§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed [23rd August] on Consideration of the Bill as amended.
And which Amendment was, in page 3, line 38, after the last Amendment, to insert the words—
(3) The Lord Lieutenant shall not do or omit to do any act upon the advice of the Executive Committee, or otherwise than as representing Her Majesty—
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, that last night he founded the hope that the Government would see their way to accept, at least in part, the Amendment of his noble Friend on the speech of the hon. Member for North Kerry. To-day he returned to the charge fortified by a declaration of the Chancellor of the Duchy—a declaration of such importance that it confirmed his hope even to the point of anticipating that the Government would not only accept part, but would accept the whole, of the Amendment before the House. But before he read the words of the Chancellor of the Duchy he should like to dwell upon the conditions and the circumstances under which they were delivered, for those were hardly less significant than the declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman. He did not know whether the House recollected that they approached for the first time the 5th clause at half-past 12 o'clock on a Wednesday in June, and that at half-past 5 on that day notice was given of the first Closure Resolution. The first hour of that day—the 28th of June—was occupied in discussing an Amendment which the Government accepted, after challenging a Division, an action which the Opposition not uncharitably attributed to the fact that the Government were at that moment in a minority in the House. They then went on to consider an Amendment kindred to the one now before the House, but covering a wider field, which had been moved by the hon. Member for Preston. The hon. Member wished 983 that the Lord Lieutenant should act as the Representative of Her Majesty not only within the limited sphere contemplated by the Amendment of his noble Friend, but in all matters and at all times. That Amendment was debated practically the rest of the day, and was only rejected by a majority of 29. The smaller contention of his noble Friend did not, therefore, come before the Committee. His noble Friend was treading on virgin ground, and laying before the Government a proposal to which the Opposition, on the whole, attached the very greatest importance. It was upon the large Amendment of the hon. Member for Preston laying down that the Lord Lieutenant should at all times act as the Representative of Her Majesty that the Chancellor of the Duchy made a memorable speech—memorable for its length, which might, perhaps, be justly attributed to the same cause which led the Government to accept the previous Amendment rather than accept defeat in the Division Lobbies; memorable for its interesting view of the Constitutions of Germany, the United States, and our Colonies; but in connection with the Amendment before the House, the speech was, perhaps, most memorable because of its conclusion. This was it—We consider—and this is my concluding answer to one of the complaints of my right hon. Friend—that the Executive will be subjected within the sphere of its action to exactly the same restrictions as are by Clauses 3 and 4 imposed as respects legislation on the Irish Legislature.That was precisely the object aimed at by his noble Friend; and all he had to do, he thought, in order to gain its acceptance at the hands of the Government, was to show that the Amendment attained that object, and no more than that object. Perhaps before he argued in favour of that contention he might be allowed to suggest a very slight verbal alteration in the Amendment, to which his noble Friend did not object. It was to leave out the words "upon the advice of the Executive Committee, or." The Amendment would then run—The Lord Lieutenant shall not do or omit to do any act otherwise than as representing Her Majesty, &c.By leaving out the words he suggested all misconception would be avoided. Either these words had a definite Constitutional meaning, as argued by the 984 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir H. James)—that was to say, that if the Lord Lieutenant took the advice he must act upon it, or else call upon the Ministry to resign; and if the words bore that definite Constitutional meaning they were not needed there, because the phrase "as representing Her Majesty" covered the whole ground, by excluding the responsibility of the Irish Parliament, and substituting, in these particulars, the responsibility of the Imperial House of Commons. If, on the other hand, the opposite contention were true, that the phrase was a mere colloquial expression, and could be held to mean that the Lord Lieutenant would take counsel with his advisers in Ireland, then most certainly they would be mischievous. He chiefly wished to see the words eliminated because of the view taken yesterday by the Attorney General, who rightly said that it would be absurd to suppose that the Lord Lieutenant would act in a time of crisis without talking over the difficulty with the men best able to advise him on the state of Ireland. He should like to commend the Amendment to the examination of the Government in compartments. He did not think there should be any difficulty at all in accepting the Amendment down to the sub-section marked (a), which referred to matters excluded from the powers of the Irish Legislature under Clause 3. They had in favour of this part of the Amendment not only the support of the Chancellor of the Duchy, but the support in substance, if not in form, of the hon. Member for North Kerry.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
The hon. Member is altogether mistaken. I think it most inexpedient that the words should be inserted, because occasions may arise when the Imperial Government may think it well that the Lord Lieutenant should consult the Irish Government, and I said that the matter could be better dealt with in the instrument of delegation.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, that explanation showed that the hon. Member for North Kerry was in favour of the first part of the Amendment, as he had said, in substance if not in form. The hon. Member, whilst agreeing that in the matters excluded under Clause 3 the Lord 985 Lieutenant should act as the Representative of Her Majesty, held that it should be laid down, not in the Bill, but in the instrument of delegation. The hon. Member differed, therefore, only on the question of form. But he submitted that those safeguards had not been introduced into the Bill in order to calm the fears and lull the suspicious of the hon. Member for North Kerry. They had been put in in order to allay the just fears and the reasonable suspicions of the loyal minority in Ireland, and, so far as important matters were concerned, of the British people; and, that being so, he thought that upon a mere question of form the wishes of the loyal minority and of the British people were to be consulted in preference to the wishes of the hon. Member for North Kerry. But he was not content to rest his argument on a mere question of form. There was much more than form in this matter. They all knew that this Bill would not pass into law; but, having once received the assent of the House of Commons, it would become, as regarded the relations between England and Ireland, an historic document of importance only less to that of the Act of Union. There were many provisions in the Bill to which the minority in this country and the majority in Ireland objected; there were many provisions to which the majority in Ireland and the minority in this country objected; but there were some few provisions upon which they had arrived, on the whole, at the same conclusion. He laid it down with great confidence that in the future neither Party would ever accept less than they received in this Bill. Arguments would be founded on the concessions in the Bill both by Nationalists and Loyalists. If that were so, and as the Chancellor of the Duchy and the hon. Member for North Kerry were willing to concede the principle that in all the excluded matters in Clause 3 the Lord Lieutenant should act as the Representative of Her Majesty, he did not see how the Government could refuse to allow that principle being enshrined in the Bill. In the future, if they were not allowed to enshrine this principle in the Bill, it would be said that as between England and Ireland the Lord Lieutenant was not to act as the Representative of Her Majesty's Government in all matters enumerated in Clause 3, but as the Representative of the 986 Irish Legislature. He now came to the second compartment of the Amendment marked (b). In that paragraph his noble Friend extended the limitation upon Executive action to the matters under Clause 4. Again, he could call the Chancellor of the Duchy as his witness, for the application of the principle of the right hon. Gentleman to Clause 4 would mean that the Executive would under Clause 4 be subjected to the same restrictions as were imposed upon the Legislature. But that was not in the Bill, and the hon. Member for Kerry was anxious that it should never be put into the Bill.
§ MR. SEXTON
My argument was that, whilst all the laws under Clause 3 would be Imperial, all the laws under Clause 4 would be Irish laws, but that the Irish Legislature must observe certain provisions in passing them; and that, therefore, in regard to Executive action arising out of Clause 4 Irish advice was necessary.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, the hon. Member for North Kerry drew what he called a fundamental distinction between Clause 3 and Clause 4. Supposing the Government gave way on Clause 3, the hon. Member might object, but he would object not quite so much as were the Government to give way on Clause 4.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, that the hon. Member for North Kerry, dealing chiefly with the questions under Clause 4, drew a picture of an officer who trespassed within the powers under Clause 4 and was proceeded against. But any such officer would be no worse off than any other officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary under the 2nd sub-section of the 27th clause. Under Clause 27 the Lord Lieutenant would have control of the Constabulary, so long as the force existed, as the Representative of Her Majesty. The hon. Member for North Kerry had said that under Clause 4 there were not exceptions and restrictions, so much as principles which the law should not violate. He did not think that description was quite applicable to the policy of Clause 4. What principle was violated in establishing a religion or in endowing a denominational school? It was far more accurate to say that under Clause 4 legislation was not to pass certain 987 limits, and what his noble Friend urged on the acceptance of the House in the second part of the Amendment was that for any action outside those limits the Irish Executive should be responsible to this House, and not to the Irish House. Take some of the dangers guarded against by Clause 4—disabilities or privileges imposed on account of religious belief. Would anyone pretend that those dangers were not greater from Executive rather than from legislative action? The Opposition had been taunted with being distrustful and suspicious of the Irish House of Commons. But he, for one, would never believe that they would pass a law against Protestants. What was feared was that in the administration of the law men might be made to suffer, or might obtain benefits on account of religious beliefs. Was not that likely? Unless this Amendment were accepted the Lord Lieutenant would be the blind band and instrument of the Irish Legislature placed between the two alternatives of accepting their advice or accepting their resignation, and that was not a position in which they could fairly place the Lord Lieutenant. If they put the Lord Lieutenant in that position, it would be found before very long that disabilities would be imposed and benefits conferred on account of religious beliefs in Ireland. At any rate, it did not lie in the mouth of right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that this was unlikely. If they argued in the case of the Executive that those crimes and outrages were unlikely, then by that very argument they admitted that every outrage of tyranny and favouritism under the legislative province of the Bill was not only a possible but a probable consequence. If those dangers were unlikely, why, in Heaven's name, had they inserted Clauses 3 and 4? He believed the dangers were likely; but supposing they were fanciful and unfounded—mere phantoms bred in the horrors that haunted the gloom of a past religious and racial animosity. But the Government claimed to have redeemed and abolished that past by this policy of conciliation; and yet while endeavouring under Clauses 3 and 4 to allay that phantom, how could they object to insert provisions in the Bill against dangers much more substantial? He passed to the last compartment of his 988 noble Friend's Amendment, which laid down that it shouldBe unlawful for any Executive officer in Ireland, except by direction of the Lord Lieutenant representing Her Majesty, to do, or omit to do, any such act.He would leave the arguments on that clause to lawyers, who were more able to deal with it than he, though he thought it was easy to show the necessity of such a provision. He would point out that under the 27th clause any Constabulary officer who went outside the law was proceeded against in a Court of Law, whether he was acting by orders of the Lord Lieutenant or not; and all that the Amendment would provide was that any official whatever within the sphere of this restriction who injuriously affected or conduced to injury against one of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland should be amenable to the law just as a police constable was now. They were told by the Attorney General that the Lord Lieutenant must be allowed to have the advice of his Irish Ministers, and allowed to act with despatch. Both these advantages were left to the Lord Lieutenant under this Amendment. In times of crisis, or foreign invasion, or insurrection, or in any difficult problem arising out of the state of Ireland, he would act at once, should the necessity arise, on his own responsibility. If the Amendment were accepted in these matters alone, the Lord Lieutenant would be in the position of the Viceroy of India—that was to say, he would be responsible to and would be represented by a Minister in this House, and his action through that Minister would be open to their criticism. He would in the interest of the Amendment—to which they attached a great deal of importance—deprecate the attitude of suspicion so constantly taken up by the Government towards any suggestion coming from that (the Opposition) quarter of the House. They must surely by now be familiar with the aspect of their Amendments by the hundreds of them that had appeared, and yet they believed in every one of them there lurked some pitfall and some hidden trap. Whatever might be said of the merits or demerits of their opposition to this Bill, he thought they could not be accused of Machiavellian subtlety in their mode of attack, and least of all in the Amendment they were bringing for- 989 ward that afternoon, and yet the Government had to be soothed and coaxed like a shy horse before they could be induced to approach these subjects because of their suspicion and alarm. He could assure the Chief Secretary he would find in this Amendment no hidden trap, but merely a straightforward declaration of the principle already enunciated by the hon. Member for North Kerry and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
§ MR. W. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
desired to say a word upon this Amendment, because he could scarcely think it possible that the House would pass this 5th clause and deal with these enormous powers of the Executive without putting some sort of restriction upon the power of delegation and the powers which were thereby to be vested in the Irish Government. They had had various explanations as to what would be the effect of this Amendment. The Chief Secretary had given one to the effect that the Irish Government would be restricted in regard to the 3rd clause of it by the acceptance of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Preston. They had had another opinion from the Attorney General to the effect that the Lord Lieutenant might take the advice of the Irish Government upon these questions arising in Clauses 3 and 4, but that he would not be bound to act upon it. They had had an opinion from the hon. Member for North Kerry to the effect that the matters in Clause 3, being Imperial, would necessarily be outside the competence of the Irish Government, and they had the opinion of the Chancellor of the Duchy which had been read by the last speaker. He desired to point out that there was nothing in this Bill to justify any one of these opinions. Why? Because the House would perceive that the questions of the Executive which were to devolve upon the Irish Government were not laid down in this Bill at all, but were to be dealt with in a document not now before the House—namely, the instrument of delegation. It was the instrument of delegation which was to settle what were to be the powers of the Irish Executive. What was the House asked to do? The House was asked to give a letter of unlimited credit to the Government of the day in the framing of this instrument of delegation. They wore asked to give a blank cheque, for whatever was included in the instru- 990 ment of delegation would be in the competence of the Irish Government, including every one of the matters in Clause 3, though it was Imperial, and every one of the matters in Clause 4. The question arose, would the House allow the matter to be left in that way? He could recognise the difficulty of framing and putting into the Bill the powers that were to be given to the Irish Government. He did not envy the gentleman who had to frame the instrument of delegation, because it was extremely difficult to say what matters should be included. The noble Lord in his Amendment had taken the simpler and easier course of saying what should not be included; and although the Amendment had been subjected to rather severe criticism on the part of the Attorney General, if the Government were to put on the Paper the subjects on which the Irish Government were to have power, such a proposal would be subjected to far more severe criticism than the present Amendment. If the Government found fault with the Amendment as it was, why did they not bring up one themselves? What he wished the House to understand was this: that upon this 5th clause—which was the crux of the Bill, which was more important than all the restrictions in the 3rd and 4th clause upon the powers of the Legislature put together—the House was asked to vote in the dark, to give unlimited power to the Government, and to have no voice whatever in the document which would ultimately settle these matters. One point was pretty clear in reference to this instrument of delegation; and that was that whatever would be included in that delegation would pass to the Irish Government; therefore, he assumed there would be a distinction in these matters which had not yet been adverted to. The Lord Lieutenant was to possess a double capacity. In one capacity he would be the Representative, not the Delegate, of the Imperial Government; he would act on behalf of Her Majesty, not as the Delegate, but as the Representative of Her Majesty. He presumed that where the Lord Lieutenant was to act as an Imperial officer representing Her Majesty and the British Ministers he would do so by virtue of Letters Patent; but whatever was included in the instrument of delegation would certainly pass to the Irish Government. He was of 991 opinion that the instrument of delegation would not be, and ought not to be, a personal matter at all. The instrument of delegation should be to the Lord Lieutenant as such, and be permanent in effect, so that there need be no difficulty on emergencies arising. He considered that if the Government were not prepared to say what powers they were going to delegate they ought to consent to an Amendment such as this saying, at all events, what should not pass to the Irish Government.
