§ [EIGHTH NIGHT.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [6th April] proposed to Question [6th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Sir Michael Hicks Beach.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
The main object of the observations which I will ask the House to allow me to address to them to-day is to call attention to the degree of light or explanation which has hitherto been thrown upon this measure, and upon the objects for which it is proposed by its responsible authors. We are now at the eighth night of the Debate, and we have bad three speeches from Cabinet Ministers. The first speech was that of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, who gave us a very interesting historical and ethnological review, but did not stoop to show how under this Bill, which is called a Bill for the better government of Ireland, Ireland is to be better governed. The right hon. Gentleman did touch two portions of the Bill—he touched the question of finance and the question of the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster. But he did not touch them to defend them; he threw some doubts upon the maintenance of these parts of the Bill in their present form of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who, I hope I may say without offence, represents the emotional side of the Government, I need only say that he discharged his duty ably and conscientiously as the Cabinet sentimentalist. It was not until the seventh night of the Debate that the Home Secretary rose and made the first serious effort to examine the provisions of the Bill, and to answer some of the objections brought against them, thus 462 giving us the opportunity of comparing the arguments on each side. The right hon. Gentleman, however, made a somewhat hasty pledge. He said that his would eschew declamation and stick to argument. Happily for the enjoyment of the House, he broke his promise over and over again. For his declamation was very fine, but as regards his arguments I think I shall be able to show that they were extremely weak. The right hon. Gentleman took a peculiar method of dealing with the objections brought against the Bill. Let me instance one case where I think his arguments were transparently fallacious, and were considered to be fallacious by the great bulk of the House. I am not sure, indeed, whether he himself did not feel the slender character of these arguments when he was propounding them. I really doubt whether it would be worth while to touch on those particular arguments but for the opportunity which it gives of re-stating and emphasising some of the strongest objections against the measure. The right hon. Gentleman said that certain of our arguments which we brought against the Bill were self-destructive. Now what were those arguments? For instance, he referred to the argument which we insist upon—that this Bill and its provisions, as regards finance, are detrimental to the British taxpayer, and, on the other hand, to-. the argument that the financial arrangements under this Bill are disadvantageous and ruinous to Ireland. He maintained that these arguments were mutually self-destructive, and there he cleverly slipped away and refrained from answering either of them. We held, and we can prove, and as a matter of fact it is acknowledged by the Prime Minister, that the British taxpayer would he worse by £500,000 on the passage of this Bill. That is admitted. On the other hand, we contend that the financial arrangements will be disadvantageous to Ireland, because, although she may gain some increase of revenue, she loses British credit. She loses the advantage of having the British Exchequer in reserve, and she loses the opportunity, in time of difficulty, of having recourse to British credit. I maintain that neither of these arguments destroys the other. The right hon. Gentleman took another illustration. We hold, and hold justly, 463 that under the provisions of the Bill the 80 Irish Members who are to be retained in this House will be a lever for further exactions from us, and they will also become the masters of British business. We also hold that through the provisions of the Bill which put restrictions upon the action of the College Green Parliament Ireland does not remain master even of her own affairs, such as education and fiscal arrangements. Both propositions are equally true, but the Home Secretary adroitly slipped away from answering either of them. The result is that these four propositions remain unanswered and unexplained on this eighth night of the Debate. We say that England loses financially; that Ireland will be placed financially in a bad position; that the Irish will remain masters of British business; and that affairs in Ireland will be placed in such a position as is likely to lead to future trouble. These four propositions remain unchallenged. Scarcely a Minister has come forward to deal with them. I would call attention to another method of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. It is this: take the language of your opponents, paraphrase it in the most violent manner, put it in the most exaggerated form before the House of Commons, ridicule and pulverize it, and then triumphantly to exclaim not only that you have destroyed your opponent's case, but that you have actually proved the opposite contention to that which you have falsely put into your opponent's mouth. Time after time the right hon. Gentleman had recourse to this method. He had recourse to it, for example, when he attributed certain language to the Unionist Party with regard to the trust or confidence which they place in the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman never knows a middle term. Either you must altogether distrust the Irish people, or you must repose absolute confidence in them, safeguards being entirely unnecessary—trust them in all the matters that have been confided to the Imperial Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman says we distrust the Irish people He says: Having offered local government to the Irish people you are bound, on the pain of distrusting them, to give Ireland a Government with a totally different Executive and with totally different powers. Was that anything more than 464 plausible Parliamentary rhetoric? Again, the right hon. Gentleman said: You have given them the franchise; you have entitled them to send an increased number of Members to the Imperial House of Commons, therefore, on pain of being illogical and of distrusting the Irish people, you must give them the right to have a Parliament of their own, where their Representatives will not be controlled in any degree by the influences that are present in the Imperial House of Commons. I say again that there is no logic at all in that proposition, which was triumphantly put forward by the Home Secretary the other night. I would like now to deal with the argument which the Home Secretary said he would brush aside—namely, the general argument of distrust on the part of the Unionists in the Irish people. I wish to come to close quarters with that argument. I want to expose its fallacy and its gigantic exaggeration. The patentee of the argument is no less a person than the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister himself. I would commend to the attention of his optimist followers the study of the date when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) began having trust in the Irish people. What was the birthday of that confidence which we are now told that we must feel unless we are prepared to admit that we say that the Irish have nothing human about thorn except the form. It was the day when the right hon. Gentleman, having asked the country for a majority with which he might resist the demands which implied a trust of the Irish people, found he did not get that majority, and therefore surrendered. He was then obliged to trust the Irish people. Since then he has not ceased to assign to us the undoubtedly grave offence of ascribing to the Irish people a double dose of original sin. We have never ascribed any original sin to the Irish people, but if we ascribed any sin at all we should say it was not original sin, but that the doses which had been administered had been hundreds of doses of poisonous stuff poured into their ears by quacks, which was bound to a certain extent to affect their constitutions. But the right hon. Gentleman ascribes to us that we hold this doctrine of original sin. Upon what is it based? The basis is that we 465 ask for safeguards because we consider ourselves to be trustees for vast interests in Ireland and hold that we cannot abandon our duty as trustees simply because we are asked by the right hon. Gentleman to place unlimited confidence in the Irish people. I have said that I wish to come to close quarters with this charge. Take the case of the alarm of Ulster with regard to a College Green Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends suggest that it is unfounded, and that if the people of Ulster have no confidence, and we encourage them in the idea that they ought to have no confidence, in a College Green Parliament that, therefore, we are showing distrust of the Irish people. I will put the case, I hope in all fairness and moderation, to Radical Members opposite representing large towns and to the Members for London. Suppose an immense change in the Constitution of Great Britain was proposed, by which a majority in this House, and a permanent majority, would always be given to the representatives of the British tenant-farmers and agricultural labourers. Let the House bear in mind the phrase of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, that the College Green Parliament would mainly be the legislative organ of the tenant-farmers and agricultural labourers. As regards that we are entirely agreed. Suppose that all the industrial interests in this country and all the commercial questions were relegated to a Parliament representing a permanent majority of British tenant-farmers and agricultural labourers, would hon. Members opposite feel confidence in a Parliament such as that? And would that confidence be increased if the leaders of that Parliament were generally tainted with Fair Trade principles, or even with Protectionist principles? But we should not be ascribing a double dose of original sin, or denying the existence of the first principles of justice or prudence or moderation to British Members of Parliament, because they should have no confidence in such an Assembly. And is not that precisely a parallel to what the people of Ulster and the industrial classes feel towards a Parliament in College Green? They have no charges to make against the Irish people. As they say, the provisions of the Bill do not give that kind of security that a Parliament 466 representing mainly the tenant-farmers is one which could safely administer the affairs of the industrial parts of Ireland. This Legislative Body would have to be born legislators if they were able to come up to the expectations hon. Members seem to have formed regarding them. They would have to deal with most difficult questions of finance, with the adjustment of the taxation on land and on the industrial classes, and I say we should not be doing our duty, looking to the constitution of such an Assembly, if we did not say that we cannot place confidence in the provisions of the Bill which constitutes that Assembly, though there can be no possible ground for imputing to us any deep-seated distrust of the Irish people. Let me take another instance—namely, the question of the land. The right hon. Gentlemen the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary for Ireland have told us that, as regards the laud, the sentiments and traditions of the Irish people differ entirely from ours. We do not believe in any innate sense of injustice on the part of the Irish tenant-fanners, but can we believe, on the other hand, that they have unlearnt at once all the lessons they have been taught? Can we believe in any sudden conversion on the part of the tenant-farmers from those doctrines so persistently preached to them during the last 15 years? We know that hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, the leaders of the Irish Party—I will not attempt to identify them any more than they were identified by the Prime Minister—we know now that they are converts from the gospel of plunder, penitent apostates from the creed of disintegration; but can we feel sure that their electors, the men who will exercise power over them, have passed through the same phase? It will be impossible they should forget the policy for which they have been asked to make the gigantic sacrifices, which hon. Members have demanded of them for the maintenance of that policy, which I now assume is to be discarded. The Home Secretary the other day rebuked the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham because he had quoted a number of old speeches. I think we are bound to notice the antecedents of those to whom we are asked to intrust the destinies of a people. I approach this question with every desire not to put 467 the case higher than it is necessary to put it, but we cannot indulge in what I admit to be a generous feeling, the wish, so soon as there is an outburst of conciliation, that every previous utterance should be forgotten and previous policy should not be borne in mind. Hon. Members from Ireland cannot expect it. The Home Secretary spoke of their previous speeches as garbage. He represented the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as a scavenger looking for garbage in the dust-heap; but, [Sir, these speeches were deliberate speeches, and not rash speeches of hon. Members. The Home Secretary spoke of them as utterances dropped on Irish platforms. No, Mr. Speaker, these utterances were not suddenly dropped in a moment of anger on Irish platforms. They represented the deliberate opinions at that time of a body of cool and able men. Action was taken on that policy, and under that agrarian policy towns have been ruined in Ireland and country sides have been depopulated. It has been a policy for which Ireland has been raided for subscriptions, for which subsidies have been obtained from the Clan-na-Gael, and on behalf of which emissaries have been sent to the Antipodes, and for which every organization where there have been Nationalist populations has been put under contribution. We cannot look upon that policy as not having had its effect upon the impressionable and imaginative minds of the Irish tenant-farmer. It has created longings in him which it will be extremely difficult to satisfy. It has created hopes which nothing in the Bill for the better government of Ireland for one moment will allow hon. Members below the Gangway to accomplish, and if we say this, and insist on these things, are we to be told it is simply distrust of the Irish people and that we are imputing to them a double dose of original sin? We repudiate such a suggestion, and we say that as trustees, as Members of Parliament, we cannot gratify the individual desires that we might have to pass the sponge over everything that has been said and grasp the bauds of hon. Members in good fellowship. Hon. Members opposite may do that, but our duty forbids us to do anything of the kind. It is our duty to take part in no such conciliation as would induce us to give the unlimited powers 468 given by this Bill either to the electorate of Ireland, which is in the hands of hon. Members below the Gangway, or even to hon. Members themselves. I do not think even that we should be open to much blame if we were to add this: Without in the slightest degree saying anything derogatory to Ireland, I say that the Celtic races have never displayed that kind of cool patience and coolness of dealing which has always characterised the Parliaments of Anglo-Saxons. I have endeavoured to put before the House the considerations which we think ought to be taken into account when we deal with the safeguards that ought to be afforded. We say that safeguards are necessary. They are necessary from those considerations which I have attempted so imperfectly to place before the House. I have next to ask, what safeguards are there in this Bill, and how far do they answer the purposes for which they are devised? I will return here to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. If the alarm of Ulster is justified —I will put all fiercer thoughts from my mind, all religious animosities—but if Ulster looks in the Bill for some safeguards for the protection of her finance and for the protection of her industrial interests, where does she find them? The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary suggested that they would be found in the Second Chamber. I should like to know in what way the Second Chamber would assist Ulster in this matter? The right hon. Gentleman did not attempt to show. He simply mentioned the fact that there was to be this Second Chamber, but he took good care not to draw any close connection between the representation of Ulster—the defence of Ulster and the Second Chamber. I am not sure about it. but I have a kind of recollection that, even in this Debate, when the prosperity of Ulster was questioned by hon. Members below the Gangway, they spoke of the number of £20 houses as not being so numerous in Belfast as elsewhere. Yet the Home Secretary points to this, what I must call ludicrous Second Chamber, this gerrymandered Second Chamber as affording protection to Ulster. It would be rather more to the point if the right hou. Gentleman had answered the question put long ago— 469 namely, why this Second Chamber was to be composed of 48 Members. A formal indictment was brought against the constitution of the Second Chamber in its relation to the first on account of the possibility of what would happen when the two Chambers voted together. But that was a detail into which the Home Secretary did not for a moment think it necessary to enter. He confined himself to the statement that there was this safeguard. We reject that safeguard. It is no safeguard at all. The right hon. Gentleman passed then to Imperial supremacy, and what we are not to get from the Second Chamber, I presume he thinks we are to get through the Imperial supremacy. I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman through the legal argument as to how far the Preamble is any protection whatever. I leave that to lawyers to find out. If I understood the right hon. Gentleman rightly, though I could not quite follow his argument, he said there was a parenthesis in the Preamble which carried to the Preamble, which otherwise the Preamble itself would not be able to enact. That is how his argument struck me. If I am incorrect we shall be put right when another Minister addresses the House, or some of my legal friends will be able to argue the matter better than I. The right hon. Gentleman argued that it was not a paper supremacy. I admit that theoretically the supremacy is maintained, and that there are declarations which seem to imply the maintenance of some Imperial control. Then the Home Secretary sot to work to define what he meant, and, with his usual strong alliterative expressions, he said he did not wish there should be "meddling or peddling" interference, and that it was only on large questions that the Imperial supremacy was to be called into force. He charged the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham with bringing an indictment against the common-sense of two nations, because he had imagined that there might be a number of cases where the exercise of Imperial control on the one hand would be absolutely indispensable, and on the other band would cause considerable friction in Ireland. Again, the right hon. Gentleman, cleverly, I admit, confined himself to generalities. He had an instance before him, and he was in- 470 vited to give an opinion, but, like a skilful advocate, he brushed it aside. The right hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney) put a case to the Government, but our cases are never answered. Nothing but vague statements about distrust in the Irish people are flung at our heads when we bring forward arguments they find it difficult to answer. What was the point put by the right hon. Member for Bodmin?—not at all an impossible point alter the three years shall have elapsed during which the subject most dear to the Irish heart, and most important, from every point of view in Ireland—namely, the question of the laud, cannot be dealt with. The right hon. Member for Bodmin put this case. Suppose a resolution passed by the Irish Parliament—That as prices have fallen during the last 20 years in consequence of bimetallism by 30 per cent.,—Resolved, that rents should be reduced by 30 per cent.Would it be "meddling and peddling" if the Imperial Government were to resist such a law? If we had an answer to a question like that, we should know what the right hon. Gentleman meant. I will bring forward a matter which would come more closely home to him than the question of the land. It is the dealing with prisoners, because I am not sure whether the release of dynamitards is a "meddling and peddling" matter, whether it is a trumpery affair, or whether it is on the other hand one of those large questions where it is clear the Imperial Parliament, ought to intervene. That is a concrete case.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
