§ *THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
Mr. Speaker,—I may, without impropriety, I think, remind the House that the voices which used to plead the cause of Irish Government in Irish affairs have, within these walls, during the last seven years, been almost entirely mute. I return, therefore, to the period when, in 1886, a proposition of this kind was submitted on the part of the Government of the day, and I beg to remind the House of the 1242 position which was then taken up by the promoters of the measure. We said—" We have arrived at a point in our transactions with Ireland where two roads part. You have to choose between the one and the other. One of them is the way of Irish autonomy according to the conception I have just referred to, and the other is the way of coercion." That, Sir, was our contention, and it will be in the recollection of the House that that contention was most stoutly and largely denied. It was said, I will not say by all, but by very many Members of this House, who did not concur in the views of that Government—"We are not coercionists, we do not adopt that alternative, and neither can we accept it." That assertion of theirs was undoubtedly sustained, especially from those politicians whom we term Dissentient Liberals, by the proposal of various plans for dealing with the Irish question. Those plans, although they fell entirely short in principle and in scope of Irish self-government in Irish affairs, yet were plans of no trivial or mean importance, for they went far beyond what had theretofore been usually proposed in the way of local self-government for Ireland. What has been the result of the dilemma—as it was then put forward upon this side of the House, as it was then repelled upon the other? Has our contention, that the choice lay between autonomy and coercion, been justified or not? What has become of each and all of those important schemes for giving to Ireland government in Provinces, for giving to her even a central establishment in Dublin with limited but important powers? All these schemes have vanished into air, but the reality remains. The two roads were there, the way of autonomy and the way of coercion. The choice lay between them, and the choice was made by the late Government. The choice they made was to repel the proposal of autonomy, and to embrace in consequence the path of coercion. I need not tell the House that coercion is a practice which you cannot always follow in an absolutely uniform method of procedure. If we take the early part of this century, coercion was then, though frequent, far from being habitual. Down, I think, to 1829 or 1832, there were 10 or 12 years that were entirely free from 1243 it; but in the much longer period that elapsed between 1832 and 1886 there were only, I believe, two years in which Ireland was entirely free front the note—the disparaging and ignominious note—of exceptional and repressive laws. And what is the lesson we have learned? Since 1886—I am speaking now of a matter of fact, and am not indulging in either praise or blame—we have made another, a bolder, a more daring, step forward in the policy of coercion in Ireland. It has been recognised as the normal condition of the country; and it has taken its place for the first time in the shape of a permanent law upon the Statute Book of the country. My contention is this—and it is the first argument I lay before the House—that a permanent system of repressive law inflicted upon or attached to a country from without, and in defiance of the voice and the judgment of the vast majority of its Constitutional Representatives, constitutes a state of things of such a character that while it exists you have not, and you cannot have, the first conditions of harmony and good government established in that country. It is impossible that the inhabitants of such a country, labouring under coercion in that form, inflicted front such a quarter, and inflicted in opposition to the authentic voice which the Constitution itself has given them, can be brought into that sympathy with the law and that respect for the law without which there can be no true political stability, and no true social civilization. My next objection to such a state of things is this—that it is a distinct and violent breach of the promises upon the faith of which the Union was obtained. I must for a moment ask the House to return with me to that period—and I am not now going to describe the history of that Union in the terms which, I grieve to say, I think it deserves, but only to point out the facts of the case. When the Union was presented to Ireland many of those who were friendly to it in principle, yet made the admission that it bore an odious aspect. I will cite a Bishop of that period, one who was appointed by a Government of that period, a man of ability—I mean Dr.Young, the Bishop of Clonfert, who as a writer wrote in favour of the Union and supported it with 1244 all his might; yet he made this frank confession. In 1799, when the proposal had been defeated on the first presentation of it to the Irish Parliament, he said—A great question for the present has been unfortunately lost, yet how could it well be otherwise? An incorporating Union is certainly a degrading measure to a nation in possession of its own Parliament and in appearance entirely independent.He then goes on to adduce arguments why that Union should, notwithstanding, be accepted; and what was the great argument he advanced in its favour? It was partly the promise of commercial equality, but, much more widely than that, it was the promise of equal laws. Equality in the system of laws by which the country was to be governed was the grand compensation which Ireland was to receive for the removal of her Parliament and the extinction of that great symbol of her distinct, though not necessarily separate, national life. Mr. Cooke, the Under Secretary of that day, who, next to Lord Castlereagh, deserves the honours or the censure that attach to the policy of the Union, published a pamphlet of great importance on the part of the Government, termed Arguments for and against an Union with Great Britain. I will quote one passage, which is on the seventh page of the second edition of the pamphlet, which is dated 1798. He says—A Union presupposes that when it is complete the contracting States shall be bound together by the same Constitution laws and Government and by an identity of interests and an equality of privileges.But there was also another prophecy which was justifiable for him to make at the time, and the result of which, I think, conveys to us a striking lesson. Mr.Cooke cast his eye upon the Irish Parliament of that day, teeming as it was with orators and statesmen. He saw there Grattan, and Ponsonby, and Parnell, and Foster, and Plunket, and, outside of it, Chief Justice Bushe and other men; and when Ireland from her own soil had thrown up that rich crop of political ability, Mr. Cooke with confidence prophesied in these few words—" We shall have Irishmen in the originating Cabinet of Great Britain." What has been the fate of that prophecy? Two Irishmen, famous each in his way, and one of European and world 1245 wide fame, have sat in the Cabinet of Great Britain—I mean Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington—but both Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington were the growth of Ireland in the period when it had its independent Parliament. From the state of things in that Parliament Mr. Cooke inferred, and from his point of view naturally inferred, that Irish statesmen would be in the Imperial Cabinet. But what, I ask, has been the case? It has been my fate, it has been my honoured destiny, to sit in the Cabinets of the Queen in concert with no less than 60 and 70 statesmen, but among those 60 or 70, with the single exception of the Duke of Wellington, an Irishman has not been found in those Cabinets. So much for the results of this Union of which so much was anticipated. I now go back to the question of the promise of equal laws, which came from one higher than Mr. Cooke. It came from Mr. Pitt himself, who, in a famous passage in a famous speech, said—"Each country will retain its proportional weight and importance under the security of equal laws." Those equal laws, rightly or wrongly, I do not say which, you have not given. The pledge of the Union you have failed to fulfil. The consideration which purchased or which helped to extort the Union from Ireland has never been paid, and the broken promise is written—and unhappily is indelibly written—upon the history of our country. Now, let us consider what is the state of the case with regard to the persistency and the selfassertion of Ireland. For a long time after the beginning of the century Ireland as a political entity was little more than a carcase robbed of life. From 1832, when her resurrection began, she presented only a small minority, who were in favour of restoring to her something in the nature of Constitutional rights and of practical self-government. And I am bound to say that it astonishes me in contemplating this case—and I thankfully remember how generally and cordially it is recognised in this country that we are a self-governing people; that is, a people governed by our majorities—it is to me astonishing that so little weight is attached by many to the fact that whereas before 1880,—before 1885, indeed, as I should say,—Irish wishes for 1246 self-government were represented only by a minority, ay, and by only a small minority, of her representatives, since 1885, since the wide extension of the franchise and its protection by the machinery of the secret vote—[Opposition laughter.] I perceive, Sir, a smile on the countenances of some when I refer to the protection of the secret vote. Do they approve of the secret vote, or do they not? If they do not approve of it, I recommend that they go to their constituents and make known the fact. It will be seen that the secret vote is material to my argument, because without the secret vote, perhaps in no country, but certainly not in Ireland, had the voter a shadow of independence. In the Parliaments of 1885 and 1886 there were 85 Nationalists—to use the general, the current phrase—there were 85 Nationalist Members out of 101, for I confess that I recognise only 101 Irish Members as popular Representatives, and to the whole number the 85 formed a proportion of more than five-sixths. They have now been reduced from 85, I believe, to 80, under circumstances which are somewhat peculiar, and, I must frankly own, to me, as to many others, totally and absolutely unintelligible. Let us look at the state of things as it now stands. There are now 80 out of 101—that is to say, the wishes of Ireland for Irish self-government in Irish matters are represented by only four-fifths of her Members. [Opposition laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to have no respect for such a majority as that. Do they recollect, Sir, that never in England has there been such a majority—never once? No Parliament of the last 50 years has come within measurable or immeasurable distance of that majority. One Parliament of 60 years ago, the Parliament of 1832, of December, 1832— the first in which I had the honour of sitting—in that Parliament there was by far the greatest majority that ever had been known in our Constitutional history. The Party of Sir Robert Peel, to which I belonged, did not count at the outside more than 150, and would, perhaps, have been more properly estimated at 140; but even the majority represented by the smallness of that minority did not reach to the point at which the Irish majority now stands. Well, Sir, 1247 if there be anything in that great principle of self-government, which, if it be a reality, is a reality that never can work except through the machinery and by the laws of representation, at any rate the voice of the Irish people, and the persistency of the Irish people in the delivery of that voice, and the peaceful and Constitutional circumstances under which it has been so delivered, constitute a great factor in the case. It has been said—and I admit it—with truth, that Ireland is not a united country—that it is still a disunited Ireland in itself; and although the Constitutional authority of the voice of Ireland is, in my opinion, absolute and indisputable, I do not deny that, as a social factor, the division that exists in that country is a fact of great importance. In truth, were Ireland united, anything that could render Ireland formidable would become very much more formidable. Were Ireland united your opposition would vanish as a shadow, and we should hear of it no more. Ireland is not united in this sense: that in one portion of the country, not merely the higher classes, however the observation might apply to Ireland generally—not merely the majority of the higher classes, but a considerable amount of popular feeling in one portion of the country is opposed to the present Irish National movement; but in a very small portion of the country is that adverse sentiment represented by a majority of the community. I will not attempt to measure, though I admit it is a fact of great social importance, the numerical strength of the minority; but I do wish to note a circumstance of great interest and great weight. It is commonly said, and I think I heard it said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) the other night—at any rate, I am sure the sentiment will be recognised as one emanating from the Party opposite—it is commonly said that the minority in the North is arrayed in unalterable opposition to the demand for Home Rule. In order to show that a decision is