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said, he might call attention again to a proposition which had been advanced more than once in reference to cognate questions, and that was that the method proposed by this Bill was a method which gave to this Parliament the greatest possible measure of power in respect of the subjects of the Amendment. It was a method which, by leaving the instrument of delegation to be prepared by the Government of this country—by the Imperial Government commanding the confidence of the people of this country, by the submission of that instrument to this Assembly, for its review, and its modification, to be moulded at its pleasure, not directly but indirectly through well-known methods by which the Imperial Parliament could exercise the supreme authority of advising as well as censuring—retained in their hands the greatest amount of power that they could possibly retain. The plan was advisable also, because it was not only in accordance with precedent, but was approved by experience. It was the method which they had adopted in the framing of other Constitutions; and they had acted upon that power which those Constitutions had given them, by, from time to time, moulding and changing the instrument of delegation, as experience indicated the advisability of such a change. If it was, as the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) had stated, the loyal minority and not the Nationalist majority that was to be consoled and fortified, whose nerves were to be strengthened and toned by the clauses that were to be put into the Bill, he maintained that the minority had a greater security under the system which confessedly left it in the hands of the Imperial Parliament to frame and mould, and alter the delegation from time to time, than they could obtain by any such effort 992 as was now being made in part and summarily to discharge a task which the hon. and learned Member for Harrow (Mr. Ambrose) rightly described as being an extremely difficult, and delicate, and complicated task. It was better to leave allat large, recognising—and that recognition was the only security for those of them who were to be almost excluded from the ultimate settlement of the question—recognising, as they had clearly recognised, the general principle upon which that delegation should be framed. That general principle unquestionably was that the Executive power should be commensurate with and complementary to the Legislative power in all matters in which they were conferring on the Irish Legislature legislative power, that they should make the Executive power efficient in purely Irish questions by permitting in those Executive action on the advice of those who were responsible to the Irish Legislature, while in all matters in which Imperial legislative power was retained they should retain the complementary and commensurate Executive power in their instrument of delegation by requiring that the Viceroy should act upon the instructions of the Imperial Government. If Irish Members spoke as they had spoken before, and as they would speak again should occasion require, of the views of the Irish Government being important views, they quite recognised the vital distinction between the technical phrase, advice, and the suggestion of those views, and so he would say with reference to the views of the Imperial Government. No lover of his country, no lover of the United Kingdom, no lover of Ireland, he thought, would omit for a moment from his mind the consideration that while it was vital on the one hand that the constitutional advice upon which action was to be taken should be the advice or instructions of the Imperial Government in Imperial affairs, and the advice of the Irish administration in Irish affairs, it was also most important, and they hoped and believed it would be the case, that due consideration would be given to all opinions, and that an effort would be made to rule both countries with the general consent, and to the common advantage of the people of both countries. He knew nothing more important to either au Irish or an Imperial Ministry than that they 993 should know informally what were the views of men who were responsible to the Irish people on all the questions which touched their interests as well as on Imperial interests. The utmost freedom of communication in that sense, the utmost facility for obtaining information, the freest use of those means, ought to be considered as one of the essential and elementary arts of Government; but consistently with that they should always recognise the fundamental Constitutional principle which he had advanced, that Executive action must be commensurate with and complementary to legislative power, and there a sharp line of distinction must be drawn. The general principle had been stated, but to enter fully into details was agreed to be impossible. The Amendment did not suggest that they should incorporate in the Bill a complete description of the whole delegation. Why, then, should they enter into it partially? Why not leave their hands absolutely free when they had an entire concurrence of opinion as to the general principle? Why not leave their hands perfectly free to apply that principle of the Bill, so that they might be able to mould and change the instrument of delegation from time to time as might be advisable? He should repeat what he had said before in the House—that if there were to be objection taken in any quarter of the House to the plan, he knew no quarter where it might be more reasonably taken than from the Irish Benches, because this power was to be exorcised by the Imperial Government upon the responsibility of the Imperial Parliament, in which, out of 670 Members, Ireland would have only 80. But they did not object, for the reason that they believed in the equity and justice of the Imperial Parliament as to the method they would adopt in executing the provisions of this Act when once it had become law. They believed it would be carried out according to its spirit, and, so carrying it out, they (the Irish Members) were ready to trust them. The hon. Member for Harrow (Mr. Ambrose) said that while the instrument of delegation would be very difficult to draw up in full, yet it was very easy to draw it in part; and the hon. Member proposed that it should be, in fact, drawn in part by clauses in the Bill. But this was indefensible. The hon. Member went on to say that all the powers 994 contained in the instrument of delegation would be powers to be exercised on the advice of the Irish Government. He wholly differed from him. Clause 5 contemplated, and necessarily contemplated, an entirely different state of things. The whole Executive power in Ireland was to continue vested in Her Majesty the Queen; and whatever was done was to be done in her name, and the Lord Lieutenant was to exercise any prerogative or other Executive power of the Queen, the exercise of which might be delegated to him by Her Majesty. It was recognised as quite competent, and it would also be convenient, to delegate to a person on the spot some prerogatives of an Imperial character, and to delegate their exercise on Imperial instructions, or upon Imperial advice generally or specially. Therefore, this instrument of delegation must do what was done under other instruments of delegation. There might be two instruments if they pleased; but one, or more than one, must deal with prerogative or Executive powers, some of which the Lord Lieutenant should exercise upon Imperial instructions, and others of which he should exercise upon Irish advice. If he thought that this matter could be satisfactorily dealt with by any clause which could be put into the Bill at that or any other stage, he should feel no insuperable difficulty in attempting its consideration; but surely when they were told that there were a vast number of important matters, some absolutely new and untouched, which required to be dealt with, to propose to take up time in a discussion as to whether a provision should be inserted in respect of a matter which it was clear that they were keeping ample power to frame and mould according to their own will, was clearly to be described as nothing but a waste of time. The hon. Member for Harrow had suggested that the Government themselves should frame an Amendment. He not think the experience of the Treasury Bench with reference to the reception of Amendments which they had framed to meet the wishes of hon. Gentlemen opposite was at all calculated to induce them to again accept that task, particularly when they wore of opinion that no Amendment at all was required, and that the method they had adopted was the best. As to the first part of the Amendment, it was already absolutely clear that 995 the advice or instruction must be Imperial advice or instruction. As to the second part of it, the subjects in respect of which there were instructions were obviously Irish subjects. No Act, however, could be passed by the Irish Legislature which should infringe the protection referred to in the clause; and if any Act was passed which did infringe that protection, it would, of course, be so far as void as an Act infringing the provisions of the first part. The question whether an Act was void or not was properly left to the judicial power, and the question whether Executive action was sound or unsound would depend upon the question of the validity of the Act itself. But to say that any condition whereby any person should be injuriously affected in respect of matters in which he was protected was to be dealt with by the Viceroy only upon Imperial advice was to suggest what was an impossibility in the first place, because if the proposed Executive action was under a void law he could not perform it validly. If, however, they got over that position, they were landed in this one—Who was to decide whether the action was in truth one whereby a person or Corporation would be injuriously affected? Was the Lord Lieutenant to decide the question upon his own individual opinion, or, if not, upon whose opinion was he to act? They had the preliminary question, was any person injuriously affected? The advice given to the Lord Lieutenant would be given on the theory that the legislative Act was valid, and, therefore, it would be given on the theory that the whole matter was within the purview of the Irish Legislature, and who was to determine whether it was or was not? The Courts, and the Courts alone, could determine that. As to the remaining provision, which made it unlawful for any Executive officer to act save under certain conditions, was every officer, from a bailiff upwards, to decide for himself whether any Act of the Irish Legislature affected any person injuriously, and whether he himself could act lawfully under such Act or not? Was every such officer to find out for himself by which branch of his authority the Viceroy ordered him to act? Was he to refuse obedience, instead of obeying, and trusting to his superior to protect him? Really, it seemed to him that the Amendment was inartistically and 996 inadequately drawn, and was calculated to produce insurmountable confusion and to obscure the application of a plain, clear, and fundamental principle which the House, by the Bill as it stood, retained and maintained practically in its own hands.
§ MR. MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)
I did not gather from the only speech we have heard from the Treasury Bench that the Government dissent from the principle of the Amendment. The principle of the Amendment is simply this: that the Irish Ministry ought not to be allowed to do by Executive action that which the Irish Legislature is forbidden to do by legislative action. As the Bill stands, it is perfectly clear, in my opinion, that the Irish Ministry will be able to do many of those things which the Irish Legislature is forbidden to do. I do not wish to take up time at any length, and I will cite two or three instances only as examples. You have, for instance, prohibited the Irish Legislature from making any law about treason-felony. I suppose there can be no question whatever that the Lord Lieutenant, whatever the form of the delegation, will have the prerogative of mercy entrusted to his exercise. As the Bill stands, you provide for a Privy Council and Executive Committee in the Government of Ireland. This Body is to advise the Lord Lieutenant, and, in the case of treason-felony, they may advise him to grant a pardon. That would practically be repealing the law of treason-felony just as if the Irish Legislature were to pass a repealing Act. What definition, therefore, are we to have—
§ *THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. Russell, Hackney, S.)
said, the definition was contained in the Bill.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
What definition are we to have of the manner in which the Lord Lieutenant must exercise his prerogative? I think it is clear that the Lord Lieutenant must follow the advice of his Constitutional Ministers, or dismiss them. The Home Secretary advises Her Majesty now. If Her Majesty could not agree with the advice of the Home Secretary I should like to know how long he would feel himself bound to hold that office. If his advice were not followed he would have no alternative but to resign. If the Lord Lieutenant objects in Ireland, or does not feel dis- 997 posed to act on the advice of his Irish advisers, difficulties may arise, and what is then to become of the enforcement of the law of treason-felony? Another example: The Legislature is prohibited from passing a law regarding the country's relations with Foreign States. But what is to prevent the Irish Executive from advising the Lord Lieutenant to send an Envoy to France or to Rome? And the result of Executive action would be the same as if a law to the same effect had been passed. Again, the Legislature is forbidden to pass a law constituting Associations for learning and practising use of arms or of drilling for military purposes. But the Executive can permit, connive at, and encourage such Associations. Only one other example from Clause 4. The Legislature is prohibited from passing any law which would deny the equal protection of the law to any subject. But do you think the Lord Lieutenant may not be advised by the Irish Executive not to give police protection to the bailiff levying a distraint, or to the Sheriff executing a decree of ejectment? That would have just the same effect as if they were at liberty to pass a law for the nonpayment of rent. It is manifest that under Clauses 3 and 4 there might be Executive action by the Irish Ministers by which the same results might be effected as by the laws which the Irish Legislature are forbidden to pass. The Attorney General says that the instrument of delegation will put all this right. I say that is a totally impracticable and false theory. I have submitted the example of a case of treason-felony. Is the delegation to say that the prerogative of mercy is delegated to the Lord Lieutenant, except in cases of treason and treason-felony? The result of that would be that the prerogative of mercy in Ireland would be exercised by the English Home Secretary, and, to quote the phrase that we have heard from those (the Government) Benches, the law would then "come in a foreign garb." In that case two distinct Executives would be established in Ireland; and it would be necessary to insert provisions in the Bill to compel the Governors of gaols, Commissioners of Police, and authorities of every sort in Ireland to obey the orders of the English Home Secretary. You are at present having a limited delegation, and a limited delegation means that the Lord Lieutenant is 998 absolutely void of Executive power on the prohibited subjects. The void must be filled by someone, and that someone would be the Home Secretary in England. Such an instrument is positively impossible It is an impracticable system. In practice every Executive act in Ireland must, perforce, be performed through the Lord Lieutenant; and the practical question raised by the Amendment is—"Who shall direct the Lord Lieutenant"? By doing as I have said you set up two distinct Executives. The question is, Who shall direct the Lord Lieutenant. He is the Representative of the Queen in Ireland, and he must be advised in these matters. We suggest that upon matters purely Irish the Lord Lieutenant should act upon the advice of the Irish Ministry, and upon the matters reserved by the Bill he should act on the advice of the Imperial Ministry. Surely, you are not seriously going to ask that the Home Secretary should be consulted in all cases—such questions as the control of the Constabulary, and many others? Although we have the greatest confidence in the intention of the Government with regard to the delegation, the House can have no assurance, unless by a provision inserted in the Bill, as to what will be the conduct of future Governments in drawing up delegations. You do not know what inclination future Governments may have, or what influence Party interests may have, upon the decision of the moment. It seems to me obvious that, in laying down the outline of this new Constitution, you should impose some restriction upon the Irish Executive just as you do on the Irish Legislature. If you do not intend that the Irish Executive should do those things which the Irish Legislature is forbidden to do, why not make it plain? Why relegate it to the delegation, the limitation of which must be practically impossible, and must result in the establishment of two Executives side by side—one of them English, and the other Irish? The Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) has declared in the course of the Debates that the Government are anxious that the Executive in Ireland should be subject to the same restrictions as the Legislature. That being so, I claim his vote for this Amendment. This is simply a difference in words; the proposal is 999 exactly what he expressed in that passage of his speech on the subject. All the practical Executive functions of the Government must be delegated; and the only effective limitation is to repeat Clauses 3 and 4 in the instrument. I think the reasons are conclusive in favour of the Amendment. I should be quite prepared to see it modified, and I would not object to striking out the last paragraph, as referring only to matters of detail, but otherwise I think it meets the case.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (Mr. BRYCE, Aberdeen, S.)
