§ Bill, as amended, further considered.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The new clause standing in the name of the lion. Member for Lanark (Mr. Barker Smith) is not in Order, and would more properly come in on Clause 5 as an Amendment.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, the clause he had to propose—one prescribing the Oath of Allegiance to be taken, or form of affirmation to be made by Members of the Irish Legislature—seemed to him most important, and one which must have been omitted by inadvertence in the hurry of preparing the Bill. It could scarcely be the deliberate purpose of the Government that the Members of the new Assembly should sit and exercise their legislative functions without first taking the Oath of Allegiance to the Sovereign. The Bill commenced by declaring that the new Legislative Body should consist of the Sovereign and two Houses of Legislature, and he believed it was impossible to point to any Legislative Assembly in any part of the world, under the British Crown, in which the Oath of Allegiance was not taken, or an affirmation made. It surely was not necessary for him to argue the abstract question that it was desirable to prescribe such an oath; but he might say that the principle had been adopted in the case of all the Colonies, and he had taken his proposed clause bodily from the Western Australia Act. They had been told over and over again that this new-fangled Constitution for 1615 Ireland was formed on the basis of the Colonial Constitutions. He would like to know if the Government objected to the form of the clause, and intended to bring up a different one? In that case he was prepared to leave the matter to them.
§ Clause (No Member of the Legislature allowed to sit or vote unless and until he be sworn or have affirmed)—(Mr. Tomlinson,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
We do not intend to bring up a new clause; but we will at the proper time propose an Amendment to one of the existing clauses which will, I think, meet the hon. Member's views. It will be an Amendment to the 29th clause. It may be convenient that I should now explain our view of this new clause. The Government have not, as was suggested by the hon. Member, by inadvertence omitted all reference to this subject. It is by implication dealt with in Clause 29, by which we intend to bring the Irish Legislature under the general law of Parliament in certain particulars. The 29th clause provides that all existing election laws relating to the House of Commons and the Members thereof shall apply, as far as possible, to the two Houses of the Irish Legislature and the Members thereof; while the hon. Member will also find in the Definition Clause in the amended Bill that the expression "election laws" means laws relating to the election of Members to serve in Parliament other than those relating to the qualification of electors, and includes the issue and execution of writs, the dealing with corrupt practices, the disqualification of Members, and the vacating of seats. It may be that the clause, as explained by the Definition Clause, does not entirely and beyond the possibility of mistake express the intention of the Government, and we shall be prepared to meet the object which the hon. Member has in view by inserting in Clause 29 words providing that existing election laws, so far as respects oaths and disqualification of Members, 1616 may not be altered by Irish Act. I do not bind myself to the exact words, but I think the hon. Member will see that such a proposal as I have indicated will meet the object he has in view. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) has a new clause of a somewhat similar nature on the Paper, and I think he, too, will perceive that our method will extend to the Irish Legislature the general law of Parliament in relation to these matters, and that it will better carry out the purpose of the hon. Member than the somewhat cumbrous plan which he has adopted. Perhaps, after this explanation, both hon. Members will be prepared to withdraw their proposals.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, be quite followed the idea of the right hon. Gentleman, but he was bound to point out that his Amendment, while all very well as applying to an existing Parliament, was hardly adapted to the case of a new Legislative Body. In the House of Commons they knew exactly what course was to be followed when a new Parliament met. The first step was the election of the Speaker; the next was to secure the Crown's approval of the choice made, and then Members came to the Table and took the oath. But in the case of the Irish Parliament it was different. There were no customs by which they were to be guided, and it was necessary to decide beforehand who was to administer the oath. At present under the Bill there was no one authorised to do that, and it did not seem to him sufficient, by inserting a few words in a Definition Clause, to place the new Assembly in the position of going through the process which belonged to the historic Parliament of this country. It would certainly be better if by that Bill they prescribed the first step to be taken with regard to the administration of the oath.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
If the hon. Member will refer to the Sixth Schedule he will find his own Amendment is anticipated by the provision that the Lord Lieutenant shall make regulations for the adaptation to the new Assembly of the laws and customs of the British Houses of Parliament.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I quite appreciate the Chief Secretary's explanation; but when the new clause in my name is reached I should like to say one or two words pointing out how the right lion. Gentleman's Amendment does not quite meet the aim we have in view.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
asked if the words in Clause 36, as to the disqualification of persons, applied to persons who might be elected to the Irish Parliament, but would be disqualified under our own laws from sitting in the House of Commons?
§ SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
I should like to understand whether it is the intention of the Government to move the insertion in Clause 29 of the words the Chief Secretary has suggested, for if that be so they will cover not only the Amendment of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Tomlinson), but the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), and, therefore, there would be obviously no necessity for my hon. Friend to move this clause.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I do not think this is the time for asking or determining whether the proposed Amendment of the Chief Secretary does or does not cover the whole of the ground covered by the clauses of the hon. Members for Preston and South Tyrone. That can only be determined when the Amendment is before the House.
§ * THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. Russell,) Hackney, S.
I wish to say, in order to avoid misunderstanding, that the proposed Amendment of the Chief Secretary would not cover all the points covered by the clauses of the hon. Members for Preston and South Tyrone. The Amendment would entirely cover the points raised by both clauses in so far as these points are in consonance with the existing laws of Parliament, but there are some respects in which these clauses differ from those laws.
§ SIR T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
said, if the Chief Secretary undertook that the words he had suggested would be in- 1618 serted in Clause 29, he would be perfectly willing to accept that undertaking, but he felt some doubt about the proposed Amendment, for it was just possible that by the operation of the Closure the Government would be prevented from moving the insertion of their own Amendment. He hoped, therefore, that the Chief Secretary would give a clear undertaking that at some stage or other the words would be inserted.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
then rose to move as a new clause—(Disqualification for Membership of either House.)No person shall be qualified to be a Member of the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly if he
- (1) be a Member of the other House of Legislature; or
- (2) be a Judge of the Supreme Court; or
- (3) be not a British subject; or
- (4) be a clergyman or minister of religion: or
- (5) bean undischarged bankrupt or a debtor whose affairs are in course of liquidation or arrangement; or
- (6) has been in any part of Her Majesty's dominions attainted or convicted of treason or felony."
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is out of Order in moving this as a new clause. It can come up as an Amendment to a clause.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he begged to formally move the following clause for the purpose of getting a clear understanding from the Chief Secretary on the matter which had already been referred to:—Page 4, after Clause 7, insert the following clause:—(Disqualification of ministers of religion.)Provided that no person being a priest or deacon in the Church of England or in the Church of Ireland, or being a minister of the Church of Scotland, or in holy orders of the Church of Rome, shall be capable of being elected to serve in either House of the Irish Legislature, and if any such person shall be elected to serve in either House of the said Legislature such election shall be void, and if any person be elected to serve in either House of the Irish Legislature shall, after his election, become or be one of the persons above mentioned, the seat of such person shall immediately become void, and if any such person shall in any of the cases aforesaid sit or vote as a Mem- 1619 ber of either House of the Irish Legislature he shall be subject to the same penalties, forfeitures, and disabilities as are enacted by an Act intituled 'An Act to remove doubts respecting the eligibility of persons in holy orders to sit in the House of Commons,' and proof of the celebration of any religious service by such person according to the rules of any of the Churches above mentioned shall be deemed and taken to he primâ facie evidence of the fact of such person being in holy orders or being a minister of such Church respectively.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. Is not this clause subject to your ruling in regard to the clause of the hon. Member for Preston?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is moving it formally in order to clear up a doubt as to what the right lion. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said in a previous discussion, and to that there is no objection.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to ask, Mr. Speaker, whether an hon. Member can move an Amendment formally when it may be put to the House and a Division challenged upon it?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member likes to withdraw, I can put to the House the Question whether permission to withdraw should be granted or not.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he was not quite clear as to what the Chief Secretary had promised, and he should not proceed with the clause if the proposed action of the Government achieved what he desired the clause to accomplish. The Chief Secretary had said that the method of procedure which he had suggested was less invidious than his clause. Rut there were two Statutes on the Statute Book now dealing with this question with regard to the Imperial Parliament; and if there had been direct legislation disqualifying ministers of religion from sitting in the Imperial Parliament, surely it could not be invidious to put that legislation in the Act with regard to Ireland. It was merely the sensitiveness of the right hon. Gentleman which led him to say such a thing, for he must have known of the existence of those two Acts on the Statute Book. He should like to understand whether the words the right hon. Gentleman proposed to insert in Clause 29—that was, if they ever reached Clause 29, which was always an important proviso—would achieve what his new clause proposed to achieve; and also, if they did secure that object, whether it 1620 would not be alterable by Irish Act? He begged to move the new clause.