Do not let the right hon. Gentleman think I am going to let him off. My concrete case is this. Suppose that in Ireland they were to pass a resolution for the release of all prisoners connected with such cases as the murder of Inspector Martin, or with outrages that have occurred in Ireland; suppose that after the Home Rule Bill should have passed the Members from Ireland, in fulfilment of the promise, almost the pledge which they have held out in Ireland, that there is to be universal amnesty, pass such a resolution, is that a matter to be left, to themselves? Is the dealing with crime to be left unhampered to the Irish Executive and to the Irish Legislature, 471 I say, without at all desiring to raise any point of angry controversy, that the ideas on this question are different in Ireland and in this country, and the Imperial Parliament is responsible for seeing that in an island like Ireland under the sovereignty of the Crown there shall not be introduced principles regarding criminal legislation which the whole public opinion of Great Britain would repudiate. Are these not matters that might cause serious conflict between the Irish Executive and the British Executive? Are they not matters that cannot be brushed aside, as the right hon. Gentleman wished to brush them aside, by suggesting that they are trumpery affairs and not likely to occur? Then the right hon. Gentleman speaks of protection to be granted in Executive respects by the imitation of American methods—by the inauguration of a system of Federal or Imperial officers clothed with Imperial powers who are to execute the decrees passed by the Courts which they have given in favour of this country. I should like to see these decrees executed if they run counter to the sentiments and traditions of the Irish people. To my mind there is something almost comic in this idea after we have failed often to make law respected in Ireland when it is clothed in its present form, and when decrees have to be executed. What is to be the position of the unfortunate representatives of the Imperial authority when the Irish Executive and the Irish Magistrates are against them, and when every officer who might be able to render assistance to them, stands aside? The right hon. Gentleman says they are all bound to give assistance to the police. We have not found the Irish people extremely ready in performing a duty which the right hon. Gentleman conceives will be performed so readily for the execution of Imperial decrees. Then I may say there is no provision in the Bill for any kind of representation of Imperial authority in Ireland. I wonder whether it is part of the Government plan, or do they think the case will never arise? Let them give us light on matters of this kind. These are matters really essential for the protection of minorities. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of finality. I will leave others to deal with that 472 question, and to examine how far the frank utterances of the Member for Waterford justify the belief in finality. I will confine myself to saying this, and saying it with perfect conviction—it is not a question of assurances at all, and it is perfectly possible to accept absolutely every word which has fallen from the lips of Irish Members, and yet to see that the case would be too strong for them, and that there is no finality in the provisions of the Bill. The whole construction of the Bill points to this—that there must be development in one direction or another, and that it is not a final settlement of the question. That brings me to a point upon which I should like to be allowed to detain the House for a short time—namely, the question of finance. Finance is important from the point of view of the protection of the minority, and from the point of view of the working of the whole scheme. If the finance is unsound, it will be one of the causes why there may be an immense temptation to oppress the minority; and, on the other hand, if the finance is unsound, it may break down the whole scheme of hon. Members below the Gangway, and shatter those dreams with which they have flattered themselves that if you pass this Bill Ireland will be a paradise, where every tenant-farmer will be prosperous, where industries will be fostered—I do not know whether by bounties or not—but where taxation will be relieved, where congested districts will become smiling lands, where there will be no more emigration, and where Ireland will, in fact, become a paradise. That is the view which hon. Members opposite conscientiously believe will result from the Bill for the bettor government of Ireland, but in which Bill sound finance is absolutely indispensable. I will treat finance first from the British point of view. We have had no reply, of course, to the argument which we have brought forward that our financial freedom will be fettered by the provisions of the Bill. By the arrangements with regard to Customs, we hold that the Imperial Parliament and the Imperial Budget will be handicapped as to any of those great financial changes which have so redounded to the credit of the Prime Minister in times past. Where would the right hon. Gentleman have been in his finance if, under an inter- 473 national compact, the Customs had been given over to this country for Imperial purposes as a fixed contribution? We have said — and we have had no reply—that under this Bill we lose that financial freedom which is necessary to the elasticity of our Revenue, and to beneficial financial changes. There is another point, and I think it is a new one, to which I wish to draw attention. It is in connection with the debt due from Ireland to England. There are outstanding some £8,000,000 or more for public works, which at 4 per cent. means £320,000 a year for interest and Sinking Fund. There are other charges, such as guarantees connected with railways, for which we have to look to the Irish people, and there is besides the £10,000,000 which will be advanced under the Ashbourne Act before this Bill passes into law. That will involve another £300,000 or £400,000 a, year, so that I calculate from £750,000 to £800,000 a year will be about the amount for which Ireland will remain responsible, and for which we are to have a first charge on the Irish Treasury, supposing that there are no new advances. Is it conceivable that up to the present moment we have not had the slightest hint given as to whether the Land Act is or is not to continue in force?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I will not make the obvious retort to that observation. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think it a superfluous question. Is it to be understood that, after we have separate Legislatures, and after we have parted with the elaborate system of safeguards which we have built up to secure the British taxpayer, we are to continue these advances of money to Ireland? I presume, from the extraordinary exclamation of the right hon. Gentleman, that that is so. But we shall have something to say to that, and I think the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters will have something to say to it. I am not sure whether some of his own Cabinet, the Secretary for Scotland, for instance —would agree that if the conditions are totally changed, and if we are to depend for the repayment of this £800,000 a year on the financial arrangements of 474 this Bill, they would support those continued advances. It was said that the old security was insufficient. What is the security now? The security is that the Lord Lieutenant is to write a cheque upon the Irish Exchequer. How he is to get the money if the Irish Treasury refuse to pay it, is not apparent. We should like a, little more light upon questions of that kind. I take it for granted, now, that not only are we to recover that £800,000 from the Irish Treasury, but that by advances still to be made the amount may be increased to £1,000,000 or £1,200,000, or, in fact, to an indefinite sum. I have, so far, dealt with this subject from the Imperial point of view. I now come to the Irish point of view, as expressed by the hon. Member for North-East Cork. The Prime Minister said, the other day, that Ireland was paying 12 per cent.We propose," he said, "to fix the Irish contribution at a little over 4 per cent., whereas the present Irish contribution to the Imperial Revenue is no less than 12 per cent.The right hon. Gentleman is entirely misinformed. He has a Return from the Treasury before him at this moment showing that the total contribution of Ireland to the Imperial Revenue is not 12 per cent. but 8 per cent. Possibly the right hon. Gentleman may have taken the Customs and Excise by itself. Anyway, the Revenue which Ireland has been paying is 8.31 per cent., as appears from the Treasury Return. The right hon. Gentleman may have meant one-twelfth, but he said 12 per cent. He also said—That contribution. I am sorry to say, has been for some time an injustice, and its continuance would be simply a prolongation of injustice.When did the right hon. Gentleman discover it was an injustice? And when did he begin to think of a prolongation of this injustice? The right hon. Gentleman is more responsible, perhaps, than any man in the Kingdom for our existing system of finance. If that system has been unjust to Ireland, on the right hon. Gentleman depends a very large share of that responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman has had many belated workings of conscience. Those belated workings of conscience on the right hon. Gentleman are very trying to those who have been working with him, 475 and I confess I never heard that he communicated to any of his colleagues before 1886, or even then, that an injustice was being done to Ireland in this matter. What I regret is that not only was that the obiter dictum of the right hon. Gentleman, but that it will be fastened on him, for the right hon. Gentleman has now informed the Irish people that, in his judgment, for a long time past he and his Colleagues of the English Government had been parties to injustice. I do not admit the injustice. According to the right hon. Gentleman in 1886, one-fifteenth was the proper share that the Irish people ought to pay. That might he called a fair contribution, and was based on an examination of wealth upon a variety of tests which he very ably put before the House; but the right hon. Gentleman, in a subsequent part of his speech, fixed the contribution at l–26th or l–25th, and he now proposes the same amount. I will not examine at present what is the share the Irish people ought to pay. Their present contribution, after you have taken into account what they get back, is about l–25th. The hon." Member for North-East Cork, when he spoke of Ireland's contribution to the Imperial Revenue, took no account of the money returned to Ireland. She receives much larger assistance in the way of grants for public purposes and for the relief of local taxation than England. That mode of dealing with the matter has given rise to the greatest possible confusion. People say, "Ireland is paying too much," but Ireland is receiving back too much. Those two elements must be put together, and it is upon those two elements together that the case must turn. I think we are entitled to complain that at an earlier point in the Debate light has not been thrown upon this matter. It is not enough that this should be explained at the end of a long Debate. We ought to have had the figures before us, and if the right hon. Gentleman does not think the present contribution of Ireland as fixed by the Bill is a proper contribution, and there are to be new figures, we ought to be informed of them. I turn to the right hon. Gentleman's other views as to how the finances of Ireland will be put upon a sound footing. He has given, too, hopes to the Irish people. It has been said that the whole of the prosperity 476 of the country must depend upon the consumption of whisky. That is tolerably obvious. Out of the whole revenue, 3¼ millions will come practically from the consumption of whisky. The right hon. Gentleman's followers are troubled with the idea that the advance of temperance will necessarily lead to insolvency in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has solace and comfort for the Irish people in two ways. He says that it has been shown—and I entirely bear testimony to the truth of the statement—that if the consumption of strong drinks were to decrease, it will have such an effect on the powers of consumption of the masses that the Irish Exchequer would be able to recoup itself. Yes; if the same Exchequer received the Customs and the Excise. But there are to be two Exchequers, and while, no doubt, if there is a decrease in the consumption of whisky, there will be a larger consumption of tea and coffee, it is the English Exchequer that will gain by it, and that will be poor comfort for the right hon. Gentleman's friends in Ire-land. Then there is the argument which is generally known as the argument of the plethora of capital. Ireland is to be governed more cheaply than it is now. I have not heard any utterance amongst the interesting contributions to this Debate from Irish Members confirmatory of the hopes of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman bases his argument on some figures which he has got in his head—namely, that the cost of administration in England is 10s., while the cost in Ireland is £1 per head. It seems to me that in the rarefied air of those lofty heights in which the right hon. Gentleman now dwells, there is apparently no room for the study of contemporary statistics. The right hon. Gentleman has given us the lees of the controversy of 1886, because at this very moment he has upon his table or under his hand a paper containing the figures of the financial relations between England and Ireland, which show that the cost in England is 17s. as compared with 22s. in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman cannot be expected to go into these details, but I think it is rather hard, with reference to the comfort which be has administered to his own followers, that it is in this enormous contrast that he sees the opportunity of setting the finances of 477 Ireland upon a fair basis. I venture to submit that a sparsely-populated country cannot be so cheaply governed as a thickly-populated one. The Post Office Service, for example, must necessarily cost more. There is, too, more done at present in Ireland by the central authority than is the case in England or Scotland, and if this is taken into account the difference in the cost of administration is diminished. I deny that it will be possible to make those enormous reductions which the right hon. Gentleman thinks will place the finances of Ireland on a sound footing. I do not see that Ireland will be richer or that she will have more means at her disposal under the Bill than at present. In many respects the advantages of the British Exchequer will be lost to her. Is she going to be allowed to replace them, to a certain extent, by a system of bounties? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that this question has been asked more than once before. We humbly asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he replied that the question of bounties was not contemplated in the Bill. He did not say by the Bill. Has it been contemplated I should like to know since we had the impertinence to make the inquiries, and since the attention of the Government has been called to the subject? It is high time we should know, for the advantage of our constituents, whether the system of bounties is to be allowed in Ireland.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
That is my point. The hon. Member has supplied me with the precise link I required—namely, the views of the Irish Members as to the immense prosperity that is going to accrue under the Bill. I refer to the speech of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, wherein he attempted to show that Ireland, under this Bill, was to gain enormously in prosperity; that the congested districts would be dealt with; and that every form of advantage would be given to the people of Ireland. I will deal in a little more detail with this point by-and-by; but I ask with the hon. Member who interrupted, how is all that to be accomplished with a bankrupt Exchequer? My point is, that your proposed finance for Ireland is radically unsound; and yet you propose to 478 do that which has never hitherto been possible—namely, to restore agricultural prosperity to an island such as Ireland, where agriculture forms the mainstay of the people. This is one of the great difficulties of the finance of the Bill. You have in Ireland a country mainly agricultural; you are going to separate her from her industrial partner. The resources of Ireland cannot be large; and yet you are going to bring about a state of prosperity. The hon. Member for North-East Cork considers that the Parliament of representatives will be the legislative organ of the tenant farmers and agricultural labourers, and that it is going to restore prosperity such as they have never enjoyed under the Union, and that such a Parliament would deal with fair rents and compulsory purchase. Fair rents! I thought we had fair rents now. I want to know what the hon. Gentleman means by "fair rents? "Does he propose to sweep away all the present sub-Commissioners and to replace them by others? or how is this Parliament of tenant-fanners to deal with the question of fair rents? Is there to be a change in policy? We ought to know what that change of policy is to be, and what is meant, in the month of the hon. Member, by fair rents. What is the other panacea which Ireland, with a bankrupt Exchequer, is, according to the hon. Member, to obtain by its new Parliament? Compulsory purchase! At whose expense? At whose cost? There, again, I must appeal to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for information. Is the British Exchequer to be still at the disposal of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, who will be a leading man in the Parliament on College Green to carry out a system of compulsory purchase? What does the Secretary for Scotland think of that? Are these dreams simply, or are the Irish tenant-farmers again to be deluded by being told that Parliament is going to give them what it cannot give? They cannot get the laud on the terms they expect, because hon. Members below the Gangway have become moderate. Are they to be told that they are to have compulsory purchase, when the British Exchequer will never grant compulsory purchase to them on their own terms? It seems to me that the Irish tenant- 479 farmers will be subjected to another great disappointment. The hon. Member said that under the Union there had been no prosperity, and he gave figures to prove it. He mentioned several tests—population, houses, pauperism, food, and, I think, lunatics. Population, he said, had declined; but there has been a decline in the population elsewhere. There has been an exodus from the agricultural counties in England. The Unionist Government—or other past Governments —cannot be reproached on the question of population. Then, as regards pauperism, an increase in pauperism does not necessarily imply an increase in the number of paupers. The administration in Ireland has been extremely lax, and in the early days to which the hon. Member alluded there was no out-door relief, and the difference in the figures of the statistics is due to this fact. But the hon. Member did not mention such tests as savings banks or receipts of railways, or other tests, which are important, and to which I will proceed to refer, as I understand the speech of the hon. Gentleman created a considerable impression, and is likely to be circulated broadcast amongst the voters. I trust I am not wearying the House by putting these matters before them. The hon. Member quoted the test of houses, and anything more extraordinary than the statement which he placed before the House cannot be conceived. On this matter there is no doubt, because we have the statistics of the Registrar General in Ireland before us, and the Census. Without giving comparisons the hon. Member spoke of the enormous number of mud houses which still exist in Ireland, and he said that one-third of the population are still housed in cabins mostly of mud; in fact, he said that the proportion of such houses was 36 per cent. But the real figure is 2 per cent. The Registrar's Return shows that in 1841 there were 491,000 houses in the fourth class in Ireland, whereas in 1891 that number has dwindled to 20,000. In 1841 the Return shows that there were 533,000 houses in the third class, which are still unsatisfactory houses, while in 1891 the number of such houses had diminished to 312,000, an enormous decrease, whilst in the first and second class houses there has been an increase in the second class from 264,000 to 480 466,000, and in the first class from 40,000 to 70,000. The statement therefore of the hon. Member that one-third of the Irish people are still dwelling in mud hovels is a monstrous one, and the real truth on this point ought to be circulated throughout the electorate. I think that we may rejoice at the progress in Ireland shown by these statistics, which are confirmed in every way by the further statistics which have been published as to house accommodation in that country. I will not dwell further upon this matter, but I put it to the House whether these statistics do not afford ample material for showing that notwithstanding the difficulties with which we have had to deal in Ireland, and notwithstanding our many baffled hopes with regard to that country, we have been able to advance Ireland upon the road to material prosperity. If we look at the Returns as to agricultural land per head, at the number of cattle as compared with the population, at the amount of railway capital, and at all the other tests of prosperity, we shall see that there has been a diminution in none, but an advance, and a largo advance, in most of them. Moreover—I entreat the House to note this—in the last six years the number of persons relieved under the Poor Law Acts per 1,000 of the population has diminished by 17 per cent. That is, at all events, not a bad record for the last six years, considering that during those six years there has been a great fall in prices and very hard times for the agricultural population. The hon. Member for North-East Cork, who can see no progress under the Union, sees progress and believes in progress under this Kill. But the hon. Member pointed to no single provision of the Bill, nor did he show us how by any means the material prosperity of Ireland would be increased by this Bill. The hon. Member called attention to the congested districts of Ireland, but I am glad to think that at all events we have endeavoured to grapple with the condition of the congested districts in that country, and my right hon. Friend, by carrying his Light Railway Bills, endeavoured successfully to promote the prosperity of Ireland in those parts of Ireland. Now, however, the partnership between the two countries is to be severed, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite—sincerely, I believe— 481 thinks that by his Parliament of tenant farmers and labourers, without financial assistance from the Sister Island, without capital or cash, he can carry out through an Irish Parliament that advance towards agricultural prosperity which a richer country has failed to obtain. There is only one point more to which I desire to draw the attention of the House. It is as to the extraordinary reticence of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the Laud Question of Ireland. This is the eighth night of the Debate, and although three Ministers have spoken, they have not condescended to inform the House by one word as to what is the agrarian policy which underlies this measure. They have not explained the clause with regard to the three years; they have not defended it; they have not told us why this burning question is to" be hung up for three years; they have not explained what is to happen in the meantime; and they have never told us whether they propose to legislate further in reference to the Land Question. Supposing your hopes are realised, and this Bill were to pass, and the Tenants Bill were not to pass, would the Government propose to deal with this subject themselves, the Irish Parliament having no power to do so? There are a hundred questions connected with the land in Ireland which raise difficulties on every point, all of which the Government are going to keep in a state of suspended animation for these three years. Is this being done as a protection to the landlords? Are the landlords to be kept for three years in their present condition of uncertainty? It was scarcely courteous on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that he did not by one single word allude to the challenge thrown out to the Government by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Sleaford Division, who reminded the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the Government that our honour as a nation was pledged to settle the Land Question before Home Rule was passed. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister exclaimed, "Oh, that was in 1886," and I think that my right hon. Friend was right in asking whether the requirements of honour differed according to the dates. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that what has been done for the landlords of Ireland relieves him of any pledges 482 which he gave before? Does the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary think now, as he did in former days, that the Irish Land Question must be settled before the new Irish Parliament is established on College Green? The right hon. Gentleman will remember the solemn way in which he regarded this question in those days, and I say that it is a paltry way of dealing with such a question to suggest that the dictates of honour can be liquidated by postponing this question to the infinite damage of all concerned for a period of three years. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh said the other night that the Irish Question was the Land Question, the question which had baffled successive administrations, and that it was the Land Question and not the National Question which required settlement, and yet we are to be told that this important question is to be hung up for three years. I say that we ought at least to have a defence of this three years proposal, and that it is scarcely courteous to the House that during all the speeches that have been made not a single word has been said in reference to this important subject. I have thus endeavoured to show that in all the various provisions of this Bill I can find nothing but the future disorganisation of Irish affairs, and nothing that really means or constitutes a provision for the better government of Ireland. And now, see how stands the case of the defence of the Bill at the hands of its authors. The financial part has been left undefended and unexplained. The supremacy of Parliament has been rested on theoretical arguments and paper declarations. The checks on the Executive have been defended by generalities and antithetical phrases and references to inapplicable American precedents, and have not been supported by concrete instances. The agrarian question in its broadest aspects has been left absolutely untouched. The three years clause his not been referred to. We have heard nothing about the policy of the Government with regard to the continuance of the Land Purchase system on the credit of the British Exchequer. The constitution of the Second Chamber, as a safeguard for the minority, has not been discussed, and we have heard nothing of the policy of the Government with regard to the power to continue the 483 system of land purchase under the new condition of things. We have had seven nights' Debate on this measure, and yet we have had no answer from Her Majesty's Government with regard to these important matters, and in such circumstances we are told that the Debate has been too prolonged. If it would have been right to have brought the Debate upon this Bill earlier to a conclusion, these tremendous difficulties ought, long before this, to have been grappled with by responsible Ministers. We are left till now without any replies to the most important questions. We believe that the Government of Ireland under upright hon. Friend was more calculated to promote the prosperity and ultimate contentment of the country than that proposed to be established by this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary threw out a challenge to us the other night. He said, "Supposing this Bill passes, is it not certain that the Conservative Party will loyally accept the fact that they have been beaten, and do their best to enable us to carry out successfully the provisions of this Bill? "In reply to the right hon. Gentleman's challenge, I now throw out a counter-challenge, and I ask him, if the country defeats this policy, will the right hon. Gentleman accept the verdict of the country, and assist us in governing Ireland? The House knows the stupendous difficulties under which the late Irish Executive laboured when the whole of the official Opposition attempted to paralyze their action, and the House knows the immense difficulties under which the late Administration governed Ireland. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, if the verdict of the country should be against him, the present Government will accept that verdict, and will range themselves on the side of law and order. They ask us to accept the verdict; let them do the same. By all means let us have the verdict of the country, and we believe we know in what direction that verdict will go. I make another demand of the Home Secretary. In a most eloquent and powerful peroration, and with all the accents of sincerity, he declared that he no less than ourselves was deeply attached to the integrity of the Empire. I accept that declaration of the right hon. Gentleman. Let him accept mine, that while we are working, 484 as we believe he wishes to work, for the integrity of the Empire, while we remember all the duties that we think we owe as trustees to the minority in Ireland, and while we believe that we must still continue one, under one united Parliament, we do not yield one jot to him or his Colleagues in the sincerity of our desire to serve the best interests of Ireland and to promote her prosperity, though we may differ as to the means. We believe his declaration, let him believe ours. We intend to resist this Bill to the last; but it will then be with a heightened degree of responsibility that we shall resume the task of endeavouring to promote the prosperity of Ireland and to maintain her well-being under the auspices of one united Executive and one united Parliament.
§ *MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said, he would like to be allowed to offer a few suggestions on the practical part of the question before the House, which he thought would be of some use. He would not weary the House with quotations from speeches made in different circumstances, as their business was to deal with the question as it now stood. They had had most important and able speeches from the hon. Member for Waterford and the right hon. Member for Bodmin, both very valuable contributions to the consideration of the supremely important subject before them. He had shared with the right hon. Member for Bodmin the high ideal of the creation out of two nationalities, marvellously suited to supplement one another's defects by the noble qualities which each possessed in an extraordinary degree, of a really united nation, the most powerful one, the most prosperous one, the noblest one that history had over seen. He had only been brought to agree to the present policy because it seemed to him that the action of English Parties rendered that ideal unattainable. They could not govern Ireland, they could not persuade the Irish to such an ideal union, so long as Irish interests were so frequently made subservient to the exigencies of English Parties. They could not govern Ireland so long as they refused concessions and attention to her interests when she was prosperous and quiet, and yielded them when such neglect bad brought its inevitable result of outrage and disorder. How could any 485 one who knew the Irish character expect that when each Party in turn, commencing with the Conservative Party, had so acted as to induce the belief in the Irish that they wore prepared to give the Irish some form of Home Rule as a right— how could they expect a nation so intensely national in its sentiments as the Irish, to settle down quietly without some attempt to fulfil those expectations? But his object in rising was to make some practical suggestions to meet the arguments that had been used against this measure. He had always felt, and it seemed to be admitted on all hands, that the greatest difficulty in the Home Rule Bill was the financial one. He was glad to sec that the Government had inserted in the present Bill provisions to guard against this, where there was the greatest danger— namely, in local expenditure by means of borrowing. But before entering on this question, he should like to make a suggestion on a part of the Bill on which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) has distinctly invited consideration and suggestions from the House, he meant the question as to how the Irish Members were to be retained for Imperial Business and yet be debarred from interfering in those local subjects on which a British Parliament was debarred from interfering in Ireland, and would therefore undoubtedly tolerate no interference in similar local affairs which were purely its own. It would be idle to contend that any plan could be suggested absolutely free from difficulties in a question which was in itself an entirely new and very difficult one. But one had been suggested by one of the ablest lawyers of this country, which appeared to him to attain the main object desired more completely than any that he had yet seen made, and which might possibly, with some modification, meet the case. The Government might have in their mind a still more complete and better arrangement for working the "in and out" system. But it was very important that before the Debate on the Second Reading closed the House of Commons and the country should understand how the Government proposed to deal with this arrangement of the British and Imperial Business of the House. The first part of the suggestion proceeded on the lines of the first Home Rule Bill but 486 the second provided for the summoning of the Irish Members by the Imperial Executive when Imperial Business was to be dealt with. It was simply this—(1.) That the Bill should provide that the Irish Members shall be summoned to a special Session of Parliament if a Bill to alter the Home Rule Act, or to increase the Customs Duties leviable in Ireland, is to be introduced by the Ministry in England. (2.) That the Irish Members shall be summoned to a special Session of Parliament if an Address is presented to the Crown by both the Houses of the Irish Legislature (it might be by either a two-thirds or a simple majority) praying for a specific amendment of the Act. That if the amendment is rejected by the Imperial Parliament, it shall not be brought forward again for three or five years. (3.) That no Bill to amend the Home Rule Act shall be introduced except as above— i.e., that its introduction must be the act, not of a private Member, but of the Irish or Imperial Ministry.So far the suggestion was mainly on the lines of the first Home Rule Bill, but the suggestion went on—That the Irish Members may be summoned, either to a special Session or otherwise, for the consideration of questions of war or peace, treaties, federation, or any other matter affecting Her Majesty's dominions generally, or Ireland especially, and, save as thus provided, the Irish Members shall not sit, speak, or vote, in the House of Commons.On consideration, it would be seen that these provisions practically place in the hands of the Imperial Ministry the regulation of the Business of the House, and the times and seasons when Imperial Business should be taken, and that this was, as far as possible, in accordance with their present precedents and system, for it was now the Ministers who determined, by their advice to the Queen, when Parliament should be summoned to deal with the legislative and other business for which they were elected. The Irish Members would undoubtedly be so summoned to deal with any Imperial question which required discussion; but. they would not be kept here hanging about, and irresistibly tempted to impede British Business to enforce Irish objects, at once impairing the power of Irish, and obstructing British legislation, for want of something better to do. It had been suggested that they should be summoned whenever Irish Members or the Irish Parliament should request that the Irish Members be summoned on any of the above questions, but this would be quite unnecessary, for no Imperial Ministry would hesitate to summon them, if 487 there were a bonâ fide wish to discuss a serious Imperial question. As he conceived it, the effect would be that a definite part of each Session, or a special Session, would be devoted by the Imperial Government to the discussion of Imperial questions. It was pretty well agreed, he supposed, that to have Irish Members interfering in English local questions, while English Members were debarred from interfering in Irish questions, would be intolerable; and, as Mr. Parnell sagaciously foresaw, it would still be more fatal to the success of Irish Home Rule. Ireland would require all the time and all the powers of its ablest sons to work out and work a new Constitution under circumstances differing from any that they had an absolute experience of. They might hope that they would do so, if they would fairly face the problem before them, which was, with certain defined limited powers and certain denned limited means—and the means of a country like Ireland were very strictly limited — to establish successfully an economical, efficient, well-governed State. The necessity for economy was not an evil, for without strict economy there was no efficiency, and there was inevitable corruption. They ought—and they, he trusted, would—treat Ireland liberally in the arrangement about to be made; but, that done, she must realise that, she had not England's resources to fall back upon if she overspent herself and was not economical. There must be no temptation to continue the pauperising and demoralising system of looking for subsidies from the English Government. Some such suggestion as he had ventured to make would enormously diminish this danger, and enable the Members, both of the British and the Irish Parliament, to devote their time to their own local, or, if they liked to call it so, national affairs. But to return for a few minutes to the question of finance. The Constitutional provisions which the Americans had adopted, limiting the power of borrowing of any Local Authority to a certain percentage of the assessed value of the property within their area, had been found necessary in America, and most, valuable in producing increased economy; and he was glad to see them introduced in this Bill. But there was another provision in the 488 American Constitution which had been found there very valuable in the checking hasty and unjust legislation. It had already been alluded to in this Debate, and he should like to see it introduced in a modified form in this Bill. He meant the provision in the American Federal Constitution, that no law was valid or would be enforced impairing the obligation of contract, though he should not go so far as to make it impossible under the new Constitution for Ireland. But it would be, and would he felt to be (which was very important), a great protection to the propertied classes in Ireland if any law impairing a contract, or the part of a law impairing a contract, were among those things reserved as requiring the sanction of the Imperial Parliament. There was one point that had been much discussed— namely, the possibility of enforcing the various safeguards contained in this Bill. The answer to that was that the Federal Government of America had succeeded in enforcing the laws in this respect, and if the present Bill did not contain provisions which did that, let them take the example of America and supply such provisions. The Government apparently thought they had done this, but they would, no doubt, welcome any suggestions as to how, by the adaptation of American experience or otherwise, they could be made more effective. There was one other suggestion which he should be bold enough to make, though it must have occurred to the Government, and was probably dismissed, from the apparent impossibility of carrying it out at the moment. The American Senate was admitted, even by a man so conservative as the late Prime Minister, to be the most successful example of a Second Chamber, one which even England itself would be fortunate to possess. The objection was perfectly true, that we had not at the present moment the basis on which to construct such a Senate, but immediately following Home Rule there would be that basis, and we might provide in anticipation for the establishment of such a Chamber. Probably the first act of the Irish Legislature would be to pass a Local Government Bill, and substitute elective County Councils for the Grand Jury system of Local Government. They might provide in the Bill, that when this took place the Second 489 Chamber should be elected by those County Councils, and come into office at the expiration of the term of office of the First Upper Chamber. Such an Upper Chamber would rest upon the most secure basis they know, and might be given equal power with the other Chamber, as it would rest ultimately, though indirectly, on the same wide electoral basis as the other Chamber, and might have equal powers, except that the House of Representatives, if he might so call them, would, like the House of Commons, be alone competent to initiate financial legislation. They would thus get rid of the property qualification, which one set pronounced useless and the other set offensive, and of all the complications of the present proposal, and be on the clear lines of successful experience. There was no doubt a certain amount of panic among the propertied classes in Ireland, and the supporters of Home Rule were bound, disregarding the strong language which people in a panic were apt to use, to try to allay that panic. He must say that he thought their fears were somewhat illogical. For instance, in what, he supposed, they must consider the official statement of the Unionist Party, the very carefully written, but often not altogether reasonable, statement of the new Home Rule policy issued by them, he found one of the dangers that were impending on us was "the ruin of English industries by bounty-fed Irish industries," and, on the next page, "the ruin of Irish industries," which were to be thus coddled, were threatened "by oppressive Licence Duties and taxation." Surely, with all their belief in Irish original sin, they would hardly credit them with such an outrageous practical Irish bull as to try to restore native industries with high bounties with one hand, and then crush them out of existence with excessive licence and other taxation on the other. And then, in consideration of the Home Rule policy, people seemed to lose out of sight the extraordinary change that had taken place in the condition of Ireland and its people, especially within the last 14 years. Look at the numerous Bills with wide scope which they had passed for dealing with Irish questions, and especially with the laud. Did they suppose these had nothing to do with the improved state of Ireland, or with the 490 views of its people? Unless he was very much misinformed, there was a very considerable change among the feelings of the Irish, especially among the agricultural class. They began to realise that they were no longer tenants, but owners of the larger half of the value of Irish land, with opportunities of becoming possessed of the whole; and they were coming more and more on to the side of property in their feelings. And, as was notorious, the Celt was, as an owner of property, intensely Conservative. And if the Bill was carefully considered and amended, and, as seemed to be intended, the Irish Land Question was finally settled by the Imperial Parliament, he could but hope that, though the present Bill might not get further than the passage of the House of Commons this year, if, instead of wasting time by obstruction, they devoted the time and energies of this House to a settlement of this question, they might produce a measure which should put the legislative powers of both countries on a much better footing than they had been for the last 80 years.