unalterable, you ought to be able to show that it has never altered. Unhappily, at the successful instigation of those whose plot it was to divide the people of Ireland, hitherto united, at the close of the last century, through the medium mainly of the Orange Lodges and through the demon of religious animosity, the state of things took the 1248 course to which I refer. But, Sir, the Protestants of Ireland, during the period of the Independent Irish Parliament, were themselves not only willing, but zealous and enthusiastic supporters of Irish nationality. Inasmuch as their political life was more highly developed, they led on the Roman Catholic population to the political movement which distinguished that period. This is written broadcast upon the history of the times. I will mention only one small, and yet significant, incident. It was in the year 1792, and in the month of November, that there met in Dublin a body of Roman Catholics under circumstances the most likely to have created jealousy amongst their fellow-countrymen, if jealousy could then be aroused, because they met under the name and undoubtedly under the nature of a Convention representative of different parts of the country. They were popularly called the Parliament of Black Lane, from the place in which they met. They formulated their demands for political equality; and where did the Commissioners who were charged with the prosecution of their demands first go to make them known? They went to the historic City of Belfast, and what reception had they in Belfast from the mass of the population? The population poured forth as one man to meet them. They took the horses from their carriages, and introduced them with a triumphal entry, drawing them through the streets of the town. That was the feeling of the Protestants in Ireland 100 years ago, and we who have seen them alter, not through their own fault, from what we think better to what we think worse, are not to be readily persuaded that they will not alter back again to the sentiments of their own ancestors, their own blood, their own religion, their own people, and form one in a noble and glorious unity with the rest of their fellow-countrymen. One word more. I am not about to comment in any invidious sense upon the well-known fact that England alone has a majority of Representatives opposed to Irish Home Rule. I am not about to menace England; [Laughter] for it is not by menace that England is to be converted. I am not about to urge that England will find her strength exhausted and her work impracticable, if that work is to be per 1249 manent resistance to the Irish demands; for I confess that in my opinion, perhaps it is an exaggerated opinion, the strength of England, taking its resources in connection with the masculine substantiveness of the character of its people, and their wonderful persistency in giving effect to the opinions they embrace, might maintain, if England were so minded, a resistance to the voice of all her partners, might maintain it for a time almost indefinite, spending her immeasurable energies in a manful, if disastrous, pursuit and sustentation of a bad cause. But I want to know whether England has arrived at that permanency of sentiment on behalf of a coercive and repressive policy—that permanency of sentiment in denying to Ireland the full equality which we request on her behalf? Is the mind of England unswervingly fixed in that direction? To answer that question, let us see what has taken place within these few years. It will be recollected that the Chief, the brilliant Chief, of the Tory Party at about that period said: "Oh, the reason why repression and coercion have not succeeded is because you have not been sufficiently resolute. You have fluctuated; you have gone this way and that way; to-day thinking one thing and another day thinking another thing." But he exhorted them to brace themselves for a resolute, persistent, and an immovable endurance; then, he said, the Government of Ireland will be an easy task. To all appearances the people of England gave a cordial response to that invitation, for in July, 1886, while out of 465 Members they returned but 127 favourable to our way of thinking, there were no less than 338 who were opposed to it. Then, I think, the noble Marquess said that was an irrevocable verdict. The time that has passed since then has not been very long, but now the 127 have already swollen to 197, and the 338 are sunk to 268. There was a majority from England adverse to the Irish claim in 1886 of 211, but now that majority has declined to the more modest figure of 71. With all the British persistence and valour and resource, which no man denies, and which no man endeavours to attenuate; with all that, Sir, two-thirds of the majority have vanished, and I want to know who will be the effective guarantee for the permanence of the remain 1250 ing third? I have not endeavoured to couch these arguments in the tone of Party. I have rather endeavoured, so far as I could, to address myself to the minds of reflective men, to beg them, to conjure them, to take note of the facts, to use the past in the interpretation of the future, and to form a rational judgment as to the course which they ought prospectively to pursue. Having said so much, I will now come to the endeavour, in which I must further ask the kind and patient indulgence of the House, to give some intelligible account of the Bill that I have to lay before the House. I do not undertake to supply what may be termed a table of contents of the Bill. I think if I did I should probably bewilder my hearers, and completeness would be much more than balanced by practical obscurity. What I shall seek to do is to present to the notice of the House the scheme and the principal, or salient points, of the Bill, and to leave, if I can, some living impression of its character on the minds and memories of those who hear me. Of course, within limits, there may be a difference of opinion as to which are the principal points. I may include some that, in the view of some gentlemen, are not principal; I may omit others that, in the view of other gentlemen, ought to have been mentioned. My only answer to that is to beg that gentlemen will, for themselves, as soon as they are able, and I trust it will be very soon indeed, consult the Bill itself. I may say, Sir, in one word, that while it will, or may, be remembered that in 1886 there were five propositions laid down as cardinal principles from which there ought to be no departure, to those five propositions we have endeavoured closely to adhere. Changes there have been—far from unimportant changes, but not, I think, in any manner trenching upon any of those declared principles of 1886. The object of the Bill was stated—and that remains the object of the Bill, with regard to which everything else is secondary and conditional—the object of the Bill was to, establish a Legislative Body sitting; in Dublin for the conduct of both, legislation and administration in Irish as distinct from Imperial affairs. The limiting conditions which, I say, we then observed, and have since, 1251 so far as we were able, been sedulously and closely observed, are these: We were to do nothing inconsistent with Imperial unity. Of that Imperial unity I will say, in passing—I know it will not be admitted that we are right, but so far as our convictions and intentions are concerned, they would be but feebly stated by being couched in the declaration that we do not mean to impair it. We wish to strengthen it. We wish to give it a greater intensity than it has ever yet possessed, and we believe that a wise extension of the privileges of local self-government has been shown by experience to be the most effective instrument for that purpose. First, then, Imperial unity was to be observed; secondly, the equality of all the Kingdoms was to be borne in mind; thirdly, there was to be an equitable re-partition of Imperial charges; fourthly, any and every practicable provision for the protection of minorities was to be adopted; and, fifthly, the plan that was to be proposed ought to be such as, at least in the judgment of its promoters, to present the necessary characteristics of, I will not say finality, because that is a discredited word, but a real and a continuing settlement. That is the basis upon which we continue to stand, and I will now state the main points in which we endeavour to carry that out. In the first place, we have met, or desire to meet, what we think not an unreasonable demand for an express mention of the Imperial supremacy. There are two modes in which that might be done. It might be done by a clause; it might be done in the Preamble. We have chosen the Preamble as the worthier method. If it were done by a clause it would bear too much the character of a mere enactment, whereas in the Preamble it is a radical and cardinal principle underlying each and every enactment, and it is far better in our view to notice and acknowledge it reverentially in the Preamble than to give it the character of some decision, of what might be supposed to be a novel decision of Parliament, and to expose it to the chances which any attack upon such an enactment might entail. It is not necessary to use many words for such a purpose. Our words are— 1252Whereas, it is expedient that, without impairing or restricting the supreme authority of Parliament.It then goes on to declare the creation of a Legislature. And what I wish to point out is this: with reference to the charge frequently, and I have no doubt in good faith, made against us that we are destroying the Act of Union. I wish to challenge an inquiry upon this main and fundamental point. What is the essence of the Act of Union? I wish gentlemen, would ask themselves the question—what is the essence of the Act of Union? That essence is to be appreciated by comparing the constitution of things that we had in this country before 1800 with the constitution of things which now subsists. Before 1800 we had two sovereignties in the country. One of those sovereignties collectively lodged in the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons of England. The other collectively lodged in the King, the House of Lords and the House of Commons of Ireland; and there was no right, in the true public sense, in the historic legal sense of right, there was no more right in the sovereignty residing in Great Britain to interfere with the sovereignty planted in Ireland than there was in the sovereignty planted in Ireland, had it been strong enough, to interfere with the sovereignty planted in England. The Act of Union made the Kingdoms into one, and made the sovereignties into one, and the incorporation of the Parliaments was a measure subsidiary to the union of the sovereignties—subsidiary and instrumental. That incorporation is the question which we raise, and which we wish partially, and under the conditions of the Bill, but not entirely to alter. The essence of the Act of Union was the establishing of the unity of the sovereignty of the country, so that the Body thereby constituted the sovereign Body was to be a Body entitled to exercise those rights of sovereignty equally and completely throughout the entirety of the three Kingdoms. So it was, and so the readers of this Bill, and indeed I think the readers of the Bill of 1886—but that I have nothing to do with now—will find that it now remains. Then the Bill constitutes an Irish Legislature. Power is granted to the Irish Legislature, which consists, first, 1253 of the Legislative Council and, secondly, of the Legislative Assembly—To make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland in respect of matters exclusively relating to Ireland or to some part thereof.That power is subject to a double limitation, which I will describe. First of all, it is subject to the necessary and obvious limitation that certain heads are reserved to Parliament—not reserved as given to Parliament, but reserved by way of excluding the new Irish Legislature from doing any act in relation to them. The other is that certain incapacities are imposed upon this new Legislature of Ireland. They are very short, and I will enumerate them—namely, all that relates to the Crown, Regency, and Viceroy, all that relates to peace and war, all that relates to defence, all that relates to Treaties and foreign relations, and all that relates to dignities and titles. He law of treason will not belong to it, the law of alienage will not belong to it, and everything that belongs to external trade—and upon that point I shall make a remark by-and. by—the subject of coinage, and some other subsidiary subjects. Then as regards the incapacities imposed, hon. Gentlemen have been already made familiar with them in the Bill of 1886; I will only describe them as relating to two subjects in these most large and general terms by way of a slight sketch. They are intended for the security of religious freedom—and there they touch upon establishments and education—and for the security of personal freedom, with respect to which—I hope without trenching upon any just sentiment of Irish patriotism—we have endeavoured to borrow where we thought we could safely borrow from one of the modern amendments of the American Constitution. Then I come to the Executive powers. We propose to subject the Executive power to a change, which I think is generally recognised as reasonable—given our main proposition—that is, to place the office of Viceroy of Ireland so as to divest it as far as we can of the Party character which it has hitherto borne, and does bear to a degree far from desirable, and to provide—though this will be the first time that there has been any statutory