§ Clause (Disqualification of ministers of religion,)—(Mr. T. W. Russell,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. Member thinks I am too sensitive. I can assure him that after six months, more or less, of conflict with him I have quite lost any sensitiveness with which I may have started on my journey. The hon. Member asks me whether I am quite sure that we shall reach Clause 29. That will depend on the hon. Gentleman himself and his friends. If the hon. Gentleman and his friends are content with fair discussion, there is no reason why we should not reach Clause 29 and Clause 36, with ample time to discuss all these points. The hon. Member's suspicions really carry him too far. He asks me will I guarantee that the Irish Parliament shall not alter this proviso. But Clause 29 expressly excludes from the power of legislation by the Irish Legislature the matters there enumerated. Taking Clause 29 along with the Definition Clause, and the Amendment to Clause 29 which, as I have already indicated, we will propose, undoubtedly it will be out of the power of the Irish Parliament to remove any of the disqualifications, for the general principle is that the general law of Parliament in these enumerated matters is to extend to the Irish Legislature. I cannot conceive that anything can be clearer than that statement. Once more I will say that the general law of Parliament is to be extended to the Irish Legislature, and is not to be alterable by Irish Act.
§ * SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
No one desires to deny sensitiveness to my right hon. Friend. This Amendment is intended to soothe him, because last night, when we wished to make the privileges of illiterate voters not apply to Ireland, we were told that you cannot legislate separately for Ireland without legislating for Great Britain at the same time. That is exactly what this Amendment does. It proposes to prevent ministers of religion sitting in the Irish Parliament as well as in this Parliament. 1621 If my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone wishes to withdraw the Amendment, of course I shall not object; but I would rather see it carried, because I do not believe that it is possible, considering the work we have before us, to reach Clause 29. The right hon. Gentleman says it will be reached if we are reasonable. But who is to judge of that? If Mr. Speaker was the judge we would not complain; but, unfortunately, it is the Government that will be the judge. They may bring forward the guillotine again. [Cries of "Order!"] This is directly in Order. The right hon. Gentleman must give us a guarantee that we will reach Clause 29. But how are we to reach it when we have, before Clause 29, many clauses which have never been discussed at all? I would be satisfied with the words suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, because by these words Roman Catholic priests would not be entitled to sit in the elected bodies in Ireland; but I think we should be assured that, in some shape or other, this Amendment will be introduced. We can introduce it now as a new clause, but we will be at the mercy of the Government if we leave it to Clause 29.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I would remind the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. W. Russell) that this is a less barbarous age than the age in which the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed. We have got something like 60 years from that time. In the time the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed they were kind enough to speak of our religion as the Roman Catholic religion. The hon. Gentleman opposite is good enough to apply insulting language to us, and speak of us as the Church of Rome.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon; he did nothing of the kind. I have just been looking at the Catholic Emancipation Act, and it speaks of the Catholic Church as the Roman Catholic Church, and of Catholic priests as Roman Catholic priests.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he had not the slightest intention of using any language at which any Roman Catholic would be likely to take offence. He had simply used the words of the Statute which spoke of "The Church of Rome."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The hon. Gentleman has not practised candour upon the House. He wishes to do two things: He wishes to speak of the Disestablished Church in Ireland as the Church of Ireland, which it is not, and he wishes to speak of the Catholic Church as the Church of Rome, which it is not. It is the Catholic Church. The words of the Catholic Emancipation Act are—No Roman Catholic priest to sit in the House of Commons.The words "Church of Rome" are, I admit, in the body of the section, and to that extent the hon. Gentleman is correct. But it was not to make that point I rose. A Catholic priest can sit in the House of Lords as priest, and a Protestant Bishop can sit in the House of Lords. I am not sure that a Catholic priest is not now sitting in the House of Lords. Lord Petre certainly was a Catholic priest, and Protestant Bishops do undoubtedly sit in the House of Lords. It is absurd to say that a disability which does not extend to both Legislatures in England shall extend to both Legislatures in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. W. Russell) belongs to some form of the Presbyterian religion, and he is good enough to allow to the Presbyterian clergyman a seat in the Irish Parliament. There is no disability imposed upon the Presbyterian clergyman of the North of Ireland. The Catholic priest in Minister is to be disqualified, while the Presbyterian parson in Ulster is to be qualified. You cannot make fish of one and flesh of another. We will insist that it is either all ministers of religion or no ministers of religion. Whoever heard of such a proposition? Here are the words—"No person being a priest or deacon in the Church of England or in the Church of Ireland," there being now, happily, no such body as the Church of Ireland, "or being a minister of the Church of Scotland." Very likely the minister of the Church of Scotland is to come to Ireland to be elected a Member of the Irish Legislature. What about the members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland? What I wish the Government to do is this: Let them disqualify, so far as the Lower House is concerned, every gentleman concerned in religious teaching, including the Presbyterians and the Methodists, and every other sect of that kind. But certainly we will not 1623 allow, and we shall object to, one religion—a religion which has been persecuted in Ireland for 100 years—being singled out for a disability continued after the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed. So far as the Second Chamber is concerned, if the analogy is to be followed, I see no reason why the Second Chamber should not remain on exactly a parity with the House of Lords in this country. I shall certainly object to any Amendment that does not simply carry across the Channel a disability in regard to one Chamber and leave us free with regard to the other. For my part, I do this upon abstract grounds of justice. I have not the smallest doubt that the Catholic priests and the Protestant and Presbyterian clergymen will find much more congenial occupation in looking after their own flocks. But we shall not have fish made of one class and fowl of another. You must take them all in or leave them all out.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, that before they reached the end of the Bill the Government would regret that in dealing with this question they had not accepted his clause, for it proposed to deal with the question in au exhaustive manner in conformity with the social condition of Ireland, and in a manner for which there was ample precedent in colonial experience.
§ SIR T. LEA
said, he was glad the hon. Member for North Louth had withdrawn the charge he had made against the hon. Member for South Tyrone of being desirous to insult in any way the Catholics of Ireland. His hon. Friend had not the slightest idea of being insulting. The words of the Emancipation Act proved him incapable of that charge. The hon. Member for North Louth had said that if the Amendment were carried it would prevent the clergy of the various Churches from sitting in the Upper House of the Irish Legislature. That was exactly what they wished to do. They had a certain amount of suspicion that the hon. Member was earnestly striving to obtain power for ministers of religion to sit in the Upper House. Was it intended that Archbishop Walsh was to sit in the Upper Chamber of the Irish Legislature just the same as the English Bishops sat in the House of Lords at the present time? The object of the 1624 Amendment was to prevent that event taking place.
§ SIR T. LEA
said, they were willing to accept any Amendment to the Amendment which would prevent any minister of any denomination from being able to sit in the Irish Legislature.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, he wished to make a correction in what he had said. He was under a mistake in stating that the Government gave a pledge with respect to the illiterate voters. The pledge was in respect to the Schedule in which the question of constituencies was treated.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, that if he understood aright the arrangement which had been come to on the previous Amendment, they were really discussing the matter that had been entirely settled. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) objected to the terms of the Amendment. He objected to the Protestant Church being called the Church of Ireland. But his hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone had merely adopted the language of the Act of Parliament which disendowed and disestablished that Church, and which provided that henceforth it was to be called the Church of Ireland. The Amendment dealt with details with which the Chief Secretary had agreed. As he understood the arrangement which had been arrived at, the Chief Secretary had undertaken upon Clause 29 to introduce the words—"Except as regards other disqualifications after the word may" in the 1st sub-section of that section. If these words were put in, as he understood the law it would entirely carry out the objection of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), and it would, therefore, be unnecessary to put in the Amendment, moved either by the hon. Member or any other Member. If that was so, why were they discussing the Amendment any further? He understood the Government adhered to their proposal, that the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) was willing his Amendment should be withdrawn, and he (Mr. Carson) hoped now that the Amendment might be allowed to be withdrawn.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
said, he had not heard of any desire existing in Ireland as to ministers of religion sitting in either House. Such a desire might exist, and it would be convenient and desirable, before a final decision was taken, that some means should be adopted to collect the opinion, and especially the opinion of laymen, of the various Churches in regard to the Upper House. He could conceive that a useful and perhaps a mollifying effect upon society in Ireland might be produced by the presence of some of the higher ecclesiastics in the Second Chamber. ["Oh, oh!"] He thought ecclesiastics of all Churches in Ireland were more temperate in their language than some of those in this House, and he did not apprehend that the presence of the higher ecclesiastics in the Upper Chamber would produce any deleterious effect. It would be desirable, before a final decision was come to, that opinion in Ireland upon the subject should be taken, and he was sure that the House would be willing to defer to what would be the general opinion in Ireland as to the wording of the clause. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) was greatly offended if they called him and his friends Liberal Unionists or Dissentient Liberals. They called themselves Catholics, and expected to be called so by people who pretended to be civil. He would not have thought that the hon. Gentleman would be prepared to introduce a very offensive phrase from an old Act of Parliament reflecting the bad feeling of a past age.