§ *MR. HULSE (Salisbury)
said, he rose with some diffidence to address the House on a question upon which many distinguished Members on both sides had had much to say, not because it was probable that he might be able to infuse any fresh light upon the discussion, but in order that, having been sent to this House in two Parliaments to vote upon this distinct and specific proposition, he might give his reasons, not on matters of detail, but on those of principle, why he considered that this Bill should not be read a second time, and why, in his opinion, the Leaders of his Party were completely and absolutely justified in declining to assent, even to a consideration of its details, because they believed the Bill to be based on principles of political expediency, and to be in direct opposition to the unity and integrity of the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, in introducing this measure to the House, actually suggested that its passage would intensify Imperial unity. He (Mr. Hulse), on the other hand, ventured to say that it would intensify differences and disorder, involve us in the gravest difficulties, and bring about practical if not absolute Separation. It meant, to all intents and purposes, 491 a repeal of the Union. The Act of Union was essentially not a union of Sovereignty but of Parliaments: the Sovereignty had existed, so had the Parliament; but there was one Sovereignty and two opposing Parliaments, and the object of the Act of Union was so distinctly set out in its 3rd Article that he did not apologise for introducing once more to the House its clear description, "that the United Kingdom was to be represented in one and the same Parliament." What was to be the position of Ireland in the future? Ireland would have three Parliaments, and every Irishman would have three votes. He had already more political weight than he was entitled to by reason of the disparity of population to the number of Members he sent to this House, and in future that disparity would be increased by the provision of three distinct channels of political control, each of which he could use for Home Rule purposes. He ventured to think that the Bill of 1893 bristled with more difficulties, and was full of graver injustice, than that of 1886, which was discredited and abandoned. The grave injustice of entrusting the Irish voter with so large, and out of all proportion, a weight of political power was not even counterbalanced by his financial responsibilities and Imperial contributions. The contribution of Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer was diminished from 1–15th to l–25th, and her power of financial control was represented by 81, possibly by 103, Members in the Imperial Parliament, and by 151 in this dual or joint control of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. Those who have noted the statements of Irish Members and the attitude of Ireland with regard to England in the matter of finance would bear him out when he said that, though there had been much lending on the part of the latter, there had been but few repayments on the part of the former, and the majority of the Irish Representatives undoubtedly considered that Ireland had hitherto paid more rather than less of her due share of Imperial taxation. He did not hesitate to assert, and he challenged Members of the Nationalist Party to deny, that if the Home Rule Bill passed, one of the earliest agitations that would be set afoot in Ireland would be for the with- holding and repudiation of the Imperial 492 tribute, or, as he should say, the national share in Imperial Expenditure. This in itself was no doubt a small consideration, but it was one which must be deliberately faced and seriously studied — why 81 Members should remain in this House to vote on Imperial questions when their contribution to the National Exchequer was so infinitesimally small. It appeared to him it would be the encouragement of factious opposition and a premium on sedition and disorder; all the testimony of progress in Ireland was against Separation and in favour of the continuance of present arrangements. The true test of Ireland's prosperity was to be gauged by a reference to the Census and Emigration Returns. They pointed alike to the growth of the North and the decline of the South and West; but the emigration from the North was infinitesimal compared to that from the Nationalist stronghold, where even the prospect of approaching separation and the blessings likely to accrue from Home Rule were not sufficient to retain the belief in prosperity or to check emigration to other countries. With regard to the five great points which the right hon. Gentleman suggested as the true test by which this Bill could be judged, he was confident that the maintenance of Imperial unity would be a mere figment. The price of its retention would be a series of concessions to hostile Irish majorities in the Dublin Parliament, and there would be intrigues between rival Parties in this House as to which Party could secure the bulk of the alien vote. And he used the term "alien" advisedly, because, if this Parliament ceased to be the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland, how could the votes of hon. Members who had no concern in British affairs be otherwise than those rightly or wrongly exercised for the benefit of the poorer and smaller country which they alone represented? We should see a domestic edition of Tammany Hall on College Green. He was confident that this Bill could not produce a real and continuous settlement, because it gave no assurances of finality; it settled nothing, and left open questions of most vital importance. The Land Question was one in which the credit of Great Britain was at stake. The Land Question which was to be hung up for three years was the one real factor in supporting the agitation against an orderly and con- 493 sistent form of authoritative government. The test of Imperial unity had been well defined by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—namely, that the Central Authority should have, for all purposes of offence and defence, full control of all the forces and resources of a country to which that unity applied. But he failed to see how we were to have any control if the Irish Parliament were to appoint and control the Irish Constabulary, for whom he did not consider adequate protection had been provided. He wished to say one word of justice to the noble band of men who formed the Royal Irish Constabulary. That Force was recruited from all creeds and classes. He believed he was correct in saying that out of the 13,000 who formed that body 7,000 were Roman Catholics and 6,000 Protestants. They had been faithful and loyal to changing Chief Secretaries and to varying Governments, and something ought to be done to ensure that those who had served their country well should not be punished —when those who now threatened them gained the upper hand—for their previous loyalty. Something should be said, and something should be done, for the loyal minority in Ireland. He did not forget the claims of Ulster. He had, perhaps, a higher opinion, from having recently visited the North of Ireland, of the power of Ulster than some hon. Members in this House seemed to enjoy, and he very much questioned whether Ulster would not give a very good answer for herself; but the people for whom he was specially anxious were those so ably represented by his hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, who could speak from experience of the wants, the dangers, and the necessities of the loyal minority in the South and West of Ireland, Catholic as well as Protestant. This was not a mere question of sentiment. He felt justified in anticipating that there would be a general exodus of the Protestant trading minority from that Province if the Home Rule Bill became law. It would arise, as Irish Members well knew in their own counties, from a feeling that they were out of harmony with those who would have gained the upper hand, and that it would be politic, if not absolutely necessary, to depart. The same reason which existed 100 years ago for the Act of Union was present to-day. It was then 494 a question of life and death to England, of financial prosperity and national bankruptcy to Ireland. They had reason to complain of the attempt to rush through this measure, an attempt which was happily frustrated, and to secure its Second Reading before the constituencies of the country had had time to make up their minds upon a measure against which there was an overwhelming majority in England. There was no genuine enthusiasm on behalf of this measure either in Ireland, and certainly not in England; and what was the attitude of hon. Members opposite who were free from the restraint of the Press and from the control of the Whips? He did not deny there was on their part acquiescence. He did not deny that there was a belief that another House would do what this House would like to do, but had not the courage to do, in consequence of recent pledges to support the distinguished and aged statesman, who almost alone in his Party saw the necessities and advantages of a general reversal of the previous Acts and promises of a Liberal Administration. No; there was no genuine belief in Home Rule on the part of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters; but there was a strong opinion that it was wise and politic to preserve a mechanical majority, and to gratify the wishes, nay, the commands, of their infallible Leader, who evokes an amount of personal enthusiasm which he (Mr. Hulse), for one, would not deny, and who was supported by at least four groups, each one determined to serve its own purpose and to coerce the right hon. Gentleman into placing its particular fad next upon the Government Programme. On the opposite side of the House it was apparent that there was a growing feeling of apathy and indifference towards this impracticable measure. It would, indeed, be sad, if the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in piloting the measure through the House, to reflect that one of his last and greatest achievements was to reverse the policy of a lifetime—to turn his back on his memorable appeal to the country in 1885 to give him a majority clear and independent of the Irish vote, and it would seem incompatible with his earlier triumphs and his oft-expressed veneration. for the great traditions of this country and of its Church; that he should be 495 handed down to posterity as the author of the Repeal of the Act of Union, and as the first great Churchman who, since the days of Cromwell, had ventured to lay violent hands on the Church and Constitution, and to destroy the unity of an Empire which, from his great experience, he must know had been the mainspring of Britain's advance and the severance of which must be the herald of Britain's decay. The words applied to Coriolanus are specially applicable to the illustrious but, in his Irish policy, misguided statesman—" The man was noble, but in his last attempt he wiped it out."
§ *MR. SAMUEL YOUNG (Cavan, E.)
said, he interposed with diffidence, because the House must be satiated with the speeches from Ulster, especially Tory speeches. These, however, were cast in the same mould. When they heard one they heard all. They meant that if you passed this Bill clouds and darkness should rest upon Ireland. Its action would produce the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds. That was the value of Irish Tory speeches. But the Tories had opposed all the Bills which became Acts for the country these last 60 years. They opposed Emancipation in 1829, the Reform Bill of 1832, and since that the Commutation of Tithes Act, Abolition of Corn Laws, Disestablishment of the Church Act, Ballot, the Land Acts of 1870 and 1881; and now, true to their traditions, they were opposing violently the measure before the House, which was calculated to bring peace and prosperity to Ireland. Fortunately, their influence for mischief was not so great as it used to be. At one time the nine counties of Ulster were represented by 29 Tories— a solid phalanx. Now they represented only one-half of Ulster, and that half concentrated in the north-east corner, having for the centre of operations Belfast. Now, what right had Belfast to speak for Ireland—for the opposition simply meant Belfast? The Counties of Down, Antrim, and Londonderry, in which he (Mr. Young) had property, and for which he could venture to speak, cared little, if cheap land be secured, whether government came from Dublin or Westminster. The two great industries of Belfast were very little connected with the great agricultural country. The staple trade imported two-thirds of its flax, imported 496 its coal, and when the linen was ready for the market, that market was found in America and the Continent of Europe. Belfast was really only connected with Ireland in so far as extracting cheap labour out of the poverty of the country. The same might be said of the other great industry—shipbuilding. It imported its iron, timber, coal, and, he understood, about one-half of its labour, and the ships were built for the Mercantile Marine of the world. The industry, so far as the interior of Ireland was concerned, might as well be carried on in the Sandwich Islands. He was a Belfast man—a Protestant representing a Catholic constituency; he was proud of the prosperity of the city, but he was not for letting Belfast have its own way in everything. The representation of Belfast was singular. Of the four Members, two were English, one was a German, and the fourth, the hon. Member for South Belfast, looked after, in common with the others, the Orange portion of that interesting corner of the island. These were all honourable men; but he contended they were not in a position to know or speak for the condition, the wants, and the aspirations of the great mass of an agricultural country. They represented a colony, not the Irish nation—for Ireland was composed of a colony and a nation. It was not surprising; to find strong opposition to the measure before the House from the minority of Ireland, who were chiefly Protestants. He spoke as a Protestant, and he said that since the reign of James I. and the Cromwellian settlement they had formed the garrison of Ireland. They were in possession of the power and the emoluments of the country. The hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Leese) on Friday night gave some particulars on this point in reference to Donegal and two or three other counties, so that he (Mr. Young) would only trouble the House with statistics in reference to how some matters stood in 1891. They might be a little altered since the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland came into power in Dublin. Here they were:—56 out of the 72 paid Magistrates were Protestants; 228 out of 272 Police Magistrates wore Protestants; 30 out of 32 Lord Lieutenants were Protestants; 36 of the 45 Privy Councillors were Protestants; 35 of the 46 Com- 497 missioners and others of the Board of Works, the Local Government Board, and all the high Executive officials in Dublin, and, he might add, members of Grand Juries, and almost all the land-lords of Ireland, and all the Protestant clergy assisting in this array of officialdom. Was it any wonder that this ascendency party should fight tenaciously for their dominant position in that country, and refuse to be placed on a platform level with their countrymen? Since this Debate commenced it had been more than once asked, Why propose this measure at all? Their minds must be very opaque who could ask such a question. Let them ascend with him to a reasonable altitude and look down on Great Britain and Ireland. Great Britain these 50 years had trebled in wealth and population, and this continued, for in the decade 1875–85 she increased in population 12 per cent., in wealth 22 per Cant., in trade 29 per cent., in shipping 67 per cent., in instruction 68 per cent. Then lot them look to Ireland, fast becoming a wilderness, from 60,000 to 70,000 of her noble sons and virtuous daughters yearly emigrating to enrich other lands, and to find not only a subsistence for themselves, but money to send home to those whom he might metaphorically call the lame, the blind, and the halt, whom they left behind in the old country. Did they leave because there was no use for them on their native soil? No. There were waste lauds, waste bogs, undeveloped fisheries and railways, and minerals unsought for. Ireland could feed and support a population of 13,000,000 if only cultivated, and not more thickly populated that Belgium. Ireland had decreased in population and increased in pauperism, and it was well-known that farmers could not make ends meet, and only remained on their holdings because what was on them was of their own creation. If a merchant found that his business were going from bad to worse after a long trial of one kind of management, would he not reconstruct and change the management? Why ask for delay in the reconstruction of Irish affairs? The plan of opposition to this measure was of two kinds—the religious bogie and the depreciation of the people of the country. In an English Parliament the fear of the religious bogie was fading away, and need not be dwelt upon, 498 except to say that it was very insulting to a noble people, that the Protestant classes, or rather their loaders, should ask to be protected from their fellow-Christians now, nearly at the end of the 19th century. They said their lives and property were in danger, and the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham actually assisted in this cry. Persecution was to take place. Many were afraid of retribution for crimes which their ancestors committed under the Penal Laws, of which all Protestants were ashamed; and actually the Prime Minister, in order to meet the ignorance and fears of these people, had consented to insert a clause by which 48 Members were to be elected on a £20 franchise. The other system of opposition might be stated thus: The people, they said, were lazy, influenced by priests, incapable of self-government. The questions daily before that House showed that every molehill was made into a mountain. If there was one county criminal out of 32 an adjournment of the House was called for by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who was an alien in sentiment, and a bitter enemy of his adopted country. It would be a long time before one heard an English Member bringing daily the wife murders, the Divorce Courts, the baby farming, or Jack-the-Ripper type of crimes before the House. The Tory Members representing Ireland were not ashamed to belittle their country when they had a possible opportunity, and all this depreciation in reference to a people who rose like meteors when they had a chance in competition with their fellow men of any other country. Their claims were also misrepresented. They did not want separation. They wanted a closer union with England; they wanted the Queen to be their Queen; the Army and Navy to be their Army and Navy, the Excise and Customs to obtain alike over the Three Kingdoms, and that division of labour which would give opportunities to the natives of the country to develop her resources and improve her condition. He had no doubt, if this Bill before the House should become law, the struggle for the maintenance of ascendency would cease, the Party spirit which had long divided the people and distracted the country would disappear, and North and 499 South would unite for the happiness and well-being of their common country. It was said there were no merchants of wealth in Belfast Home Rulers. He was a Belfast merchant himself—a member of a very large firm—and he could inform the House that to his knowledge there was contributed to the revenue of the Port of Belfast over £850,000 by Home Rulers; and many merchants of wealth who traded with Ireland were Home Rulers, but chose, for business reasons, to be silent. Yes, and many others were Home Rulers; but as there had been riots in Belfast, and as it was desirable to have peace, these people were afraid, and preferred to be silent. He was willing to give the names of any of the people indicated to any Member of the House who wished to know them, but he would not mention them to the House. He spoke as a Belfast man, where he had lived 54 years. Although he was not a Catholic, he was born and received his early education in the midst of a Catholic people, and had associated with the best Catholic families ever since. He represented a constituency 80 per cent. of which was Catholic; and he could truly say that the large Catholic Body, about which there was so much unfairly said, compared favourably in his estimation with the Protestants among whom they lived. He trusted the Bill would become law, and thereby settle the strife of ages.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present.