Sir, the Debate has contributed no argument to shake the opinion to which the Government gave expression yesterday through the mouth of the Attorney General. The Attorney General put the reasons of the Government for objecting to the Amendment quite clearly and sufficiently for all purposes, and nothing has been said to make us vary from the opinions then expressed. The Amendment consists of three parts, and in this case, as in most others, directly the Amendment was introduced an apology was made for some part of it. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say—"We like the general principle; let the Government select their own words." I do not say that for the purpose of taunting the Opposition, but for the sake of pointing to it as evidence of the supreme difficulty of the questions with which the Opposition attempt to deal. With all their talent, they cannot put their Amendments into a satisfactory shape, because what they endeavour to effect often cannot, consistently with the scheme of the Bill, be effected. I want to deal with the three questions which they raise by this Amendment. In this case gentlemen opposite have, I think, sufficient legal talent at their command to enable them to know that they are attempting to do things which cannot be done, and to introduce matters which are incompatible with the principle of the Bill and which would render it unworkable. The Government, in opposing such Amendments as this, are bound to point out that the evident intention of the Opposition, and of the whole policy they have pursued, and have, indeed, more than once candidly avowed, has been to endeavour to make the Bill unworkable. All the Amendments have tended to the same object. The 1000 Amendments have been based upon the supposition that the House cannot rely upon broad principles, but must enter into a vast number of details which, when put into the form of provisions, would be found to be impracticable, and which would destroy the Bill itself. The Amendment, as I have said, consists of three parts. I come to the first part. The hon. Member for Dover has been good enough to quote some words of mine, and my views have also been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. To those words I fully adhere. Sir, it has always been the view of the Government, and it has always been so expressed by them, that the Lord Lieutenant should act upon the advice of the Imperial Government in Imperial matters, and that the same restrictions should apply to the acts of the Irish Executive as apply to those of the Irish Legislature.
§ *MR. BRYCE
Then the hon. Member for Dover asks why we do not accept the Amendment? We do not do so for the reason that, in our opinion, the principle of the Amendment—I speak of the first part of it—is already sufficiently contained in the Bill.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The Member for North Kerry has said the matter should be in the instrument of delegation and not in the Bill.
§ *MR. BRYCE
The hon. Member for North Kerry put the same construction on the Amendment as I have done.
§ *MR. BRYCE
I will come to that. I am dealing now with the first part of the Amendment. With regard to what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Matthews), I would remind him we laid it down in Committee that the Lord Lieutenant, in the Imperial matters reserved by Clause 3, would take his instructions from the Imperial Government and would be responsible to the Imperial Government for any act he might do; and the whole question of the way in which the Imperial Government should deal with them, and of the relations that would exist, was very fully discussed. The right hon. Gentleman puts a case of conviction for treason-felony, and he asks how the Lord Lieutenant is to exercise his prerogative in a case of that kind. It is quite clear to me, and I hope also to the House, that 1001 the Lord Lieutenant in Imperial matters will take his advice solely from the Imperial Government. No instrument of delegation would be drawn so to run counter to the scope and provisions of the Bill as not to indicate in accordance with the scheme the functions of the Lord Lieutenant as regards Irish matters and as regards Imperial matters. It will do so, because it will obviously be in accordance with the frame and purport of the Bill. The Imperial matters mentioned in Clause 3 are matters in which he will take his advice from the Imperial Government; and whether he consults the Irish Executive or not, whether he gives them an opportunity of expressing their opinion, he will act on the advice given by the Imperial Government, and that only.
§ *MR. BRYCE
It would be more convenient, perhaps, if the right hon. Gentleman would let me finish my argument, and I will then answer his question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Matthews) next dealt with the Imperial question as to sending Envoys to Foreign Rowers. It is absolutely impossible that an attempt should be made to send Envoys without the intervention of the Lord Lieutenant, who could not sanction any such action. But the sending of Envoys has not been tried in the past—you cannot find an instance of an attempt to do it in the Irish history of last century. The right hon. Gentleman went on to speak of the function of the instrument of delegation. That function will be clear, and will doubtless cover this case, defining, in accordance with the provisions of Clause 3, which in our view are perfectly explicit, any point in which the Lord Lieutenant may be concerned. There is only one remaining point that the right hon. Gentleman dilated upon—namely, the possibility of setting up a double Executive in Ireland, and he said we would avoid that by accepting the Amendment. But the very thing the Amendment itself does is to set up a double Executive in Ireland. It has no other meaning. We distinguish very clearly between the Lord Lieutenant's position as the Queen's Representative and Imperial Minister and his position as the head of the Irish Executive advised by the Irish Ministry.
§ *Mr. BRYCE
The Leader of the Opposition says—"Why not accept the Amendment?" We do not think it is necessary to put it in the Bill, because the Bill already indicates with sufficient clearness what the duty of the Lord Lieutenant will be, and lays down a principle to which the instrument of delegation must conform. We think it has been universally understood in every part of the House that the restrictions under Clauses 3 and 4 have been imposed with this object—of making clear the duties of the Executive and the Legislature; and it is impossible to suppose that matters will be otherwise than provided for, because you give the Irish Ministers the power to state their opinion on matters with which the Legislature has nothing to do. The Irish Ministers will only speak for their own Legislature. Their weight as counsellors depends upon the fact that they have the confidence of, and speak for, that Legislature. Beyond its province they are not entitled to go. How, then, would it be possible for them to authoritatively advise the Lord Lieutenant regarding Imperial affairs which are excluded from the purview of the Irish Legislature? The only weight that their opinion would have would be based upon the fact that they were the Representatives of the Irish Legislature, as far as concerned such matters as that Legislature were competent to deal with, and no Lord Lieutenant would accept their opinion upon matters outside the restrictions imposed upon that Legislature. I, therefore, see no reason why we should accept the Amendment. The hon. Member for Dover spoke of the way in which the Government treat those who bring forward Amendments—of our being suspicious. But, Sir, I would remind the House that we have had considerable experience of these Amendments, and on nearly every occasion when we have admitted an Amendment—purely for the sake of peace and of saving time—an Amendment, it might be, which, to our own judgment, might not be necessary—we have found that such a concession was made the basis for other Amendments being moved. We rely in this instance upon a broad and clear principle, and we do not think it is necessary to restate a point for which we consider that the Bill 1003 already provides. Now I come to the second and third part of the Amendment. The second part of the Amendment is doubly objectionable. In the first place, it provides that theLord Lieutenant shall not do or omit to do any act upon the advice of the Executive Committee, or until he has received Her Majesty's instructions thereupon, or otherwise than as representing Her Majesty, … where any person or Corporation would be injuriously affected in respect of any of the masters in which they are protected as against legislation by the Irish Legislature under Section 4 of this Act.But, Sir, we cannot contemplate the Lord Lieutenant, as representing Her Majesty, doing wrong—that is, transgressing the restrictions imposed in Clause 4. He is to be in Ireland as representing Her Majesty to do right, not wrong. Moreover, it is perfectly plain that if a law were passed transgressing the provisions of Clause 4 of the Bill it would be a law passed by the Irish Legislature, with regard to matters which were not excluded from the general sphere of domestic legislation. The law would be invalid so far as it transgressed the restrictions of Clause 4, but it would have nothing to do with the Lord Lieutenant in his Imperial capacity, and it would not help matters to bring him in in that capacity. Then I come to the last part of the Amendment. The same objection applies to it, with this addition: that it would throw an impossible duty on subordinate officers, and it would render the government of Ireland entirely impracticable. Before I sit down I may mention for the information of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Birmingham that the very case he mentioned as regards pardons has arisen in some of our Colonies, and the directions given to the Colonial Governors are that where a prisoner has been convicted for an offence against Imperial law, or for a matter involving Imperial acts, the Governor is not to be guided by his Colonial Ministry, but is to act upon his own discretion, consulting, if he pleases, the Secretary of State at home.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not propose to reply to that part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in which he denounced the Opposition for being prepared after debate to modify the Amendments they put upon the Paper. The right hon. Gentleman is very anxious that he and his friends should be judged 1004 by the general principles laid down in the Bill. I claim that the Opposition also shall be judged by that canon—that is to say, by the general principles laid down in their Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman is entirely in error in supposing that the Opposition think Sub-section (b) to be of less importance than Subsection (a). If (b) is less important from an Imperial point of view it is far more important, so far as the loyal minority in Ireland are concerned. I shall, therefore, support (b) as heartily as I shall support (a). We are in a very curious position. The Government allege that they approve of both sub-sections, and the hon. Member for Kerry says that he approves of Sub-section (a) but does not approve of Sub-section (b).
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he did not approve of stating it in the Bill. It ought to be done in the instrument of delegation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understood his position was that he did not want this Amendment embodied in the Act. He did not object to Sub-section (a) being embodied, but he did not wish (b) to be. Therefore we have it that the Government approves of both subsections. ["No!"]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then I would ask them the plain question whether they think that the Lord Lieutenant, in regard to matters dealt with in Sub-section 4, is to act on the advice of Irish or of British Ministers?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That is no answer. I am talking about Executive acts. It is not a question of breaking the law. One of the provisions of Subsection 4 lays down that no Act shall be passed which would prevent the Conscience Clause being enforced in any school in Ireland. At present educational matters in Ireland are under the Educational Board, and it is in the power of that Board, with the consent of the Lord Lieutenant, to abolish the Conscience Clause in any school. No Act is required.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And, in face of that, the Chancellor of the Duchy can only interject that the Lord Lieutenant is not to break the law. Will the right 1005 hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy have the courage to say that after this Bill passed it would be impossible to abolish the Conscience Clause in Ireland, and thereby injure any Corporation or individual intended to be protected by Clause 4 without breaking the law? I put it to him, would it be breaking the law to abolish the Conscience Clause? It is obvious that it would not, and that in some way or other, either by delegation or by Bill, you must prevent the Lord Lieutenant from dealing with educational matters on the advice of the Irish Ministers.
§ *MR. BRYCE
My lion, and learned Friends the Attorney General and the Solicitor General are of opinion that it would be unlawful to abolish the Conscience Clause.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then let them get up and prove it. It would be more instructive to hear their legal acumen exercised in supporting that proposition in Debate than to have the statement merely thrown across the Table. I do not gather that the legal luminaries to whom the right hon. Gentleman has referred have yet ventured to do more than to say that they think it would be illegal. When they reach a more certain frame of mind perhaps they—or, at any rate, one of them—will make a statement on the matter. If they do not reach a more certain frame of mind, perhaps they will put words into the clause to put the thing beyond doubt. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy oscillated between two inconsistent theories; in one half of his speech he said the whole matter was to be done by delegation; in the other he stated that it was provided for in the Bill as it stands. And when I asked—"Where is it provided for in the Bill?" he said, "In the framework of the Bill." Well, we asked—" What is the framework of the Bill?" but to that question we got no trace of an answer. I know what the clauses, and the sub-sections, and the Preamble of a Bill are, but I do not know what the framework is. When a Judge is asked to interpret the framework of a Bill, what does he do? I should think he does what we do— namely, ask the learned counsel what clause, and sub-section, and definite statement in the Bill carries out his declaration. I say we have asked what is 1006 meant, and have received no trace of an answer. To be told by the same Minister in the same speech, in the first place, that the thing cannot be done; in the second place, that it is done; and, in the third place, that though it is not done in the Bill it ought to be done in the delegation, is placing before us a mass of inconsistencies which are difficult to swallow. If these inconsistencies were to be expressed they ought at least to have been put into the mouths of different Ministers, and not to have all come from one. Then as to the answer which it was attempted to give to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Matthews) with regard to the objection he raised in reference to the double Executive in Ireland. My right hon. Friend said—"If you are going by your instrument of delegation to except from the powers of the Lord Lieutenant certain spheres of action, those spheres will be left empty, and the vacuum must be filled up by some Executive authority, which by a natural process will be the English Ministry—probably the Home Secretary—and this will have the effect of setting up a double Executive." But the Chancellor of the Duchy says that there is no force in that objection, for that is already done in the Bill. Let me grant that that is so, and that this unfortunate Lord Lieutenant is to carry out a double Executive function. You have only got to alter the form in which the right hon. Gentleman's argument is put, and you can say that under the plan of the Government there will be three Executives in Ireland. In some cases the Lord Lieutenant will act as advised by Her Majesty, in others as advised by his Irish Government, and in a third set of cases he will not act at all, but the whole matter will be done by the Home Secretary. I listened most carefully to the speech of the Attorney General yesterday and to the Chancellor of the Duchy this evening, and was at a loss to understand why the Government are so obstinately set upon refusing this Amendment. If it is impossible to put in the Bill words that will prevent the Lord Lieutenant in his Executive capacity dealing with things forbidden to the Legislature in Ireland, I say it will be impossible under the system of delegation. Even if there were no other argument against leaving this to the delegation, the argument would remain absolutely 1007 conclusive that we wish to lay down in permanent and unalterable terms the limitations and protections which we give to the minority in Ireland and to Imperial interests. Your proposal is in favour of leaving it open to every Government that sends a delegation to put the question in what form it likes, to accept what it pleases, and to protect whom it chooses. We therefore say that inasmuch as it is certain that limitations on the Executive are as necessary in these great objects as on legislation, it is necessary to see that the limitations are embodied in a permanent form in the Bill itself, and not left to the haphazard policy of successive Governments.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, he agreed in principle, as he thought they all did, with the Chancellor of the Duchy and the hon. Member for Longford opposite, that the limits of the action of the Executive Authority ought to be strictly conterminous with the limits of the action of the Legislature. If they were agreed in that, the question really resolved itself into this: Was it well that the equality of the action of the Legislature and of the Executive should be expressed in the Bill, or ought the limits of Executive action to be reserved to be expressed in the delegation by which certain prerogatives were conferred on the Lord Lieutenant? The arguments that had been used in favour of not expressing the Executive action of the Act appeared to be these: they could get more elasticity in the delegation—they could learn by experience, and, where necessary, modify the terms. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy had said—"You would have more flexibility in the matter of the delegation." Well, these things might be looked on by some people as merits, but in the eyes of the Opposition they were faults. If the delegation were to be conterminous with legislative authority, what ground was there for having any elasticity? They did not intend to limit the action of the Executive within the limits of the Legislative Authority; they did not intend to go beyond them. It was intended to make them conterminous—simple words would make them so—and if that was the principle to be adopted why should it not be expressed in words instead of allowing an ambiguity to exist? Were they afraid to make it more clear? Were 1008 they afraid to make the matter independent of the varying opinions of successive Ministries? The Opposition did not want to allow successive Ministries to exercise the elasticity—now withdrawing and now extending powers. They wanted the Lord Lieutenant to be informed strictly what he could do and in what capacity he could do it, so that he could never be at a loss, when circumstances arose, to know what was his duty, and what was the course of action he would pursue. In Canada, in the remarkable case of the half-breed Riel, the sentence was carried out upon the responsibility and the advice given by Sir John Macdonald. He accepted all the responsibility.