§ MR. SEXTON
That was 64 years ago. In regard to the words proposed to be introduced by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Morley)—that was to say, "except in regard to oaths or the disqualification of Members"—he thought if they decided to exclude ecclesiastics from one or both Chambers of the Irish Legislature, no one who knew Ireland could entertain a doubt that the exclusion, if applied to any Church or Communion, ought to extend to all. He admitted at once, if ecclesiastics or 1626 ministers were admitted into the Lower Chamber of the Irish Legislature, possibly it might not conduce to the greater tranquillity of affairs; but this was certain: that if they excluded priests of the Catholic Church and ministers of what might be legally called the Church of Ireland, and if they included any other persons who, though not regularly ordained ecclesiastics within the meaning of the Act of Parliament, were yet ministers of a creed or religion—teachers, or persons who stood towards any Communion in the same relation which the priest or clergyman occupied towards his flock in the Protestant or Catholic Church, they would introduce the most irritating and exasperating state of affairs conceivable, because the great bulk of the people in Ireland were Catholics. There were 3,500,000 of Catholics and 500,000 Protestants, and if the ecclesiastics of the 4,000,000 of people were excluded from the Chamber, and if the irregular ministers who were not ordained were allowed to come in, of course they need not expect that such a state of affairs could possibly give satisfaction. He only rose for the purpose of saying two things: first, with regard to the Upper Chamber, that they ought to further consider the subject; and with regard to the Lower House they must take care, if the ecclesiastics or ministers of any creed were to be excluded, that none must be admissible.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
* MR. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said, that in moving the clause standing in his name he ought to state that he should not have troubled the House with it at this stage, but should have moved it in Committee if he had not been prevented by the Closure. The clause raised a point of serious importance both to the Imperial Exchequer and the British taxpayer. When it was proposed to give large powers of local independence to one part of the Empire they necessarily incurred a certain amount of danger and risk to the Central Government, by the possibility of that part of the Empire thus becoming independent, bringing the Central Power into collision with Foreign Powers, and thus imposing serious burdens upon the 1627 Exchequer. To show that danger was no imaginary one, they need only look back to their recent colonial experience. The case of Canada they had presented to their minds at this moment in the difficulty that had arisen between that self-governing colony and her neighbours, the United States. They did not know how much the awkward questions that had arisen about the seal fishery might eventually cost the British Exchequer. Newfoundland was a still more critical instance of this. That Colony had difficulties with France, which did not arise out of any real British interests, but out of the action of the Colonists and the Colonial Government. The Australian Colonies, being further removed from hostile neighbours, had not given them so many causes of difficulty; but even there difficulties had arisen with Foreign Powers. A difficulty, be remembered, arose with China, owing to the refusal, in spite of Treaty obligations, of the Australian Government to receive Chinese immigrants. If they looked back to the Alabama arbitration they would see two remarkable instances in which England suffered very heavy pecuniary loss on account of the action of their Colonists. There was the case of the Shenandoah, in which the arbitrators held that the British Government was responsible for all the acts of that vessel, because she was allowed to leave the Port of Melbourne—["Question!"] He was trying to illustrate his case.
§ * THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. Russell,) Hackney, S.
In order to save time, I may say that the Government will accept the Second Reading of this clause.
§ * MR. H. HOBHOUSE
said, he hoped the Government accepted it upon its merits—[Cries of "Agreed!"] He was quite ready to meet the Government; but after the way in which he was interrupted from the other side of the House he hoped he might be allowed to say a few words. He understood the Government would accept the clause on its merits, as they thought it would safeguard the Imperial Exchequer.
New Clause—(Irish Exchequer to indemnify British Exchequer for wrongful acts of Irish Government.)Whenever fey reason of any act unlawfully done or omitted to be done by the Irish Govern- 1628 ment or by any member or officer of that Government, any Foreign Power or the subject of any Foreign Power suffers loss or injury, and any sum of money becomes payable out of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom by way of indemnity or compensation for such loss or injury, such sum shall thereupon be payable to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom from the Irish Exchequer, and shall be recoverable according to the provisions of this Act."—(Mr. H. Hobhouse,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause be read a second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Clause added.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I do not think that the clause standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Lichfield (Major Darwin) is in Order. It is beyond the scope of the Bill to interfere with the movement of the Militia and Forces of the Crown. These movements are under Statute, and there is nothing in this Bill that gives power to the Lord Lieutenant to assume military duties belonging to other persons.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
It is on a point of Order in which I am ruling. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is out of Order.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said, that whatever might be the opinion of the House with regard to the importance of the clause he had placed on the Paper, there could be no doubt that, apart from the main principle upon which the two Parties on both sides of the House disagreed with regard to the policy of the Bill, there was no question raised by the Bill which showed a greater divergency of feeling and policy than 1629 the point which was raised in the clause that he now moved as an Amendment to the Bill. It had often been alleged by the Government, in the Debates that had taken place upon this measure, that their objects and views were identical with the views and objects embodied in Amendments from that (the Conservative) side of the House, and that the views and objects embodied in the Amendments had been adequately met by the clauses of the Bill. That allegation could not be made with regard to this matter; there was no common object on this question between the two Parties; and the views the Government held were divergent and antagonistic to those of the Opposition on this important question. The history of the retention or non-retention of Irish Members had been so remarkable that the Opposition would be open to a charge of culpable negligence if they did not take the first opportunity of raising the question again. The Prime Minister had never made a secret of the difficulty which surrounded the solution of the question. He told Parliament he had chosen one of many evils, and he warned his followers that they would not extricate themselves or this Parliament from difficulty by taking any other course. But his followers declined to listen to him, and the majority of the House declined to be warned by the lessons the Prime Minister had so eloquently and ably exponded. But he had no doubt the country had read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested those lessons, and when the opportunity came would take that opportunity of avenging the treacherous manner in which it had been hoodwinked on this important point. Clause 9 had been called by the Prime Minister an organic detail; but it was impossible to exaggerate its importance to this Parliament and the nation at large. It was one of the principal features which distinguished this Bill from the Bill of 1886. And it was important, not only by reason of the principles embodied in it, but because those principles overshadowed and influenced almost every other clause in the present Home Rule scheme. Without it the Bill might be called a Bill for creating a new Constitution for Ireland; but with it the present Bill not only destroyed the Constitution under which the inhabitants of Great Britain 1630 now lived, but presented them with an extremely feeble and infirm substitute. What had been the conduct of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the solution of this question? It bad been extremely like their general conduct with regard to the whole of this Bill—the policy of mystery and the system of silence which had consistently attended the whole attitude of their general policy. The scheme of the clause was first stated on the 13th February, and that scheme was not abandoned until the 12th July. Between those two dates, and for the whole of those five months, the general world was led to believe the Government intended to adhere to the scheme they first mentioned to Parliament on the 13th February. The Prime Minister, in that remarkable document in which he traced the history of the proceedings of the Government with regard to this clause, said—"We have desired that nothing should be kept in the dark." He (Mr. Macartney) had failed altogether to trace any effort the Prime Minister or his colleagues in the Cabinet made to illuminate the country upon their intentions with regard to this clause. Members of the House who attended the proceedings of the Committee would recollect it was not until the discussion upon this clause was half concluded that they were able to discover that the Prime Minister had entirely shifted his original position. The right hon. Gentleman would probably say that in the very earliest Debate in that House he informed the House that he opened up the whole matter connected with the retention or non-retention of the Irish Members for the judgment of the House. If it was possible to accept that statement as a tolerably correct version of what absolutely occurred, all he could say was that it was about the most discreditable confession of weakness any Prime Minister had made in the House on behalf of himself or any Government. The present Government had been for years clamouring for Office, on the ground that they alone were capable of formulating a permanent settlement of the Irish Question; and yet when they were confronted with the first organic detail they immediately abrogated their position as leaders of the people and their functions as the makers of a new Constitution, and threw the most difficult and complicated problem 1631 out for the random consideration of the House of Commons. But did the Cabinet place their solution on the Table and then leave the House to form a judgment, and not only to form a judgment, but to record that judgment in a free and unbiassed manner? On that side of the House they had listened to speeches from the Ministerial Benches which quite precluded the possibility of accepting that version of the situation. It would be absurd to suppose that if a Division had been taken it would have represented the unbiassed opinions and sincere convictions of the majority of gentlemen who sat on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. They knew from the tone of those speeches, and from statements made elsewhere by the followers of the Prime Minister, that many gentlemen must have hardened their hearts, and voted not in accordance with their real convictions. The 9th clause did not represent the opinions of the Prime Minister himself, or of the Cabinet as a whole; still less did it represent the opinions of the majority of the House so far as they represented the people of Great Britain. The Prime Minister, in his history of this clause, had attempted to argue that the final decision he came to was forced upon him out of regard to his pledges. He would like the House to consider the 9th clause, as it now stood, in conjunction with the statements which the Prime Minister made to the country. The Prime Minister made a speech on the 1st July, 1892, at Edinburgh, and in that speech he recapitulated the five conditions of 1886, conditions in which were to be found principles on which his Home Rule Bill was to be formulated. What was the fifth of those conditions? The right hon. Gentleman said—We shall not propose a mere piecemeal or half-way measure, but something which will constitute a substantial settlement of a long-continuing and inveterate struggle, shall give a reasonable hope of peace and satisfaction to the country, and freedom from the intolerable burden which this controversy has imposed on us for the last 50 years.Now, he should like the House to observe that that was not a condition which, like the other preceding four conditions, stood on a footing by itself—it was an absolute universal condition, which applied not only to every one of the other four, but 1632 was applicable to the Bill as a whole, and to every portion of it. The Prime Minister, in his Edinburgh speech, said that there had been no retrocession from that declaration; that neither he nor his Colleagues had ever desired, or at this moment desired, to recede from one sinple iota of that declaration. He must ask the House whether the 9th clause, as it now stood, conformed to the sense of that condition, or to any detail contained in it? The very opening words of that clause showed that, far from being a substantial settlement of a long-continuing and inveterate struggle, it was regarded by the Prime Minister himself, by his Colleagues, and the majority who followed him into the Lobby, merely as a piecemeal and half-way measure. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) pointed out, with admirable clearness, that these opening words were necessary to indicate that the arrangement arrived at on Clause 9 was only of a temporary and experimental character. He pointed out in the course of the discussion in the Committee that the whole Bill was a transitional measure, so that, so far from this being an important organic detail attempting in any way to settle even that portion of the difficulty with which it dealt, it was regarded by the Government and their Irish supporters merely as a transitional step—a mere piecemeal or half-way measure which the Prime Minister in his Edinburgh speech bound himself to avoid, and in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman said, if it was not possible for him to avoid, it would be impossible for him to submit the measure to the country. It might be argued that it would be impossible to exclude from the Imperial Parliament the Members from Ireland, because under the present arrangement several important matters had been, either for a short or a long time, reserved to the Imperial Parliament. But he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that that was no adequate reason for retaining the Irish Members. The right hon. Gentleman himself had pointed out that Mr. Parnell never considered this as an Irish question, but entirely as an English question. The Prime Minister went on to say it was thought desirable by himself and Colleagues that this should form no part of the settlement of Ireland, but with regard to which there might be a question of 1633 honour. He could not fail to remember how the Prime Minister had treated other questions of honour. In his former Bill the right hon. Gentleman thought it the highest duty of political honour to settle the Land Question before he handed it over to the Government of Ireland. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Offered.] Well, offered to settle the Land Question, but the right, hon. Gentleman had not attempted to make an offer of that description in this Bill. When it was a question affecting Ireland or his Irish allies, the right hon. Gentleman was most sensitive on the question of honour; but when it was a matter affecting British interests the Prime Minister became sublimely indifferent to questions of honour of which they had heard so much in the country and in the discussions on this Bill. He was at a loss to discover what motive could have induced the Prime Minister to submit to the House a solution so little in accordance with his own views on this question. The right hon. Gentleman had informed them that the British people were in want of discipline, and he had taken that opportunity to offer discipline for which he thought they would hardly feel grateful to him. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: I never said that.] It was perfectly plain, if there were to be incongruities and inconveniences in connection with the policy and scheme of the Prime Minister, it was not Ireland that was to suffer from these incongruities or inconveniences, but the people of Great Britain—the senior partner in the Union which had existed for so many years. The Prime Minister had advanced another reason for the retention of the Irish Members. He stated that the country was in favour of their retention. He (Mr. Macartney) did not know exactly what area the Prime Minister meant by "the country." Certainly, it could not be Great Britain he was alluding to, for at the General Election Great Britain decided not only against this particular policy, but against the whole policy of the right hon. Gentleman. Nor could it be supposed that the right hon. Gentleman derived from his own experience in Midlothian that the country was becoming more favourable to the scheme. He would remind the House that upon the Division which took place upon the most specific 1634 question raised in connection with the 9th clause, the majority of Members from Great Britain were decidedly against the proposal embodied in the clause. The Government, upon the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) to exclude the Irish Members in future from the Imperial House of Commons, taking the House as a whole, had a majority of 31. But if they were to exclude from the figures in both Lobbies the Irish representation, whether Nationalist or Unionist, that majority of 31 was converted into a minority of 25; so that, instead of the opinion of the British Members in that House being in favour of the retention of the Irish Members, it had been expressed in a clear and distinct manner against it. What was the opinion of Carnarvonshire? It was that the scheme was inequitable and unworkable. What was the opinion of Caithness? That this particular proposal made Home Rule impossible. They knew that in Hereford this question was the cause of the right hon. Gentleman losing a supporter. He contended that the right hon. Gentleman could not bring forward any argument to support the contention that there was any widespread or general desire in the country for this scheme which he had finally adopted. The House would recollect that, with the exception of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), only one Member either for an English, Scotch, or Welsh constituency ventured to speak in favour of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. He was not surprised at that, because the declarations of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite made at the last General Election must come before them in an inconvenient and unpleasant manner when they contemplated what hard necessity drove them to in the Division Lobby the other day. The Lord Advocate for Scotland was asked on the 30th June—Will you vote for any Home Rule Bill which allows Irish Members to continue to vote on English, Scotch, or Welsh business?He replied—That involves a question relating to a difficult matter. I would prefer, if possible, to see that the votes of Irish Members were confined to Imperial matters. We have suffered so much from the English Members that I should be glad to see some scheme adopted 1635 whereby each country should have control of its own local affairs.He could quite understand hon. Members from Scotland who had adopted the principle of autonomy all round; but this Bill was not a question of autonomy for Scotland, Wales, and England, but a question for Ireland only, and every subject under this clause relating to England, Scotland, and Wales, would be left to the control of the Irish Representatives. Those hon. Members from Scotland who were in favour of the retention of the Irish Members qualified it by the support which they gave to Home Rule, and only looked at it in connection with autonomy for Scotland. There was a Cabinet Minister who was questioned on this subject during the General Election—namely, the Secretary of State for War, who had distinguished himself before by finding salvation on even more intricate matters at a moment's notice. The Secretary of State for War, speaking on June 28, said he did not think it was right that the Irish Members, if retained, should be allowed to turn the scale in such a matter as Scottish Disestablishment; but the other day the right hon. Gentleman voted for a clause which would give the Irish Members such a power. Then the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir J. T. Hibbert) said, on July 2, that he and his colleagues in the representation of Oldham were in favour of the Irish Members retaining their seats in the House of Commons for Imperial purposes only. That was the policy which the Prime Minister laid before the country on February 13, and which was abandoned on July 12, and the two Members for Oldham both changed their minds at the same time as the right hon. Gentleman. The Prime Minister gave further reasons for supposing that the position the Irish Members were to occupy in future in the House of Commons would not matter to the English Members, and would not disturb the proceedings of this Assembly. His first reason was that the Irish Members would be more busy with their own affairs, and that that business would be in Ireland. This Bill, however, provided that the most important affairs which Irishmen would look after would be the questions reserved for the Imperial Parliament, and they cer- 1636 tainly would be more busy at Westminster than in Dublin. If, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman had made a mistake, or if he was unsuccessful in 1893 in solving a problem which in 1886 he declared was beyond the wit of man to solve, was he now justified in propounding a scheme which must place the interests of England, Scotland, and Wales in an inferior position to the interests of Ireland, and subject the proceedings of the House of Commons to those intrigues to which reference had so often been made? He contended that his clause was not one which was open to the defects which beset the various solutions that the Prime Minister had offered. It was founded upon what the right hon. Gentleman had himself stated to be the proper view to take of this question—namely, that it was a British question which touched all British interests, and that it could not be regarded as an Irish Question. It covered the question of any future amendment or repeal of this Bill, and it provided that when any such question arose and had to be considered by the Imperial Parliament the Irish Members should be summoned both to the Imperial House of Commons and to the Imperial House of Lords. He could not conceive, from the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman himself, that there could be any disposition to regard the proposals contained in the clause as inimical to the just opportunities which ought to be supplied to the Irish people in the event of any contemplated disturbance of the settlement which the right hon. Gentleman himself proposed. He had only touched upon the fringe of the many arguments that could be adduced to show how far the particular solution which the Prime Minister had presented to the House fell in with what the country had expected from him. It was, in his opinion, in express violation of the direct declarations of honour which the right hon. Gentleman had made to the people of Great Britain at the last General Election. It placed Great Britain under a perpetual succession of the very mischiefs which the Prime Minister himself contemplated must flow from the dangers, inconveniences, and incongruities of the 9th clause; and he could not believe that even at the last moment either the right hon. Gentleman, or the Cabinet, or 1637 his followers in the House, would be reluctant to take that opportunity of amending a clause which was not the expression of their unanimous opinion upon this important question. He begged to move the new clause.