appointment—that the appointment shall usually run for six years, 1254 but subject, of course, to the revoking power of the Crown. That is the first point with regard to the Viceroyalty. The second point is that, if the Bill becomes law, it is to be freed from all religious disabilities. Religious disabilities may have been, and I think were, very improper and inadvisable even before the abolition of the Irish Church as an Establishment, but since that abolition they have become really nothing less than proposterous. Then comes a clause which may be considered formal, though it is, of course, of great importance, providing for the full devolution of Executive power from the Sovereign upon the Viceroy. Then comes the important provision for the appointment of the Executive Committee of the Privy Council in Ireland. Now, if the practice of the Irish Privy Council were the same as it is in England, I am not sure that we should have required such an enactment, because in England there is no assumption by Members of the Privy Council, except when they are specially invited to discharge them, of any real or important functions. But in Ireland the line is not so carefully drawn between the merely honorary Privy Councillorships and the positive exercise and discharge of the duties: and in order to make it clear how far these duties are dependent upon the individual, whereas they ought to be dependent upon the central power of the State, we provide that an Executive Committee of the Privy Council shall be constituted, and that this Committee shall be so constituted that it shall be in effect the practical Council for ordinary affairs, or, if you like so to call it, the Cabinet of the Viceroy. Then comes the question of the veto. There what we provide is that on the advice of that Executive Committee, the Viceroy gives or withholds his assent to Bills, subject, nevertheless, to the instructions of the Sovereign in respect to any given Bill in particular. Then I come to the Legislative Council, and that body will require rather more words from me than the sister Chamber of the Assembly. The question, of course, arises, Shall there be any Legislative Council at all? We have decided, so far as we are concerned, that there ought to be a Legislative Council, and upon these two grounds—first of all, the ground of general experience, for, looking over the world and 1255 looking out over the whole circumference of the British Empire, experience I do not think recommends, or perhaps warrants, our resorting without a great necessity or some strong and peculiar recommendation to the system of a single Chamber. In Ireland, so far from finding any such necessity or recommendation, we look to a Legislative Council as, on the contrary, affording us the fairest, the most Constitutional, and the most unexceptionable method of redeeming the pledge, if it be a pledge, which we have given to meet the expectation which we have repeatedly held out, that we would, if we could, give to the minority in Ireland some means of vocal expression and of securing a fair, full, and liberal consideration for their views; though I do not say that the views of the minority in Ireland should, as they have done for so many centuries, entirely over-rule and suppress the opinion of the nation at large. Next, shall it be nominated or elected? There we come to this conclusion:—A nominated Council is a weak Council. If such a Council attempted to make itself in any manner troublesome, it being at once troublesome and weak, would probably enjoy but a very short term of existence. We, therefore, propose an Elective Council, believing that to be the only form in which we can give any great force or vitality to the institution. Then how do we differentiate this Council, you will justly ask, from the popular Assembly? I may say, first, that we do not differentiate it by qualifications imposed upon the Councillors, analogous to the qualifications which used to exist with reference to Members of this House, and which, if they existed now, would have deprived us of some amongst our Colleagues whose presence here we value in the highest degree. We do not propose to adopt that discarded method, but we do this:—In the first place, we take the number which it is proposed to fix at 48. In the second place, we take the term of the Council, which it is proposed to fix at eight years, the term of the Assembly being a lower term. We then constitute a new constituency for the Council—a constituency which, in the first place, must be associated with a value above £20, and I may say that with that figure we hope to secure an aggregate constituency approaching 170,000.
§ *MR. W. E. GLADSTONE:
On valuation. In that constituency owners are included as well as occupiers, but subject to the provision that no owner or occupier is to vote in more than one constituency. Lastly, as the only characteristic which I need name, there is no provision in the Bill to make the Legislative Council alterable by Irish enactment. Then it appears to us it would be very inconvenient if we were to attempt to alter the numbers of the Legislative Assembly; if we were to increase them, we do not know what increase it ought to be; if we were to reduce them, I think we should run very serious risk of causing practical inconvenience, especially in Dublin, at a time when functions of local and internal government come up to be newly exercised. We therefore leave the number at 103; we fix a term of five years, and we leave the constituency as it is now. We contemplate that these 103 Members must not, in order to fulfil the spirit of the Constitution, pass hence to a Chamber in Dublin by our authority, but that they ought to be elected for Irish legislative business by the constituencies in Ireland. And, lastly, we make these provisions as to the Assembly alterable with respect to electors and constituencies after a term of six years, but in altering the constituencies the powers will be limited by a declaration in the Act that there must be due regard had to the distribution of the population. It will be necessary, as we have considered, to include in the Bill a provision for the purpose of meeting what is called a deadlock. Our proposition is this—that in cases where a Bill has been adopted by the Assembly more than once, and where there has been an interval between the two adoptions either of two years or else marked by a Dissolution of Parliament, then upon the second adoption the two Assemblies may be required to meet together, and the fate of the Bill will be decided by the Joint Assembly. I must now run with great rapidity through a number of enactments in the Bill which I should not be justified in omitting, but which I shall not refer to in detail. First of all, appeals, as we propose, shall lie to the Privy Council alone, and not to the Privy Council and the House of 1257 Lords. Next, the Privy Council may try the question of the invalidity of an Irish Act—try it, of course, judicially, and, I hope, in a reasoned judgement—what is sometimes called a question of ultra vires, not, however, upon the initiative of irresponsible persons, but upon the initiative either of the Viceroy or the Secretary of State. The Judicial Committee as now recognised is the only approach we can get to the Supreme Court of the United States, and of course I need not say that in the composition of the Judicial Committee due regard must be had to the difference of nationality. I do not apprehend any difficulty upon that point. Then we declare the Judges irremovable. That is quite right. At the same time, I must say there is something quaint in out being so jealous of the Judges as against the Irish Parliament when it is recollected that the English Government in the days of its supremacy in Ireland never lifted a finger to make the Judges irremovable, and they would not have served the purposes of the English Government if they had been irremovable. When in the year 1782 the Irish Parliament was relieved from its restraints and had imbibed an independent spitit, then one of the earliest, if I remember right, of its spontaneous movements, without being taught or tutored by the English Government, was to make its Judges irremovable. We have got in the Bill a clause to provide for the security of the emoluments of existing Judges and existing civil officers generally. As to the principles which are laid down with regard to the Constabulary, there are some of the detailed arrangements which will not be found inserted in the Bill. It has been thought better to reserve these particulars, and to set out, in the first instance, the principles on which we have proceeded. Then there is a clause which is intended to correspond with and to supply as far as is desirable the purpose of the Colonial Validity Law. The object of that clauses is to provide that, if the Irish Legislature passes an Act which is in any sense contrary to Acts of Parliament, that Act shall be good except in so far as it is so contrary. I do not suppose that there will be any controversy on that portion of this particular subject. We provide that two Exchequer Judges shall be 1258 appointed under the authority of the Crown—that is to say, under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom—for the purpose, purpose, I may say, generally of that business which is Imperial, because there are certain matters in connection with the ordinary action of British law which we are not able to exclude altogether, although I should be very glad to exclude them, on grounds that will be presently stated. Besides the appointment of these Exchequer Judges, it is provided that for six years all Judges shall he appointed as they now are, and it will be understood that that is really a method for dividing the jurisdiction, because, with regard to future appointments, we do not assume to the Imperial authority any power of fixing the emoluments. These emoluments will he fixed in Ireland, and the effects will he to establish a joint control over these appointments. As to the date of the meeting, so far as we can judge, the month of September will probably be the most convenient time of the year we can name, and therefore there is a clause in the Bill which provides that the Legislature shall meet on the first Tuesday in September. There are clauses securing the sole initiative in Motley Bills to the Assembly, and also providing that the Assembly shall not have within itself an initiative except upon the prior initiative of the Viceroy. Then there is a clause about financial arrangements, which I shall come to immediately, providing that they may be readjusted and reconsidered after 15 years upon an Address either from the House of Commons or from the Legislative Assembly. Then, Sir, I must just deal with the principles which we recognise as applicable to the settlement of the important question connected with the Constabulary. The principles are these: their gradual, though not too abrupt reduction, their ultimate dissolution or disappearance, our full recognition and discharge of every obligation towards them in such a way that, as I hope we may say, the interests of that remarkable and honourable force will not be adversely affected by the passing of such a Bill as is now before us. During the period I have named they will be under the control of the Viceroy, as the representative of the Crown, but, 1259 of course, it is contemplated that they are to be replaced by a force owing its existence to Irish authority, and therefore we propose and contemplate that, upon the gradual establishment by Irish authority in local areas of a new police force, the Constabulary will be withdrawn piecemeal from those local areas one after another. We hope that a transfer will take place from the old to the new and properly Irish police force, but I cannot go into the details of the arrangements, which, we think, may be reserved to a later stage in the progress of the Bill. Now, I come to two subjects of the greatest importance. One of these is the grave controversy which arose in connection with the retention of Irish Members in this House. Accordingly, Sir, we have gone into this subject in a spirit of prudence, a spirit of circumspection, or even of jealousy; but it is a subject which in a great measure has been taken out of our hands—at least to this extent, that whereas in 1886 we proposed to allow the Irish Representatives to drop entirely out of this House, we have yielded to what we believed to be the public wish that they should be retained. Now, Sir, that preface to the subject is an easy matter, but we shall not get on so swimmingly when we proceed to deal with its details. For I must say that, whether we were right or wrong in 1886—a question on which I will give no opinion, because it is immaterial—in our view of the practical difficulties attending the retention of the Irish Members, we were very far from being altogether in error. Strong language of my own is often quoted with respect to these difficulties, but I am bound to say that, looking back after seven years and admitting that that language was, I might say, almost impromptu language on a rapid consideration of the subject—I cannot say that that language was really too strong. At any rate, it was absolutely free from prejudice. On the important subject of the retention of the Irish Members, I do not regard it, and I never have regarded it, as touching what may be called the principles of the Bill. It is not included in one of them, but, whether it be a principle of the Bill or not, there is no question that it is a very weighty and, if I may say so, an organic detail which cuts rather deep in 1260 some respects into the