§ An hon. MEMBER: We are agreed on that.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he wanted to make the matter plain and not leave it obscure. They wanted to put into the Act that which the Government said was involved in it, and that which they said was their principle—namely, that the local Ministry would have no responsibility, because Executive functions were not to transcend the limits of legislative action in Ireland, and the Legislature would have nothing to do with treason. In receiving an address from the Legislature on such a subject as reciprocity or the abolition of the Most Favoured Nation Clause and passing it on to the Imperial Government, the Lord Lieutenant would be acting simply as the Representative of Her Majesty, and it was desired that that should be made plain and not be left ambiguous in the Bill. They wanted to prevent the possibility of error. The hon. Gentleman opposite, and, he was afraid, Her Majesty's Government, went a little' too far in their estimate of the wisdom and Constitutional knowledge of all Imperial Ministers. In a former branch of this discussion he had referred to a case that happened not very long ago. There was a great Ministerial crisis in one of our Australian Colonies-The Governor was pressed by his Ministers to take certain action; and, being uncertain as to whether that action was 1009 within the scope of his authority, he telegraphed for instructions to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who responded—"Consult your Constitutional authorities." The very question which perplexed him was whether it was or was not his duty to consult his advisers, and he was told to consult them upon the question whether he should consult them. That had happened to a distinguished Minister in quite recent times. It might happen again. They now had the opportunity of preventing it in the case of Ireland, and they should avail themselves of that opportunity. Yesterday the Government had accepted a proviso which was really an abandonment of the position they now seemed desirous to maintain.
§ MR. BYRNE
said, it seemed to him that the matter stood thus: This Bill would exempt certain subjects from the Irish Legislature, but it was argued on the part of the Government that the Irish Executive could act in respect of matters excluded from the powers of the Legislature. He should have thought himself that that, to say the least of it, was a doubtful position. He was afraid, however, that they must accept it as the view of the Government, after the statement of the Chancellor of the Duchy with, no doubt, the concurrence of the Law Officers of the Crown. The last Amendment, it was said, was unnecessary, but it had been accepted by right hon. Gentlemen opposite; and having, therefore, adopted a certain subject for the purpose of excluding it from the enumerated subjects, the maxim must apply—inclusio unius est exclusio alterius.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, the Charter of national education allowed the Education Board in Ireland to alter the fundamental principle of the national system of education, with the consent of the Lord Lieutenant. In what capacity and on whose advice would the Lord Lieutenant act either in giving or withholding his assent to the abolition of the Conscience Clause? That question had been asked by his right hon. Friend, and the Government had not thought it necessary to reply; but the question was important, and they ought to have an answer.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, the Chancellor of the Duchy had replied to the question, but he (Mr. Morley) was quite willing to 1010 repeat the answer. The hon. Gentleman assumed that the National Board would go to the Lord Lieutenant and say that —" We propose to do away with the Conscience Clause." What did that clause affect, and what was it affected by —a grant of public money? That money was granted by the Appropriation Act to schools on the hypothesis that they would have a Conscience Clause, and it was suggested that in future the money might be granted on the understanding that there should be no Conscience Clause. Uuder the 4th subsection of this Bill such a proceeding on the part of the National Board would be invalid, and the Lord Lieutenant could not assent to any such act.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: — Ayes 146; Noes 200.—(Division List, No. 279.)
§ MR. H. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
moved to add, at the end of line 38, Clause 5—Such Committee is in this Act referred to as the Irish Government.He said, the Amendment was consequential on a new clause which had been accepted by the Government. No doubt it would be said that the subject should be dealt with in the Definition Clause; but he was afraid the clause would not be reached in time to be dealt with by a private Member. If the Government would undertake to deal with it in the Definition Clause he should be perfectly satisfied.
In page 3, line 38, to insert, at the end of the last Amendment, the words "such Committee is in this Act referred to as the Irish Government."—(Mr. H. Hobhouse.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. RUSSELL,) Hackney, S.
said, he thought the statement in the Amendment was inaccurate. The Committee referred to in the clause was the Cabinet, and the Cabinet was not the Government, but only part of the Government.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
pointed out that many of the references in the Bill to the Irish Government referred to a more extensive Body than the Executive Committee.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
agreed that it would be inconvenient to accept the Amendment as it Stood, but urged that some definition of the "Irish Government" referred to in the new clause was needed.
MR. J. MORLEY
I will look into the matter in the course of the evening, and if I agree with my right hon. Friend (Mr. Courtney), I will put a provision into the Definition Clause.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
moved to insert—Clause 5, page 3, line 38, at the end: "Provided always, that there shall be a Secretary for Ireland holding office in the Imperial Ministry, and who may be a Member of either House of Parliament.He said, that the somewhat similar Amendment moved in Committee differed in some respects from the present proposal. He believed the former Amendment stipulated that the Secretary for Ireland should be a Member of the Executive Committee, and since it was moved the matters reserved to the Imperial Parliament had been largely increased in number, while it had been finally settled that 80 Irish Members should remain in the Imperial Parliament. In introducing the Amendment he was simply endeavouring to enable the new Irish Constitution to be worked as every other Constitution in the Empire was worked. There was in the Imperial Parliament a Secretary representing India, although that country contributed nothing towards the expense of the India Office; there was a Secretary for the Colonies, although those Colonies were to a large extent independent, and had hitherto been Secretaries both for Ireland and Scotland. The theory that had been put forward by the Government was that Imperial matters in Ireland would practically be under the control and responsibility of the particular Ministers in charge of the particular Department affected, and that for Irish matters no special Minister was required. Although the Imperial Parliament was to retain its supremacy over all Irish matters, and was to be able to legislate in all matters relating to Ireland, and although there would be very nice 1012 and delicate matters connected with the limits of the respective authorities of the two Parliaments, the Government did not think it necessary to have a special Minister to deal with these questions. It seemed to be the idea in the mind of the Government that the Home Secretary would deal with them. The Home Secretary was already one of the hardest worked of our Ministers, and he had about the least to do with Ireland of any Minister. The Chief Secretary had said that under the old system the Home Secretary was the Irish Minister. Under Grattan's Parliament, however, the Executive was an English Executive, whilst under this Bill the Executive was to be under the control of the Irish Parliament. The Departmental Ministers who, according to the theory of the Government, were to be responsible for Departmental work in Ireland would not, as a matter of fact, be responsible for it. Could it be said that the English Education Minister would be responsible for all the difficult questions connected with education that would arise in Ireland? Would the English Attorney General be responsible for prosecutions for treason in Ireland? Would the Home Secretary be responsible for the control of the Irish Constabulary? Then there was the Land Question, and another question which the Prime Minister said the other day the House of Commons ought to maintain a lively observation of—the appointment of Land Commissioners.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, in that case he did not see who was to maintain the lively observation. [An hon. MEMBER: Parliament!] If the Prime Minister meant Parliament, he thought it was hardly worthy of the right hon. Gentleman to draw such a fine distinction. Was the Minister for Agriculture to be responsible for matters connected with land in Ireland? They knew that he was nothing of the sort. Therefore they wanted a Minister for Ireland who would be responsible to the House of Commons for matters which did not fall under the cognisance of any Departmental Minister in England. There was abundance of work for such a Minister, and work which would never be properly done if it were left to the Home Secretary, who was already overburdened. They had 1013 got a Secretary for Scotland, whose work was not near so heavy and responsible as the work of a Secretary for Ireland would be, and they had a Secretary for the Colonies, who, though he had very little to do with the Colonies, was the symbol of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. If Irish Members were willing to have a Minister for Ireland retained in the House as a symbol of Imperial supremacy, just as the Colonies were willing that there should be a Colonial Minister in Parliament, he thought the Government would, no doubt, be willing to appoint such a Minister. But nothing of the sort was done by the Government, and he fancied that their Irish allies would not allow them to do it. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), when the matter was raised in Committee, said, as to who was to be responsible, that it was a question of detail with which the Committee need not concern itself. On the contrary, it was a very important question—the question as to who was to be the Minister responsible for Ireland to the Imperial Parliament— and one which Parliament ought to discuss. This curious principle, enunciated by the hon. Member for North Kerry, had practically been accepted by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Chief Secretary said, in reply to a question put by the right hon. and learned Member for Bury, that the Home Secretary would be responsible for what was done in Ireland "as far as this House could be cognisant of it." That was a strange observation of the right hon. Gentleman, for as long as the Imperial supremacy was retained this House ought to be cognisant of everything in Ireland. The right hon. and learned Member for Bury asked whether the Home Secretary would be responsible for the advice given to the Lord Lieutenant, and the answer was—" Certainly not for the advice given, but for the action taken." That was a most unconstitutional doctrine. Then the Chief Secretary was asked who would be responsible for the advice, and according to The Times' report the only reply given was this— "Mr. Morley shrugged his shoulders." That was not a sufficient answer to give to a question of such importance. Hero they had the Chief Secretary for Ireland shrugging his shoulders and unable to tell them who would be responsible for the advice given to the Lord Lieutenant 1014 under Home Rule. If the Home Secretary was not to be responsible for the advice given to the Lord Lieutenant, it was high time to have a Minister who would be responsible. Ireland had at present its separate responsible Minister for each Department of Irish work, and its Lord Lieutenant acting as a Constitutional Monarch. He asked that that state of things should continue under Home Rule. He asked that they should have in this Imperial Parliament under Home Rule a separate responsible Minister for Ireland, as they had for Scotland and for the Colonies, and that that Minister should be responsible to them as the Irish Ministers would be responsible to the Irish Legislature. Surely this proposal was only carrying out the Constitutional practice. Why should they have this difference between the state of things which existed now when they had a Minister for Ireland and the state of things which would come into existence if the Bill was passed? There was no real reason for it. Why should there be this objection to appointing a British Minister who would be responsible for affairs in Ireland? At present the President of the Board of Trade had charge of Irish lighthouses, beacons, buoys, &c, and he would continue to be responsible for all those Irish matters in the future as in the past. The President of the Board of Trade was a responsible Minister in every sense of the word; but directly they got away from the Departmental subjects the Government proposed that the Home Secretary should look after the more general affairs in Ireland, but that he should not be responsible for the advice given. That would be a gross anomaly. They would have two sets of Ministers under the Home Rule Bill—one set responsible to the House, and another set not responsible to the House. There would be a great distinction between the Home Secretary in his different functions; because, as a Departmental Minister, he would be responsible for the Constabulary in Ireland just as he was responsible for the Police in Loudon; but for all other matters in Ireland which generally fell strictly within his Department as Home Secretary he would have no responsibility at all. Those were very absurd restrictions, and the only way to get rid of that absurdity was to have in the future, as in the past, a Minister for Ireland who 1015 would be responsible for all those matters. He was not asking for anything unusual. He was simply asking that they should have a Minister who, by his very name, should be the symbol of the Imperial supremacy in Ireland, in the same sense as the Secretary for the Colonies was the symbol of the Imperial supremacy in the Colonies; and that they should adopt in regard to Ireland the same practice which was adopted in regard to every other portion of the British Empire— namely, that there should be a Minister in this House distinctly and separately responsible for it. On these four grounds —bocause they wanted a symbol of Imperial supremacy in Ireland, because it was the universal practice to have such a Minister, because it was absolutely necessary to have such a Minister on account of the work that was to be done, and, above all, in the interest of Constitutional principles—he begged to move the Amendment, and ho hoped the Government would be induced to accept it.
In page 3, line 38, at the end of the last Amendment, to insert the words,— "Provided always, that there shall be a Secretary for Ireland holding Office in the Imperial Ministry, and who may be a Member of either House of Parliament."—(Mr. Hanbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I have very great jealousy of the constitution of offices by Statute. It is very far from being the universal practice in this country. It appears to me that offices ought to be constituted according to the necessity arising for them, and of that necessity you cannot judge until circumstances have attained a state of ripeness. It is totally impossible for any man, be his experience what it may, to form a judgment at present as to what in all likelihood will be the amount of Irish business normally devolving on the House of Commons under the system of Homo Rule. On special occasions offices are constituted by Statute; but if you were to go over the list of offices recently established and hold by Members of the Cabinet, my belief is that a very small minority of them would be found to have been so constituted. The hon. Member who has moved the Amendment has not observed what is the established practice in this country.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Some of the offices were constituted by Statute, such as the Secretary for India and the Secretary for War; but in each of those cases there were specific reasons. The Secretary for India was constituted by Statute because it was thought by Parliament that the President of the Board of Trade, who had previously looked after India, could not possibly continue to discharge the mass of business in relation to India, which grew with the extension of the Indian Empire. Perhaps the House does not recollect that it is not very long ago since the Secretary for the Colonies was also Secretary for War. I have myself held the offices 47 years ago. It was when Parliament—whether wisely or unwisely is a matter on which I reserve my judgment—broke up the old military offices and scattered them that it became necessary to establish at their head a separate Minister, and as it was thought impossible that the Secretary for the Colonies could discharge the duties a Secretary for War was appointed. But my point is that there is no case whatever for the allegation of the hon. Gentleman that there is certain to be a necessity under Homo Rule for a separate office for Ireland. I admit that, as regards Imperial duties connected with Ireland, there will be a standing responsibility for which provision ought to be made; but I am not sure that that responsibility will entail any serious addition to the work of any existing Government Office, or will require the appointment of a new officer of State to deal with it. If all the prohibitions and exclusions contained in Clause 3 are looked at it will be seen that almost all the excluded subjects fell within the province of one or other of the existing British Ministers; and my opinion is that all the Imperial duties which will continue to attach to the British Legislature will be specifically provided for under the different Departments of the Government. I do not deny, however, that there will be a general responsibility in connection with Irish affairs; but that will be the responsibility of the Government at large, and not of any particular Minister. No doubt, if a particular case arises it will be the duty of the Government at large to make a specific provision; but 1017 we say that we should have the light of experience before we make such a provision as the hon. Member asks for in his Amendment. We should submit a Resolution on the subject to the consideration of the House, and with regard to which the House would have the advantage of being able to judge whether it was required. Therefore, I object to this Amendment altogether as being in every sense premature. The hon. Gentleman says that such a Minister would be the symbol of our supremacy in Ireland. I think supremacy would have reached a very low obb indeed, if it was to depend upon the presence of some individual or another in this Parliament to show that it exists.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I did not say anything about its being the sole symbol. Of course, the hon. Member gave other reasons. But this is one reason, and what an absurd reason it is. What; the hon. Member wants is that there should be a perpetual supervision of Irish affairs by this House. We are not to be deprived of any portion of the means we have now for interfering day by day in the Government of Ireland. The object of the hon. Member appears to be to keep alive the system which is known as "Dublin Castle." There is to be a perpetual supervision by this House over all Executive transactions in Ireland under Home Rule as there is now. To that I object.