§ Clause (Representation of Ireland in Parliament for the Amendment of this Act,)—(Mr. Macartney,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I think it my first duty to make my acknowledgments to the hon. Member, and still more to the Leader of the Opposition, for the great compliments they have been pleased to pay to the Bill of 1886. Although the Bill was deemed to be a crude measure, and was, undoubtedly, produced to Parliament after a short period of gestation, yet they have found its terms to supply them as far as it goes with the proper method of dealing with the important question of the retention or exclusion of the Irish Members. I do not complain of the hon. Member for arguing at great length upon this question. The Report stage is, without doubt, intended to give a second opportunity in this House for considering matters decided in Committee, and he, therefore, is in his right in endeavouring to make a detailed argument upon the subject; but I hope he will admit that we also have a portion of discretion left to us, and, although it may be, from his point of view and the point of view of others, not only a privilege, but a duty, to treat these matters a second time in detail, I do not think he will press the doctrine so far as to hold that we also are obliged to answer in detail. I find no fault with the hon. Gentleman for having made charges against the Government, and for having complained of what he called our reserve and reticence, of our keeping matters in the dark, and of our insensibility to principles of honour. I can understand the utility of those remarks from the hon. Member's point of view. They are intended—laudably intended—not to irritate us, but still to stir and moderately excite us to reply to the 1638 speech he has delivered, Again I must make my excuses; again I must declare that so far as I am concerned—and I think I convey the sentiments of my Colleagues—we intend to rest under these imputations upon points and matters which have been explained over and over again in Committee, considering it would be a sheer waste of time to go into the questions raised by the hon. Member. The hon. Member has employed a large part of his speech in replying to arguments and statements which I myself have made upon this question, thereby bearing testimony to the fact which I have been urging—that we, who have had full opportunities, and who have availed ourselves of them, of declaring our minds on this subject, did not need to repeat over and over again what we have already stated. Sir, I have been copious in my thanks for the appreciation of the Bill of 1886. But this I must say—that the tribute which is paid to the Bill of 1886 would have been even more acceptable, and would have been of decidedly greater value, if it had been paid in 1886. I see a distinguished array of opponents before me. My memory may be in fault, but I think that the greater part, if not the whole of those gentlemen, entirely declined to give in 1886 the smallest countenance or support to the idea of proceeding without the Irish Members. I think from the silence of those gentlemen that my recollection on this occasion does not play me false. The hon. Member says we have against us the Election of 1886.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I understood one of the hon. Member's arguments to be that the Election of 1886 had condemned us and our plan—[Cries of "No!"]—and that, therefore, we were to consider it as condemning the course we are now taking.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
The right hon. Gentleman has misconceived my argument. I was alluding to a statement in his letter the other day in which he said 1639 that the opinion of the country was in favour of the proposal just submitted and carried. I said I did not know what he meant by the country; but if he meant Great Britain, the opinion of that country had declared against his proposal in 1892.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I understood the hon. Member to refer to the Election of 1886. But the Election of 1892 was carried, undoubtedly, with the fullest knowledge—[Laughter]—of what? Hon. Members do not know what I was going to say—with the fullest knowledge that we were about to propose the retention of the Irish Members. Hon. Members will do me the justice to recollect that at no period did we make the exclusion of the Irish Members a vital question. It was never included among the five conditions of the Bill.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
It was never made one of the essential conditions. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) in 1886 stated strongly his opinion that the question of the retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament might very well be a question worthy of being entertained after a period had elapsed during which the Irish might cope with the crying and immediate exigencies of their situation. And, in treating that suggestion of my hon. Friend, I stated at the time that it appeared to me to be one well entitled to consideration. But our judgment was against the retention. I admit that in arriving at that conclusion I did proceed upon the principle of trusting Ireland, a principle which I am disposed, perhaps, to carry further than others who, notwithstanding, are friendly to Home Rule. What we believed, and had reason to believe, was that the Opposition thought that one of the faults of our plan was the exclusion of the Irish Members, as aggravating the scheme. They thought that if Home Rule ought to exist at all, it ought to exist with the retention of the Irish Members. That being so, we became acquainted in the course of the General Election of 1886 with the views of several of our friends; and at almost 1640 every bye-election fresh light was thrown upon this sentiment. While it was our strong presumption and belief in respect of the Tory Party, supported by the even more emphatic and distinct declarations of the Liberal Unionists—[Cries of "No!" and cheers.] I am not speaking of what any other hon. Member thought. I am a better authority on what we thought, surely, than any hon. Member who interrupts? I am speaking of what we understood to be the views entertained by the leading men of the Liberal Unionist Party—namely, that Home Rule, with the retention of the Irish Members, would be less intolerable than Home Rule with their exclusion. Then it was found that the same idea was not universal in our own Party, but so prevalent that it might fairly be called general. Consequently, we had to ask ourselves the question—at any rate, those of us who were specially responsible for the decision of 1886—whether the inclusion of the Irish Members was so objectionable that it was our duty, rather than accept it, to disappoint the Irish nation of its desires and expectations, and to throw over the great cause to which we had pledged ourselves. The consequence was that at a very early period indeed in the history of that Parliament, when paying a visit to Wales, I first declared, and was followed by others of my friends, that as a condition of Home Rule we accepted the retention of the Irish Members, bowing cheerfully to the opinion that was so prevalent. That was the first stepping-stone to our change. And as retention had become a condition of Home Rule, we had next to consider in what manner that retention was to be effected. Possibly in some speech at that Election I set out our intention to propose Home Rule, and our view of the various incidental and collateral questions which were raised by the retention of the Irish Members. I am not surprised at the difficulties which are raised by these questions. There is not one of them which does not raise a difficulty. For example, there is the question whether we are to have one election or a double election for the Members who are to sit in the Irish Legislature and in this House. In the same way we had to look at the question whether Irish Members sitting here were to have a limited or an unlimited vote. The 1641 right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) quoted from a speech of mine to the effect that I would not consent to Irish Members, who had received the power of managing their own affairs, voting in this House on questions affecting British interests. Undoubtedly, I did speak strongly against what appeared to me to be a most formidable difficulty attending the retention of the Irish Members. And then I am taunted with having deviated so much from my original purpose. I have deviated from it to this extent alone: Nothing would have induced me to endeavour to force upon the British people and the Imperial Parliament the retention of the Irish Members with an unlimited vote. We accepted that from the House of Commons, as we accepted the retention of the Irish Members from the country. The hon. Member said that our intention did not represent the opinion of the majority of our followers. [Mr. MACARTNEY: Of the British Representatives.] Yes; observe the singular facility with which hon. Members disunite the United Kingdom, and draw a distinction between one country and another. That distinction, once drawn, may be drawn persistently when it answers their purpose. But I wish to meet fairly the challenge of the hon. Gentleman. No doubt our decision is different from that which we originally adopted, but that was in deference to the opinion of the majority. It is known to all who are conversant with the conflict of opinions which goes on in this House that there are adequate means of ascertaining the opinions of the House of Commons, even if I had not the power, which I had, of referring to actual statements, and to proposals put upon the Paper of the House of Commons, and while, without the smallest doubt, the opinion of the great majority required from us that we should adopt the principle of the unlimited vote of the Irish Members, the dissentients from that opinion might be counted upon the fingers.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would allow him to say that his statement was founded on statements made by hon. Members sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman, who represented that they knew his views in the matter.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