composition of the Bill. I do not at all dissemble that there are strong arguments which may be alleged in defence of the retention of the Irish Members, such as we are about to propose. There is one argument which I must put aside; I think it is a most dangerous argument, and in itself quite undignified, but it is the argument of those who say that unless you retain Irish Members there is no Parliamentary supremacy over Ireland. I entirely decline to admit that argument, and I say if you do admit it you at one stroke shatter and destroy the Parliamentary supremacy of this country, I might almost say, beyond the limits of the United Kingdom over the vast Colonies of the Crown. I pass on from that. Though I do not at all admit that Parliamentary supremacy depends on the retention of the Irish Members, yet I quite admit that the retention of the Irish Members is a matter of great public importance, because it visibly exhibits that supremacy in a manner intelligible to the people. Besides that, it may make Ireland feel what, perhaps at the present moment, she cannot be expected so keenly to feel, but I hope at an early period she may come to feel it—it may make Ireland feel that she has a full voice on all imperial matters. And, thirdly, it has this advantage: We cannot in our financial arrangements get rid of all financial connection between the two countries, unless you are prepared to face a very inexpedient and inconvenient system of different sets of trade laws. That being so, it must be that British Budgets will have more or less of influence upon Irish pecuniary balances, and therefore it is desirable for the purpose of mitigating any inconvenience that might thence arise that Ireland should have something to say to these British Budgets. These are arguments in favour of the retention of the Irish Members, and I really know of no argument against it, provided they are willing to remain and to take the trouble to come here for the purpose of discharging Public Business. There is no argument of an abstract, theoretical, or constitutional character against their retention. But the argument against it is that I do not think—to revert to my own expression, that has become rather familiar and threadbare—that it is "within the wit of 1261 man" to devise a plan for their retention which shall not he open to some serious practical difficulty. My object here is to open up the whole question for the judgment of the House. I will endeavour, as far as I can, to explain the nature of these inconveniences. They turn mainly upon the conjunction of two points. The first is number, and the second is voting power. The first question that arises is this: Is Ireland to be fully represented in this House? Probably the feeling of hon. Gentlemen will be in favour of all affirmative answer to that question. But then arises another difficulty, which, no doubt, can be got over, but which must not be altogether overlooked. What is the full representation of Ireland? In 1884 this House treated Ireland in what I thought a wise, but undoubtedly a liberal spirit, as some compensation for the gross illiberality with which she had been treated at the time of the Union with respect to her representation, in assigning to her the number of 103 Members. That number was even then beyond what, according to calculations from population, Ireland would have been strictly entitled to. Unhappily, that disparity has since been aggravated by a double process. The population of Great Britain has continued in all its divisions to increase. The population of Ireland, to our great regret, has continued to diminish. It has now reached this point: that whereas the numbers accorded to Ireland in the composition of Parliament are 103, the number estimated according to the ratio of Irish population to the population of the rest of the country, would only give to Ireland the number of 80 Members. I am speaking, perhaps, in round numbers. There is a fraction, of course, but all through I am speaking in round numbers, because it is far more convenient for general comprehension than minute exactness. What I come to is this: Supposing there is a general sentiment that Ireland ought to be fully represented, yet there will be also a general determination to interpret that full representation according to the proportion at present subsisting between the population of Ireland and the population of the two Kingdoms. Therefore, in speaking of full representation, I imply that, the full representation of Ireland would be by 1262 80 Irish Members; and it follows, if that be the conclusion, that there will have to be a new election for these 80 Irish Members, for I conceive the House would probably be indisposed to recognise the commission given to 103 as valid when it had been determined that 80 was the proper number. The question may be raised, whether we can go below 80? It may be—I do not conceal it from myself as possible, that in the partially developed state of her political life, from want of practice in local-selfgovernment, and from the effects of excessive centralisation—it may be that to supply a full number for a Legislature in Dublin, and likewise to supply 80 Members for the Imperial Parliament, would dot be very convenient to Ireland. I however, I am met by this difficulty: that if Ireland were represented not by 80 Members, but by 30 or 40, the effect would be that the object of retention would not he gained, because the voice and the vote of Ireland would not be adequately given upon those Imperial questions on which Ireland, if she chooses to assert it, has just as deep, vital, and large an interest as Great Britain. We have, therefore, endeavoured to arrange the schedule of the Bill in such a manner that this Imperial representation shall not practically clash in any inconvenient way with the representation of the Legislature in Dublin, which is to remain in the hands of the Irish authority. That is one difficulty; but there is a greater difficulty left behind. What is to be the voting power of these 80 men? Now, if I may suppose it to be so, that is an article of diet, which will be found, decide it Which way you will, to be somewhat indigestible. The question is this: Ireland is to be represented here in full.That is my first postulate. My second is that Ireland is to be invested in full with a separate power, subject, no doubt, to the Imperial authority, yet still, as we trust from experience, a practically separate and independent power, as it is in other Legislatures of the Empire. Ireland is to be endowed with separate power over Irish affairs; and the question before us now is, Is she or is she not to vote 80 strong upon matters purely British? I think that, in judging of that question, there is material sufficient to exercise in a mascu 1263 line and beneficial way all the reflective and reasoning powers of this Assembly. My question is, Is Ireland to vote 80 strong under the two postulates I have stated? And I propose the question in Parliamentary form, "Aye" or "No." There are reasons both ways. I will even go further, and say that in my opinion there are strong reasons both ways. I will go a little further yet, and say that I have no absolute certainty in my own mind what view the House of Commons will take of this question. Let us hope that you will take the right view. But I hope my full and impartial exposition will bring out as far as I am able the elements upon which, in whole or in part, your judgment will have to rest. First, I will take the arguments in favour of their voting 80 strong upon purely British questions. One argument is that to which I made reference in 1886. We cannot cut them off in a manner perfectly clean and clear from this House. We cannot find an absolute and accurate line of cleavage between questions that are Imperial and questions that are Irish. Unless we let them vote on all British questions, Ireland must, I believe, have something too little or something too much, because there are questions which it defies our efforts to range with accuracy and precision, upon an indisputable principle, on the proper side of the line. There are some subjects difficult to detail which, I have no doubt, will arise in determining the competency of Irish Members to vote; but the main point undoubtedly is that we did not see in 1886, and we do not see now, the possibility of excluding them from what is one of the highest and most important among all the functions of this House—namely, determining the composition of the Executive power by their vote. A Vote of Confidence is commonly a simple declaration. It may be otherwise, but it is in the option of Movers to make it, and it is generaly made—a Motion simply declaratory of the will of the House. I do not think it is possible to exclude the Irish Members remaining in this House front voting upon that great subject. That is the first argument. The next argument is this—and I own it touches me nearly and cuts deeply, if I may say so, into the mind and heart of any one who has had a long experience of Parliament, and whose life has been associated 1264 for full three-score years with the life and movement of the British House of Commons. It is that unless the Irish Members vote upon all questions, you break a great Parliamentary tradition, that of the absolute equality of Members of this House. I cannot say, Sir, what value I, for one, attach to the principle of Parliamentary equality. Be the man young or old, be he rich or poor, be he from the ranks or the highest nobility, or be he a representative of the working class—be his powers what they may, be his standing here what it may, I hold, in defiance, if it so must be, of all merely conventional considerations, that the essential equality of the Members of this House is a principle of the deepest consequence, and forms a part—a fundamental part—of the environment in which we live, and which, to a large extent, enters into and makes us what we are. Well, Sir, in what degree and manner will that equality be violated by a limitation of voting power?. That, is the question. There is no doubt that anyone who will consider the practical working out of a plan of this kind will, I think, agree with me that the presence of 80 Members of this House with only limited powers of voting is a serious breach of established Parliamentary tradition, and is a breach which, whether you resolve to face it or not, ought to be made the subject of your most careful and dispassionate consideration. And now I come to the reasons against the universal voting power. My first reason is an extenuation of reasons stated the other way. I say you can have no cleavage between these two questions. You cannot say everything on that side is Irish and everything on this side is Imperial. That, I think, you cannot do; but undoubtedly you can draw a distinction as to the great mass of the business of the House. If you ask for the proportion of it I should say nine-tenths or nineteen-twentieths, or perhaps ninety-nine hundredths of the business of Parliament call, without serious difficulty, be classed either as Irish or Imperial. Then comes a question of a grave anomaly. I should admit it to be a great and very formidable anomaly, if our nervous systems were of a character to be violently acted upon by the word "anomaly." It would be a very great anomaly, I think, that these 80 Irish gentlemen, coming here, no doubt, with most upright intentions, as 1265 well as with an admirable stock of ability, of which we have had long experience—it would be an anomaly that they should continually intervene in questions purely and absolutely British—questions probably affecting not even the whole of the United Kingdom—not even the whole of any section of the United Kingdom—questions of the most purelylocal character. We must own that, as far as anomaly goes, that is a very great anomaly. But it is not, in my opinion, the strongest argument against the universal voting of the Irish Members. I wish to approach this question in a spirit of trust. I believe myself that suspicion is the besetting vice of politicians, and that trust is often the truest wisdom. Still, we must not with our eyes open deliberately leave an easy entrance, and a strong temptation, to intrigue. I have great confidence, speaking generally, in the personal character of politicians, but cannot deny that there have been, or that there may be, parties that might descend to intrigue for Party purposes. If some very large question of controversy entirely British, but still deep and vital, were severing the two great Parties in this House, and the Members of these Parties knew that whichever could bring over the 80 Irish Representatives, or a large contingent of them, to support their views would carry the day. I am afraid of thus opening a possible door to wholesale and dangerous political intrigue. I hope that in this rather disagreeable delineation I am entering upon hon. Members from Ireland will not think that I am dwelling upon their particular share in these infirmities. I would rather suppose that the initiative comes from this side of the House. I am afraid that in some given case, actuated by a warm love of country, Ireland might yield to, or be led into, the temptation. I dread creating a state of things in which there may be an opening to intrigue of this character with the result that British questions might come to be decided by Irish motives. I know that this is an evil under which we have already suffered. I regard that as absolutely inevitable in the present state of things. But with Irishmen sitting at this moment in the House I recognise in the fullest manner that the welfare of Ireland is with them