland to enable them to carry on the war with France. He could imagine the hilarity with which that proposal would be received in Ireland. It would be asked—"Are we to compel our people to pay £3,000,000 to fight the people who have befriended us through so many years, and to assist the people from whom we have screwed our concessions by the influence of fear and partly by the influence of force? Are we to draw the attention of the French cruisers to our towns?" The Minister who proposed such a thing in Ireland would not long remain a Minister. Whether this Bill led to civil war or not there could be no possible doubt of one thing, and that was that, having regard to the spirit in the North of Ireland, there would be a most powerful combination to resist and thwart the Government of Dublin. That Government would then be obliged to inflict extreme punishment. The law of conspiracy would then be stretched indeed, in order to make the people of Ulster amenable. The Member for South Edinburgh, in his speech the other night, said the present Bill contained no pains and penalties. The hon. Member seemed to forget that the Bill gave power to the Irish Legislature by process of law to make any pains and penalties they liked. They could make conspiracy to resist the Government a capital offence, and they could make the venue changeable anywhere. They could then bring the citizens of Belfast and Derry and have them tried in County Clare, and the Attorney General of the Irish Legislature would in those days have no difficulty in getting as many convictions as he liked. There was 102 nothing to prevent the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act by process of law, which would annihilate liberty in a county for a time. As to Irish rents, they had been told that there was no difficulty about them now, but the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had said that in future rents would be paid, which, however, would be very much lower than now, He, for his part, thought if there was one thing more certain in Ireland than another it was that rents would not be paid in future, but that in the course of a very short period the tenants would refuse to pay rents altogether. Did anybody think that the tenant farmers were so enamoured of the debating society it was proposed to set up on College Green that they were not going to take advantage of what they had been continually promised? The Irish farmer would say—"You have got all you want. You have a nice House on College Green. One of you is Chancellor of the Exchequer, another is the Minister of Agriculture, another is Minister of vituperation. You promised me I would have my land free, that landlordism was a robbery, and that there soon would not be a landlord left in Ireland. What are you going to do for me? I want my share of the swag." These difficulties, or some of them, were certain to arise. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh said the people would not be always unanimous. He quite agreed. He was sure they would not be always unanimous, and he was perfectly certain that the liveliest Legislative Assembly in the world would be the Assembly on College Green. But there was also one thing he was equally certain of, and that was that the Members of this Assembly would be all unanimous as against the Protestant Representatives from Ulster. There could not be a greater split in any Party than the split in the Irish Party which occurred last year, and which resulted in a struggle in the course of which language was used, the plainest probably that was ever used amongst civilised races before. [Dr. TANNER: Outside of Ulster.] They had expected to see signs of this divergence of opinion show itself in that House. Then they had had the Meath Election Petitions and a Nationalist newspaper complaining that the priests of Meath by their action had 103 destroyed the chances of Home Rule, as their methods showed they would be a danger to Protestantism. A very moderate Amendment to the Address was moved by the Member for West Belfast, and they naturally expected that the Parnellites would show by their votes their condemnation of the misconduct on the part of the clerics, but not a single vote did they cast in favour of that Amendment. In face of such exhibitions as this, how could the Protestants rely on the assurance of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh that there would be some modus vivendi for them? He would take another case. In the last Parliament North Donegal was represented by a Mr. O'Doherty. It happened that in the course of a Debate an attack was made on a Land Commission official who was also a Protestant. Mr. O'Doherty, greatly to his credit, spoke in favour of that official, and for doing so he was hunted out of public life, he was libelled in a local newspaper, and the Catholic Bishop of his own county subscribed towards a fund which was got up towards paying the costs of the newspaper which published the libel. Such examples showed the fate of anybody who took the side of the Protestants in this controversy. The hon. Member for the Accrington Division had taken him (Mr. Ross) to task, because in a former Debate he had stated that the Presbyterians had never enjoyed