What means had the hon. Gentleman of knowing the opinions of private and independent Members at large compared with the means at the disposal of the Government? He had the usual general means of knowing what the sentiments of the Party were, and I do not think any hon. Gentleman can say that the majority were not in favour of the plan we adopted. I thank the House for hearing me. I do not think it necessary to go further. What lies before us is in honourable fulfilment of our pledges and engagements. Though the conditions which we have now accepted we originally thought less desirable, we have no doubt that it is our duty to accept them and the difficulties connected with them, which are matters of a secondary order, and we hold that it would be a gross error of judgment and a total abandonment of duty if we for one moment doubted as to our obligation to prosecute to the end this great and Imperial cause.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
I am very glad that the House has now the opportunity of fully debating this very important question, and is about to vote on a definite issue. The right hon. Gentleman has followed a characteristic course in the way in which he has dealt with this proposal. Of the question of the retention of the Irish Members there are three possible solutions: either the Irish Members may be banished from the House altogether, or they may be retained for certain limited and specific purposes, or they may be retained for all purposes. The right hon. Gentleman has argued in favour of proposals which are not to be adopted, but he has not given the House any argument in favour of the proposal he has accepted, except that he has done so under strong pressure from certain powers, which, however, are more pressed upon than capable of exercising pressure. The Government—to use the right hon. Gentleman's own most singular and most significant expression—has transferred its support to another proposition. It is a very curious Parliamentary situation that the House of Commons will arrive at a decision upon one of the most important questions raised by the Bill by what is in reality a Parliamentary accident, and not in consequence of the argu- 1643 ments put forward by the Prime Minister. We have heard the right hon. Gentleman argue in favour of both the propositions—for excluding altogether the Irish Members from the Imperial Parliament, and for retaining them for limited purposes. In 1886 we heard him argue with great force in favour of the total exclusion of the Irish Members on the ground that it would be unfair, when they had obtained the privilege of the uncontrolled management of their own affairs, that they should be permitted to control also English, Scotch, and Welsh affairs when they were not responsible for their action in any way to the electors of Great Britain. But as years went on the right hon. Gentleman came to the conclusion that he could and would try the experiment which he argued against in 1886, of retaining the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament for certain limited purposes. On the 13th of February last the right hon. Gentleman, with not, perhaps, a very good heart for the work, argued in favour of this latter proposition.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE
I am quite content to accept that. The right hon. Gentleman reminds me of a passage in the "Bab Ballads":—These lads did not presume to flout him;He argued nigh, he argued low,He likewise argued round about him.The right hon. Gentleman has certainly argued round about him in this matter. It is certainly difficult to follow him; but lie led the House to believe that, whatever reluctance he might feel in the matter, he was, at all events, arguing in favour of retaining the Irish Members for limited purposes only. We have had one argument in favour of keeping the Irish Members away altogether; we have had another in favour of retaining them for limited purposes, but we certainly have never had an argument placed before the House in favour of retaining them for all purposes.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
On the 13th of February I dwelt, in the very strongest terms I could command, upon the immense disadvantage of having in this House a body of Members for the 1644 first time here who would stand on a totally different footing from their Colleagues from England and Scotland.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE
That is so; the right hon. Gentleman argued in the strongest terms in favour of keeping them for all purposes, but the right hon. Gentleman was inviting the House to arrive at an opposite conclusion. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE bowed assent.] I am not content with this example of inconsistency. After the 13th February questions were addressed to the right hon. Gentleman from all parts of the House as to the course which the Government proposed to take in regard to Clause 9 in the form in which it then stood. The answers to these questions suggested that he still had, and held, the intention of keeping the Irish Members only for limited purposes.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE
After the 13th February it was more than once stated that the Government intended to propose to the House the clause as it stood in the Bill. That was not mocking the House with idle words. The question was—Were the Ministry going to support the clause as the Ministry had proposed and commended it to the House? It certainly does seem an odd departure from the ordinary course of Parliamentary practice for the Prime Minister to quote a speech made by him on the 13th February in support of a proposal which he then repudiated, but which he now offers for acceptance.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I dealt with both proposals with an impartiality which is not always observed.
§ * SIR E. CLARKE
I ventured to point out at the time that the tone of the right hon. Gentleman showed that he had been overborne by the majority of his colleagues in the Ministry, and that he was endeavouring to make them ridiculous by expounding to the House the reasons by which they wore actuated. But we have now arrived at a stage when the matter should be thoroughly discussed in order to ascertain what the opinion of the different sections of the House may be with re- 1645 gard to the proposal before us. The proposal is a very simple one, and it may be fairly argued by Members of the House. At present if an Irishman interferes with a Bill which relates to Scotland he knows that he will be punished by having some Bill relating to Ireland interfered with in like manner. The policy of give and take between Members coming from different parts of the British Isles has a good effect on the proceedings of the House. But once detach the Irish Members from the House, and once provide that they can come into the House at any time, and vote upon any Bill which may secure or overthrow the Ministry of the day, and you have then a separate influence in the House which in my belief will be destructive of its usefulness as a Legislative Assembly, and will lead to dealings on the part of Ministries or Oppositions with those Members which will seriously interfere with the efficiency of this House as an instrument of government. Let me point out another thing. There is very serious reason to believe that the result of the detachment of the Irish Members in this way may lead to legislation and administration in regard to Ireland which would be not the willing legislation of the House or the wholehearted administration of the Ministry for the time being, but which would be prompted by a desire to secure so important a Parliamentary support as the Irish Members would be able to give. It is not at all from a Party point of view that I should fear the retention of the Irish Members. There are many matters upon which the predominant feeling of the Nationalists, if they are once free from discussions in this House with regard to the government of their own country, would very likely induce them to strengthen the Tory Party and the policy that Party has in past times supported. It is not in the least because I believe there would be any sympathy between the Nationalist Members from Ireland and the Party which is led by the right hon. Gentleman, or between them and the projects of the Newcastle Programme, that I am opposed to the retention of the Irish Members, but because I desire that neither Party shall be placed in the dangerous position of having ready to hand—and to be ob- 1646 tained, perhaps, by concessions which might be of mischief to Great Britain—the support of so large a Parliamentary Body. I am, on this matter, one of those who are not subject to the reproach the Prime Minister has cast upon many Members on this side of the House, that in 1886 they objected to the exclusion of the Irish Members from this Parliament. That, Sir, at all events, is not true with regard to me. From the beginning to the end of this controversy—from the beginning, I should say, for it has not reached, or nearly reached, its end yet—I have taken the same view that the Chief Secretary for Ireland expressed in 1886 and has stated over and again—that one of the chief advantages of Home Rule will be, or should be, that the House will be freed from the perpetual discussion of Irish questions, and so will be able to perform with greater freedom and efficiency the legislative duties which it owes to other parts of the country. The right hon. Gentleman said so in 1886. I agreed with him, and repeated it in many places. I remember, when I went down to my constituents in 1886 on the occasion of the General Election, I there selected that particular proposal to exclude the Irish Members from this House for praise and eulogium. I have always thought, and I think now, there can be no Home Rule in Ireland which will be of any value to this House or to Ireland unless it is made one of the terms of the grant of Home Rule that the Irish Members shall cease to take part in the proceedings of this House. I ask hon. Members with what complacency they would view the state of things that would exist if the Bill passed and 80 Irish Members were to remain in the House, giving, perhaps, according to the calculations made, an available majority of 50 on the Nationalist, side? What would be the consequence? Suppose a measure was brought in for the disestablishment of the Church in Wales. I take that as an example. Is it suggested that that majority of 50 Nationalists should reasonably and properly vote in this House in favour of such a proposal? Surely those who are most enthusiastic in favour of a policy of disestablishment will recognise that that policy can only be effective when it is dealt with by those who have correspond- 1647 ing responsibility with regard to themselves, and the Irish Members would be absolutely detached from that matter by every sort of self-interest. Yet the Irish Members would give their 50 votes on the question. I am not sure that they would be given for Disestablishment. They might be given against; but whether given for or against, it would be a vote so entirely detached from any real interest on their part in this Assembly that it cannot be regarded as a legitimate weapon to use in the controversy. It has been said that the Irish Members would be so busy with their own affairs in Ireland that they would seldom come over here to vote, and the Prime Minister has stated that we must depend upon their good feeling to exercise a self-denying reticence, and to exclude themselves from using their power in matters not concerning them. Let me examine both those questions. Would they come over here but seldom? That might be. But they would come over here whenever it was necessary that their Parliamentary strength should be used for the Party purpose of either keeping in or ejecting from Office a Ministry which had promised them as much as they desired, or had refused to make those promises, and had disappointed their expectations. Whenever a Ministry that they desired to support was in trouble, the judgment of the House might be overruled by this foreign body of Representatives—["Oh, oh!"]