§ MR. HANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman himself, in a recent speech, expressed the hope that Parliament would keep a lively observation on Ireland.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. Gentleman does not quote my words. He gives his recollection of them. I also depend on my recollection, but I know the idea that I intended to convey, and that was that an earnest observation should be carried on by those who had got a particular interest in the Land Question. I say that the hon. Gentleman desires to have on the part of this House a perpetual supervision over all Executive transactions in Ireland, and that consequently the existing machinery should be retained. The object of the Government, however, is to get rid alto- 1018 gether of that supervision, and certainly we do not intend to set up a Minister to whom dozens of questions at a time may be put with regard to Irish local matters. If it is intended by the hon. Gentleman or by anybody else —and many of the speeches we have heard tend to inspire the belief that such a desire does exist in many quarters— that there should be a Minister here for the purpose of having dozens of questions put to him in regard to local and casual occurrences in Ireland, so as to encourage the perpetual bringing of Irish affairs before this House, I say that independently of all other objections on that ground alone no such provision will be made. The case of the Colonies does not apply. If the Colonies had started into life as self-governing countries, I am not at all sure that a Secretary of State would have been necessary. But the necessity for the Office arose historically, and it must be maintained in regard to the Crown Colonies. But there is no necessity for such an Office in regard to Ireland; and we, therefore, cannot accept the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have listened with attention to the right hon. Gentleman, but I have not listened with-out regret. He has told us that if there were self-governing Colonies existing from the first, a Secretary of State for the Colonies would not have been required. I think that if the right hon. Gentleman will consult the Secretary for the Colonies he will find that the self-governing Colonies require constant attention on the part of the English Cabinet, and, therefore, there is no reason to suppose that the attention will be less necessary in the case of Ireland. I concede, however, that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that we in the Imperial Parliament do not desire to spend our lives over minute details of Irish administration, and that it is impossible for anyone to prophesy with accuracy at the present time the exact amount of work which would fall on an Irish Minister constituted by the arrangement proposed by my hon. Friend. But some duties will be cast on a Minister who ought to be responsible to the House of Commons for giving some information as to Irish affairs; and now, and not later, as the right hon. Gentle- 1019 man suggests, is the time to decide the point. Besides the questions reserved in Clause 3, there are also questions which will arise under Clause 4 which will not fall into any of the existing Departmental arrangements, and it is admitted on all hands that the Imperial Parliament must keep a general supervision over Irish affairs, and must have the power of debating questions of adequate importance when they arise. I do not see, therefore, how these questions are to be dealt with unless there is a Minister in the House who is in constant communication with the Irish Government and who can advise the House as to the views of the Irish Government. In the interest of the Irish Government themselves it is important that they should have a proper channel of communication with the House. Occasions, for instance, may arise in which the Government would be perfectly justified in their action, and of which, if the grounds for the action were known, no one would complain. Are we to be dependent on some Irish Member who is not a Member of the Irish Government and not in any way officially connected with them for their views on those occasions? Would it not be better, and more in accordance with Parliamentary usage, to have some authorised channel of communication? The question, therefore, resolves itself into this—Is it, or is it not, desirable to give power to appoint a? Minister in the Bill, or must we wait until the necessity is forced upon us by the actual difficulties in which we find ourselves by the non-existence of the Minister? The right hon. Gentleman seems to entertain the idea that it would be possible to appoint a Minister by some process less elaborate than a Bill. I believe that a very small number of Ministers now exist except under statutory power, and all the modern Ministries have been created not by the Crown, but by Parliament. The Ministers for War, for India, for Scotland, for Agriculture have been constituted by Act of Parliament; and I have a painful recollection of the time when the late Government desired to appoint my lamented Friend (Colonel King-Harman) to be Under Secretary for Ireland. That appointment could not be made without an Act of Parliament, and we had to drop the Bill because we found the diffi- 1020 culties would have been almost insuperable, owing to the opposition, had we endeavoured to proceed with the Bill. I say, therefore, if you do not settle the question in this Bill, that when the necessity for an Irish Minister is felt, and when the Government of the day brings in a Bill to appoint one, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, who may have good reasons why no such office should be established, will deal with the appointment of an Irish Secretary as they dealt with a subordinate appointment in the Irish Office. Those reasons are quite conclusive in favour of the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and I think he was well justified in bringing it forward.
§ SIR T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
said, that the Irish Land Question would continue to demand, even under Home Rule, a good deal of attention and trouble in the Imperial Parliament. The question was reserved from the Irish Legislature for three years. If there was to be a Bill dealing with the land to pass through the House during these three years, it would be desirable to know what Minister would have charge of a measure of such importance. No existing Minister would be able to carry through the House a complicated measure like that. The Prime Minister had said that there would not be many important Irish questions raised in that House under Home Rule. Well, the Irish minority would always look to that House for the due protection of its rights and privileges. As subjects of the Queen they would have the right to look to the House, and whenever the need arose they would come to the House and claim protection. They, therefore, considered that a special Minister should be appointed to look after the affairs of Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
said, the hon. Baronet must not have read the Amendment. The hon. Baronet was extremely anxious that there should be a Minister to answer for the affairs of Ireland in the House of Commons. The Amendment said that the Minister should be in either House of Parliament; so that even if the Amendment were carried there would be no security that the object desired by the hon. Baronet would be carried into effect. He submitted that the proposal in the Amendment was 1021 entirely inappropriate. The range of the Imperial subjects reserved from Ireland were not confined to one Department, but extended to all Departments. A glance through the excepted subjects in Clause 3 made it evident that if one Minister were appointed to deal with the affairs of Ireland that Minister would have to deal with Imperial affairs which were properly belonging to the various Departments of the Government. He submitted, therefore, that the appointment of one Minister would involve, necessarily, continual friction, and possibly conflict, between him and the other Members of the Government. The responsibility of the Government was a responsibility on the whole Government, and could not be devolved on any one Member of the Government.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, ho had had no doubt whatever before he saw the Bill, or before it was brought before the House on the Second Reading, that one of the things that was certain to be provided for in it was the retention in this House of a responsible Minister who would be able to answer questions, to give explanations, and generally to deal with Irish affairs; therefore it was not wonderful that his hon. Friend should have brought forward this Amendment, or that they should have had the question before them under several different heads during the Committee stage of the Bill; it seemed to him absolutely necessary that there should be in that House a Minister responsible for Irish affairs. According to the Amendment a Minister responsible for Ireland might he in either House; but he (Mr. Rentoul) agreed with the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) that it would be better to have the Minister in that House, so that he could be questioned by Members here. But with respect to one point urged from that side of the House and ridiculed from the other—namely, as to the advisability of having a Minister in that House as an emblem of supremacy, he thought that was a matter of great importance.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. RENTOUL
proceeded. He was saying this matter of a Minister in that House as an emblem of Imperial supremacy was rather important, because when they asked in Committee where there 1022 was anything in reference to Imperial supremacy they were told it was scattered all through the Bill, and was contained in all parts of it. A thing that was in all parts of a Bill might very likely be held by lawyers to be in no part of the Bill at all. Our Colonies were represented by a Colonial Minister, and though the Prime Minister said the Colonial Minister was retained because there were Crown Colonies who had not a Government of their own, he (Mr. Rentoul) thought the experience of Colonial Governors was that their services had been required more in connection with those Colonies that had a Legislature and Executive of their own than even with regard to the Crown Colonies. But with reference to an Irish Minister in that House it was said that the various matters that were at present under the cognisance of the Irish Chief Secretary would be, after this Bill was passed, scattered throughout every Department. For example, that the Minister for Education here would be the man who would be responsible to a certain extent, at any rate, not merely for the education in Great Britain, but for the education in Ireland; that the Minister for Agriculture would have his eye on the agriculture of Ireland also; and the English Attorney General would be the man to instigate prosecutions for treason after this Bill passed. But the difficulty that arose in his mind with reference to that was this —that these Ministers would probably know nothing whatever about the affairs of Ireland. Suppose the Chief Secretary for Ireland, now in that House, were asked a question with reference to Irish education or any other important Irish matter, he would be ashamed to get up and say, "Really I do not know anything about that." But suppose the Minister of Education here—the Vice President of the Council — were asked some minutely technical question about education in Ireland, he might very properly say —"I know nothing about that," and no one would think anything the worse of him that he did not pretend to know that, because he would simply be the Minister for Great Britain and not for Ireland. If a man undertook the duties as Minister representing Ireland in that House, he would be selected as a man knowing something about Ireland; but if the Irish business was to be scattered through the hands of a number of Departments, how 1023 was any one of them to have a knowledge of Irish affairs? It was supposed a man was selected for a particular office because he had some special knowledge—more than the average Member of the House— with regard to that Department. It was told of a certain gentleman, who was suddenly asked to undertake the duty of Secretary of State for the Colonies, that after he accepted the appointment and went back to his office he said to his secretary—"Had we not better get down the map and see where these places are?" Whether that was true in fact or not, it represented a great truth—that many found themselves in places they were little competent by knowledge or experience to fill. But if they had a man here who undertook the duty as his sole work, he would, for his own sake, try to make it his business, even if he knew nothing whatever of it. The Prime Minister ridiculed the idea that there should be a Minister who would exercise a sort of perpetual supervision over Irish affairs in that House. But that was the consolation that was given to them all through the Bill that there was to be a constant supervision exercised, and that if the Irish Parliament should do anything wrong, which, said the Members of the Government, "We do not for a moment expect, but in the extreme case, in the almost impossible case, that they should do something wrong, we are here to interfere." What they wanted was to put into the Bill the machinery by which that interference could be brought into active play. The Prime Minister said they must wait until they saw what the duties of the Irish Minister would be, because at present they did not know what ho would be needed for. Undoubtedly, he would be needed for the question referred to by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Londonderry (Sir T. Lea)—the question of the land. The very moment this Act came into force, then they expected this would be one of the first questions that would be brought before the House, because the Prime Minister had said that it was impossible to conceive that during the next three years this Land Question would not be attempted to be dealt with by some Government in this country. The very moment, therefore, that the appointed day arrived and the Bill came into operation, there was the Land Question, which was not a comparatively small 1024 thing as it was in England, but which was almost the whole life of the Irish people, and of great concern to that country. The Prime Minister had also stated that trade matters with regard to Ireland could be dealt with by the President of the Board of Trade, and matters concerning foreign relations could be dealt with by the Foreign Secretary for the entire Empire. But they wanted to have a man whom they would know, who would undertake the duties of the Irish Minister, because he knew something about the inner life of Ireland and Irish concerns generally. They did not want to have Irish affairs scattered over the entire Members of the Government of this country, giving them full proof of the truth of the common saying that what was everybody's business was nobody's business. The Prime Minister said he did not deny that outside these affairs there would be a general responsibility not provided for, and not under the supervision of any of the present Ministers. For example, there might be a matter of conflict on laws, or between class and class. The right hon. Gentleman, after using what he no doubt considered his convincing argument, that the Irish affairs would be scattered among the different Departments of this country, then turned to refute his own argument, and said—"I do not deny there will be a general responsibility not provided for," instancing two classes of cases of the very gravest and greatest importance. Yes; certainly there would be a general responsibility, and, according to the admission of the Prime Minister, there would be needed a Minister to represent that responsibility. The Prime Minister said there might be such a need in the future. The future would have arrived the moment this Bill passed with regard to the Land Question. But the Prime Minister used his customary argument, which was to postpone the evil day, and he said they would postpone the appointment of this Minister to some future time. The right hon. Gentleman said—" I am extremely jealous of a Minister appointed by Statute." If the Prime Minister was jealous of a Minister appointed by Statute, he was face to face with the fact that all recent appointments had been by Statute, and it seemed to be the mind of this country that the appointments for all future time should be made by Statute. In fact, those Ministers whose offices were 1025 not created by Statute were old creatures of the past—the recent ones had all been directly and distinctly appointed by Statutes passed by that House. The Prime Minister said—" I know what gentlemen opposite are trying to do; they are trying to revive another form of the old system of government by Dublin Castle." The old system was simply government by the representative Minister of the Crown for the time being. Dublin Castle was a set of officials absolutely under the power and control of the Irish Chief Secretary for the time, who was a Member of the Government then in power and almost always a Member of the Cabinet; therefore the idea that they were trying to revive an iniquitous system, which the Prime Minister seemed to imply that Dublin Castle was, was surely a fallacy when they recollected that Dublin Castle was a set of officials governed by a Minister in the Cabinet of this country. It seemed to him there was by this Bill a large number of matters retained from the power of the Irish Parliament, and on which it would not have power to legislate, and according to the Debate that evening matters with which the Irish Executive would not have power to deal. No doubt, some of these matters could be answered for by a particular Minister. For example, any matter regarding trade laws might be under the direction of the President of the Board of Trade; but with regard to questions most important of all which affected the people, which were calculated to raise reeling in Ireland, and which the minority had their attention particularly turned to, there would be no official in that House when the Chief Secretary was removed who would be able to answer questions or give a scrap of information. Under these circumstances, seeing that the Colonists were represented in the Imperial Parliament, seeing that there was the greatest possible necessity for this Minister, and seeing that, according to the Prime Minister, the Land Question would occupy the attention of that House during the first three years of the existence of the Irish Parliament, surely it was not too much to ask that there should be a responsible Minister, whom, for his part, he should prefer to see in that House.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
said, he thought the Prime Minister hardly treated this Amendment with the attention it 1026 deserved. The right hon. Gentleman relied upon one argument only, and that was that there was no reason to suppose that the future exigencies of Parliamentary life in the Imperial Parliament would require a Minister of State to reply for Irish affairs. He could not for a moment agree with the Prime Minister —that there was no experience upon which the Opposition could base their claim for such a Minister. In the first place, what had they to look forward to if this Bill became law? They had to look forward to a period of Parliamentary life when there would be 80 Irish Members in that House; and they knew that this Bill was regarded by those Members as merely transitional and tentative, and they had also this fact, which was patent to all who read the Irish Nationalist Press and the speeches made by the supporters of the Prime Minister in Ireland—that they looked upon the whole policy of the right hon. Gentleman as incomplete, and requiring in the next few years the greatest attention of those whose duty it was, as patriotic Irishmen, to obtain that full measure of Home Rule which their country demanded. That being so, it appeared to him the Prime Minister was not justified in saying there was no basis for the demand of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury). It was admitted that there would be a large number of problems of a most difficult and delicate character not solved by this measure. It was admitted that these problems—many of which entailed consequences of an incongruous and inconvenient nature, both to the Irish Government and the Government of the Imperial Ministry—would be complicated by the fact that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was to represent the Crown and to be the Representative of the Imperial sovereignty of Parliament, was not confined in his action to one character, but would have to occupy three or four different positions. He would first of all be a purely Imperial servant; secondly, he would be a sort of Constitutional Monarch, who would be guided by the advice of an Irish Cabinet; and, thirdly, he would occupy a position which was consonant with neither of these two occupations—namely, he would have to act entirely upon his own responsibility, for instance, in relation to duties imposed upon him in regard to the Irish Constabulary for a period of six years, or perhaps 1027 onger. That being so, it appeared to him it was impossible to leave all these questions to the random consideration of some Minister or other of the future Imperial Government. The Chief Secretary had told them that the Government as a whole would be responsible; but that was a most unsatisfactory position in which to leave the matter. They all knew that from time to time questions arose in connection with which there was doubt as to what Minister was responsible, and after trying various Secretaries of State the unfortunate Member who was desirous of eliciting some definite answer to his query was referred from one Department to another by successive Secretaries of State, and was at last obliged to apply to the Prime Minister. They also knew that all Leaders of that House took advantage of the doubt and uncertainty which applied to the duties of the particular office to shuffle out of an awkward question. The hon. Member for Preston did not desire to appoint this Irish Minister for the purpose of interfering with the Irish Government. He did not say that this Minister ought to have any right to be or ought to be a Member of the Irish Cabinet; but he ought to represent in that House the relation between the Imperial Parliament and Ireland in the same way that the Colonial Secretary represented the connection between the Colonies and this country. The Prime Minister stated that the proposition of the hon. Member for Preston that this Minister was to be a symbol of the Imperial supremacy was to degrade the Imperial supremacy altogether. He did not agree with that, and he did not believe there were any Constitutional grounds for the view taken by the Prime Minister. At all events, there was the very high Constitutional authority of Mr. Hallam for the exactly opposite view. In one of the most powerful passages in his work on the Constitutional history of this country, Mr. Hallam had contended that the sovereignty of Parliament was principally established and maintained by the fact that within the walls of Parliament there were Ministers responsible to the Representatives of the people and to the sovereign power of the country; and it was in order to preserve the Imperial supremacy and the sovereign power of that House that he (Mr. Macartney) desired to see a Minister of State 1028 appointed, upon whose shoulders there would be a definite responsibility with regard to Irish affairs. The presence of 80 Irish Members in the House made it imperatively necessary there should be some Minister in the Imperial Parliament upon whom definite responsibility could be cast in relation to the action of the agent of the Imperial Parliament—the person who in Ireland represented that supremacy, and who had to exercise that veto with regard to supremacy of which they had heard so much in the country, and of which they saw so little in the provisions of that Bill. The occasions on which doubt must arise in the mind of the Lord Lieutenant—no matter how capable and efficient a public servant he might be—must be innumerable; and he would then be put to the very greatest extremity in dealing with matters submitted to the consideration of the Irish Parliament, and afterwards submitted to him for his exercise of the veto or not. What provision was there by which the communication between him and the Imperial Government would be simple and easy? Was it proposed in the instrument of his appointment to give him specific directions as to what Minister of State he was to apply to on the various questions that might arise. Let them assume that Parliament was not sitting, and the Members of the Cabinet were scattered to the four winds of Heaven. What Minister was the Lord Lieutenant to select to advise him upon one of these intricate and difficult problems which it was admitted by the framers of the Bill would be left to the decision of the Irish Parliament, or of the Lord Lieutenant, or of the Imperial Parliament? He thought the manner in which the Government had dealt with this whole matter showed that they had no intention of dealing with the relations of the Imperial Parliament to the Irish Legislature in a fashion which would be consonant with the professions they had made to the House and the country. Experience had shown it was necessary to have a Minister to meet the demands that were made by their relations to the Colonies in that or the other House; and he said that their experience of the past, together with the necessities this Bill created, made the appointment of a Minister to represent Ireland in an authoritative manner in the Imperial Par- 1029 liament in the future an absolute necessity. He hoped, therefore, the Government would accede to the Amendment.