any ascendency. The hon. Member read through a great number of county statistics in which he endeavoured to show that the greater portion of the patronage was in the hands of the Protestants. For years the Presbyterians in the North of Ireland had been going through exactly the same process, and they had shown by statistics that as compared with Roman Catholics and Episcopalians they had very little indeed of the patronage. The Presbyterians had complained of this over and over again, and they had supported Local Government. They were in favour of abolishing Grand Juries, although he must admit, personally, that they had done excellent work. They thought, however, the time had come when there should be Local Government in Ireland, [Nationalist cheers]; and if it had not been for the opposition of the gentlemen who now cheered that sentiment there would be Local Government. The speech 104 of the hon. Member for Accrington was a most powerful argument in favour of Local Government, but he told them that the best possible way to obtain Local Government was to give Home Rule, and he asked the Presbyterians of Ulster when they found a fire in the hold to immediately scuttle the ship. The Presbyterians expected that any of these little grievances of which they complained would be removed, and during the time the Leader of the Opposition was Chief Secretary and Lord Zetland Lord Lieutenant, these grievances were, to some extent, gradually removed, and in time would have been entirely removed. He had no doubt that in the same way any of the grievances of the Roman Catholics would have been removed. To say that because a few grievances existed there was thus constituted a reason for carrying Home Rule was ridiculous and absurd. The Member for the Accrington Division instanced as a particular example of the marvellous liberality of the Roman Catholics of South Donegal the fact that they chose the hon. Member who now represented them (Mr. Mac Neill). The Member for Accrington, however, did not also take into account the extraordinary liberality and generosity of the hon. Member for South Donegal, for although that hon. Member was a Protestant elected by the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy, he never obtruded his Protestantism in any way. In no way had the hon. Member ever supported any Protestant interest in opposition to any Roman Catholic interest in that House, and he ventured to say if the hon. Gentleman were to show the slightest sign of independence or opposition he would depart from the representation of his constituency with the velocity and grace of a projectile.
MR. MAC NEILL (interposing)
My hon. and learned Friend is pleased to say I have never vindicated my Protestantism. The fact is, I have defended the Irish Protestant disestablished clergy in this House, and have endeavoured to get them privileges which have been withheld from them.
§ MR. ROSS
was glad to hear there was something in which the hon. Gentleman had shown his Protestantism, and if he had done him an injustice, of course he desired to withdraw what he had said. They had heard from the Prime 105 Minister that there had been a continual demand for Home Rule in Ireland for many years, and that it was absolutely necessary at last to yield to that demand. He (Mr. Ross) had lived in Ireland all his life, and he had always found that the difficulties which were raised were greatly difficulties of an artificial nature. If they took away those who desired to be led to perpetrate agricultural fraud, and those who in this movement were led by clerical influence, there would be a very small residue indeed in favour of Home Rule. The real person who had added to the numbers in the Nationalist movement was the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt). That hon. Member learned that the real way to bring the small farmers to the Nationalist standard was by directing their attention to the question of rent, and beyond all doubt the small farmers of Ireland had been led to believe that if Home Rule became successful rent would be abolished altogether. It was stated that the General Election had really decided this question of Home Rule. Assuming that the constituencies did really decide on the question of Home Rule, that decision was secured by the representation that this was to be a final measure, and that there would be no difficulty with Ireland in the future. Nobody, however, could say that the Bill was to be final, or that there would not be endless difficulties in the future. As to the attendance of the Irish Members at Westminster, the Prime Minister had given expression to the pious wish that the 80 Members who were to come over here would remain in Ireland as much as possible. He (Mr. Ross) thought that when they had anything to gain by putting the screw on English Ministers they would be here; but that when they had nothing to gain they would remain in their own country. It was now proposed that the Englishmen and the Scotchmen who had been settled in Ireland should be handed over to the tender mercies of men who had preached the doctrine of public plunder. Mr. Lecky had said that the essential fact of the Irish question was that the Party which demanded Home Rule and which