—being brought over. Yes; it is not a foreign body now, and if I had my will it never should be. But if it is excluded from the ordinary interests and duties which fall upon Members of this Assembly, then the Irish Members cannot complain if they are called a foreign body, imported to serve the purposes of Party. I do not desire to make invidious remarks; therefore, I will not proceed to examine the question of good feeling. I think those who rely on the good feeling of the majority from Ireland, under these circumstances, inducing them not to come here, are relying upon a theory and an idea to which we, at all events, cannot attach very serious importance. But, Sir, I should like to say a word or two on the question from another point of view. I say that it would be destructive of our Parliamentary Institutions here, and that it would have a disastrous 1648 influence upon the affairs of this House. But we have to consider it from the Irish point of view. I believe that the continued representation of Ireland in this House would be absolutely fatal to any hope of the success of the Home Rule Bill. If I were to rely on my own judgment and opinion, it might be said that I was not entitled to speak for Irishmen in the matter; and I ought to be suspected. As I am resolutely opposed to every form of Home Rule, it might be suggested that I was conjuring up imaginary dangers with a view to discredit the Bill. I will, therefore, ask the House to allow me to quote from one of the best known Members of the Nationalist Party—the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. In the year 1886, at Liverpool, in a speech reported in The Times of April 22, 1886, he said—The retention of the Irish Members—especially in their full numbers—is merely the mask for reducing the Irish Legislature to the position of a Vestry or a Town Council. I very much mistake the temper of my colleagues if that be a proposal they will not consider it their duty to resist by every means in their power. It is a proposal that ought to be resisted by every true English Liberal as vehemently as by every Irish Nationalist. For what does it mean? If the full tale of Irish Members were to remain in the Imperial Parliament it would mean that every single act of the Irish Legislature, great or small, would be reviewed immediately by the Imperial Legislature; and if the acts of the Irish Legislature had to be reviewed by the Imperial Legislature the review would not be a formal affair, such as the review of Provisional Orders at the present moment. The review would mean a serious, prolonged, and passionate review of the acts of the Irish Legislature. Can any man in his senses imagine a scheme more antagonistic to the interests of Ireland and of all England, and of all classes in Ireland and of all classes? …. Ireland would be in a constant state of turmoil and unrest. The Imperial Parliament would be the schoolmaster that the boys would always be calling upon to intervene. It is no consolation to say that the Nationalist Members need not attend at Westminster. If they did not attend, the Orangemen would; and it would be necessary to have the attendance of the Nationalists to counteract the evil effects of the Orangemen. Then, if we had in the Irish Parliament some man of baulked or restless ambition, what a temptation it would be to him to transfer his quarrel from the narrow arena of the Irish Parliament to the mighty arena of the Imperial Parliament!I could not improve upon that speech. The hon. Member dealt freely and largely with this matter. Was he right or was he wrong? He made his appeal not 1649 only to Irish Nationalists, but to English Liberals. He asked English Liberals to save Ireland from the trouble that would come upon her if the proposal were adopted to retain Irish Members in this House. We have had many discussions in regard to the maintenance of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Many of us were deeply anxious that some provision, and effective provision, should be put into the Bill to secure the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, but I do not believe that anybody in this House, to whatever Party he belongs—certainly not an Irish Nationalist—would desire to substitute for the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament the constant supervision of the Imperial Parliament. But that is what we are to have. It is said against the proposal now to exclude the Irish Members that that has been made impossible because certain matters in which they are deeply concerned have been reserved for a certain time to the Imperial Parliament. That is a condemnation of the Bill, but it is no answer to the present contention. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, talking about the Schedules and redistribution in Ireland, was shocked at the idea that when we had disposed of the Homo Rule Bill we should promptly engage in the consideration of the question of redistribution of seats in Ireland. He asked how, when we had gone through all this controversy, we should like to deal with redistribution in Ireland? Surely the Chief Secretary, notwithstanding his speech on the Schedules yesterday, does not now entertain the vain and delusive hope that when this Bill shall have passed this Parliament will have got rid of the trouble and turmoil of the Irish Question. There is a period of three years and a period of six years in which we are to deal with the land, financial affairs, and other matters; and it is perfectly clear that if this Bill should be passed in its present shape, on the next Session that begins after the setting up a Parliament in Ireland you will have here, as the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool pointed out, the Representatives of the Orangemen of the North-East of Ireland claiming from this House supervision of the affairs of Ireland, and a steady and resolute defence of their interests against the Nationalists of the 1650 other parts of the country; and, on the other hand, we shall have the Nationalists coming here, and obliged to come here, in order to defend themselves against the attacks of the Orangemen. What shall we have gained by Home Rule in that case? We shall have gained nothing for the purposes of the discharge of the great duty of this House in dealing with that which is now considered so trifling that it can be put off to the last few days of the Session—I refer to the Supply Services. We shall have gained no freedom for our legislation, or for the supervision of the affairs of Government. What will Ireland have gained? Ireland will have gained only this—that she will have a second-class Parliament, not attended by her best men, because, as the hon. Member pointed out, she will send her best men to defend her imperilled interests in the larger arena of Westminster—she will have a, second-class Parliament in Dublin which will carry on the enormous powers entrusted to it under this Bill, while she sends 80 of her best men to this House to deal with the reserved questions during the next few years, or, if they have not to deal with these matters, in order to answer those who represent their opponents. I agree that these difficulties have resulted from the reservation made in the Bill, but that is the Ministers' doing. Their Bill of 1886 was, at all events, defective and mischievous as we believed it to be, was a logical production. In 1886 the Prime Minister, strong in his belief that he had an adequate majority to carry his full-considered proposal, gave us the Bill he would desire to pass. In the present measure he has not given us that which he would desire to pass. We have heard from the Prime Minister to-night that the half-hour or 40 minutes of skilful and intricate dialectics on February 13 was simply amusement—an exorcise of his intellectual powers. This time the Government have tried to produce a Bill which will just pass, and this change upon the 9th clause is the result of underground communications with their supporters with that view. Am I not right in saying that this 9th clause, as it stands in the Bill, has not been accepted by the House or by any portion of it? I have read at length what was said by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool in 1886. 1651 I think the hon. Member for Louth, speaking about a week ago in Ireland, said that, for his part, he preferred the Bill of 1886, by which Irish Members were excluded, as against the proposal made in the present Bill. Are the Government prepared to do what the Prime Minister affects to think he has done—to take the opinion of the House without exercising its power over the pliant fidelity of its followers? In this case neither of two usual courses has been adopted. The Government has not made a proposal which they are prepared to defend, which is the usual Parliamentary course. If they had taken that course and been defeated they would have been following Parliamentary traditions and carrying out the duty which rests on British Ministers of placing before the House and defending a definite policy. They did not do that. What is the other course they could have followed? They could have said this was a matter on which they would accept the unbiassed judgment of the House. If they had done the latter everyone knows that the Irish Members would not come back to this House. The clause as it now stands represents no policy, no plan to which any statesman on that Bench would commit himself. It is a Parliamentary accident, and I shall be glad if the Division makes an end of this preposterous proposal.