§ SIR T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
said, the House must have heard the loyal and patriotic sentiments of the hon. Member who had last spoken with satisfaction. The hon. Member had expatiated upon the blessing of living under Her Majesty the Queen and Her flag and Army and Navy, but only last year he (Sir T. Lea) remembered hearing the hon. Member for North Longford declare, from the very place from which the hon. Member had just spoken, that come what might nothing would prevent him from upholding the flag of Irish nationality. And the Party with whom the hon. Member was associated had dropped the toast of "The Queen," and had put in its place "Ireland, a Nation." The hon. Member had told them two things. He had told them that he was a Protestant 500 Home Ruler. Well, they knew that there were such persons, and they knew that it was the policy of the late Mr. Parnell, and a policy followed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, to select, wherever they could find one, a Protestant Home Rule candidate. Then, the hon. Member had told them that he had lived in Belfast for a number of years, and that he possessed property in Derry and other counties in Ireland, and, as he (Sir T. Lea) was aware, the hon. Member was now building himself a magnificent house in Belfast. He was extremely glad to see that the hon. Member found Ireland such an extremely happy place to live in. The hon. Member's testimony appeared to be that in spite of coercion, Protestant ascendency, and all the evils of the country, he had been able to get together a handsome fortune and to live in a happy and satisfactory manner. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in his speech on Friday night, admitted that the Ulster opposition was serious, and he (Sir T. Lea) was bound to regard that question from the point of view of an Ulster Member. Though it might be that he had adopted Ulster as a politician in a way that was condemned by the hon. Member who had last spoken, it seemed to him he had shown his respect for Irish feeling by making himself as much an Irishman as possible. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in admitting that the opposition of Ulster was serious, had referred to the fears of the minority; but it should be understood that the minority in Ireland was a majority in Ulster. The hon. Member for North-East Cork had placed the majority of Unionists in Ulster at 4,000; but, as a matter of fact, that majority was between 90,000 and 100,000. It was satisfactory to know that the Home Secretary did not despise that majority. It-was a majority that contained within itself a good deal that deserved the respect of the House. It had done a great deal to benefit not only Ulster, but the whole of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the Prime Minister had offered that Ulster should receive separate treatment. He should like to know what the Prime Minister meant. Were the Government prepared to move that Ulster be omitted altogether from the Bill? He was not aware that the 501 Prime Minister had made use of any such language, or that the Nationalist Members had over said they would accent such a proposal. Nor would Ulster accept such a proposal. The people of Ulster had stated that they respected the minority throughout Ireland too much to hand them over to their enemies, and they believed that in standing by them they wore taking a loyal and patriotic course. The Home Secretary had held up a nice picture of there being two Parties in the Home Rule Parliament with Ulster holding the balance. This reminded him very much of an incident that took place at a meeting held by some of the Nationalist Members in his constituency some time ago. One of the speakers said that in that Parliament the Orangemen would hold the balance of power and do what they liked. He was, however, interrupted by a sturdy Nationalist in the crowd who called out, "Then bedad, Sir, we'll have none of it." He was certain that if an Irish Parliament were established, no member of the Protestant loyalist community in Ulster, or in Dublin, would enter its doors, or take part in its deliberations. He hoped they would elect Members to the House of Commons, however, so that any grievance which existed might be brought forward. He knew they would be shamefully under-represented, as the constituencies had been grossly gerrymandered. He was certain that the Ulster Protestant Representatives would refuse to sit in an Irish Parliament in order to register the decrees of Archbishop Walsh, or those who might form the majority of that Parliament. They would equally refuse to help what he might describe as the Fenian section of that Parliament. When the Home Secretary said he looked upon this as a Belfast question, he (Sir T. Lea) joined issue with the right hon. Gentleman altogether. His constituency was a purely agricultural constituency. There was not a town of 2,000 inhabitants in the whole of the division, and the farmers and all the people in the constituency lived entirely upon agriculture. The farmers of Ulster were as determined in their opposition to this Bill as was any Belfast merchant. It was to the farming classes that the bid of Home Rule was being hold out. At the last Election Sub-Commissionships 502 and County Magistracies were offered wholesale to the farmers of Ulster, but the offers were refused; and in his opinion the loyalty they had displayed to the British connection was deserving of considerable credit. The Home Secretary had dilated upon the safeguards of the Bill, and had laid considerable stress upon the wording of the Preamble. He (Sir T. Lea) remembered the Preamble of the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill and the statement it contained, that Church funds were not to be given for any cause except calamity or distress. Only a week or two ago, however, a Bill was brought forward with the object of using the Church surplus for paying the lawyers' costs in disputes between landlords and tenants. Then there was the Legislative Council, but it would be of no use whatever for the protection of minorities in its present form. As to the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, it would really be going back a century to make use of the veto, and he did not believe it ever could be exercised if the Home Rule Parliament had any support whatever. As to the acceptance of the Bill by hon. Gentlemen opposite, such acceptance could only be of a very temporary character, and the spirit they exhibited a year or two ago would certainly come back to them. He did not think the Home Secretary would be prepared to release all dynamitards from prison on condition that they promised never to touch dynamite again; and in his opinion any promise they might give with regard to this Bill would be quite as safe as a promise that might be given by a prisoner on being released from prison. The House would remember that Mr. Parnell accepted the last Bill, but he afterwards informed the world that he did so pro tanto. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) last week said he accepted the Bill as a compromise, and that he accepted it "at present," but he also stated that he maintained the right of the Irish people to a Parliament of their own on the ground of Irish nationality. The hon. Member for Waterford had said Ireland must have a Parliament entirely free from control, and the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had said that he would leave the Irish Parliament severely alone. If, however, the Irish Parliament was to be left, severely alone, the Imperial Parlia- 503 ment would not be able to entertain any complaint of oppression of the Irish minority. The supporters of this Bill in England fancied that the measure would effect a settlement of the Irish Question, and that as soon as it was passed England and Scotland would be able to manage their own affairs. The feeling of the Irish people about the Bill was that as soon as it was passed something wonderful would drop from the clouds. If there were no loyal minority in Ireland he himself would be only too pleased to see this Bill carried in order that gentlemen opposite might see for themselves what a frightful failure it would be. If there were no minority in Ireland he would not like the Bill to be passed; for he doubted if, even in such circumstances, it could be a success. But there was a minority — a Unionist Party. Who were they? It had been said by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) that the Unionist Party in Ireland was composed of Orangemen from one part of the country; and it was only last Friday, when the Orange Society was referred to, that two hon. Gentlemen called out, "Orange murderers!" He did not know whether hon. Members were downright dishonest or utterly ignorant, but he challenged them to state a case in which a good Orangeman during the last 50 years had been convicted on the capital charge. The position of Orangemen was not understood in the House. He was confident the Orangemen of the present day were law-abiding subjects, and desired to obey the Queen and Parliament. The hon. Member for East Cavan (Mr. Young) spoke of the Ulster Reform Club, which returned nine Liberals in the old days prior to Home Rule; but the hon. Member did not tell the House that there were only a very few Home Rulers in it at present.
§ SIR T. LEA
So far as his opinion went, it stood just as it had done on that question. There was a Liberal Club in Dublin, which also protested against the Bill; and, again, did not the hon. Member for Waterford know that there were 600,000 Presbyterians in Ireland who all supported the Prime Minister in the old days, but were now his deadliest opponents? It was altogether beside the 504 mark for hon. Gentlemen in the House, or out of it, to say that the opposition to the Bill was composed entirely of Orangemen. All the Free Churches in Ireland had passed resolutions against Home Rule, and even the Congregational Union of Ireland, which had hitherto kept itself apart from the Home Rule controversy, passed a resolution a week ago against the Bill. He had the honour of supporting the present Prime Minister in disestablishing the Irish Church 25 years ago, and he was not going to do anything that would tend to put another Church in its place. The Belfast Chamber of Commerce sent a deputation to the Prime Minister to protest against the Bill, and the Dublin Chamber also made application for an interview with the right hon. Gentleman, but were refused access to him. The Dublin Chamber was composed of 1,500 men, a considerable number of whom were Catholics, and they were nearly entirely Unionists. The opposition to the Bill was made in no vindictive spirit, in no spirit of bigotry. With the exception of the Lord Lieutenancy, all offices under the Crown were open to Catholics in Ireland. What more could they want? If they took commercial opinion in Ireland it was totally opposed to the Bill. Then there were other tests. In Belfast the price of gas was 2s. 9d.; in Dublin it was 3s. 6d.——
§ MR. T. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
Might I remind the hon. Baronet that in Belfast the Corporation has acquired control of the gasworks, whereas in Dublin the gas is controlled by a private company, and the Corporation have been unable to acquire the works, so that the company can do just as they please?
§ SIR T. LEA
said, at any rate the expenses of Belfast were about half those of Dublin. Complaint was made of the decrease in the population, but that was going on in England and Scotland as well. He would like to see some improvement, of course. They were told that the Bill would improve the condition of agriculture. He wanted to know how it was to do so. There was only one way in which the condition of the farmer could be improved. It was said that when there was an Irish Parliament the landlords would not be able to obtain their rents. The late Mr. Parnell some 505 years ago said they would have to fight for their laud or pay for it, and, putting aside fighting, the only question that remained was how they were to pay for it. He wanted to know whether Land Purchase was going to be continued under Home Rule. That question was one which intimately concerned his constituents. It was said that the Irish Parliament would not be able to borrow money at less than 6 per cent., and, if that were so, Land Purchase was out of the question in Ireland, and the amelioration of the condition of the Irish farmer impossible. The noble Lord who spoke on Friday (Lord G. Hamilton) referred to the Hill estate, but did not give any figures. There were 780 tenants at a total annual rent of £720, many of these men paying a rent of less than £1 a year. If the land were given them for nothing it would make little practical difference to that class of tenant. He was aware that the Ulster farmers were anxious for cheap land. He bad an experience of that when, mingling among a number of farmers in the constituency of South Tyrone, he met the largest number of Protestant Home Rulers he had yet come across. He talked pretty freely to these men, and he found that they regarded the party of progress as the party of cheap land. They did not want Home Rule. That was what the farmer and the labourer were looking forward to—cheap land. As these men told him—"That is the policy we advocate. We want cheap land, but we want to get it honestly." Mr. Parnell, speaking on the subject of Protection, said that without a Parliament with full powers to protect her struggling industries it was impossible for Ireland to revive her ancient prosperity. In Mr. Parnell's opinion, which was shared by hon. Gentlemen opposite, a Bill without Protection was useless.
§ SIR T. LEA
said, he understood that opinion was strongly held by the agricultural population of Ireland. As the late Chancellor of the Exchequer put it, if bounties had to be found, were they to come from the bankrupt Irish Exchequer or were they to be a Fresh tax on the loyal minority in Ireland? The hon. Member for East Cavan complained that the Unionist Party would not allow 70,000 Roman Catholics to be repre- 506 sented on the Local Governing Bodies in Belfast, but in Donegal there were 50,000 Protestants with only a single Representative, and there were many instances of a similar character all over the country. He had been associated with the Catholic clergy during his Membership for Donegal, securing appointments for Catholics to the Magisterial Bench, and his recommendations, eight in number, wore adopted——
§ SIR T. LEA
was glad to learn of other appointments made recently, in which they had not, as in five out of the eight cases he mentioned, holders of retail licences.
§ SIR T. LEA
said, it was generally held that holders of licences should not be appointed; but if they were the only available men, then there was nothing else for it.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
How many of those who have recently been appointed are holders of retail licences?
§ SIR T. LEA
quite admitted the difficulty of securing the services of men to act as Magistrates in the remote districts; but he was not aware that the qualification had been altered. It was sometimes necessary to appoint shopkeepers in the little towns. It was a subject of complaint with hon. Members opposite that 30,000 soldiers were kept in Ireland to keep the people down. The men, they were told, should be withdrawn. He could assure the House that a very different view was taken by the people themselves. It was proposed some time ago to take away the garrison from one town, but the authorities were petitioned to not remove them. The Scotch Home Rulers complained that there were only 3,000 soldiers in Scotland, and that Ireland should have these 30,000. Then there was in Ireland the thousands of the Constabulary. The total benefit to the people from the presence of the soldiers and police was very great. If they withdrew the 30,000 soldiers they withdrew £30,000 per week from the pockets of the Irish people; or they might take it that they would withdraw £1,500,0()0 per annum, and so they would 507 have a new Irish grievance. With regard to the financial clauses in the Bill, holding as he did very strong temperance views, he could but feel sorry that such clauses had been proposed. There was much drinking of intoxicating liquors in Ireland ["No, no!" from Nationalist Members.] Well, the hon. Member for North-East Cork had stated in public and private that there was far too much money spent on liquor in Ireland. The late Mr. Biggar, who was one of the first advocates of the Nationalist cause in that House, stated within a few weeks of his death that without some measure to reduce the consumption of intoxicating liquors in Ireland Home Rule would be useless. Therefore, he contended that the financial clauses of the Bill meant nothing more or less than bankruptcy and drunkenness. Then, as to the in and out clause, he would like to know how it was to work, as he might, as an Irish Representative, if the Bill became law, be one of the small Irish minority who would have to fight the battles of the Irish Unionists in the Imperial Parliament. The clause was impossible, and the only natural course was for the Prime Minister to have his own way, and to exclude the Irish Members altogether. He would also like to know who was the Bill going to satisfy. It would not satisfy the corner-boys, because they would still be loafers if the Bill passed, and nothing would drop from the skies for their benefit. It would not help the farmers, except by some system of confiscation, because no Land Purchase Scheme was possible under the Bill. It would not satisfy the Roman Catholic hierarchy, for there was nothing more dear to their hearts than to train the young people as they pleased in the Roman Catholic faith, and the Bill withdrew from thorn the power of legislating in the matter of education. The Prime Minister had asked how long the Irish difficulty was to be allowed to continue. He believed they should like no short cuts for the satisfaction of such a people as the Irish. He admitted that England during the past century had been guilty of some injustice to the Irish people; but the Imperial Parliament had during the past 20 years done much to remedy their grievances. He believed that the feeling widely prevailed amongst the Irish people that the Imperial Parliament 508 was able to do them justice. He did not see why the policy of conciliation and the removal of grievances by the Imperial Parliament should not continue. It was the only practical policy. He knew that that feeling prevailed also to some extent amongst Liberal Members who wore not just believers in the Bill. He would ask those hon. Gentlemen whether they wore taking an honest and straightforward course in supporting a Bill which was not quite in accordance with their views. The fight against the Bill would continue with unabated vigour, and if it wore not successful, if the Bill should become law, he would say, "May Heaven defend us!"