had won 85 seats in the representation of Ireland was a Party animated by two leading ideas—namely, a desire to plunder the whole landed property of the country, and an inveterate hatred of the 106 English connection in every form. That deliberate expression of opinion on the part of their greatest historian could not properly be disregarded by that House. It was clear that clericalism would be the dominant force in Ireland, and there was nothing in the Bill to prevent the whole of the 30 Irish Bishops from becoming Members of the Legislative Body, or to prevent the Lower House or three-fourths of it from being composed of Irish priests; but, whether Members or not, there was no doubt they would have an overwhelming control in all the affairs of Ireland. He objected very much to the disbandment of the Constabulary—a force of which everybody had spoken well, and who had always done their duty faithfully. What was the reason for their disbandment? Was it fair that they should be deprived of their profession and thrown compulsorily upon their pensions? That would be the effect of the passing of the Bill, because the idea that these men would be employed by the Irish Government was absolutely ridiculous, for they would be regarded with suspicion, and would not be allowed to get any appointment in the force. There was one other matter on which he should like to say a word or two, and that was as to whether they were or were not drifting into civil war? The hon. Member for Northampton had said the Ulster people were poltroons, and would all run away; but he did not think that hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway would agree with the hon. Member in that opinion. The Chancellor of the Duchy once made a remarkable statement as to the possibilities of civil war. The right hon. Gentleman prided himself on being an Ulster man; but he believed that, so far as property went, he had, fortunately for himself, severed his connection with the country. In June, 1883, the right hon. Gentleman wrote in The Century Magazine, that if Ireland were cut adrift, civil war might possibly have to decide the issues between the aboriginal nation of Ireland and the descendants of the Scotch and English settlers, and that whichever Party triumphed would probably abuse its power and trample on the other, and England could not stand by without intervening. The right hon. Gentleman now called those who made suggestions of that kind blusterers. With what 107 majority did they propose to force this measure upon Ulster? He found, on reference to statistics, that if 723 people in England had voted at the last Election the other way the Prime Minister would have had no majority at all, and in 21 seats there were 36,000 people who did not vote. This tremendously revolutionary measure was brought forward in these circumstances, and many hon. Members opposite did not understand it. He submitted that they should not experiment with such a danger; they should try something else first. They had no right to venture upon such an experiment until they had tried Local Government in Ireland. If the Government persisted in forcing this Bill through they would be going back upon every principle of the great Liberal Party, and would be making this Empire ridiculous and tarnishing its fair fame.
§ *THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir JOHN RIGBY,) Forfar
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has said that Members on this side of the House do not understand the Bill. I venture to say that the House has received no elucidation of the Bill from the hon. and learned Gentleman. I have heard hardly a sentence of any of the speeches that have been made on the Opposition side of the House which might not have been uttered at the time of the General Election, before the Bill now under discussion had been explained by the Prime Minister. For six years an insatiable curiosity has been devouring hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the details of this Bill, yet when the opportunity comes they appear to wish to delay as long as possible the satisfaction of that curiosity. Whet that curiosity has been fully satisfied they still go on with their vague, general arguments, not relying in any way on the scheme disclosed in the Bill, but plainly showing that they are prepared to resist any and every reform in the direction of the Bill. Details are as nothing to them, and it matters not whether, for instance, the Irish Members are to be retained, or whether they are to be excluded from this House; it matters not to them whether there are or are not safeguards 108 in the Bill. In any case the Bill is to meet with opposition, not founded upon the precise terms of the measure, though they have held themselves out as utterly unable to deal with the question without knowing the details. In these circumstances I will endeavour to say something about the Bill, about what the Bill does contain, in what respects it provides the safeguards that have been promised, in what respects it fulfils those primary conditions laid down long ago by the Prime Minister, which have always been held to be conditions upon which a Bill might be introduced and passed into law, and which were