the supreme, paramount, over-ruling interest. I do not blame them. I cannot blame them. I am 1266 not speaking of loyalty, but of Party contentions; and I say I cannot blame them if, when British questions come to an issue and they think they can greatly promote the interests of Ireland, they are guided by an Irish motive in determining, and perhaps determining wrongly, the British question. That dread of intrigue appears to me to be a most formidable weapon. I think it is not merely an anomaly as we might view it in this House; but it is what plain, unlettered Englishmen would think who cannot understand why Irish votes on some question of education or other matter in which Englishmen are interested and which is in no respect Irish, should be determined by those who have a separate Parliament to determine the same question for themselves. On that other question of the mixture of individual motives between some Party on this side of the water and Representatives from the other side of the water, with the view to make use of Irish votes to decide some question of British interest by indirect means, and holding out inducements to the Irish Members for their services, connected with the welfare of Ireland, I confess that we have not been able to face a contingency such as this. These are very great difficulties, and difficulties which we have felt to be, on the whole, the most hard to surmount. The consequence is, that we have inserted in the Bill certain provisions for contemplating the full retention of the number of Irish Members, but we have inserted limitations of their voting powers. We have inserted governing provisions—namely, that the decision of each House of Parliament shall be absolute and final upon all occasions which may arise, so that we may not run the risk of getting this great authority into collision with any judicial or other authority. I will state briefly what the limitations are:—First of all, the Irish Members will be excluded from voting on any Bill or Motion expressly confined to Great Britain; secondly, on any tax not levied in Ireland; thirdly, on any Vote or appropriation of money otherwise than for Imperial services—there will be no difficulty here, because in a Schedule to the Bill we enumerate all the services which by law would stand as Imperial—and, fourthly, on any Motion or Resolution 1267 exclusively affecting Great Britain, or person or persons therein. Then there is a covering limitation to exclude them from any Motion or Resolution incidental to any of the foregoing, except the first; and the first is any Bill or Motion expressly confined to Great Britain. They are not excluded from voting on a Motion incidental to a Bill confined to Great Britain alone. It appears to us that there ought to be some way that on a Bill or Motion exclusively relating to Great Britain there should be a power of raising a question whether such Bill or Motion ought to be extended to Ireland. There may be those who will say, "You set forth with rhetorical fairness the intentions and conclusions that you come to, but the whole business you have undertaken is full of thorns and brambles, why not abandon it? "But I will not abandon it. The object of this Bill is autonomy and self-government for Ireland in matters properly Irish. The Irish do not raise these difficulties. If they are willing to accept that autonomy and take your terms, whatever they may be, as to sitting here or not sitting here, we—for our own purposes, no doubt—have thought it right that there should be provisions for retaining them. Nothing could be more uustatesmanlike and ungenerous than to avail ourselves of our own wrong when they have met us freely and frankly, and accepted exclusion from this House, and when we have insisted on their remaining to make the difficulty of their remaining the reason for retaining them. The retention or non-retention, patent as it is, is secondary to the great purpose we have in view. The secondary ought not to interfere with the aim, the principle, the great purpose we have in view. We have offered time best plan which, after much labour, we could make. We have, however, feeling that the shadow of uncertainty may hang over the subject, with modesty affixed:—" unless and until it is otherwise determined." I have still one function to go through, and that is on the subject of the financial part of the measure—the keynote of which is to be found in the provisions included in our plans from the first, and wisely, but I must say I also think generously, accepted by Ireland and her Representatives, that there is to be one system of legislating for all the Kingdom on commercial 1268 affairs. That has guided us in the conclusions which we have formed—the unity of commercial legislation for all Three Kingdoms. This commercial legislation may be considered either as taxing legislation or regulative legislation, and, as taxing legislation has the most important financial consequences, I will refer to it here. Under the head of commercial legislation for this purpose we include, first of all, Customs Duties; secondly, Excise Duties; and, thirdly, the Post Office and Telegraph Service, through which nearly the whole commercial business of the country is conducted. By adopting this keynote, I promise the House that we attain what we think most valuable results, and results which are likely to avoid clashing and friction between the agents of the Imperial Government and the agents of the Irish Government. We can make, under cover of this proposition, a larger and more liberal transfer to Ireland of the management of her own affairs than we could make if we proceeded on any other principle. For example, we hope to escape in this way from all collection in the interior of Ireland of any revenue whatever by Imperial Authorities. We hope to escape front the exercise of all taxing power except the three branches to which I have referred. We hope to escape cross accounts and cross payments on Revenue Account. There are some minor heads on which I shall not touch at present. They are small points; such as Mint charges, and the prospective profits on the Suez Canal, which I exclude front consideration for the moment, and come to the main matter before us. The principle to which we are bound to give effect is that Ireland is bound to bear her fair share of Imperial expenditure. The word "Imperial" being defined as in the Schedule which gives a list of the Imperial Services. There are three modes in which this might be done. The first is the method of the lump sum, which was adopted in 1886, and which was called by those not very friendly to it the "method of tribute." The method of proceeding by lump sum, we have thought, naturally disappeared with the adoption of the new plan for the retention of the Irish Members. The Irish Members will sit here and vote on 1269 Imperial expenditure, and consequently it would seem strange, under these circumstances, to resort to the method of the lump or fixed sum. Then another method is what may be shortly described as the method of quota —to say Ireland shall pay 6 per cent., 5 per cent., or 4 per cent., what you please, of the Imperial expenditure. She will be debited to that extent, and will have to pay it over front her Exchequer to ours. There is one point, I think, in that plan of considerable merit, and it is this: that if you fix a quota, that quota is absolutely elastic; and if Imperial Expenditure were to swell, which Heaven forbid! from the £89,000,000, at which it now stands, to £100,000,000, the principle of quota would still secure the relative share to be contributed by Ireland in an accurate manner. The method of proceeding by quota has these disadvantages: All the revenues without exception would be collected for Irish Account, and then out of the Irish Exchequer the quota would be taken. Now there is one of these revenues to which the greatest difficulty adheres. When explaining this subject in I886 I pointed out that there was a very large sum of revenue locally received in Ireland, but really belonging to Great Britain. The principal part of that sum was within the Excise Department. Now, I am happy to say that with the advantage of the consideration which the Inland Revenue Department has had since the former plan was produced we get rid of the difficulty altogether so far as the Inland Revenue is concerned, and we can provide that the revenue levied in Ireland shall be the revenue really belonging' to Ireland; that is the revenue levied on goods consumed in Ireland. But that is not so with Customs. With the Customs there is a large debit to Ireland front this country, not so large as is involved in the case of the Excise, but still covering several hundred thousands of pounds, and it is extremely difficult to ascertain the particulars; so that if we were to collect the Customs revenue on Irish Account, we should be involved in an interminable difficulty as to determining how much of that revenue really belonged to Ireland, and how much of it was revenue that belonged for fiscal purposes to England. That would 1270 be a very great objection. Then another thing is this: If we adopted the method of quota we should expose Irish finance to large and inconvenient shocks front changes introduced in English Budgets for Imperial reasons, and we should also perhaps make it necessary to do what I think we are very unwilling to do—namely, to give to Imperial officers a meddling and an intervening power in relation to Irish fiscal affairs. But there is a third method which is the method we have adopted, deeming that the advantages which it presents are greater than the advantage belonging to the method of quota. The third plan is to appropriate a particular fund; to lay hands upon it, and say this fund shall be taken by us and shall stand in acquittal of all the obligations of Ireland for Imperial services, so that Ireland shall receive in regard to Imperial services a receipt in full. Of course, I am not now speaking of the Land Purchase question or loans made to Ireland. I am speaking of the regular provision for the services of the country. Now, the arguments for the appropriation of such a fund are these: In the first place, it sweeps away all those difficulties of calculation that belong to the quota. In the second place, we have got the fund practically in our hands, because come what may, with the unity of management for external trade, it is plain, I think, that the management of the Customs revenue must be British and Imperial. Consequently, we are the receivers of a fund which would never go near the Irish Exchequer. We should keep it, and give Ireland her receipt in full, instead of coming upon her for heavy payment from year to year. Then, next, the Customs Fund is so very nearly the right amount. I do not know what the House may think would be the amount. Judgments may fluctuate. Some may say 4 per cent., some may say 5 per cent., and some may say a little more. But the amount of the Customs Final is £2,430,000 a Year gross. £60,000 allowed for collection, leaves £2,370,000 net. The Imperial expenditure is £59.000,000, and the £2,370,000 is it sum that drops between two points of a charge of 4 per cent. and charge of 5 per cent. By adopting this method, although the rates of Excise and the rates of the Post Office 1271 and Telegraphs would be fixed by Imperial Authorities, the whole control and management would be absolutely in the hands of Irish officers. I ought, perhaps, to point out to what extent what I will call the fund plan would fall short in exactitude of the quota plan. The quota plan, by its elasticity, meets every exigency of peace and war. The fund plan is not quite so exact. What would happen is this: A serious question which may arise in the minds of hon. Members is, How are we to be assured that we shall obtain from Ireland her fair share of assistance in the case of great Imperial emergencies?