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
said, he did not think the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, nor the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment in the first instance, had said much upon the really important point that lay at the root of this clause, which was whether the Irish Members were or were not to have seats in this House in the future. At present, at all events, the bulk of the Conservative Party were for excluding the Irish Members altogether. They had heard again from the Prime Minister that his opinion in regard to the Bill of 1886 had not altered in that respect. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had been conspicuous for honourable pertinacity in holding from the commencement of the controversy until the present moment that Irish Members ought not to remain in that House. He (Mr. Reid) did not 1652 say this for the purpose of, in the slightest degree, adversely criticising his right hon. Friend. He knew it was a difficult question; but, inasmuch as the Government said they had been induced to depart from the original method of 1886 by the friendly pressure of those who supported them in the House and the country, he thought that one of those who had put pressure upon the Government should state why they objected to the exclusion of the Irish Members. There was, no doubt, a sentimental reason. He did not think that any gentleman in any part of the House would quarrel with the natural desire to keep as wide as possible the area of the United Kingdom, which was the nucleus of our great Empire. There were other consequences which might follow. Supposing, for a moment, that they were to exclude the Irish Members from the House, what would be the position in a short time? A short time they might be engrossed in the consideration of their own domestic affairs; but after a very little time they would contrast their position with that of the self-governing colonies, which were subject, no doubt, to the Royal veto and Imperial supremacy, though upon the condition that they were hardly ever used. They would find the colonies in complete exemption from taxation by that House, encouraged to maintain military forces for their own defence, and entitled to obtain revenue by taxing imports, including those from this country. What would be the position in which they would find themselves? They would find Ireland, which was a Kingdom before Canada, or Australia, or the Cape of Good Hope had been discovered, fettered by a number of restrictions which he was perfectly certain the self-respect of the people of Ireland would not for an indefinite time allow them to submit to, and ought not to allow them to submit to. And what would be the result? In the first place we ought, if we were going to exclude Irish Members from the House, no longer to exact from Ireland any revenue towards our Imperial resources. We did not ask anything from the colonies, possibly for the reason that we would not be able to get it even if we made the demand. This was the subject of the controversy through which we lost the American Colonies. Would any man in the House be so infatuated 1653 as to think that we could treat Ireland in that way when we had before us the result of a similar attempt 100 years ago? Were Ireland in the position of a colony they would be entitled to ask that they also might have some military force at their command. He did not suppose Ireland would ask for it; but they knew that there was a military force in Ireland in 1782; and suppose the relations between Ireland and this country became strained, and Ireland were in the position of a self-governing colony, would she not be entitled to ask precisely the same privileges and rights enjoyed by all the colonies of the Empire? He did not and could not believe that those gentlemen who advocated the exclusion of Irish Members from the Imperial Parliament and the conversion of Ireland into the Constitutional position of a self-governing colony were serious as to this, and had really reflected upon the consequences of establishing such relations between Ireland and this country. Ireland might tax imports from this country—and I am, of course, pointing out the necessary consequences of establishing a Colonial Government in Ireland. What would become of the safeguards that were so profusely scattered throughout the Bill? He understood that right hon. Gentlemen opposite complained that these safeguards were not sufficiently effective nor sufficiently numerous. Be it so. How would it be possible to maintain any of those safeguards, such as they were, if Ireland were to be separated from this country in the sense that Irish Members were no longer to come here, and Ireland was merely in the position of a colony? He thought himself that the safeguards were very effective and more numerous than they should be; but, at the same time, he admitted that it was a wise, prudent, and statesmanlike policy to endeavour, by means of safeguards and precautions of this character, to allay even the unnecessary apprehensions of those who were opposed to the proposed Constitutional change. He must express his astonishment that a Member of the House who claimed to represent Protestant Loyalist Ulster should be found to propose that Irish Members should be excluded from the House of Commons. It was almost impossible to accept the hon. Member's sincerity. If they were to believe the one-twentieth part of 1654 the numerous professions constantly made by gentlemen from Ulster, it would be an outrage and injury in the last degree to exclude Ulster Members from the House. For his own part, he did not pretend that he sympathised with the views that the Ulster Members were constantly presenting to the House. He did not think it was a fine and brave attitude for those Members to take up—always to be the first to cast a stone at their countrymen, always to magnify their vices and belittle their virtues. But he did not wish to see them thrust forth from the House of Commons. He looked forward to the time when the doors of the House would be open to the great English-speaking possessions of the Crown, so that they would have a true representation of the British Empire within those walls. Let the doors he opened as much as they pleased, but not for the purpose of thrusting out those who had done a great deal towards establishing the greatness of the Empire. The first proposal of the Government was that the Irish Members should come to Westminster only for the purpose of Imperial affairs, and that was a proposal to which he thoroughly assented. He was quite aware that it opened the door to some inconveniences. It undoubtedly might produce some instability in the Government, because, as the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord P. Churchill) pointed out, there might be two majorities, and there would be no assurance that those majorities would always concur. There was another objection—namely, that there would be some supposed inequality between the Members of the House, and he should be very sorry indeed to see any inequality among Members. These were objections of considerable weight; but they were he thought, much less important than the objections urged to the second proposal, to which the Government had now given their adherence. He believed the Government gave their adherence to the present proposal solely because of the pressure of opinion on the Ministerial side of the House. He thought that his hon. Friends who had driven the Government from their original proposal and induced them to make the present proposal, had taken a very considerable responsibility upon themselves. He was very much afraid 1655 that when the time for au appeal to the country his hon. Friends would find they had done an ill-service to the cause of Home Rule by pressing the Government to depart from their original proposal. It would not be easy to satisfy the English and Scotch electors that while their Members were precluded from voting on the main topics of Irish importance, Irishmen should be entitled to vote upon English and Scotch Business. He thought, also, it would be an unwise change from the point of view of the Irish Members themselves. He believed that one great guarantee of this Bill, if it were passed, proving a success would be furnished if the House of Commons refrained as absolutely as possible from interfering with Irish affairs. If Members of that House were constantly interposing and constituting themselves a Court of Appeal from the Irish Legislature, no man who had read the history of the preceding relations of England and Ireland would deny that it would be a constant source of friction; that it would occupy the time of the House, and would prevent Irish statesmen themselves from having that which was the great means of doing their country good—a sense of responsibility—and it would deprive the Irish Parliament of that sense of finality in its decisions which was so essential for its proper deliberations. But while he thought the second scheme of the Government was less happy than the first, he believed that both were quite certain to be temporary. He believed that when once they had departed from the colonial model they could not stop short of the Federal model—which meant Home Rule all round. If English Members were able to discuss English Business and Scotch Members Scotch Business, it would not only relieve the enormous pressure of Business in the House of Commons, but would do away with the inconvenience and irritation caused by the interference of one nationality in affairs that peculiarly belonged to another. That, in his belief, would be the real solution of the question; and, looking at it from that point of view, although he feared that a good deal of capital could be, and would be, made in the country out of this particular method of dealing with the Irish Members, he believed that in the end it would be a matter of very small moment. Home 1656 Rule for Ireland was only the first of a series of Bills, and as soon as the constituencies perceived that the real difficulty in the way of the transaction of their Business was the enormous and impossible amount of Business which now had to be discharged by the House of Commons, he believed the end of the question would be very simply and satisfactorily arrived at by the extension of Federalism.
§ * MR. GERALD BALFOUR (Leeds, Central)
said, the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid) had discussed various proposals, but he had been unable to discover for what particular proposal the hon. Member intended to vote. The hon. Member had commended the omnes omnia proposal now adopted by the Government, although not long ago, in The Contemporary Review, the hon. Member had described that proposal as one that would beUnjust to Great Britain, inconvenient, and of a novelty quite startling, because though Great Britain might have inflicted, she had never submitted to inequality.Was the hon. Member going to vote for this injustice?
§ MR. R. T. REID
Will the hon. Member allow me to make this observation? Not only he, but many others have done me the honour of criticising my statements in that article. Has the hon. Gentleman read the article? If he has, he will find that at the end of the article, which was published in April, 1892, I stated that I would vote for either of the methods for the reason that I am convinced that either of them will lead to Home Rule all round.
§ * MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said, he was aware of that. In the meantime, the hon. Gentleman seemed exactly to fulfil the description recently given by the hon Member for Edinburgh (Mr. R. Wallace) of Members on that side of the House—namely, that they were not only equal to each other, but equal to anything. But, at least, the hon. Gentleman had had the courage to speak out. The House now knew that, in the hon. Member's view, the scheme of the Government must necessarily lead to a system of Federalism. 1657 The Prime Minister had congratulated the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) on the compliment he had paid to the Bill of 1886. It was, however, somewhat of a left-handed compliment. The Opposition did not love the scheme of 1886 more, but hated it less, than the scheme of 1893. The right hon. Gentleman asked why this compliment was not paid to the scheme in 1886. The reason was clear. In 1886, Members had not to compare with that proposal the worse proposal which was put forward in February, and the still worse proposal which was now before the House. If they now commended exclusion, it was because it sinned by comparison with the rival schemes, and not because it sinned by its own light. The present clause in the Bill was prefaced by the words, "Until and unless Parliament otherwise determines." The Prime Minister had given two explanations of those words. One was that they were intended to denote the experimental character of the whole arrangement, and the other was that the question was a British question, and that it was no part of the settlement with Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the proper way of ascertaining the opinion of Great Britain was to test it by the vote of the United Parliament as a whole. Surely a more astounding, a more preposterous contention had never been put forward. When the right hon. Gentleman was pressed on the subject by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and asked whether he was prepared to act upon his undertaking that Great Britain should have a determining voice in deciding this matter, he said—Have they not a determining voice in a Parliament where there are 570 of their Representatives apart from the Irish Members.As a matter of fact, when the question was discussed in Committee, the majority against exclusion amounted to 31, and the British majority in favour of exclusion on the same occasion was no less than 29. When, however, it was convenient for the right hon. Gentleman to take the views of a particular section of the House he was ready enough to do so.
§ It being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.