§ *MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
expressed the opinion that not only would the convenience of Parliament be greatly served by having concentrated in one Minister matters relating to Ireland, but that if hon. Members who desired the establishment of a separate Parliament in Ireland would only look at the matter not from the point of view of the interference of an Irish Minister in that House with local affairs in Ireland, but from the point of view of the actual working of a Public Department, they would come to the conclusion that the adoption of such a proposal as that contained in the Amendment was the most important stroke they could make for the success of an Irish Parliament. What was the experience with regard to the Colonial Secretary? Did anybody suppose it likely that on any Colonial measure of importance the views of the Colonies would be considered by the Cabinet in the sense desired by the Colony if the responsibility rested not upon one Minister, but was divided among an irresponsible body of 12 or 14 Ministers? He thought the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) would himself feel that if Irish action were challenged in that House there would be no greater safeguard for Irish interests being properly represented or Irish opinion being properly expressed in the Cabinet than the fact that an Irish Minister was present there and could also submit them to Parliament. What he thought they suffered from now more than anything else was that at this moment and for years past they had had a majority of Representatives from Ireland not one of whom had a share in the Government of this country. He was speaking from the Imperial point of view, and he said there were men sitting on the Irish Benches at this moment who were absolutely in accord with the Ministry of the day, but for reasons which did them honour they preferred to hold themselves aloof from actual government and the emoluments of Office. That had been the case for many years. They had had many men sitting below the Gangway who practically had the power in that House, and they had had men sitting in Office who, without the Irish Members, had not 1030 the power. It was unquestionably one of the great weaknesses of the present Administration that they had a large number of supporters many of whom were competent, and would be desirable Members of its Administration, and yet not one of them, for certain reasons, was willing to join the Government. Was the farce really going to be perpetuated of having 80 Irish Members, who by the Bill were to be here for all purposes, not one of whom was to have a seat in this Government, or, if he did, could not be put there to deal with the affairs of the country he was to represent? It seemed to him that if, as was generally admitted, there was to be Imperial control, it was an irrational thing that that Imperial control should not be stereotyped in one person as was the case in regard to our Colonies at the present time. In the case of our Colonies, the highest distinction to which a man looked forward, next to that of Prime Minister, was to become Agent General to Great Britain. It was obvious, then, that it was an admirable Imperial instinct which induced men who had been Prime Ministers in their Colonies to come here as Agents General. If we now got the best men here from these Colonies who had no Bills to pass or money to vote in London, surely they could see what ought to happen in the case of those who were forced to have an Imperial instinct, who were to be obliged to come here to make Imperial laws. For that reason, he thought it would be a great misfortune if this self-denying ordinance laid down by hon. Members (the Irish Members) were to be applicable. It might be reasonable at present, but it would not be so under Home Rule. As to the Office of Irish Minister, he did not enter into that, beyond saying that probably the Chief Secretaryship for Ireland would be held, if one Party were in power, by men like the hon. Member for South Longford (Mr. Blake), and, if another were in power, by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). But to say that no man who might be an Irish Representative in the Imperial Parliament was to have a possibility of dealing with Irish affairs in this House in a responsible situation seemed to him to negative everything contained in the Bill. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would not put 1031 off until another Session what must be, and would be, the result of this measure — the establishment, from motives of convenience as well as of policy, of a Minister who would be responsible for the affairs of Ireland in the House of Commons—a position which could not properly be filled by the Viceroy, who, according to the Prime Minister, might be a Member of the Imperial Cabinet. He trusted the Government would recognise the importance of the question in time, and that they would not allow it to stand until another Session, but would deal with it in the calmer atmosphere of the present on the simple judgment as to what was best for Ireland and best for the Imperial position.
§ *MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had said some gracious things of the Irish Members, which, on their behalf, he acknowledged; but there were some things to which he took exception. The latter portion of the hon. Gentleman's argument was based on the proposition that, unless there were established a Minister for Irish affairs, it would be practically impossible for any one of the 80 Members who were to be sent to the Imperial Parliament to become a Member of the Imperial Government. Well, Scotland had a population of 4,000,000— not as much as Ireland:—and that country had six Members in the Cabinet. The hon. Gentleman said the Irish Secretary was not necessarily to be a Member from Ireland, and unless they insisted upon it that he should be, they could not take any part in the government of the country.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, he did not say "the government of the country." He referred to the government of the country which the Members would come here to represent.
§ *MR. BLAKE
said, Members, in a sense, came from Scotland to represent Scotland, from England to represent England; but they came not to represent those particular portions of the country only, but to represent the whole United Kingdom. The Members from Ireland would come in the same sense. They did not propose to come here to represent Ireland alone, nor to deal with Irish local affairs alone, or, indeed, at all, but to take their part in the common concerns of the United Kingdom. He denied that there was any self-denying ordinance in their 1032 objecting to the Amendment. There would be a self-denying ordinance, he thought, in assenting to it. He was glad to feel assured that, this Amendment not being agreed to, yet whatever Member of the Government accepted the duty of becoming the medium of communication and the exponent of the views of the Viceroy might still be an Irishman. He regretted, with the hon. Member, that the circumstances of the past had made it necessary, obviously necessary, that the Members of the Irish Party should take no part in the Government of the Empire; and he rejoiced, if he might be allowed to say so, with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Brodrick) that, on this Bill becoming an Act, those circumstances would be ended, and it would then be competent for them to take a common part in that Government. But he hoped that there would be no such limitation as was suggested— that the Minister to be appointed from among Irishmen would not be merely the Irish Secretary; but that they would be allowed to take such common part in the work of government as their own merits might deserve and as they might justly claim as good citizens of the Empire.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, be wondered what conclusion Ministers had arrived at as to the particular one of their many Bills they were new discussing. They were supposed to be discussing one which got rid of Irish questions in that House. But that was not so. Ministers seemed to be under the impression that Irish questions were got rid of; but most important questions remained—the questions of the Army and Navy, relationship with the Colonies, finance, the Post Office arrangements, and other important matters — police and the land. Each one of them was of sufficient importance, he thought, to necessitate a Minister in this country. The Imperial matters in Ireland were still to be treated here, and it followed from this that they did not get rid of Ireland. If there was a case for a Minister of Agriculture in England, how was it, in these circumstances, that there was not a case for a Minister for Imperial affairs in Ireland? It was a very remarkable thing that it was suggested there was to be no interference with Ireland after the passing of this Bill. He must point out that there was a most minute and intimate 1033 interference by Clause 12 of the Bill, which provided that the Comptroller and Auditor General was to go into the whole of the finances—not of Ireland only, but of the relative finances of Ireland and England—and who was, upon his own determination in this country, to issue an order, and to send it to the Lord Lieutenant; and upon that act—which was to be mandatory on the Lord Lieutenant— no payment was to be made out of the funds of the Irish Exchequer until the Comptroller and Auditor General had been satisfied. That was an instance of extreme minuteness. Then he came to the question of a Minister. It was admitted there was to be a Minister here to speak for Ireland—the Home Secretary. The only question was whether there was to be a special Minister, or whether, in addition to his duties, the Home Secretary was to undertake this duty in connection with Ireland? It seemed to him that the Prime Minister had shown that want of respect for Ireland and that want of sense of the dignity of Irish affairs of which he had so often accused them (the Opposition). According to the right hon. Gentleman, these affairs were not to be worthy of having a Minister—they were not of sufficient importance to warrant the appointment of a special Minister. The Post Office in England was, in itself, enough to warrant the appointment of a Minister; and yet the Home Secretary was to have all these matters under his control. He thought he was right in saying that the Home Secretary was not, however, to be responsible, so that a fatal duality existed in his case, as in the case of every official under the Bill. The Prime Minister said he objected, because the Amendment would make any appointment of an Irish Minister a statutory post. Yet every one of the instances that he quoted was statutory. He said that the Secretary of State for India was created fur special reasons. The appointment was for the same reason that existed in this case. It was expected in the case ([noted by the Prime Minister that the work would he very great; in this case they did not know how much work would have to be done, but they know it would be very great. Another reason given by the Prime Minister was that no Minister should he personally responsible, but the Cabinet should be responsible in its 1034 corporate capacity. That was an entirely wrong and equally false doctrine under the British Constitution. They ought to have fixed responsibility. The proposition of the Prime Minister meant that they should have no responsibility at all. Was the late Mr. John Bright responsible for the bombardment of Alexandria — an act which he denounced as a crime against the laws of nations and the moral law, and upon which he left the Ministry of that day? Would they impeach Mr. Bright in that case? He was a Member of the Cabinet that ordered the bombardment— there was no record kept of Cabinet meetings, and they could not know the extent of his responsibility; but he was a Member of the Cabinet, and the inference was that he was a party to what was done, though he afterwards denounced it. They should have, therefore, in his opinion, a Minister who would be personally responsible, and no corporate responsibility. Another reason put forward by the Prime Minister was that his hon. Friend wished to keep Dublin Castle in existence; but this Bill kept Dublin Castle in existence, because the Lord Lieutenant had added importance as a quasi-chief of a quasi-independent State. Were they going to burn down Dublin Castle, while they charged £5,000 for the Lord Lieutenant's household? There must be an administrative staff to carry on the business of Ireland, and his impression was that after the Act passed there would be more of the Dublin Castle spirit than before, as the gentlemen below the Gangway (the Irish Members) would be much readier to assert their authority; and if any resistance was made to the laws of the Irish Parliament, there would be a speedier expression than they had yet seen. He certainly thought they ought to have a Minister in this House who would give fair and proper consideration to Irish affairs, and who would be in a position to answer for them to the House.