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
said, there was one thing that struck him, and he thought it must have struck most hon. Members on that side of the House during the Debate, and that was the unreality of the objections urged against the Bill. He was not at all prepared to say that there were strong and valid objections to the measure as it at present stood; but, to take one of the objections urged by the Unionists, it had been pointed at upon the financial question that Ireland would have in the main to depend upon the Excise, and, in all seriousness, Unionist Members got up and agreed on the highly-improbable contingency of the people of Ireland suddenly becoming teetotallers, and they said that the result of that sudden revolution in the customs of the Irish people would be to plunge Ireland into a state of national bankruptcy. He believed that at least £30,000,000 of the Revenue of this country were derived from the Excise, and he doubted very much whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able to find facile means, without severely handicapping various industries of the country, of providing a substitute for that Revenue from other sources. That argument was based upon what he might call a state of political hypochondriasis. He ventured to suggest that there was no system of government which, under certain conditions, would stand tests of the character applied to this Bill by his Unionist friends. He did not believe that the English Constitution itself, in respect of its symmetry and elegance, would stand the same severe criticism, if it were laid upon the Table 509 of the House, as had been applied, and applied more or less successfully, to the scheme of the Irish Government propounded by the Prime Minister. He believed that the phrases "Integrity of the Empire" and "Supremacy of the Imperial Parliament" were merely pretexts which had been advanced in order to hide the paucity of really serious arguments against the Bill. He believed that the foundation of the objection to Home Rule was the idea, honestly, firmly, and conscientiously entertained, that it would encourage a system of spoliation. He believed that the fear that the Irish Government would he a corrupt Government, and, as regarded the landlords, it would be an oppressive Government, was the sole root and branch of the honest opposition to the measure. Let them examine the strength of the Unionist contentions with regard to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament and the integrity of the British Empire. He had watched the progress of the Debate, and had found that both those propositions had been throughout the Debate vanished quantities. The integrity of the Empire could no more be affected by the granting of Local Government to Ireland than by the creation of those free Legislative Colonies, which were now ornaments to the British Empire. The supremacy of the British Parliament was not to be secured by Statutes, Charters, or Codes, but by the physical resources at the disposal of Parliament to be used for the purpose of maintaining this supremacy throughout the Queen's Dominions. He said, without fear of honest contradiction, that the root of the opposition to the Bill was the fear of injustice being perpetrated upon the landlords. If they wanted proof of that contention they would find it in the fact that there had been a Home Rule movement antecedent to the present Home Rule movement under the leadership of Mr. Butt, and that movement had never excited fears for the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament or the integrity of the Empire from the landed, aristocratic, and governing classes in Ireland. It was true that Ulster was paraded before them. Of course, Ulster was a mere geographical expression, because they had been told in a former Debate, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the late Government, that out of nine counties in Ulster four were 510 predominantly Unionists and five were predominantly Nationalists. He did not believe that there was that amount of serious opposition in Ulster to Home Rule which was said to exist. If there was in that Province a spontaneous opposition to Home Rule he doubted very much whether it would have been found necessary to use all this factitious means for kindling that opposition which had been used. He doubted whether it would have been necessary to send over the Leader of the Opposition, whether it would have been necessary to import as a guard of honour for the right hon. Gentleman 60 Scotch bagpipers, whether it would have been necessary to send over a deputation of 500 Durham miners. All those things showed that there was a want of reality in the Ulster feeling against Home Rule, and that it was more or less of a theatrical display. When the Irish people were charged with the prospective offence of spoliation it was only fair to examine the past to see whether the Irish people had ever been guilty of spoliation. In a speech delivered by Lord Clare—to which allusion had been frequently made in the course of the Debate — it was said that the unhappy tenantry were ground to powder by the relentless landlords. That was a condition of things that existed in Ireland until the remedial Land Legislation of 1881. He admitted that a better feeling had grown up between the tenantry and the landlords of Ireland since Lord Clare's speech; but if they examined the Report of the Cowper Commission they would find that cruel exactions on the part of the landlords, and an unjust system of rents, generally prevailed in Ireland at the time that Commission sat. Then, again, in the year 1887, the reductions of rents by the Land Commission averaged no less than 31.3 per cent. That fact showed that the Irish tenant had the amplest justification for his objection to the demand of rent. In 1886 Mr. Parnell demanded that there should be further reductions of the judicial rents. The demand was refused, and it was followed by the Plan of Campaign movement. So far as the fear of spoliation was concerned, there was nothing in the previous history of the Irish peasantry to support the contention that the Irish peasantry would do injustice to the landlords. But 511 he would deal with the question from a higher standpoint. It was, in his opinion, necessary to concede some measure of Home Rule to Ireland, and it was impossible—and hon. Members opposite must recognise the fact—to resist such a measure for any long period of time. The English Liberal Party were committed to Home Rule, and the presence of 80 Nationalist Members in Parliament rendered it impossible to refuse Home Rule, unless they were prepared to go the length of disfranchising Ireland. Then on what principle ought it to be conceded? Mr. Parnell—whoso absence at this juncture must be deplored by everyone who desired to see the question settled on a statesmanlike basis— had stated that the Irish people must be trusted altogether or not at all. The objection which he (Mr. Atherley-Jones) had to raise to this Bill was that it did not put enough trust in the Irish people. He did not quarrel with his Irish friends for accepting it as a compromise and as an instalment. He recognised their wisdom in accepting it as an instalment. He was not going to quarrel with the measure because it contained certain fantastical points, and, if the Irish Members were content with the bastard House of Lords which the Bill proposed to constitute, it was not for him to raise any objection. If they wished to have this Legislative Council, let them have it, and he wished them joy of it. But so far as the Bill affected England he had a right to question it, and to record his vote according to the views and aspirations of the English people. If there was one thing urged upon them more than another as a reason why they should support Home Rule, it was that it would rid them of the Irish Question. They were told over and over again that until they got rid of Home Rule they could not find time to deal with questions affecting the people of England. But he was confronted in the Bill by a clause which provided that the Irish Parliament should not have the right to deal with the Land Question for a period of three years. He wanted to know what that meant, and he hoped some Member of the Government would inform him. If it were to be kept out of the hands of the Irish people, why was the limit of three years suggested? Why should it not be 30 years? or why should 512 not the limit of perpetuity be put upon it. He told his friends opposite that if they conceived that this Land Question was to be kept indefinitely from their control, they were unfaithful to the trust they undertook in 1879. In 1879, when the foundation of this proposal was established, Mr. John Devey—whose name would be familiar to hon. Members opposite as a high-minded Irish patriot—declared that—Up to now the Irish people have only seen the green flag of Ireland, now they have learned that there is something called the Land Question.And in establishing, or assisting to establish, a Plan of Campaign, he and those associated with him over and over again declared that no system of Home Rule would be acceptable to the Irish people unless it gave the control of the land and the whole right of dealing with the Laud Question; but hon. Gentlemen opposite were accepting a promise from the Government which denied to them the right of dealing with the Laud Question for a period of three years. What did that period of three years mean? Did it mean that the Irish Land Question was to be dealt with by Her Majesty's Ministry within that time? As he understood, it had been stated by those responsible for the introduction of the Home Rule Bill that its carriage would enable them to deal with their own business, and what he wished to ask the Government was whether, after the probationary period of three years, they would trust the Irish Parliament with the Irish Laud Question, or whether they meant to deal with it in the Imperial Parliament. This was an important question that required answering, and yet no answer had been given from the Front Bench. As he saw the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Morley) present, he wished to propound another question. They had had two contradictory statements made from the Front Bench. The statement of the Prime Minister was that the retention of the Irish Members was an organic detail, and that the vitality of the Bill did not depend upon provisions for excluding or retaining the Irish Members. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith), in his admirable speech the other night, declared, with a great deal of authority, but, he 513 (Mr. Atherley - Jones) was bound to say, without an argument, that he regarded the retention of the Irish Members as an essential principle of the Bill, from which he gathered that if the clause for the retention of the Irish Members was negatived, that the Bill would fall to the ground, and that they were placed in the unpleasant predicament of having to vote in favour of the retention of the Irish Members or destroy the Bill. He hoped this matter would be cleared up by some right hon. Gentleman occupying the Ministerial Bench. He candidly stated that he was opposed to the retention of the Irish Members. He followed the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Government when he stated it would open an easy passage to intrigue, and when, in 1886, the right hon. Gentleman stated that it was not possible, and that to devise any measure to compass it satisfactorily would baffle the wit of man. He had noticed throughout the Debate that not one right hon. Gentleman had ventured to give them any explanation of how they intended to work out this extraordinary problem. But why did he object to the retention of the Irish Members? There were two great objections, and one was that it absolutely negatived the possibility of finality. His hon. Friend the Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton) regarded the retention of the Irish Members as affording a certain amount of leverage for securing further concessions. That statement was adopted by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Hedmond), who, in a very brilliant speech, had stated that it was looked upon with favour because they did not regard the Bill as being final. Nor could it be final by any possibility; it was absurd, and was trifling with the House to pretend there could be any finality. ["No, no!"] His hon. Friends said "No, no!" He would take one illustration alone, the question of Trade and Navigation. What was stated by Mr. Parnell in Wick-low in 1886? Mr. Parnell said—No solution of the Irish Question will be acceptable to the Irish people unless it gives them full and ample control over questions of Trade and Navigation.Had that statement of Mr. Parnell's ever been negatived from the Benches opposite? had any hon. Member said they did not 514 want to deal with Trade and Navigation? No one could doubt that the Irish Members desired to see exceptional legislation with regard to Trade and Navigation applied to Ireland. Could anyone suppose, whether the Irish Members were retained 40 or 80 strong, they would not be bound to make some attempt for the good of Ireland, and to use that power which they would undoubtedly possess for the purpose of compelling British Ministers to concede their demands? He had heard a distinguished Irish Representative say the Irish Members had the Liberal Party between their finger and thumb. He congratulated them on that; but, at any rate, there was mutuality. They had the power now of dealing with the domestic affairs of Ireland, but if the Bill were passed in its present form that power would be wrested from them, and then Irish Members would be able to say, "What's yours is mine, and what's mine is my own." There was a further objection, and that was that they would give the Irish Members the control over their affairs, and he would ask hon. Members to apply that principle to their own lives and their own businesses. He would ask whether, when a partnership was being dissolved, they would think of giving an outgoing partner complete control over his own business, and allow him without any stake or interest in it to have control also over theirs? The matter only required to be stated to demonstrate its absurdity. It was said this was a step towards Federation. Did the Government accept that position? Did the Government regard this as a step towards the concession of Home Rule to Scotland, Wales, and England? In conversation with his hon. Friends he had found that was the only sound and valid reason for supporting this measure, especially some of his Scotch friends, that it would lead to the federation of the United Kingdom. He was bound to say, for his part, and the opinion was shared by many English Liberal Members, that the time was not ripe for Federation. If Scotland required a domestic Legislature he had no doubt Scotland would secure it. It was possible that Wales, if she desired it, would secure it, but they had no light to take a step that might precipitate that result, they had no right to do something that 515 should render it absolutely inevitable that the system of Home Rule should be conceded to these different countries. He was against conceding Home Rule to Scotland, and also to Wales, and also to England—first, because he believed they did not desire it; and, secondly, because he believed that it would be injurious to the interests of this country, and it would be antipathetical to the spirit of democracy. When they were building up a great Central Authority in the Metropolis, how could they say it was inexpedient to have such an authority in the nation? He could not believe there was any demand for Home Rule for Scotland, for Wales, or for England, and he should deplore the passing of this clause if it rendered it necessary, as a corollary, to establish a Legislature in the three Kingdoms. He regretted that the Bill should suffer in respect to this clause, but although they had their duties to Ireland, they had their duties to Great Britain; they had a duty to see that the interests of this Imperial Parliament should not be impaired. They had not had any lucid explanation afforded of how this wonderful, this most extraordinary departure from precedent, and he would say with all humility from common sense, could be reconciled with the exigencies of the Empire. They were truly told that Ireland had suffered injustice from England, but he said a still greater injustice would be inflicted upon England if foreign Representatives were permitted to sit in this Parliament and directly or indirectly to interfere with the course and progress of Government in the United Kingdom. He desired to see the Bill read a second time, and he had risen not for the purpose of discussing questions which had been discussed ad nauseam in the House, but simply as a Gladstonian item, in plain, unvarnished language, asking right hon. Gentlemen to give them some explanation of how they were going to deal with this most complex question of the retention or non-retention of the Irish Members.
§ MR. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down commenced by complaining of the unreality of the objections raised on this side of the House against the Bill. Well, certainly there can be no mistake about the reality of the objections against the Bill by the hon. 516 and learned Gentleman, although he has told us that out of Party loyalty he intends to support the Bill on the Second Reading, yet he has condemned one of the most important clauses in it in no unmeasured terms. In another part of the interesting speech of the hon. and learned Member he alluded to the demonstrations that had taken place in Ulster, and he characterised them as theatrical and not serious, and that there was a want of reality about them. Now, Sir, it reminds me of an episode in my younger days. Some 33 years ago it was my fortune to visit the United States. I arrived there at the time Mr. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of that Republic. I was in Washington, where that election raised, as is well known, immense feeling on the part of the Southerners which, if I recollect aright, bore about the same remarkable proportion to the North that the minority in Ireland bear to-day to the total population of that island. I was in Washington when Senators took their leave and joined their States. I was in various towns in the Southern States when they elected their Secession Convention. I formed a very strong opinion that the men in the South were in earnest, they were determined that they would not live under or submit to a Government, the head of which was represented by one whom they regarded as their greatest enemy. They did not believe that the North would take any hostile steps against them. When I came to the North from visiting the South I found in the North a disregard paid there to all the demonstrations that had been held in the South, the various Conventions that had met and declared they would not rest under the domination of a Government, such as the new Government. But the people in the North did not term it theatrical or say there was want of reality; they used the corresponding term, and said it was all "bunkum and gas." The result of that disregard on the part of the North was that something like 2,000,000 of men wore destroyed before that terrible war was over. The moral he wished to draw from that was this: that he believed from all he could gather that the men of Ulster to-day were as opposed and as determined not to submit to the domination of those whom they thought had different interests to themselves 517 in the South of Ireland, as were the Southerners determined not to submit to the domination of the Northerners in that great American Civil War, and I think it most unwise for any party to attempt to belittle or to deride the demonstration of those great earnest people in the North of Ireland. It may bring us into trouble, and serious trouble; therefore, I do hope that this House will, at any rate, not be misled by supposing these demonstrations in Belfast and elsewhere in the North of Ireland are simply theatrical displays. I can say, Sir, that Ulster in this matter would not stand alone. I come from a part of England whore probably we have, next to Belfast and Dublin, the largest Irish population in Her Majesty's dominions, and I can say that the feeling of a large body of determined and strong men there is to support to the utmost of their power their brethren of the loyal minority in the North of Ireland. That brings me to one point which I do not think has been made much of in this Debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) has been asked several questions as to what would be the position of the new Irish Government, if it was ever set up under this Bill, in regard to the manipulation of the troops or the forces of Her Majesty. The right hon. Gentleman, to my mind, did not give a clear or satisfactory answer on that point, probably he dared not do it. I think he fears that if he was to say that the new Government of Ireland would have at its disposal the troops of Her Majesty to enforce its Acts or the laws it might pass, there would be a clean sweep of the majority in this country which at present gives him the power to introduce this Bill; and, Sir, on the other hand, if he were distinctly and clearly to say that it would not be within the province of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or the Government of Ireland to employ Her Majesty's Forces in enforcing the laws that the new Irish Parliament might pass, then I am inclined to think those in whose favour the Bill is proposed would say you were giving us a shadow and a delusion, a power to pass laws which we cannot enforce. Again, assume, as is very probable, that the people of Belfast objected to carry out unpopular laws enacted by a Parliament in Dublin. I 518 can quite conceive a state of matters arising in Belfast in which the police, paid and controlled by the Municipality, would refuse to carry out unpopular enactments, and who would enforce them? [An hon. MEMBER: The Constabulary.] The Constabulary were to be gradually done away with, and in place of them we are to have, as I understand it, municipal police, and I doubt very much whether a municipal police would in such a case carry out the unpopular laws, and in that case by whom are the unpopular enactments to be carried out? The Government of Ireland are to be precluded from having a Militia at their command, and in that they differ from the State Government of the United States, to which allusion has so frequently been made. The State Governments, having passed their own laws to their own satisfaction, have the control of the Militia of those States, and in case of riot, or obstruction, or hostility to the enforcement of the laws, the Government of those States have power over the Militia. Under this Bill no such power is given to the Government of Ireland. The Secretary of State for War did tell us it would be within the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant—as I understand it, in his own individual discretion, and not upon the advice of the Irish Ministry—to enforce the enactments of the Legislature, so that we shall have the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in a dual position: one moment acting as the mouthpiece of his Irish advisers, and at another moment acting entirely on his own volition, or the advice he may receive from this country. Much has been said in the course of this Debate about Ulster, and Ulster has been taunted with loyalty July to such laws as may please her, and not to the general laws of the Kingdom. I think it may fairly be urged for Ulster that you are not asking Ulster to obey a law passed by this House, but you are practically asking her to transfer her allegiance from this House to a House you chose to form in Dublin. I think there is all the difference in the world between asking Ulster to comply with the laws passed by this House as a paramount authority for dealing with matters between man and man, or the relations between subjects and the State, and transferring that very important authority from this house to a body to be set up in 519 Dublin. I should like to say one word as to these so-called safeguards which Ulster is to have. I have