accepted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I will say, for one, that I consider the change that will be introduced by the Bill when we pass it into law will be a change of the highest importance in our Constitution. Having premised that much, I will ask the House to consider how much of the present state of things will remain after this Bill has been passed into law. Ulster, which is supposed to be cast out, will remain, just as all Ireland will remain, an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, just as it does now. The Parliament of the United Kingdom will remain the Parliament of the United Kingdom just as it does now. There will be no rival—there can be no rival. By consent of almost all sides the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament will and must remain. We hear of the cruelty of insisting upon the men of Ulster giving up their allegiance and taking upon themselves a new allegiance. The men of Ulster and the men of all Ireland, after the passing of this Bill, will owe precisely the same allegiance they now owe to the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. When a loyal population are told by orators throughout the country that they are to be cut off from the United Kingdom and that their allegiance is about to be illegally transferred, it is well to ask what the word "allegiance" means? There is no such thing as change of allegiance contemplated by this Bill, and there are no conceivable circumstances in which allegiance could be changed by a Bill of this kind. All that the Ulster people are, at the very worst, to be subjected to is that under the provisions of this Bill laws will be 109 passed to which, as Loyalists, they will be bound to give obedience. The reproach which the Loyalists, as they call themselves, have hitherto cast upon those who differ from them in opinion is that the laws are not obeyed because they are distasteful; but the crusade which has been going on there, during the last few days especially, has had for one of its main objects the organisation of a system of disobedience to a law which it is anticipated will arise under a Bill which will be distasteful to the people of Ulster. I do not think that when the people of Ulster, who pride themselves on being the supporters of law and order, understand what is desired of them, they will be driven to those extremes which seem to be threatened on their behalf rather than by them. It would mean a strictly conditional loyalty under which they would support the Crown of the United Kingdom so long only as the Government of the United Kingdom adopted a policy which they approved; but as soon as a different policy was brought forward that loyalty would be turned into rebellion. Although we hear denunciations of wrath on all sides, I am not ready to believe that the feelings of undoubted distrust which have been fostered in Ulster, and supported by arguments which are not suited to the atmosphere of this House, but are confined to great demonstrations, where the people are brought together to excite one another—when it is found that they have no real foundation, will cause loyal Ulster to become rebel Ulster. The hon. and learned Member for Mid-Armagh has challenged me to say that certain not-easily-to-be-understood offences called "disobedience to that Act" would not be treason or treason-felony. I have gone somewhat carefully through the Bill, and though I cannot pledge myself in a matter of so much complexity to an absolute statement, I think it will be found that there are hardly any clauses in it which will call for the obedience of my hon. and learned Friend. The nearest clause that I can find is one which provides that no person shall be required to pay Income Tax on Irish property in England or English property in Ireland. If my hon. and learned Friend chooses to show his disapproba- 110 tion of the Act by paying that tax twice over he will have come as near as I can find to anything in the way of disobedience of the Act, and I quite agree with him that such an act, however magnanimous, would not be treason or treason-felony. I go a step further, and will suppose that the Irish Assembly have passed laws under which my hon. and learned Friend would be bound to contribute something for the service of the State, and I will suppose that he disobeys the provisions of this Act—for I believe the Bill will pass into an Act—and by a passive resistance makes it necessary that the law should be put in force against him. There, again, that might be, in a sense, called disobeying the Act; but, of course, I must again admit that that offence would not be treason or treason-felony; not, even there could my hon. and learned Friend expect to gain that crown of martyrdom—penal servitude for the rest of his natural life— which he appeared to consider necessary for the completion of his happiness. But there is another point. Supposing, however, that my hon. and learned Friend were to join with some other gentleman of his way of thinking in taking some active step, such as lining a ditch or something of that kind, I do say that in that event upon conviction my hon. and learned Friend would be in danger, at any rate, of obtaining the object of his desire. What