Mr. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
said, ho opposed the Amendment, because it was distinctly Separatist in spirit and in all its forms. They had been 77 days discussing this Bill; yet hon. Gentlemen did not understand that the scope and object of the Bill was to make Ireland autonomous in reference to local affairs, and to unite Ireland more closely with Great Britain in Imperial matters. They united Ireland more closely in 1035 those matters with themselves, in so far as they did not put any distinctively Irish Minister in the Imperial Parliament. Why should they make this distinction in the case of Ireland? For his part, he thought that Ireland would be more closely united to England under the Bill than ever before. This was not a Conservative proposal. When Ireland had a separate Parliament there never was an Irish Minister in the English House of Commons. The business relating to Ireland was transacted by the Home Secretary. But it was said that Irish affairs would continue with them still. Technically, he would remind them, there was no Secretary of State for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Morley) was merely Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. The matter was not one of policy. Within the last few years the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt), when Home Secretary, was asked a question with regard to Ireland, and he admitted that he was responsible. Through circumstances that had arisen during the past 25 years the Chief Secretary had discharged the duties of a Secretary of State, though he was not a Secretary of State; but, previous to that, the business was always conducted by the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would be aware that the great Duke of Wellington held the Office of Chief Secretary while away at the Peninsular War. Before the Union what occurred was that the Lord Lieutenant took over to Ireland with him as Chief Secretary a person who was always a Member of the English Parliament. The only Irish Secretary who did not sit in the English Parliament at that time was Lord Castlereagh. By this Amendment they would create a new Office, which would have a Separatist tendency so faras related to Irish matters. They (the Irish Members) did not wish that there should be any such Office after this Bill became law. They had the greatest wish to do everything they could to avoid the tendency which this Amendment would impose; and they did not, for the reasons he had stated, wish to have an Office of this character.
MR. MAC NEILL
said, the Secretary for Scotland was only appointed in 1885, and he was not a Secretary of State; he 1036 was merely Secretary for Scotland. There was a Secretary for Scotland for 10 years after the Union, and then the Office was dissolved. The reason of the revival of the Office was that there was no local Parliament in Scotland; if there were such a Parliament there would be no Secretary, for Scotland would no-longer have separate concerns in this House. This was a Separatist Amendment, and sought to create an Office which had never yet been created and which would be out of harmony with the scope and object of the Bill, and, therefore, he could not vote for it.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, he did not think the reasons given by the hon. Member for South Donegal were reasons against the adoption of the Amendment. If they admitted that, on the passing of that Bill, England and Ireland would be drawn more closely together, it seemed to him that in that case—with a separation of domestic and general matters—it would be necessary to have someone in that House who would be responsible for Irish matters. Under the 4th clause certain questions were to have a partial jurisdiction of the Irish Legislature. It was said Irish affairs would be under the control of the Home Secretary; but he was not to be responsible. As regarded the Lord Lieutenant, he might have a scat in the other House. And what was the Lord Lieutenant's position at the present time? Only the other day a question arose in the other House in which the Lord Lieutenant was concerned, and it was found that he need not be there while the question was being considered. How were Englishmen, who had relations with different places in Ireland, to be sure on various points in which they would be interested unless they adopted this proposal? They should, he thought, have some Minister whom they could make responsible? The question had been argued as an Irish question, but he looked at it as an English one. It was as much an English question as an Irish question. They could not separate the two interests. He held that they should have some responsible Minister, as he said, and for that reason he hoped the House would agree to the Amendment.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, they had never had before such a condition of things as they would have in Ireland when she had a Legislature of her own and 80 Mem- 1037 bers in the House. They could not, therefore, look at precedent in this matter, and they must be guided by what they considered sound principle and the public advantage. This was much worse than a Parliamentary matter. It represented the Government of Ireland, and reflected the condition of things that would exist in Ireland as well as in this Parliament. The Lord Lieutenant had to act in throe capacities. He would be a Lord Lieutenant guided by Irish advice, he would be a Lord Lieutenant guided by Imperial advice, and he would be a Lord Lieutenant acting without any advice at all. As to the first capacity, it might be said that the Imperial Parliament had very little to do with the matter; but with what he did in the second and third capacities this House bad everything to do. If he were to have advice from a British Executive, if he was to obtain any benefit whatever from such advice, there ought to be a responsible person to advise him. The answer given by the Prime Minister showed the difficulty of the position the Lord Lieutenant was about to be placed in. In seeking advice as to the subjects excepted in Clause 3, ho would appeal to the heads of different Departments according to the subject on which advice was required. In matters of trade he was to go to the Board of Trade. In matters of treason and treason felony he would go to the Law Officers of the Crown, and so on. He was to go to the head of every Department. What did that mean? Why, that every one of the heads of these Departments would have to give an Irish Representative of the Queen advice affecting Ireland without any knowledge of what was occurring in Ireland. It was to be British advice. What did the President of the Board of Trade know about Ireland?
§ An hon. Member: Just about as much as you.
§ SIR H. JAMES
That observation, made with the usual courtesy of hon. Gentlemen opposite, bore upon the whole point of his argument. What would be the use of the Lord Lieutenant coming to him for a legal opinion about Ireland when he knew nothing about the country? The Lord Lieutenant at present was advised by a Chief Secretary who devoted all his official energies to Irish affairs. This most unhappy individual, the Lord Lieutenant, was to have advice wherever he could get it, from men who would 1038 know nothing of the subjects in their Irish aspects. Would it not be well to consider whether, when they entrusted the destinies of the country to such a person, he should not have someone by his side to assist him with advice? But there was another view of the question. The Lord Lieutenant, it might be said, when he was advised by a Department, could find a Parliamentary Representative in the House. But when he acted without advice at all, and a question was raised in that House, who was to answer for him? He was said to be a Minister responsible to that House. Each member of the British Government would say, in this case—"The matter is not in my Department. What have I to do with it?" Where, then, would be the supremacy and the supervision of this Parliament? They had been told over and over again, when they asked how the Imperial Parliament was to undertake the control of the Irish Legislature, that the Lord Lieutenant was answerable to Parliament. But who would be his mouthpiece? Who would represent him?
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was now laying down a Constitutional doctrine. He said that the Government, as a whole, would represent the Lord Lieutenant who would not be advised by anyone, and who was not to look to any individual Minister to represent him. Then it followed that the Government, as a whole, might be censured for acts it had taken no part in and had never been consulted about; and a good Government of Great Britain might be turned out of Office and cease to govern Great Britain because the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had done something they never knew of. The position taken up by the Government was absurd. It reduced the Parliamentary administration of the country to a condition that did not result from any necessity or policy of wisdom, but from the difficulty of endeavouring to carry on the Government of two countries together—partly separating them, giving them different Executives for some matters and the same Executive for other matters, and all the time endeavouring to maintain the sham of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament and Executive. He recollected that in an early part of these discussions the hon. Member for 1039 Haddington (Mr. Haldane), who spoke with considerable weight on the matter, had told them that the Executive in Ireland would be answerable to the Parliament of Ireland and Great Britain. Well, if that Executive was to be answerable to the Parliament of Great Britain, ought it not to be represented in that Parliament? How were they to call the Irish Executive to accouut—how were they to get information from it? Who was to be its mouthpiece, and guide it in all matters that were Imperial matters affecting Great Britain? There would be nobody. Why was that? The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had said they wished to avoid an undue line of interest—
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, the right hon. Gentleman's explanation was that there was to be no undue interference with Irish affairs on the part of the Imperial Parliament. But they had reserved to the Imperial Parliament some 20 subjects under Clause 3, and had fixed on that Parliament the duty of taking a lively interest in them, and yet they were not to have any means of developing that interest or of obtaining information except from the public Press. It had been said they were never to let go their hold upon Irish affairs; that they were still to be a United Kingdom and a united Parliament, with 80 Members from Ireland in that House; but, whilst Irish Members were to maintain great power in the Imperial Parliament to control the fate of Parties, they shrank from bearing any responsibility in regard to Irish affairs. ["No, no!"] They shrank from the responsibility of making answer for what was going on in Ireland. The Prime Minister said—"You have nothing to do with Irish internal affairs—"
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had said they had nothing to do with Irish affairs so as to entitle them to interfere.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, the right hon. Gentleman forgot that the Irish Legislature would have to deal with composite matters that were partly British and partly Irish and with matters that were purely Imperial, and of these two classes 1040 the right hon. Gentleman seemed to take no heed. The Amendment showed the position to which the new Irish Executive had brought them; the Lord Lieutenant, in three capacities, was to be represented in the Imperial Parliament in none, and thus, if the Bill passed with the Amendment unaccepted, they would be losing entire control over Irish internal affairs; and if they attempted to interfere in matters which were not purely internal, they would find themselves in a hopeless position, with the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament reduced to a contemptible absurdity.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said, it was at present the right of every aggrieved individual in the United Kingdom to bring his case, whatever it might be, immediately under the view of this great tribunal, and what he wanted to understand was whether what they had feared was to be the fact—namely, that those he represented—a large number of their fellow-citizens in Ireland—were in this matter to be put on an inferior footing to other subjects of the Queen? He wanted to know whether, if a man in Ireland were wronged in respect to matters in the control of the Irish Legislature, or matters which he thought the Irish should have under their control, he was to be deprived of the power of bringing his grievance instantly and effectually under the view of the House? If such were the case, they would have taken from the Loyalists of Ireland one of the few remaining protections they greatly valued. The one thing that kept hope alive in many parts of Ireland was the certain knowledge that any injustice to which they were exposed would be dealt with promptly and effectually in the House of Commons. Would there be no single Minister charged with the duty of answering questions with regard to personal wrong suffered by people in Ireland? for, if not, Irishmen would be the only inhabitants of the United Kingdom whose wrongs would be hidden and not attended to. Was there to be no one in the House capable of giving the true facts as to these grievances, and were there to be no means of reaching the tribunal of public opinion. It was absolutely idle to say that each Minister would answer for the correlative Department in Ireland. The absurdity of it was apparent on the face of it. Was one part of a question to be addressed to the 1041 First Lord of the Treasury, another part to the First Commissioner of Works, and a third part to the Secretary to the Treasury—because it might be that according to strict formularism a question might in substance distribute itself over three Departments? They wanted a man who had abundant experience like the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, and those who had preceded him in Office. He was not sure that it would not be better to have another Minister in the place of a Chief Secretary, but he honestly said that the experience even a Chief Secretary acquired, and the knowledge he possessed, fitted him for dealing with these matters infinitely better than any of the colleagues who sat beside him. Was he to tell his constituents that they were to be placed in a permanent position of inferiority as compared with Englishmen and Scotchmen? If so, he should feel free to comment on the message, and to point out that with less consideration went less obligation.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR (Leeds, Central)
said, he rose to put a question to the Chief Secretary. When in Committee they were discussing the question of the power committed to Colonial Governors of reserving the assent of the Crown to Bills passed by Colonial Legislatures, the Leader of the Opposition put this case: Supposing the Irish Parliament were sitting when the Imperial Parliament was in Recess and no Cabinet Council could be summoned without inconvenience, would it not be well to give the Lord Lieutenant power to suspend the assent of the Crown to any Irish Bill? The Chief Secretary answered the question by saying that a Cabinet would have to be summoned if the question became a Cabinet question, but that ordinarily it would not become such. Generally the Minister would deal with the question on his own responsibility, and be ultimately responsible to the Cabinet. He (Mr. Gerald Balfour) rose to ask whether, in giving that reply, the Chief Secretary had in his mind a single Minister such as was contemplated by his hon. Friend, or, if not, what was meant?
MR. J. MORLEY
said, that the answer to the hon. Member was not very difficult. When ho said that the Minister in such a case would act on his own responsibility he referred to the Minister, whoever he might bo—the Home Secre- 1042 tary or someone else — on whom the Cabinet devolved the responsibility of representing them upon the particular occasion. [Laughter] Hon. Gentlemen appeared to be amused. Any one Secretary of State, the hon. Member must be aware, could perform any duty or office devolving upon any other Secretary of State; and there could be nothing ridiculous in the possibility that owing to the state of Business the Irish Department would at one time be represented by one Minister and at another time by another.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 135; Noes 188.—(Division List, No. 280.)
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he rose to move an Amendment to Sub-section 3, Clause 5. He wished to provide that the Lord Lieutenant should give or withhold the Royal Assent to Bills "in accordance with instructions given by Her Majesty." The sub-section as it stood provided that the Lord Lieutenant should give or withhold assent on the advice of the Executive Committee of the Irish Privy Council as a rule, subject to special instructions he might receive from Her Majesty in special cases. His contention was that the Lord Lieutenant should exercise the veto as an Imperial officer, and as a sentinel for England and the Empire— without being bound by the advice of the Executive Committee. Pray what was that Committee? Yesterday's Debate had shown that ultimately it would be an Irish Act that would regulate the constitution of the Executive Committee, and the House might be quite sure that sooner or later—and sooner rather than later—every Member of the Committee would belong to the Irish Executive and sit in the Irish Legislature. These men would enjoy the confidence of the majority, and would, in the highest and truest sense of the term, represent the Irish Legislature, just as much as the Ministers who sat on the Front Bench opposite represented the House of Commons. These were the men who were to advise the Lord Lieutenant as to the exercise of the veto. If any objection were taken to an Irish Act, or to a series of Irish Acts, an appeal might be made to the Lord Lieutenant. What, however, would be the use of such an appeal? The Lord 1043 Lieutenant would only, as a general rule, exercise the veto on the advice of those who were the leading Members of the Legislature, whose measure he was called upon to set aside, and who were probably the men who had procured the passing of the measure. To say that the Lord Lieutenant was to exercise the veto on the advice of these men was to turn the veto into a sham—to make it an unsubstantial, shadowy, and unreal thing. An appeal to the Lord Lieutenant to exercise the veto would really be an appeal from the Irish Executive to the Irish Executive—an appeal not from Philip in one condition to Philip in another condition, but from Philip sober to Philip still sober. If the veto was to be of any use it must be independently exercised by an Imperial officer, acting solely on the advice of Her Majesty's Imperial advisers. He could imagine no case in which the veto (as proposed in this Bill) would be of any real value, except a case in which an objectionable Bill, having been passed by one Ministry, an appeal for the exercise of the veto was made to their successors. These successors might advise the Lord Lieutenant to veto. This, however, was so improbable a case as to verge on the impossible. The veto had been often put forward as the one thing upon which the Protestants and the Ulster Loyalists were to rely, but it was even more of a sham than the other safeguards under the Bill. It was conceivable that the Government might say that, wherever real wrong had been done, or reasonable complaint might arise, the Lord Lieutenant might, under the latter part of the sub-section, apply to the Home Government for Her Majesty's instructions, and that those instructions might be so far extended as to constitute rules governing almost any case that might arise. However, he could hardly conceive the Government saying that, because they might just as well accept his Amendment. It was conceivable that it would be said that if the veto were exercised in the way he proposed the Irish Ministers would resign. If, however, they did, it was obvious that they would not submit to the supremacy of England, and that they had only accepted a shadowy supremacy on the ground that it was never likely to be brought into operation. He submitted that there were great dangers throughout 1044 the Bill, and the only chance of the Opposition was to obtain real safeguards, and that those safeguards should be administered by persons who were entirely independent of the Irish Legislature and dependent upon no one except the Parliament of Great Britain. He earnestly hoped that the House would give consideration to his Amendment and would preserve intact and inviolable the exercise of the veto.