looked somewhat into the figures for the probable results of the elections of the three different Bodies which are to be elected under the present Bill. First, I take the safeguard of the proposed Legislative Council of 48 Members. I do not want here, or at any time, to allude to this question as a question between Catholics and Protestants. I believe there are large bodies of the most intelligent of the Roman Catholics who are as strong against this Bill as any of the Protestants of the country. But I am bound to look at this matter by the result of the past, and I find that wherever the Catholics largely predominate in any district there they have returned Nationalist Members, and there is no reason to suppose that in the elections that may take place for this Legislative Council which is to safeguard the minority in Ulster the same results will not be attained. If that is so, examine the case as regards Ulster. Ulster is to be divided into 10 Divisions. In the whole of Ulster there are something like 750,000 Roman Catholics against 883,000 Protestants. The Protestants predominate largely in the five Divisions of Antrim, Armagh, Belfast, Down, and Derry, and we may assume that they would return 10 Unionist Members. In the five Divisions of Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan, and Tyrone, where the Roman Catholics largely comprise the population, we may reasonably assume they would return five Nationalist Members against the 10 Unionists in the other Divisions. There would be unrepresented practically 314,000 Roman Catholics residing in the Protestant part of Ulster, and 200,000 Protestants residing in the Catholic parts of Ulster. In Munster there are over 1,003,000 Roman Catholics against 76,000 Protestants, so that the Electoral Division in that Province would undoubtedly return 12 Nationalist Members. In Leinster there are 1,000,000 Catholics and only 185,000 Protestants, and here the 13 Divisions would return 16 Nationalist Members. Connaught has four Divisions, and as the Roman Catholics so largely predominate there she would return five Members, all of whom would be Nationalists, so that in this so-called Legislative Council which 520 is to be the safeguard for Ulster, at least 38 of the 48 Members would be Nationalists, leaving only 10 Unionists. I see the Lower House is to he composed of the same number of Members as is returned to this House at present— namely, 103; and, taking them in the same proportion as they are now represented here, we have 23 Unionists and 80 Nationalists. The other safeguard was that if there was a difference between the two tribunals they were to sit together and vote as one Body. The result would be that the minority m Ireland in that joint House would be represented by 33 as against 118 of her opponents. I think these figures put out of the category of safeguards that proposed Legislative Council of 48 as being of any use for the protection of the minority in Ireland. The next point on which I should like to trouble the House is in regard to the representation of Ireland in this House. Eighty Members are to be returned here, and these 80 Members, as I understand the Bill, are to be returned in many eases in groups, and not on the principle adopted in this country of single Member constituencies. We should find that out of 80 Members, Ulster would return 12 Nationalists against 15 Unionists; Leinster 20 Nationalists; Connaught 13; and Minister 20 Nationalists; so that we should have 65 Nationalist Members against only 15 Unionists in this House. That, on a Division, would give something like 50 votes. Such a balance on a Division was practically obtained by so gerrymandering the constituencies for the Imperial Parliament and adopting a different principle from that adopted in England that the strength of the Opposition in this House would be increased, and in no sense diminished. But this is not the worst of all. This body in Ireland only has power within six years to make an alteration in its own composition, and we may be quite sure that the majority, large as it would be of one way of thinking and on one side, are not likely to make that alteration in the direction of helping or assisting their opponents. Sir, this system under which the elections are to be conducted, and the system of Divisions, is one grossly unfair to the minority in Ireland. Putting the minority in Ireland at the low estimate of 521 1,500,000, you would find that at least 500,000 of the Protestants would live in the districts outside Ulster, and would practically have no representation whatever in the Legislative Council or in the representation of this House. There is another aspect of the matter on which I should like to say one word, and that is the trade position. Liverpool, with which I am connected, has the largest association with Ireland of any port of the world, and have closer social relations with Ireland than any other port of England, whilst her trade relations are the largest. Something like 700,000 vessels come and go from Liverpool to Irish ports every year. The Liverpool shipowners in the last five years have expended something like £5,000,000 in the construction of new ships in Ireland. If there be any unrest or turmoil in Ireland, we in Liverpool are the first to feel its influence. I can point to a tangible circumstance in illustration of that. Liverpool felt for years the ill effect of the great potato famine in Ireland. In two years some 70,000 poor starving people made their way to Liverpool to find food and work. The town had not the accommodation to have these people properly and decently housed. The result was that typhus, and typhoid, and other diseases were introduced into the town, and for years and years could not be exterminated. Those 70,000 additional labourers from Ireland disturbed the Liverpool labour market for years and years after their arrival, and a congested state arose in that market, so that for years and years the casual dock labourer at the dock side in Liverpool thought himself fortunate if he had from two to three days' work in the course of a week. I say that from the point of view of the commercial classes in the town which I have quoted, and with which I am associated, that they are in a state of anxiety there. They are curtailing their businesses. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no.] I speak on this matter with some authority, and not without considerable inquiry. I will give the hon. Member who said "No, no" some of my experiences. In Liverpool, last week, a banker, unsought by me, asked as to what was being done with the Home Rule Bill in its prospects. He said to me—" We have told our customers to whom we give credit that 522 we desire them to withdraw their credit from Ireland." That gentleman belongs to one of the largest banks in our city and doing a large business with Ire-land. The next gentleman I met was one of the largest shipowners in the town. He asked me very much in the same way what was doing in regard to this Bill. He said—"I am anxious to build one or two vessels, which would take some time to build, but I assure you I feel too anxious to put out work which will take two or three years to finish until I see more daylight, and know whether this wretched Bill is to pass or not." I will give you one more illustration, and that is from a Director of one of the largest Insurance Companies, with millions of money to lend. He told me that the week before his Board had passed a resolution to advance no further money at present on Irish securities. This question of trade is one of the most serious ones in connection with this Bill. It must always be remembered that the Irish industries are not indigenous to that country except as regards agriculture and whisky distilling. [Colonel NOLAN: And linen and wool.] Shipbuilding is an entirely new growth, and does not belong to the country. There is nothing in connection with the construction of a ship but which has to be imported into Belfast. An hon. Member has mentioned linen and wool. I will give him a little information upon this linen question. We all imagine that flax is an indigenous industry in Ireland, and that linen is indigenous because flax is from there. The fact is that out of 96,000 tons consumed in a year in the manufacture of linen no less than 83,000 tons is imported; therefore if you disturbed the minds of these manufacturers and others and put them under a Government which they feel, rightly or wrongly, will act unjustly to them and their industries, there is nothing at all to prevent them removing with these industries from Ireland and establishing them in some part of England. The result would be that Ireland would he left with only one industry—that of agriculture, whilst the labour-market of this country would be flooded by those who at present find employment in other industries in Ireland. There is no doubt that one class of industry largely depends on another; and one reason why ship- 523 building has been in a measure successful in Ireland, apart from the distinguished ability of the firm who really gave it a start there, is the fact that the workmen employed in shipbuilding can find employment in other industries for the daughters of their families. There are no fewer than 47,000 women employed in the manufactures of the North of Ireland, and this employment of women is one of the great difficulties in all manufacturing centres, and it is a great encouragement for people to settle down in a place where employment can be found for both the male and female members of a family. Therefore, if you remove one industry, say shipbuilding, from Belfast you remove a large amount of labour available for the linen manufacture, and if you remove the linen industry, you remove one inducement for the shipbuilding industry to remain there. To show how important it is to have trade and industries in a country let me point to one fact. There are something like 14,500 labourers who annually find their way from Ireland to England for casual employment during harvest time. Ulster, which is the centre of this manufacture and other industries than agriculture, only sends 1,650 of these labourers to England as against no less than 12,600 who come over from the purely agricultural district of Connaught. These are facts, I think, that ought to be fairly considered. Rightly or wrongly capitalists and merchants and manufacturers are timid and anxious, and in such circumstances capital soon vanishes and disappears. Therefore, I see no help or no hope for manufacturers to continue in Ireland unless something is done in the direction which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin suggested might be done—because it was not prohibited in the Bill—that is, offering bounties in the manufactures of that country. One word—and that in defence of the British taxpayer—in regard to finance. That question has been fully dealt with by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. But I should like to emphasise the matter in one word by showing that if Ireland is determined to leave us she has no right or title to ask England to give her one sixpence with which to set up her new establishment. I am quite willing to continue to charge Ire-and the small proportion which, whilst she 524 is one of our partners, we at present receive, but I say the English people should not, and will not, tax themselves to give her capital to start business on her own account. Why should we? It is they, not we, who wish to dissolve this partnership. It is by the Irish votes, not ours, that the contract is to be ended, and we will not increase our taxes in order to benefit them. If they are to have a separate household to themselves, let them at once look to the consequences of it, and let them provide their own means of sustenance and their own pay for their own establishment. I believe, Sir, if this House would at once declare that it will not be a party to give one sixpence surplus to the establishment of the Irish Government, and that it was once made known in Ireland there and then, there would be a very great change as regards the opinions and feelings of Ireland in connection with Home Rule. I thank the House for having listened to me. I have endeavoured to put the matter plainly from the mercantile point of view. I believe Ireland will suffer greatly from the disturbance of trade and commercial and industrial relations if she attempts to set up this Government for herself, and, in the words of one of the hon. Members from Ireland, I believe it will land Ireland in bankruptcy; and whilst I am willing to extend the hand of warmest sympathy and good fellowship to Ireland while she is a partner with us, yet if she chooses to go out of our household to set up for herself, she must take the consequences of leaving us.
said, this subject of Home Rule had been discussed in many aspects, but the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool had struck out a new line. He had discussed the question in a spirit of the narrowest trade jealousies. They were not unaccustomed to that tone from Liverpool, and half the people in Galway believed that when they had a packet station at Galway the Liverpool people bribed the pilot to take the vessel on a rock. From that part of England, which largely depended on Irish trade, they had always experienced the bitter spirit of trade jealousy and trade opposition. Of course that did not apply to the whole of Liverpool. There were 525 very good Irishmen and very good Liberals in Liverpool, bat the Conservatives of that city were some of the narrowest people in their views that could be found in the United Kingdom. There was an old Party there who wore said to be descended from the Party who opposed the abolition of slavery, and he believed the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken very ably represented that Party. They were told that if this Bill passed capitalists would leave Ireland. That had been the burden of a good many of the speeches in that House. The Lord Mayor of Dublin was talking to him on this subject, and he told him he had been called upon by a very distinguished Irish representative of a very influential London journal. This representative used the very same argument as to capitalists and largo traders leaving the country if the Bill passed. The Lord Mayor asked for an instance, and the newspaper representative at once replied, Lord Iveagh. That was the Guinness porter concern. The Lord Mayor replied: "I do not think he will leave the country. He can remove the bricks and mortar and the machinery, but as two-thirds of his trade are in Ire-laud it is extremely unlikely that he will sacrifice two-thirds of his trade." The representative then gave us another instance, the case of John Jamieson. The Lord Mayor replied somewhat to this effect: "I think you are still more wrong. John Jamieson is certainly distinguished all over the world, and his product is greatly esteemed even by temperance men when they are sick. But as his trade largely depends on his Irish connection it would be suicide to leave Ireland." Hon. Members would find when they went into details and did not simply read anonymous letters in The Times from anonymous manufacturers who were going to remove their whole plant, that it would be extremely difficult for any of these manufacturers to leave Ireland, and very few of them were very likely to do so. He had listened with great attention to the speech of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschon), and in some respects he was greatly pleased with it. It was well-known that some poisons would counteract the effects of other poisons, and he believed in the same way the speech of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer 526 would counteract that of the Member for We-it Birmingham. The Member for West Birmingham in that House and in the country had been saying that Ireland under this Bill in times of peace would pay £1,030,000, and in times of war about £2,000,000, less than she ought to pay. But the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that the Irish Exchequer would be bankrupt under the new arrangement. Now the two facts could not happen. Either the Member for West Birmingham was utterly wrong or the Member for St. George's (Mr. Gosehen) was utterly wrong. The two statements could not possibly be at once true. The real fact of the matter was that if they only left Ireland alone and simply allowed her to spend all the taxes she collected in Ireland on Irish affairs instead of being bankrupt she would be very rich. The hon. Member for Liverpool said Ireland was to be treated harshly if she left the partnership. They were not leaving the partnership. They were going to pay a great deal of money into the concern. The Prime Minister told them that there would be £5,660,000 for the Irish Exchequer under the new arrangement, and £2,436,000 was to be her contribution to the Imperial Revenue. That was practically true, but in addition there was a sum of £1,470,000 for taxes collected in Ireland, partly on whisky and partly on porter, but which was credited to England under the scheme. Ireland's Revenue would, therefore, be £9,574,000, and if the whole of that sum were allowed to be spent in Ireland, the country would be rich in every possible way. It was all very well to talk of Ireland being bankrupt and being very poor, but that was after England had squeezed her. The taxes on whisky had been imposed very much against the will of Irishmen of all Parties. Whatever their opinions might be, they were agreed that Ireland should not have to bear further taxation of any kind. So long as the accounts between the two countries were kept on the footing of the amount collected in Ireland the matter was very simple, but when once that broad line was left the computation of how much ought to be credited to England and Ireland respectively became very complicated. He questioned the accuracy in all respects of the Returns made by the Treasury clerks. It was 527 perfectly fair to ask from Ireland an equal contribution of men to the Army, but it was not fair to ask from her an equal contribution of money, because she had not the same interest in wars as England, and her resources in money were less. The Member for West Birmingham had stated that United Ireland had declared in an article that Ireland had no interest whatever in war expenditure; he had not seen the article, but if that were its purport it went too far, because Ireland had an interest as long as she had to pay anything, but her interests were not as great as England's. Ireland did not, for instance, order 5,000,000 tons of shipping; she was not a great commercial nation; and she had very little interest in the retention of India. This difference ought to be considered when they were fixing the amount which Ireland should contribute to the Imperial Revenue. He could take many of the tests by which the wealth of a nation was estimated, and he would have no difficulty in showing that the proportion fixed for Ireland to pay under the Bill to the Imperial Exchequer should be less than l–25th. For example, the Irish Railways were worth £37,000,000, those of the United Kingdom £865,000,000. House property in Ireland was valued at £63,000,000, in the United Kingdom at £2,424,000,000; furniture £31,000,000, and £1,212,000,000. The Income Tax on Government Stock was only l–53rd in Ireland; of the United Kingdom, on Public Companies and Foreign Stocks l–32nd. The case would be somewhat different if the finances of the country were to be handed over to the Irish Government in a satisfactory state; but, on the contrary, they would be handed over in very bad condition. The cost of the administration of the Irish Post Office, for instance, was excessive in comparison with that of the same Department in England, and instead of there being a loss on the Irish Post Office there ought to be a considerable saving; and altogether there could be no doubt that in Ireland the expense of administration was relatively greater than in Great Britain. They might say that the land was there; but land in Ireland more especially was a most inelastic subject for taxation. This state of things was due to the past and present mode of government, and the point should 528 be taken into consideration when they were fixing the amount of Ireland's contribution under Home Rule. There were many heavy expenses which would fall on the Irish Government for some years after this Bill came into operation— expenses connected with the Constabulary, as, for example, the pensions which England ought to pay; and then the Judicial Bench, and other Public Offices, all expenses would, as it were, be a legacy from the old system of administration, and it would only be fair to diminish Ireland's proposed contribution to the Imperial Exchequer—at any rate, for some years to come. It had been said that Ireland would no longer be able to obtain loans for public purposes at 2¾ pa cent., but he held that Ireland would have a moral claim to have money on those terms as long as she continued to pay her proportion to the Imperial Exchequer—the loan, of course, in every case to be sanctioned by the Imperial House of Commons. These were the chief points which he had to bring before the House. He pointed out that in the Parliament of 1871 there was not a single Home Ruler elected. In the 1874 Parliament, though the Prime Minister gave one or two votes against them—and he was not the Leader of the Opposition at that time—his (Colonel Nolan's) impression was that they were rather reluctant votes. So far as the Irish Members could be brought to a decision on the question, there were 59 for Home Rule. They had perhaps only produced 54 on a Division. It could not have been expected, however, that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, who was not an Irish Member, would go in for Home Rule in that Parliament. Subsequently the state of things was slightly different, but between 1880 and 1885 they never had a Home Rule Motion. In 1885, after the passing of the Franchise Bill, the voice of Ireland was made manifest, and that voice had decided the Prime Minister. As to the Preamble of the Bill, it acknowledged the supreme authority of the Imperial House of Commons. Of course he (Colonel Nolan) should vote for that Preamble, but he did. not consider that that vote—and here he was thoroughly expressing the views of his constituents—would bind him if the Bill did not pass into law and receive the 529 Queen's signature. He only acknowledged the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament provisionally—and in this matter he spoke the sentiments of a considerable number of Irish people. He did not assert that the Home Rule Bill was the whole of the struggle between the Irish race and the British Government. Ireland had never renounced her right to be considered a nation. True she had been beaten in many conflicts with Great Britain, but that was partly owing to the conformation of the country, partly because the country was a small and poorer one, and possessed therefore of inferior resources. The Bill might pass, and if it did he considered that Ireland would be justified in entering into this bargain with Great Britain. They had household suffrage in Ireland; four-fifths of the Irish Members freely elected after a fashion. [Laughter.] Yes; and if there was any dispute on that point, it did not exist qua Home Rule—four-fifths of the Irish Members were pledged to Home Rule—for whether Parnellites or the reverse they were all for Home Rule. He thought the Bill would go through Committee after many a sore rub, and would be thrown out in the House of Lords. It might be brought in again or it might be dropped, but it must be remembered that the Irish people throughout the world would not drop the principle of Nationality. Mr. A. M. Sullivan, who was an eloquent and illustrious Irishman, had said that they talked of Home Rulers as though they were an extreme party, but they were not an extreme party, they were a middle party. If they were crushed out on this Bill, the House would have trouble all over the world. He was one of those who, first of all, wished well to Ireland, and, after that, wished well to England, and he sincerely hoped in the interest of both countries that the Bill would be passed not only by the House but by the other branch of the Legislature.