is said about the Bill in the House is a very different thing from what is said out of the House. If, for instance, there was anything of reality in what the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington said at Liverpool the other day, I can well understand that the men and women of Ulster would be ready to rise in rebellion. The noble Lord asked the question, why should the men of Ulster object to this Bill; why should they be ready to use force—and he answered the question by saying—I am not giving the exact words—it, was lie-cause they wished to preserve their civil and religious liberty, because they wished to have protection for the individual rights of property, because they wished to preserve the sanctity of the home and the safety of the hearth. Let us look to the Bill itself, and see whether the civil and religious liberty of the men of Ulster are likely to be attacked. 111 Undoubtedly the method has been adopted of granting to the Legislative Assembly by way of delegation from Parliament a general authority to deal with matters affecting Ireland only; but then we have excluded from their sphere of action—I will not say everything—but everything that can be said to be of material importance which would partake of an Imperial quality. It is impossible to draw the line with absolute certainty. We are not dealing with philosophical systems—we are not dealing with matters of theory, but matters of practice. As regards Imperial affairs, not one jot or tittle is taken under the scheme of the Bill from the Irish Representatives. What they cannot vote upon in the Parliament sitting on College Green they can vote upon in this our Parliament. I will now say a few words as to the civil and religious liberties which are said to be so threatened in the case of Ulster that the men in that Province ought to rise in rebellion rather than submit to legislation so iniquitous. I am perfectly content with the statement as to religious liberties made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bristol in proposing that the Bill be read in six mouths, and I therefore propose to say very little on the point. But since the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington has warned the Ulster men against the loss of civil and religious liberty, I would call attention to Sub-section 5 of Section 4 of the Bill, which provides that the powers of the Irish Legislature shall not extend to the making of any law—Whereby any person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or may be denied the equal protection of the laws, or whereby private property may be taken without just compensation.That clause possesses a very distinguished history. It comes down from our own Magna Charta. [An hon. MEMBER: Oh!] The hon. Member seems to be astonished, but a clause such as this was introduced into the Constitution of the United States in its early days, and, after the disastrous civil war between the North and South, the same clause, in another form, was introduced as an Amendment to the Constitution, with the view of preventing, in terms, the 112 States from infringing the civil and religious liberties of any of their own citizens. For many years that clause has stood the test of discussion by jurists and decisions by Courts—some of them of the highest authority. The reasons given in support of the interpretation invariably placed upon that clause are such as I do not doubt would be perfectly acceptable in any duly constituted Courts of Justice in any part of the world. The substance of the reasonings and the decisions that have been arrived at is this—that it would he idle if a clause, which is put in professedly as a restriction on the legislative powers of the Irish Legislature, were so construed as to be got rid of without restricting those powers at all. The unquestioned and unquestionable meaning of the words is that no law should be passed by the subordinate Legislature which would enable any attack to be made effectually on life or liberty, or property, unless it were done by a process of law properly described as a "due" process; and for what is "due" process, resort must be had to the Common Law of England, or to any Statutory Law varying the Common Law. This clause entirely does away with the fear that is presented to the men of Ulster as an adequate motive for rising in rebellion. I would call attention to the words—Or may be denied the equal protection of the laws, or whereby private property may be taken without just compensation.If "compensation" meant simply what compensation the Irish Legislative Body chose to provide, I could understand that the safeguard would be absolutely illusory. But "just compensation" must be measured by what the Irish and English laws at the present time think to be just; and it would be within the competence and duty of every tribunal, from the highest to the lowest, to give such effect to the clause as would render absolutely illegal and void any provision in any Act of the Irish Legislature infringing the fundamental laws of justice in granting compensation.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
The Courts of Justice would decide, as they decide on the construction of every Act of Parliament.