—that is to say, the exigency of war. Well, no doubt this exigency ought to be contemplated. I myself am bound to say that I should have very little fear of trusting to the patriotism and liberality of an Irish Legislature. Stinginess has never been the vice of Ireland. If I am to look forward to the paulo post futurum condition of Ireland under Home Rule, I am a great deal more afraid of her suffering from a generous extravagance than from anything in the nature of stinginess. When we come to a state of war, we look to three sources of Revenue: Customs, Excise, and Income Tax. With regard to Customs, it will be observed that the plan we propose leaves that source of Revenue in our hands, so that there would be no difficulty as to that. I will not enter into details at this period with respect to other sources of Revenue, but I will say that in ease of great emergency we have in view a proposition, by which, in our opinion, we should make sure of getting fair and full provision from Ireland for a proper contribution to these Imperial exigencies. The Irish balance-sheet will stand thus: On the credit side will appear the Excise, £3,220,000; the whole Local Taxes, such as Stamps, Income Tax, and Excise Licences, £1,495,000; Postal Revenue, £740,000; Crown Lands, £65,000; Miscellaneous, £140,000, making a total of £5,660,000. The who1e of the Civil Government charges, excepting the Constabulary charge, would be £3,210,000. The collection of Inland Revenue would be £160,000, the Postal services £790,000, and we propose that Ireland should take two-thirds of the charge of the Constabulary, which would be £1,000,000. That would 1272 bring the Irish charge to £5,160,000 We propose that she should receive against that all the items that I have already read out to her credit reaching £5,660,000. That is to say, she would have a clear surplus with which to start on her own account of exactly £500,000. It will probably be asked whence does this surplus come? We take one-third of the Constabulary charge ourselves, which is no. doubt a vanishing charge. That one-third would supply the £500,000 which would be the clear balance Ireland would have to start with. Then, one would say, at whose expense will that balance he found? Well, Sir, undoubtedly in the whole or in the main it would fall on the British taxpayer. You may be shocked at that; but there is much more reason to be shocked at what is now going on, which I will presently disclose. What is my vindication for assigning to Ireland this clear surplus of £500,000? Well, Sir, there is a variety of arguments that might be urged. One of them is an argument which I by no means take to be without force. But it is not the governing consideration at the present time, and that is that upon full examination I am well convinced that Ireland in former days has been most shabbily and most unjustly treated with respect to money matters. There were too many injustices in the past I have no doubt, and I do not at the present moment take upon myself to urge that—though I think it will very likely be urged by Irish Representatives—as an important consideration. What I want to urge is this: that by arriving at this settlement with Ireland you will escape the impending and constantly-accruing increment of Irish charges. And that is well worth your while to come under this considerable but vanishing charge of £500,000 in. order to escape the increment of the charge for Irish local services. Would hon. Gentlemen like to know what that is? Irish grants upon the average of 1833 to 1837 were £762,000 a year, Irish grants on the average of 1888 to 1892 were £4,042,000. That is to say, in 55 years there was an increase of £3,300,000, or a regular increment of £66,000 a year. Perhaps you will say, "But that may be improving now 1273 £66,000 is rather formidable, but it may be improving now. "How does it go according to our latest experience? Here, Sir, you have the latest experience; that is to say, the experience of the seven years between 1886 and 1893. In 1886 the Civil charges of Ireland without the Constabulary were £3,094,000. In 1893 the Civil charges were £3,892,000. The Civil charges of Ireland have increased in the last seven years by an aggregate of £800,000 a year, and that gives you an annual increment in these our modern days not of £66,000, but of £113,000. Well, Sir, I hope I may now release the House front the painful consideration of details, details to which hon. Members have listened with exemplary patience, and which I have presented to them in this imperfect manner, but with every effort on my part to select for presentation those points which are most interesting, most vital, and most calculated to convey a fundamental conception of the spirit of the scheme. Our plan may be a very imperfect one; it may admit of some amendment to be received from the impartial consideration of the House, and front the action of friendly, and possibly even of unfriendly, criticism. I wish it were more worthy of its object, for its object, as conceived by us, is certainly a very lofty one. It is no less, in my view, than to redeem the fame and character of this country and its political genius from an old and inveterate dishonour, and to increase, enhance, and magnify the strength, greatness, glory, and union of the Empire. Sir, I hope I have not needlessly provoked polemical sentiment of any kind. I hope I shall not give offence when I express in a few words my deep conviction that either this plan, or some plan closely resembling it, and identical in principle, will shortly become law. I know there is one risk, and that risk in my mind is this: that if the controversy upon this question be unduly and unwarrantably prolonged, that which is now a demand merely for the establishment of Irish self-government in Irish affairs will become a demand, perhaps under circumstances less favourable than these, for the repeal of the Union and the re-establishment of a dual supremacy within these Islands—an alternative which I regard as wholly shut out, at least front my per- 1274 sonal purview, even if I had a prospect of long years of life to come. I view that as a possible danger looming in the future, and I wish to steer the ship from that rock. I hope we shall now consider the state of things that is before us, and weigh well the actual attitude and position of Ireland, and the contrast between that attitude as it is now and as it was when Dean Swift said that as for the people of Ireland they amounted to a mere cypher, and could not be taken into the reckoning on the one side or on the other. As it was when the Ascendancy Parliament of Ireland begged and prayed to be admitted in the British Parliament and was refused, or as it was in the beginning of this century, after the Union, when the old Union movement had been forcibly put down, and when the Irish voters trooped to the poll for the simple purpose of returning by open vote their landlords to Parliament. We now have before us a different state of things. Ireland has on her side the memory of past victories, earned with sweat and labour, but really earned and recorded on her behalf. Ireland has the mighty sympathies which she has acquired in this larger and stronger island. She has obtained the suffrage of Scotland. Site has obtained the suffrage of Wales. She has, in the short space of seven years, changed a majority of over 200 against her in England into a majority of one-third of that number. She was stinted in her franchise, and in her meats or representation. She now possesses the most extended franchise, with the most perfect protection; and the main object which she has not yet obtained she looks to obtain with increased means in her hand and opportunities at her command. One other source of strength she has, and that is the moderation of her demands. She has, ever since 1886, if not before, in an unequivocal and a national sense, abandoned the whole of the argument which she, perhaps, was entitled to make on the subject of the Act of Union; and she has asked you to, save for yourselves every Imperial power. She has consented to accept the common, the universal supremacy of the Empire; and she has asked only for that management of her own local concerns which reason and justice, combined 1275 with the voice of her people, and with the voice, as I hope it will soon be, of the people in this Kingdom, demand. If this controversy is to end in this manner, I cannot but put it to dispassionate men that the sooner it ends the better; the sooner we stamp and seal the deed which is to efface all former animosities, and to open an era, as we believe, of peace and goodwill, the sooner, I say, that is done the better. These are matters which human vision—at least, my human vision—is hardly equal to penetrating; but this I must say, on my own part, I never will, and I never can, be a party to bequeathing to my country the continuance of this heritage of discord which has been handed down from generation to generation, with scarcely a momentary interruption, through seven centuries—this heritage of discord, with all the evils that follow in its train. Sir, I wish to have no part or lot in that process. It would be a misery to me if I had forgotten or omitted, in these my closing years, any measure poissible for me to take towards upholding and promoting the cause which I believe to be the cause, not of one Party or another, of one nation or another, but of all Parties and of all nations inhabiting these Islands; and to these nations, viewing them as I do, with all their vast opportunities, under a living union for power and for happiness, I say, let me entreat you—and if it were with my latest breath I would entreat you—to let the dead bury the dead, and to cast behind you every recollection of bygone evils, and to cherish, to love, and sustain one another through all the vicissitudes of human affairs in the times that are to come.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provisions of the Government of Ireland."—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ *SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
Before I, with very great respect, ask the House to allow me to make some observations on the principles which have been laid down, and on some of the more important proposals that have been brought forward, I should like to be allowed to offer my personal congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman on the speech he has delivered. During the last seven years the world has seen with admiration the 1276 unflagging enthusiasm with which the right hon. Gentleman has devoted him-self to this cause, and I am sure there is a sentiment in the mind of every man here to-night, to whatever Party he belongs, of congratulation to the right hon. Gentleman on having been spared to give the House so splendid an example of physical and intellectual power as we have all admired and enjoyed. One cannot help observing, however, that no ground or reason has been given for the proposal of this scheme at all. Many in this House were hearers, almost seven years ago, of the speech in which the right hon. Gentleman then maintained and developed his propositions with regard to Ireland. I am not going to quote much to-night. I think the most futile and worthless of controversy is the pelting of opponents with fragments of their old speeches, and there is no one to whom I would be so cruel at this time as to apply that operation, unless it were the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Sir G. Trevelyan). But I must quote one passage from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in 1886, as it refers to a subject the omission of which from the discussion to-night certainly forms a marked difference between the two occasions. In 1886 the right hon. Gentleman said—I could have wished, Mr. Speaker, on several grounds, that it had been possible for me on this single occasion to open to the House the whole of the policy and intention of the Government with respect to Ireland, the two questions of land and the Irish Government—
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his reminder. I omitted to mention among the provisions of the Bill that the Land Question is reserved to the Imperial Parliament for a period of three years.
§ SIR E. CLARKE
That statement is certainly an important one. Most of us had noted the very singular fact that the speech went from end to end without mention of the subject of land. The interposition of the right hon. Gentleman, however, important as it is, does not touch the purpose for which I was quoting that sentence. The right hon. Gentleman said in 1886—The two question of land and the Irish Government are, in our view, closely, insuperably connected, and they are the two channels through which we hope to find effectual access 1277 to that question which is the most vital of all—namely, the question of social order in Ireland.The right hon. Gentleman then developed that proposition, and pointed to the three sets of circumstances in Ireland which, as he held, marked its social condition, and demanded the immediate intervention of Parliament. He pointed to the fact that juries could not be got to convict; he referred to the prevalence of evictions in Ireland, and alluded to the fact that there existed in Ireland almost unchecked a system of intimidation which disturbed the social life of that country. Why have we had no reference to these things to-night? It is because they have all disappeared; it is because the foundation of this proposal has gone. We can now easily and almost everywhere find juries who will do their duty. Evictions in Ireland are comparatively rare. We were told the other night by the Chief Secretary for Ireland that rent was being better paid in Ireland now than at any period for some years past; whilst the system of intimidation, which seven years ago formed one of the reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman for interfering with the Government of Ireland, has been checked and put down by the firm administration of the law during the intervening years. Whilst seven years ago the first reason given by the right hon. Gentleman for introducing his Home Rule Bill was that the social condition of Ireland was so grave that nothing but a constitutional change would be adequate to cope with it, the second reason he gave was that the progress of business in this House was so difficult, and we were so overwhelmed with work, that we must find relief front our difficulties by sending the Irish Members to transact their business in Ireland. Now we learn that if this Bill is passed we are to have 80 Irish Members popping in and out of the House and taking their part, or declining to take their part, in business as they may desire. That is a very grunt change. What did the right hon. Gentleman give us to-night instead of the splendid preface which the House listened to in 1886? He made some references to the hard ease of Ireland since the time of the Union, and said that at that time of the Union Irishmen were encouraged to believe that they would be welcomed 1278 to this country for the administration of its law and the framing of its policy on equal terms with their English and Scotch brethren. The right hon. Gentleman said we had disappointed these expectations; we had been Unjust to Ireland, because for a whole series of years since the Act of Union only two Irishmen had sat in an English Cabinet.