§ *SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
The few remarks I shall ask leave to make I shall devote almost entirely to the financial aspects of the Bill, and I shall be able to compress my observations into a much shorter compass in consequence of the able speech we heard earlier in the evening from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. 530 Goschen). But if the House will grant me its indulgence for a time I propose to deal with the financial aspects of the Bill. This is no doubt a very prosaic part of the question, but those who sneer forget that pounds, shillings, and pence are mere measures; but they represent so much human labour—so much human life. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary told us on Friday that—The arguments against the financial proposals in the Bill are absolutely destructive of one another, because we are told that the scheme is unjust to Great Britain, and at the same time that it is ungenerous to Ireland.I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman who has said so. That is not our argument. His friends opposite accuse him of a want of generosity, but our contention is that while the financial proposals of the Bill are unjust to Great Britain they would also be injurious to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman appears to think that if they are disadvantageous to Ireland they must be advantageous to England, and vice versâ. Sir, we maintain on the contrary that they may be, and will be, disadvantageous to both. The requirements of the two Islands are very different. Ireland needs capital to assist tenants in the purchase of their holdings, for the drainage of land, for the improvement of harbours, for the construction of light railways, and various other purposes. Large sums have hitherto been advanced from the Imperial Exchequer at low rates of interest. How important this is may be realised from the fact that while the amount advanced from the National Exchequer up to the last Return has been for Scotch purposes £9,000,000, and for English £50,600,000 the advance to Ireland has been no less than £52,000,000 —actually more than to England. Moreover, to this must be added some £10,000,000 advanced to tenants under the Land Acts. Now, Sir, what probability is there that Ireland would enjoy similar advantages if this Bill were passed. What has been our experience as to these loans? In the case of the advance to Scotland the ascertained loss written off has been £365,000 out of £900,000; in the ease of England £471,000 out of £50,000,000, while in that of Ireland, no less than £10,400,000 has been written off as bad out of the £52,000,000. It is 531 obvious, therefore, that it would be found difficult, if not impossible, to obtain such advances in future, excepting at a comparatively high rate of interest, and this would be a serious disadvantage to Ireland. That is as regards Public Works. Coming to the land, it has been the policy of this House to enable tenants to purchase their holdings. If this Bill passes it will be impossible for Ireland to raise the necessary funds at a rate as low as the Imperial Exchequer can do so; one of two things, therefore, must happen; either it will be necessary to make a higher charge to the tenants, or if the present rate is maintained additional taxes must be raised in order to make good the deficiency. The farmers of Ireland will, therefore, be placed by this Bill in a much less favourable position for the purchase of their holdings. What will be the effect of the Bill on Irish commerce and manufactures? Taking six of the principal Irish Companies, there has been since the introduction of this Bill, as I am informed by Messrs. Vertue & Co., on a capital of £22,000,000 a depreciation of £2,000,000, and the fall is still continuing. Taking Irish securities as a whole, the loss must be enormous, and it is the more remarkable because on corresponding English securities there has, on the contrary, during the same period been a rise. The feeling of insecurity it has already created will discourage the establishment or enlargement of manufacturing works in Ireland, and tend to the abandoning of those already in operation. Manufacturers are already preparing in some cases to transfer their works elsewhere, and would do still more but for their belief that the Bill will not really pass. As regards the effect on Irish commerce, I express not only the general opinion of merchants and bankers in England, but I may also remind the House that the same conviction has been expressed by the Chambers of Commerce, not only of Belfast—hon. Members think nothing of Belfast— but of Dublin also. The result of this will, of course, be to reduce the demand for labour, and consequently the rate of wages in Ireland. But are Irish Nationalists in favour of the Bill? The Bill reduces considerably the Irish contribution to Imperial Expenditure and throws the difference on 532 Great Britain. That no one will deny. The right hon. Gentlemen the Prime Minister tells us that—Whereas the present Irish contribution to the Imperial Expenditure is 12 per cent. we propose to fix it at a little over 4 per cent.I hope to show the House by official figures that both these statements are absolutely erroneous; but no doubt there will be a considerable reduction, which will relieve Ireland and place the burden on us. Now, if Irish Nationalists were really in favour of Home Rule, they ought to be ready to make some sacrifice for it. They ought to welcome it all the more when it is accompanied, as I will show in a few minutes, by a present of £2,000,000 a year. Far from this, when we come to the point they seem to like it so little that they insist on being paid even more highly. They doubt about accepting it at all unless they are to get a still larger contribution from us. The hon. Member for Longford has told the House that—I could not possibly say that we are satisfied with the financial clauses of the Bill as they at present stand. I will leave that subject until we get into Committee, when it will have to be thoroughly thrashed out.The hon. Member for East Clare said that the financial proposals were so bad that, if they were not amended it would be a question whether he and his friends would vote for the Third Reading at all. The Lord Mayor of Dublin, speaking at a meeting of the Corporation on the 10th instant (April), asserted that—If the financial clauses are not altered, Ireland's position would be much worse than it now is, and it would be the duty of every Irishman to oppose the Bill.In fact, while they profess to be burning for Home Rule, they will not consent to take it unless they are highly paid for doing so. I do not know whether the attention of hon. Members has been directed to the emigration statistics, but they are somewhat remarkable. For the three years before 1886 emigration was decreasing. Then came the first Home Rule Bill, and the emigration was immediately stimulated. It rose from 60,000 in 1885 to 61,000 in 1886, and 79,000 in 1887. Under Lord Salisbury's Government it fell from 79,000 in 1887 to 73,000 in 1888; 65,000 in 1889, down to 53,000 in 1892. Now, it is increasing again, and the first three months of this year 533 shows a rise of 3,500 as compared with last year. That does not look as if the people of Ireland had much confidence in the present Government, or believed that Home Rule would bring in the millenium. I think I have said enough to prove that in the opinion of investors, of the Irishmen most conversant with the commercial and manufacturing interests of their country, and even of Nationalists themselves, the financial and commercial effect of the Bill on Ireland would be disastrous—so much so that even the Member for East Clare doubts whether he would vote for it. Now, Sir, having, as I think, proved this part of the case up to the hilt, let us see how we in England should be affected by the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said—We propose to fix the Irish contribution at a little over 4 per cent., whereas the present Irish contribution to the Imperial Revenue is no less than 12 per cent. That contribution, I am sorry to say, has been for some time an injustice, and its continuance would be simply a prolongation of injustice.Now, Sir, if my right hon. Friend will look to his own Return of April 7 last, and I appeal to his candour to do so, I think he must admit that this statement is entirely inaccurate. The total Revenue contributed by the three Kingdoms is given in that Return at £89,500,000, of which it is stated that Ireland contributed—not 12 per cent., but 8.3 per cent. But, Sir, that is not all. Before we consider whether Ireland was misused, we must take into consideration the amount returned to her. This is also given in the same Return, and deducting this, the balance contributed by Ireland towards Imperial expenditure is officially stated in the same Return, not at 12 per cent., as stated by my right hon. Friend, but at less than 3.5 per cent. Where, then, is the injustice? The second statement of the right hon. Gentleman is that, under the Bill, Ireland would pay rather over 4 per cent. Is that correct? He takes the Customs at £2,370,000, out of which we are to pay £500,000 for the Constabulary, leaving a net contribution by Ireland of £1,870,000. The right hon. Gentleman estimated the expenditure on Imperial Services at £59,000,000. But, according 534 to his own Return, issued last February, the real amount is £61,500,000. Now, £1,870,000 out of £61,500,000, so far from being over 4 per cent., is barely over 3 per cent. These seem small fractions, but they mean millions of money, and a heavy addition to the burdens of Great Britain. Then the Prime Minister says that Ireland is at present unjustly treated. Is this so? Sir, my right hon. Friend himself told us in 1871—and it is true now—that—You would expect, when it is said that the Imperial Parliament is to be broken up, that, at the very least, a case should be made out, showing there were great subjects of policy and great demands necessary for the welfare of Ireland. What are the inequalities of England and Ireland? I declare that I know none, except that there are certain taxes still remaining which are levied on Englishmen and Scotchmen, and which are not levied on Irishmen. And, likewise, there are certain purposes for which public money is freely and largely granted in Ireland, and for which it is not given in England and Scotland. This seems to me to be a very feeble case, indeed, for the argument that has been made, by means of which we are told that the fabric of the United Parliament of the Kingdom is to be broken up.In fact, Ireland has 15 per cent. of the representation and bears only 3.5 per cent. of the taxation. Sir, we do not grudge this liberal treatment to Ireland. We have given it cheerfully. But it is a very different thing to exact it as a right. But now, when we are about to place the finances of the country on a new basis, what would be the just sum for each to contribute? The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in 1886, pointed out with great force that—Ireland is valued much lower in proportion to the real value than England or Scotland, and the valuation in the latest year for which we have Returns is in Great Britain £160,000,000, and for Ireland £13,833,000, giving a proportion of 1 to 12, or l–13th.Again, he pointed out that another good test is that—Afforded by the Death Duties, not by the amount levied, because the amounts levied vary capriciously according to the consanguinity scale, but by the property passing under the Death Duties. The amount of property on which, on an average of three years, the Death Duties fall, was in Great Britain £170,000,000. and in Ireland £12,908,000, or 1 to 13.535 1–l5th, therefore, seems a fair contribution to ask from Ireland towards Imperial Expenditure. That being so, we say that the provisions in the Bill are very unjust to the people of Great Britain. The proposal is that the Customs should be allotted to Imperial purposes, and that would amount to £2,370,000, so that, as The Economist points out, our Imperial Expenditure being £61,500,000, 1–15th would be just over £4,100,000. Ireland, however, is to pay only £2,370,000, from which must be deducted the £500,000 for the Irish Police which we are to pay, so that Ireland will pay £1,870,000 towards Imperial Expenditure instead of £4,000,000, which she ought to contribute—a difference of over £2,200,000 in her favour, which the people of Great Britain will have to pay and which will necessitate extra taxation. This is not £2,200,000 once for all, but £2,200,000 a year—an amount which capitalised would come to over £70,000,000 sterling, and which we are called on to hand over to Ireland. A more wanton and profligate waste of British taxes perhaps was never proposed to a House of Commons, and those who vote for it will have to answer to their countrymen. This, Sir, is the price which England is to pay for the present Government; this is the amount of taxation over and above our fair share which we are to pay for Ireland, and yet Home Rulers are not satisfied. But this is only the extra burden thrown on us in times of peace. In war it would be much more. But it is, I fear, too much to hope that we shall never have another war. Ireland will have 80 votes in determining our policy. Their votes may turn the scale, and yet, excepting any addition which may be made to Customs and Excise, the whole burden will fall on us. My right hon. Friend admits that such a position would be intolerable, and that some provision must be introduced into the Bill to meet it, and he has thrown out some suggestions as to the manner in which the additional sum required might be raised. Suppose, he said—Suppose that we required £40,000,000 of annual revenue over and above what we now require, £20,000,000 might be raised in Great Britain, I will suppose, from the Excise by an addition of 2s. 6d. to the Spirit Duty, together 536 with some other taxation which might be required to bring England within its scope. The corresponding sum to be taken from Ireland in the proportion that the Bill contemplates would be £800,000. If we raised the Income Tax from 6d. to 16d., which was done, I believe, in one year during the Crimean War, that would raise £20,000,000 from England, and would impose upon Ireland a burden of £800,000.Sir, I listened to this statement of my right hon. Friend with amazement. The Spirit Duties, at present amounting to 10s., bring in £20,000,000, so that an addition of 2s. 6d., even if it did not, as it certainly would, check consumption, would procure, not £20,000,000, but less than £5,000,000, so that my right hon. Friend is wrong to the extent of £15,000,000. As regards the Income Tax, I presume that the right hon. Gentleman will introduce some provision to prevent its being raised by the Irish Parliament, because if it were so raised, it would, of course, not be available for Imperial purposes. My right hon. Friend assumes that an Income Tax at 16d. would bring in as much per 1d. as one at 6d., but I am sure he will not deny that the amount would be far smaller. So far, then, from bringing in £40,000,000, the proposals of my right hon. would not produce half that amount. I do not dwell on the difficulty, if not the impossibility, there would be in collecting these additional taxes in Ireland. Sir, I should really hesitate to point out such extraordinary differences if I could not refer in support to the very high authority of The Economist newspaper. Even now I do so only tentatively— perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will favour us with some explanation. The trade and commerce and agriculture of the Empire are not in such a flourishing condition that we can afford to make reckless and dangerous experiments, or to take upon ourselves unnecessary burdens of taxation. We went recently to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister as a deputation from the City of London in support of that from Belfast. He did not deny that we represented the opinion—the general opinion—an opinion so general as to approach to unanimity, that this Bill strikes a heavy blow at the commerce of 537 the country, both of England and Ireland. But he told us we were wrong and he was right. He added that this was another question as between the classes and the masses. But in this respect our interests are identical. If, as we firmly believe, this Bill strikes a heavy blow at the commercial interests of the country, though merchants, and bankers, and manufacturers may feel it first, the working men will feel it most. It will tend to diminish their employment, to raise their taxes, and to lower their wages. I have dealt mainly with the financial aspects, because excepting in the brilliant speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and from the hon. Member for Norwich, they have been little referred to, and we are surely entitled to a reply from the Treasury Bench. If I have not entered into other parts of the subject it is not because I do not feel them deeply. Sir, I maintain that the title of this Bill is essentially misleading. It alters, as we think, very much for the worse, the Government of Ireland, but it essentially changes the Government of Great Britain also. If Irishmen are to manage their own affairs and come here to vote on ours, we shall be placed at a most unfair disadvantage. There was no speech in this Debate for which I waited with more interest than for that of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland. He told us that he had changed his opinion on account of the altered tones of the Irish Nationalists. If that had been so, I can only say that never was a net spread more clearly in the sight of any bird. But the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten his own speeches. No doubt he was glad to do so. What did the right hon. Gentleman give as his reason in 1885? He said—It is proposed to give Ireland a Parliament of its own for Irish legislation, but to admit Irish Representatives to the Imperial Parliament to discuss and vote upon Imperial matters. … However anxious we may be to divide the domestic functions of Parliament from its Imperial functions, I will venture to say that Irish Members will not only be absolute masters of their own Parliament in Dublin, but they will be our masters at Westminster as well.Sir, are Scotch Home Rulers in favour of this Bill? The Scottish Home Rule 538 Association has issued a Manifesto in which they say—The proposal to grant a Legislature and Executive Government to Ireland, and withhold them from Scotland, is unjust to a loyal, industrious, patient, and intelligent people, and appears to set a premium upon disorder. The granting of Home Rule to Ireland first, without any promise or guarantee that the claim of Scotland to a Legislature and Executive Government will be conceded, would be destructive of the national life of Scotland, and an act of treachery towards the Scottish people. In point of fact, the Irish would become the masters of the British Parliament.Moreover, even if Ireland is to be represented the number of Members given here in the Bill is unreasonable and excessive. As long as the Imperial Parliament regulates the domestic affairs of Ireland it is reasonable that in fixing the Irish representation we should take population into account; but when it is merely a question of foreign relations, of defence, and of providing for the debt, then surely the representation and contribution should go together. Ireland will only contribute 1–30th of the amount under the present Bill, so that her fair number of Members would be not 80 but only 20. Sir, I oppose this Bill because it would be a disgraceful desertion of the loyal minority in the three Southern Provinces of Ireland, because it would impose upon the people of Ulster a domination which they detest. It is all very well for Home Rulers to laugh at Ulster, but in their heart of hearts they know that the matter is more serious than they profess to think. The very shadow of the Bill is chilling Irish industry and enterprise, capital is preparing to leave the country, passions are being roused, and emigration is increasing. So far as England is concerned a new Constitution is being forced on us against our will by Irish votes, a Constitution to which I believe we should not long submit, but from which it might take a revolution to relieve us. Happily, however, this Bill cannot become law without an appeal to the people, and when their judgment is given, I have little doubt as to what the verdict will be.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Lord Randolph Churchill.)
§ Motion agreed to.539
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.