§ *THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
The justice would be determined by the principles of English law. However august or humble the tribunal might be, the standard it would have to take would not be any theory derived from its own consciousness. It would be a standard set by the existing law; and it would be its duty not to depart from it one jot or tittle. Before I go further I would say a few words as to the plausible suggestion made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham and repeated by other hon. Members—namely, why, if we have the faith and trust in the Irish people upon which, as those hon. Members assume, the whole of the theory of the supporters of the Bill depends—why do we put into the measure any safeguards at all? But we can never repeat too often, or in too many forms of words? those essential doctrines by which we intend to guide and govern our own inferior Legislatures, or the conduct of any who are subject to our laws. The desirability and the necessity of repeating these things consists in this—that everyone's attention, in serious matters such as this, should be drawn to the fact that restrictions are imposed not by reason of want of faith in the honour and honesty of the body to whom powers are to be given, but because it is desirable in the interest of all that all should know the governing principles of our legislation. It is no insult, under such circumstances, to any Legislative Body to remind it in precise and authoritative language of the restrictions which are imposed by law. It is well, therefore, that on a solemn occasion like this, when we are, as we hope, inaugurating a great 114 Legislative Body for Ireland, we should recapitulate, formulate, and make plain to those who are to act under the law the lines on which it is intended they should act. It has been said that the provisions of the Bill will be evaded. How can they be evaded? The hon. Member for Guildford ingeniously suggested that it would be sufficient for the Irish Legislative Body not to pass a Bill, but to move a Resolution. The hon. Member suggested that on the day after their meeting they might pass three Resolutions—one that Ireland should be independent, another that no longer should Customs be payable to the Treasury, and a third that the Imperial troops should be at once withdrawn from Ireland; and he seemed to suppose that in that way there would be an evasion of the Act, But such Resolutions, if passed, would have absolutely no effect, nor can the passing of them be conceded as possible, unless we first assume that every particle, I will not say of common sense, but of self-interest, has been removed from the minds of the Representatives of Ireland. They promise upon their part— and it would be idle otherwise to vote for such a measure—to give a fair and honest trial to the system; and certainly, though the present Legislature of Great Britain has no power to bind the Parliaments which follow it, yet in every measure of that kind there are implied good feeling and good faith on the part of those concerned. A few words now upon the Executive. It seems to be thought that the power of the law will be paralysed by reason of there being a body of gentle-men in Ireland who will be the advisers of the Lord Lieutenant in matters intrusted to their charge. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Barton) suggests that the Lord Lieutenant will have no power to employ the Military or Naval Forces of the Crown unless a special clause 115 giving him such power is introduced into the measure. I must express my astonishment that from such a source such a suggestion should come. What is the Executive power in reference to this measure? It is the power possessed by the highest and the lowest officer of the law. If any decisions of a Judicial Court are to be put in force it is the Sheriff, the Sub-sheriff, or the Sheriffs officer who is to enforce them, and he is entitled under the Constitution to call in aid any of Her Majesty's subjects, according to the position in which he is placed. In that respect Her Majesty's troops are citizens like others —the Magistrates have additional responsibility, but there is no citizen who can evade the responsibility which the law puts upon him. The law plainly prescribes that if there is any breach of the peace, any infraction of the law, every one of Her Majesty's subjects who is present and is capable of lending a hand must aid if called upon. The subaltern commanding a troop of cavalry or a company of infantry is under the same obligation, and all the men under his command. When there is riot or disturbance the position of every one of Her Majesty's subjects in the place is one of difficulty and danger, because if called upon to aid in suppressing it he is bound to choose whether he will lend a hand in forcibly sustaining the law, when he might become liable to an indictment for manslaughter, or abstain from doing so when he might be open to an indictment for criminal neglect of his duty; but in either case a warrant from the Home Secretary or any other person is not necessary to enable a person employed in carrying out the law to claim the support of any of Her Majesty's subjects.
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON (Armagh, Mid)
said, he wished to make a personal explanation. His hon. and learned Friend had answered two propositions which were not the propositions he had 116 stated. [Cries of "Order, order!"] In the first place, with respect to treason-felony—[Renewed cries of"Order!"] He was endeavouring to explain. The propositions which were represented to be his—[Cries of "Order, order!"]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. Ambrose.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.