In page 3, line 39, to leave out the words "on the advice of the said Executive Committee," and insert the words "in accordance with instructions given by Her Majesty."—(Sir It. Temple.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I must pay one compliment—I really cannot offer many—to the hon. Baronet, and it is to this effect: that I think he has devised for Ireland a provision that has hitherto been totally unknown in every country in Europe. The ancient practice always was to admit large legislative freedom in secondary and dependent States, but to view with extreme jealousy the grant of Executive power. That was the way England proceeded in the case of Grattan's Parliament. I do not recollect whether the veto was ever trusted to as a mode of thwarting the action of Grattan's Parliament, though the Government sometimes made use of its interest for the purpose of defeating measures in that Parliament. The hon. Member proposes to introduce a new state of things. He proposes to take away from the Executive Council all semblance of functions in regard to the legislation of Ireland. That is a most extraordinary reversal of the practice heretofore pursued for the regulation of the Government. I do not require to discuss it at any length. I must admit that the hon. Baronet has fairly laid the axe to the root of the tree. After we have introduced a Bill and debated it 77 days or more for the purpose of giving local freedom to Ireland, he, in an Amendment of a few words, proposes entirely to destroy that Bill. It would be a mockery to Ireland or to any other country, under the name of a Bill for the Government of Ireland, to carry a measure under which the passing or non-passing of every Bill which had 1045 gone through the two Houses of the Irish Legislature was to be determined by directions from England. I confess I do not see the wisdom or advantage of this method of coming back again and again, and again and again, first in one form and then in another form, to a principle which has been affirmed by the House over and over again after unexampled discussion and, under the name of modest and unassuming Amendments, framing provisions which would be totally fatal to the whole object and purpose of the measure. I think we have made every necessary provision not only for meeting British feeling, but also for meeting British jealousies in regard to legislation. The Government have provided—and the Representatives of Ireland have taken no objection to it—that in any case in which the Sovereign or her advisers see occasion to interfere they will be entitled to interfere. The hon. Baronet is not satisfied with that, and proposes to sweep away the whole legislative freedom which it has been the purpose and the work of this lengthened Session to give to Ireland. I need hardly say that the Government are totally unable to listen to any such proposal.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am somewhat astonished at the brief reply which the Prime Minister has deemed adequate in the case of this very important Amendment. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman amounts to this: that the proper way of checking the action of a subordinate Parliament is by putting limitations on its Executive power.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I did not say that, or any thing like it. I dealt with the history of the question.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then what did the right hon. Gentleman say? I listened, as I always do, with attention and interest to his observations, and I say that that was the impression produced by his argument. I certainly understood him to convey to the House that there were two ways of dealing with a subordinate Parliament, one by circumscribing its Executive power and the other by limiting its Executive power. The right hon. Gentleman derided the hon. Baronet, and said that he had devised a new Constitution for Ireland—a thing which never entered into the head of the right hon. Gentleman. Such an argument comes with peculiarly bad grace from a Government 1046 which has been occupied during the early hours of this evening in checking our efforts to circumscribe the Executive powers of the Irish Legislature. Up till 8 o'clock we were trying to carry out the policy which the right hon. Gentleman now says is so superior to the proposal of my hon. Friend, and surely it is a little ungracious on their part to say that my hon. Friend may not try any other method to check the Irish Government in any undue exercise of the powers conferred by the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, when he interrupted me a little while ago, said he was dealing with the history of the question, but I venture to think it is hardly adequate to say that he bases his statement on an historical survey. He appears to think that my hon. Friend has devised an entirely new method for dealing with a subordinate Parliament—a method not only unknown to history in general, but to Ireland in particular. But in Grattan's Parliament every Act had to be submitted to the Great Seal of England; in other words, the policy of this Amendment is the policy of Grattan's Parliament. My hon. Friend has gone back on Irish history, and has given again to Ireland more than was taken from her by the Act of Union, of which we have heard so much. The clause provides that the Lord Lieutenant is to give his assent to every Act of the Irish Legislature on the advice of the Irish Administration, except in those cases in which the English Government choose to interfere. In other words, this Parliament potentially has the power to stop every Act of the Irish Legislature. Certainly the clause does not lay it down that they are to exercise that power, but it leaves the whole question in a condition of ambiguity as between the Lord Lieutenant acting on the advice of one set of advisers and on that of another set. My hon. Friend desires to simplify that matter. It is evident that the Amendment will not increase the power of the Irish Administration, and it is equally certain that it does not increase the responsibility of the British Administration, because if the latter have the power to stop all legislation they must also have the right to examine it. These powers and responsibility will remain unaltered if the Amendment is accepted, and the only change it will effect will be to get rid of the present absurd ambi- 1047 guity. Can the Government, in the whole circuit of Representative Constitutions, point to any case in which the veto was given to one set of individuals to be exercised by them unless another set chose to interfere? I think the matter is really beyond argument. Let us make this question quite clear. I agree that in practice pettifogging interference would be impolitic, and perhaps impossible; but, as the Government leave to the British Government the responsibility of stopping Irish legislation, the Amendment will remove the ambiguity of the clause without bringing in its otiose and ridiculously illogical features. I hope that in this country we shall always have sensible Ministers from whatever Party they may be drawn, and if we have then any interference under the Amendment or under the clause will never be constant or of a pettifogging character. Then why complicate the whole machinery of the Bill by introducing this fifth wheel of Irish advice, when British interference is to be always supreme? The Amendment will work no injury to Ireland, and I hope that the Government will not oppose it out of any undue deference to Irish susceptibilities.
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said, the clause, instead of being marked by ambiguity, inutility, and impracticability represented what they believed would be the practical working of the Constitution. It was expected—and the right hon. Gentleman had acknowledged to a considerable extent the justice of the expectation—that the Acts of the Irish Legislature would become law, not by virtue of the consideration of them by the Imperial Executive—although they might be exposed to review by that Executive—but on the advice of the Irish Executive. They believed that normally the Bills would be such as ought to be passed into Acts; and, if so, it was fitting that they should become law only on the responsibility of the Irish Executive, and it should not be that the Imperial Executive should make them into Acts by its assent. Of course, if there were any grave abuse of Imperial interests or of delegated powers then the Imperial Executive could intervene and assert its power by dissent. There certainly was no ambiguity in the clause, which represented the state of things that would exist in practice.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I looked at the Amendment 1048 on the Paper with every desire to appreciate its importance, and I confess that although it deals with an important question—namely, the subject of the veto—I do not think that the Amendment is likely to raise any serious Debate. So far as the Irish Parliament and the Irish Executive are concerned, the veto will be a matter of form. One is not likely to veto the act of the other which has placed them in power. It could only be necessary to do such a thing when a grave mistake has been made, which can only be remedied by destroying the Bill. I cannot speak with certainty, but I do not believe there is any example in which a British Executive has advised the Queen to veto a Bill passed by a Parliament in which that Executive is in the majority. When we talk about the veto, therefore, it is not the veto of the Irish Executive to which we attach importance. It is the veto of the British Executive which we are told is the real security, and the, in fact, most cardinal feature of the Bill. Now, the hon. Baronet, feeling that the veto of the Irish Executive was never likely to be used, and constituted, therefore, a useless provision in the Bill, proposed to simplify the clause by omitting it. That appeared to be a small matter. But what did the Prime Minister say about this apparently innocent Amendment? He said that the hon. Baronet was once again deliberately attempting to reverse the principle which had been again and again adopted in the House, and that he was going by this Amendment to sweep away the legislative freedom of the Irish Ministry, thereby taking away from the Irish Executive the power to veto their own Bills.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
It is not necessary for them to assent. The Bills will pass without their assent, unless they are dissented from by the British Executive. The only power you are asked to take away is a power which will never be exercised unless the Parliament makes some extravagant blunder. I must say I am utterly astonished at the importance which the right hon. Gentleman attaches to this Amendment. He has accused the hon. Baronet of introducing an absolutely new principle into our discussions and into the Constitution we are making 1049 and he has described my hon. Friend as a rara avis—a, sort of black swan in Constitution making. He has spoken as if this were an absolutely new proposal, whereas it is precisely the same proposal which the Prime Minister himself put forward in the Bill of 1886. And, forsooth, because my hon. Friend is but a humble imitator of the right hon. Gentleman, the Prime Minister falls foul of him, and declares that he desires to sweep away the whole legislative freedom of the Irish Parliament. I never before heard of such a remarkable instance of forgetfulness as that displayed by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. DARLING
said, ho thought there was one consideration that might reconcile the Government to the Amendment and induce them to accept it. Throughout the Debates on the Bill it had been impressed upon them that they must do nothing in any way to hurt the unreasoning susceptibilities of Irish legislators. Now, he would venture to point out that if the Amendment were carried the sole and only veto which could be applied in the case of an Irish Bill would be the same veto as was applied to any Bill which had passed through that House. There was no particular degradation in that; but if the clause was passed as it stood, then a Bill which had passed through all its stages in the Irish Legislature and received the assent of the Executive Committee could be vetoed by the direct interposition of the Sovereign acting on the advice of a Minister in the House of Commons. Could anything be more humiliating to the Irish people than that? Surely it would be better for the Prime Minister—recognising that first thoughts were often best—to revert to his proposal of 1886?
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER (Edinburgh, W.)
thought the Amendment of the hon. Baronet might very well be argued in two parts—firstly, as to what it proposed to cut out of the Bill; and, secondly, as to what it recommended in substitution of the omitted words. When in Committee it was proposed to omit the words "on the advice of the said Executive Committee," it was pointed out to the Government that the words were not to be found in the Constitution of any one of our Colonial Legislatures; that they wore not contained in the original Australian Acts, in the British North America Act, nor in the Act estab- 1050 lishing Constitutional Government at the Cape of Good Hope. The Government admitted the accuracy of the statement, but replied that they were now acting on what experience had proved to be necessary. But, if that were so, why, in 1885, in the scheme for a Federal Council for Australasia, were no words inserted analogous to those in this Bill? Since those arguments were used in Committee, the whole scheme of the Government had been changed, for at that time it was supposed that the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament would have no direct influence on purely English and Scotch legislation. But the present situation was that 80 Irish Members would be in the Imperial Parliament exercising what would be, to all intents and purposes, all the powers of a veto on Scottish and English legislation, while English and Scottish Members would have no control over Irish legislation akin to the manner in which they had some influence on Colonial legislation, though the Colonies were not represented as Ireland would be in the Imperial Parliament. Hence the defence of these words set up in Committee would not hold good now.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had sneered at the hon. Member for South Donegal, who, ho thought, was quite capable of holding his own as against the right hon. Gentleman, and certainly as against the inarticulate legislators above the Gangway on the Opposition side, whose only contributions to the Debate were ironical laughs. The right hon. Gentleman, he thought, had fallen into an extreme error in his effort to prove that the language of the Bill of 1886 upon this subject was identical with the proposition which was now made by the hon. Baronet. What was the language of the Bill of 1886?—Subject to any instructions that may from time to time be given by Her Majesty, the Lord Lieutenant shall give or withhold his consent to Bills framed by the Irish Legislature.What was the plain meaning of these words? That there was to be a system of assent, which was only to lie affected in an exceptional manner by instructions from Her Majesty. These instructions were, as he had said, exceptional, and in those cases upon whose advice was he to act? Obviously upon the advice of the Irish Legislature, and, therefore, it was 1051 clear that the provision in the Bill of 1886 was the same as the provision in this Bill. He agreed with the Prime Minister that the change involved by this Amendment would be a fundamental change, and that it would strike at the very root of the Bill. According to the words in the Bill the system was to be a system of deference to local opinion. The Lord Lieutenant was to give or withhold the Royal Assent in ordinary cases upon the advice of the Irish Ministers, and what the Imperial Parliament contemplated and what they hoped for—he would not answer for the right hon. Member for West Birmingham—was that the functions—legislation and Royal Assent—might go on in Ireland, and that the Imperial Parliament would not be troubled in the matter. The system proposed by the hon. Baronet was that the Lord Lieutenant should, in accordance with the instructions of Her Majesty, give or withhold his assent. What was the meaning of that? It meant that the Lord Lieutenant would, in the event of any Bill passed by the Irish Legislature, be obliged to refer it to the Imperial Parliament. How, then, could the Lord Lieutenant act at all unless he sought those instructions? and, therefore, it would be incumbent upon him to refer every Bill passed by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature to the Imperial Government. That was not the system proposed by the Irish people, or which the Irish people would accept, and that was not the system which the interests of the British people required.
§ SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
said, that in one sense the discussion of what was in the Bill of 1886 was almost academic; but in another sense it was very important, because it appeared to him that the alteration from the proposal in that Bill was one of enormous concern, inasmuch as it went a greater length in favour of Irish interests as opposed to the interests of Great Britain. He could not for one moment read the Bill of 1886 as the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) had read it. The words of the Amendment as proposed left the clause identical with the clause in the Bill of 1886.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, that that did not make the slightest difference; and yet, 1052 on the strength of this unimportant variation, the Prime Minister said that a perfectly new faith was being propounded, and that no such suggestion had ever been heard of before. The Amendment did not take away the liberties of the Irish Parliament. It merely took away a shadow, a phantom, and a nullity. That was the veto to be exercised on a Bill by the very Executive who carried the Bill. By taking away that veto they took away nothing. It was not a veto at all. It was only exercised when a blunder was made in a Bill, and not on the ground of policy. The question simply was whether all powers of legislation were to be handed over to the Irish Parliament without a check, or whether they should retain the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 196; Noes 146.—(Division List, No. 281.)
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
rose to move, as an Amendment to Clause 5, page 4, line 3, at end, to add—Passed by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature declare either that he assents to any such Bill in the Queen's name, or that he withholds the Queen's assent, or that he reserves the Bill for the signification of the Queen's pleasure.The object of the Amendment was to make Sub-section (3) read as follows:—
The Lord Lieutenant shall, on the advice of the Executive Committee but subject to any instructions given by Her Majesty in respect of any Bill passed by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature, declare that he assents to any such Bill in the Queen's name, or that he withholds the Queen's assent, or that he reserves the Bill for the signification of the Queen's pleasure.It being Midnight, Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, stood adjourned.
§ Bill, as amended, to be further considered To-morrow.