§ SIR E. CLARKE
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I was coming to the limitation which I did not understand was expressed in the first place. The right hon. Gentleman said he had sat in many Cabinets, that he had had 60 or 70 colleagues in these various Cabinets, and that perhaps one of them was an Irishman. But the right hon. Gentleman has himself formed Cabinets three or four times; he has been as many times again an influential person in arranging the composition of Cabinets. How is it he has never invited, or caused to be invited, a distinguished Irishman to take his seat in the Cabinet I believe that in other Cabinets than those with which the right hon. Gentleman has been connected some distinguished Irishmen have found places, and I think it is a little too bad to charge upon the whole country that neglect of Irishmen which appears to have been singularly conspicuous in the Cabinets with which he himself has had to do. The right hon. Gentleman passed on to the subject of the present strength of the Nationalist Party coming to this House from Ireland. He said it represented an enormous majority of the Parliamentary Representatives of the country. I was surprised to hear him, considering the revelations which have been made of late, refer to secret voting as being a characteristic of Irish elections. Everybody knows that the most active and successful manufacture in Ireland of modern times has been the manufacture of illiterates, who have been produced in ample numbers in order to evade the Ballot by securing inspection of the votes given at the polling booths. To talk so confidently of the virtues of secret voting and of the free electoral system in Ireland when the House has not forgotten the case of the Meath election is surely to apply a theoretical and ideal standard to the conditions of life in that country. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say it was true that the number of Na- 1279 tionalist Representatives had been diminished from 85 to 80. He did not admit the significance of that fact. He said he could not in the least understand it. We believe that the great majority still held by the Nationalist Members coming from Ireland is owing largely to electoral practices we fain would check, and to mischievous influences which are in existence in the country, but which we hope may disappear, with the result of continuing the reduction of the Parliamentary strength of the Nationalist Party. Another omission from the right hon. Gentleman's speech was significant. Seven years ago the right hon. Gentleman, in opening his plan to the House, invited some suggestions as to how he could deal with Ulster separately. He mentioned several plans. The first was that Ulster should be omitted from the Bill; the second, that it should be constituted a separate autonomy altogether. Another was that certain important matters of legislation, such as education, in which Ulster might feel particularly sensitive, should be taken away from the Legislative Body he was making and be given to other Bodies founded on a different franchise. We have heard nothing of that today, and no suggestion is made of any protection being given to Ulster. There is no separate treatment of any kind, nor is even that generous invitation to supply suggestions for the treatment of Ulster repeated again in the speech that has just been made. What have we had instead? Why in its place we have had a suggestion that Ulster may change her mind, in illustration of which the right hon. Gentleman dwelt with much emphasis and much dramatic power on an interesting, story of the year 1792. He said, and he offers to the House this suggestion, that because in 1792 the Representatives of the Parliament of Black Lane were received with acclamation in the streets of Belfast, that therefore we may hope that Ulster is going to change its mind. That is a remote hope. One hundred years have passed since the expedition from Black Lane to Belfast, and if we are to wait a 100 years now till Ulster changes its mind, surely it is desirable that there should be some provision in the Bill for what is to happen in the interval. I will now pass on to comment on points suggested in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Of course, I 1280 shall not say a word upon the financial parts of the speech, for they are far too difficult and complicated for immediate criticism. We shall first require to see the right hon. Gentleman's speech in print. The first change that has been made from the old Bill of 1886 is a singular, and I venture to think, a somewhat important one. The House will remember that in the Bill of 1886 there was a Clause 37, a clause to which much attention was drawn, and which had been carefully drafted, as we know from Lord Thring, with the object of establishing, declaring, and retaining the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Lord Thring has stated that it was considered desirable to put it clearly in the clause, so that the Irish Members should make their compact with the House, and, in the very measure by which they were receiving Home Rule and the power of self-government, should pledge themselves to acknowledge the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Clause 37 is to be seen no more. From this I gather that there is to be no clause in the new Bill to establish the propositions of the old Clause 37; but that it is to be transferred to some seven words in the Preamble. The right hon. Gentleman seems on a sudden to have conceived an idea of the sacredness of a Preamble which to a mere lawyer who has to discuss them from time to time is somewhat of a novelty. Who cares in this House, or anywhere else, about the Preamble of a Bill? I can point to measures now on the Statute Book that have been proposed by Ministers, some of whom are still in the House, which contain absolute contradictions to the law, that would never have been passed if it had not been that nobody in the House noticed the Preamble. The Preamble of the Bill is always left until the clauses are gone through. Does anyone think that if the Nationalist Members are satisfied with the clauses in the Bill they will take the trouble to make much difficulty about the Preamble? I think I can see the reason for transferring this from the clauses to the Preamble. If the subject were embodied in the clauses of the Bill it would be discussed and considered by the House, whereas, if it can be put into a few words in the Preamble, it may be shuffled on to the Statute Book without anyone taking much notice of it, or any- 1281 body conceiving himself much bound by it hereafter. Again, in the Bill of 1886 certain reservations were made from the powers of the Irish Parliament, among which the word "trade" was mentioned. That phrase is now changed into "external trade." I confess one will look with some interest to see what is the reason of that change, and the extent to which the internal trade of Ireland is considered to be at the absolute and independent control of an Irish Parliament. But, I come to a more important question. As to the Viceroyalty, it certainly does seem strange that an officer of State who will be in the relations which must exist between the Viceroy of Ireland and the Executive Government of this country should be appointed for a fixed term of years, and I do not quite see the meaning of the phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman about the full devolution of the Executive authority of the Crown upon the Viceroy. That, I think, will require a little explanation, and I wait until we see the exact form of words. But the next point is a vital one. One great difficulty that has arisen in devising for Ireland any scheme of self-government is that of the veto of the Crown on the Acts of the Irish Legislature. We have had on this point two absolutely irreconcileable declarations from different Members of the Party that is now to be asked to pass this Bill. Right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench have declared that the veto of the Crown must be exercised on the advice of the English Ministry, and, on the other hand, both sections of the Nationalist Party have declared that they will never accept any position such as their being subject to a veto advised by the English Government. In order to avoid this difficulty—for it was a serious one—the Government have constructed a curious and, it seems to me, a fantastic piece of machinery. There is to be appointed—but the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us by whom it was to be appointed—an Executive Committee of the Privy Council. I need hardly say that, looking at the character of the Irish Privy Council, the appointment of an Executive Committee of that Council for the purpose of advising the Lord Lieutenant, who is appointed for a term of six years, might quite conceivably put the whole Executive Government of Ireland for that period in the 1282 power of persons absolutely pledged to one special sort of political opinions, and therefore it is of the greatest importance that we should know by whom that Committee of the Privy Council in Ireland will be appointed. But by whomsoever appointed the right hon. Gentleman has reserved a loophole in this matter—has reserved, I should rather say, scope—for the intervention of English Ministers in special cases, and that appears to me to destroy the machinery which he has constructed in order to avoid this difficulty, because the right hon. Gentleman said that the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, although exercised upon the advice of the Executive Committee of the Privy Council, is to be subject to the instructions of the Crown in special cases. But if subject to the instructions of the Crown in special eases, by whom will the Crown be advised to single out these cases for its intervention? I confess that between allowing the Crown, without advice to the contrary, to approve Bills that come from that country and intervening to prevent Bills coming from that country from passing there does not appear to me to be very material difference. If the Executive Government of this country were to advise Her Majesty to disallow an Act which was felt to be unjust and unwise and unfair to the people of that country, their responsibility would be exactly the same as though they had never set up this Executive Committee of the Privy Council to stand between them and their own responsibility. I pass to the next point, which is another very important one, namely, the constitution of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council—a sort of Senate—it will be called a Senate I take it—is to be set up. The provision which was formerly made that the Members of the Legislative Council should have a property qualification is to be dropped; but, curiously enough—and I do not know what some of the most ardent Radical supporters of the Government will say to this—the Legislative Council is to he established on the basis of property qualification of the voters themselves; and this Legislative Council is to consist of 48 persons. Now, I would ask the attention of the House—and I think I may fairly ask the attention of the Government itself to this—what will be the effect of this proposal 1283 if it be carried out? For the purpose of A more interesting and more impartial constituting a Lower House of the Irish Parliament, the 103 Members now elected by the Irish constituencies are still to be returned; but if the two Houses differ after a Bill has been sent up a second time, the two Houses are to sit together, and a majority of the two Houses has to decide upon the measure. I think, Sir, one can see why 48 was the number chosen for the Senate. In the original Bill, the Upper House was to consist of 103, and the Lower House of 206 Members. At present the 103 Members to compose the Lower House are divided into 80 Nationalists and 23 Loyalists, so that if the latter vote with the whole of the Senate they will still be out-numbered. The Legislative Council has been reduced just low enough to enable the present majority of Nationalist Members to be absolutely certain that they can over-rule any resistance. But, considered in the light of a later revelation in the speech, this retention of the 103 Members who are to sit in the Irish Parliament is curious indeed, for it imposes upon the Government the necessity of proposing for Ireland one of the most eccentric and fantastic franchises and Reform Bills imaginable. The present arrangement of the electoral system of Ireland with regard to the 103 Members is to last for six years. What excuse is there for this? There is no part of the United Kingdom more full of electoral anomalies than Ireland, and yet you are to have the present system stereotyped, the 103 Members returned by the present imperfect system, and to secure that for six years no reform shall take place in these anomalies. But it is still more remarkable that you are asked to take the trouble of creating another set of constituencies who are to elect 80 Members. They cannot be the same constituencies—you must have a new arrangement of constituencies to get these 80 Members; are they to be the same persons? Are the 103 Members who are to sit in Ireland qualified also to sit in the Imperial Parliament, or are there to be different Representatives? The suggested arrangement is so fantastic and strange that I imagine this Bill must have been drafted in detachments, and one part must have been stereotyped before that portion to which I will now proceed to call attention was framed.
1284 A more interesting and more impartial disquisition was never heard in this House than during the half-hour in which the right hon. Gentleman discussed the retention of the Irish Members. One thing is clear; the right hon. Gentleman has not changed his own opinion upon this point since 1886. It looks very much as if he had been outvoted by his colleagues, and desired to revenge himself by exhibiting to the House the different arguments which have been urged by the right hon. Gentlemen who have assisted him in framing his Bill. He put a series of conundrums to the House as to what would happen in one case, and what would happen in another case, and he concluded by saying that this matter must be referred to the consideration of the House. The House now sees what the right hon. Gentleman would like. He would like the House to stand by him as against some of his recalcitrant colleagues, and to assist him in maintaining the proposition which he made in 1886. But, after all, the Prime Minister of the country, when he comes down here to propound a great measure of constitutional reform, is hardly entitled to throw upon the Table of the House a proposal to which he has, evidently, deep-rooted and final objections, and ask the House to pass it. Is there a Government, or is there not? If there be a Government, the House is in the habit of asking from that Government not a philosophical disquisition from the Treasury Bench, but some intimation of what the Government really means. Do they wish the Members to come to this House from Ireland, or do they not? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle said, seven years ago, if they were retained, that we should have all the present block of business, the present irritation and exasperation; English work would not be done, and Irish feelings would not be conciliated but exasperated. That I believe to be true. I believe that the Prime Minister has proved—as he has, in effect repeated—his statement of 1886, that it passed the wit of man to devise a scheme by which the Irish Members could be allowed to come to this House and take part in local as distinguished from Imperial deliberations. And now the right hon. Gentleman professes to have discovered such a scheme. He 1285 says the plain, unlettered Englishman and Scotehman—and perhaps he had in his mind certain Representatives of Northampton and Edinburgh—that the plain, unlettered Englishman and Scotchman would rebel at the idea that Irishmen should come here to govern him, while they governed themselves in Dublin, and so it is suggested that you are to limit the voting power of the Irish Members. I should like just to test, at the moment when it is propounded, the possibility of carrying out that proposal. In the first place, the Irish Members are not to vote upon any Bill expressly relating to Great Britain. Good. But suppose the Irish Members should desire to overturn the Government when the proposal which has been made this evening is in actual operation. A Registration Bill is introduced which does not apply to Ireland. The Irish Members may come down and ask that it shall apply to Ireland; and if that is carried, then the Bill is to apply to Ireland. From that moment the Irish Members may vote upon the Bill, and may defeat it. Then, again, a Suspensory Bill is to be brought in by the Government with regard to Wales to suspend the continued existence of the Established Church in that Principality. That is not a Bill upon which the Irish Representatives would be allowed to vote, and I am glad of it. But what chance will that Bill have of passing if the Irish Members are not permitted to vote upon it? To accept the proposal of Her Majesty's Government will be to destroy all chance of passing that Bill, for I cannot think that the Government would lend themselves to the unconstitutional course of inviting Members who, after 2nd September, would be no longer entitled to take part in our discussions to assist in passing a Bill upon a subject which does not concern them. They are, we are told, to be entitled to take part in Votes upon Want of Confidence, and one understands the reasons why they should be allowed so to vote. Suppose that this Home Rule Bill is passed, and the scheme is established and at work, and suppose that the Government possessed the general confidence of the House as then constituted, and suppose that the Irish Members should come down and turn out the Government, who is to follow? The Government that is to come in would not 1286 have a working majority on any subject relating to England, and we would have a minority of Members of this House supporting a Government which should only exist because if its opponents came into Office they would be immediately ejected by the Irish vote. Let me put another illustration. A right hon. Friend of mine was naturally anxious to know whether, if Irish Members could not vote on any particular subject, they would not be allowed to speak, and he was promptly assured that the disability to vote would carry with it the disability to talk. But what about moving the adjournment of the House? The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that Votes of Want of Confidence are raised only occasionally and without any relation to the business of the House. But that is not so. A Vote of Want of Confidence—except immediately after a General Election, when there is no accounting for it at all—is generally connected with some legislative project which the Ministry have taken up or refused to take up. The characteristic of this House is, that it is not merely the greatest Legislative Assembly that the world has ever seen, but it, more than any other that exists, keeps a close and intimate knowledge of current public affairs, and at the same time enforces its authority if it sees a Ministry going wrong. Take Question time of this House. If with regard to some important matter of foreign affairs a question is asked on this side and answered from the other, the answer may produce such an effect upon the House that within an hour a Motion is made for the Adjournment of the Debate, the object and the meaning of that Motion, if it be carried, being that the House desires to censure the Minister on the spot for the line which he has taken. What about the Irish Members? Are we in such a case to wait until they can be summoned from Dublin in order that they may come over here to take part in the Vote of Censure? The proposition is, I venture to say, impossible. I believe it to be as true now as it was in 1886 that no human wisdom can devise means by which in a House like this, not only of legislative capacity, but also of Executive responsibility and efficiency, you can have one set of Members coming only for specific purposes and another 1287 set of Members to deal with the current business of the country. The right hon. Gentleman put this matter very frankly and impartially before the House. He appeared to treat it as if it were one of those philosophic proposals upon which either conclusion might be arrived at without any serious results; but, to our mind, it goes to the root of his whole Bill. It is vital to the consideration of this question that the country should know what is to be the form of the proposals, when Her Majesty's Government have had time and the humble assistance of Members of this House in endeavouring to persuade them to make up their own minds definitely on the subject. We want to hear something else before this transaction comes to an end. We understand from the ordinary channels of information that this Bill, diligently as its secret has been kept from the country, was revealed to the Representatives, or to some of the Representatives, of the Irish Nationalist Party. I think it is some few weeks since the hon.and learned Gentleman the Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy), speaking in Ireland, said—We know what the Bill is, and that it is going to be better than the Bill of 1886.I want to know, if that is the ease, what bargain has been made by which the Irish Nationalist Members accept or are prepared to support this Bill? I want to know whether the terms of the bargain are really before the house, or whether these proposals, or some of them, put forward in a tentative and hesitating way, are merely the groundwork upon which Amendments and alterations may be made in the course of the discussion of the Bill? I should be very much surprised to hear t hat the Nationalist Members have accepted the proposals which have been shadowed forth in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman tonight, and I should be still more surprised to hear that they were satisfied with the arrangement made about the 80 Irish Members and the position which they are to have in this House. But I was pointing out that this goes to the very root of the Bill. It is not only that the point is of so very great importance in itself, and not only that the proposals of the Government would, as I believe, disorganize the whole life of Parliament, disturb our legislative work, and cripple 1288 us for the effective exercise of that control of public affairs which the House now enjoys and exercises; but if this plan be not adopted, if the right hon. Gentleman should yield, as he must ultimately yield, to the objections that are made, and should agree that the Irish Members should not come here, there goes at one swoop the whole of the financial portion of this Bill. If the Irish Members are to stay in this House, then those difficulties occur which I have ventured to indicate. If they are not to come to this House, the whole of the financial part of this Bill must be withdrawn and reconstructed, for it has not and cannot have any reference at all to a system under which the Irish Members are to be excluded. I have ventured, I hope not unsuccessfully, to put before the House the observations that occur to me upon the moment on hearing the proposals of this new Bill. One could not help feeling touched by the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman at the end of that great speech spoke of the efforts which he himself was making to give a better state of things to Ireland, and of the anxiety he had as to the acceptance of those proposals. I do not think that they can be accepted. At all events they can only be accepted after a long and bitter Parliamentary contest, and after an appeal to the constituencies. The lists are set, the challenger's trumpet has sounded, and the answering note, feeble it may be in tone, but I hope not indistinct, has been promptly heard. We enter on this contest without a shadow of doubt as to its issue. It is true we face to-day in this House a majority, but it is a scanty, a casual, and a precarious majority. I do not believe that that majority has union enough or strength enough to force through the House these novel and dangerous proposals. But outside this House, anxiously awaiting the tardy revelations of to-night, stand the millions of electors to whom before this plan can take effect the whole matter must be referred. When we shall have wasted this Session and all its opportunities of usefulness over this Bill, you cannot escape the necessities of that appeal. You know you have no mandate from the country for this Bill. Seven years ago your policy was rejected, and from that day to this no single 1289 Member of your Party has ventured to commit himself to any single definite proposition upon any one point in the Bill. The Prime Minister has scattered here and there ambiguous hints; his followers have prudently abstained from forecasting the provisions of a Bill for which I believe most of them have hoped they would never have to vote, and they have contented themselves with appealing to the electors for their votes, and have asked them to give them their support as a mark of confidence and to wait hopefully till they came back with all manner of new things. Sir, this showman's policy of concealment and surprise cannot succeed. You cannot subject a free people to great Constitutional changes which you have never ventured to explain. That would be despotism under the forms of freedom. Pass this Bill through this House if you can, and within a year you will be fighting for your Parliamentary lives before the constituents whom you have tried to trick, and whose hopes of useful legislation you will have wholly dis-appointed. We will challenge the judgment of this House upon the matter at such times and upon such issues as may best enable us to test and prove how far our opponents are agreed, and what is the measure and extent of the obedience which English Liberals, of the new pattern, are prepared to yield to their Nationalist masters. Wherever this contest is to be fought, we face it with an unwavering confidence of success, strong in the decision pronounced by the country seven years ago; strong in the happy experience of those seven years which has approved and affirmed that judgment; strong in the conviction that that decision was not a passing whim, that it was no momentary outburst of political passion, but the wise judgment and the immutable resolve of the people of the United Kingdom.
§ *VISCOUNT WOLMER (Edinburgh, W.)
said, that whatever other Parties in the House might think of the occasion the Party to which he had the honour to belong regarded it as the crown, so far, of their political struggle. They had appealed for that day—they had waited for that day—and now that it was come it was beyond their fondest expectations. For seven years they had tried to get from their political opponents an honest 1290 statement of what they meant by Home Rule. For seven years the confidence of the present Government had been denied, not only to their political opponents, but to the millions of their fellow-countrymen, and had been extended only to the Nationalist Members, but now at last they were beginning to find out how wrong they were in not taking the advice—he would not say of the Unionist Party, for that could not be expected—but the friendly advice of the present Home Secretary. That right hon. Gentleman, when he was in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility, gave the candid advice to his Party which was at the time in Opposition, that if they did not take the electors into their confidence on the Home Rule Bill they could not complain if the Lords showed more trust in the people than the Liberal Leaders and forced a Dissolution when the Bill was introduced. The Prime Minister, in his opening remarks, repeated the old challenge that there was no case before the people except autonomy or coercion, and he went on to describe as a disparaging and ignoble fact that a Coercion Bill existed as a permanent part of the Statute Book. He thought it was at least open to a difference of opinion whether an Act could be called disparaging and ignoble, part of which had long been the permanent law of Scotland, and all of it in greater or less degree— and chiefly greater—was the law of France. On what had the Prime Minister based his contention that the system adopted by the Unionist Party could not continue? The right hon. Gentleman said it was impossible in a democratic country to continue a system of Government that had not the support of the majority of the elected Representatives of Ireland. The difference between the Unionists and the Home Rulers was not on a point of principle—for principle did not exist in the matter—but where the line was to be drawn, and the Unionists said, "Draw the line now before it is too late; do not wait to draw it until you have put into the hands of your opponents—for they are your opponents—a far more serious weapon than they now possess; when you have equipped them, as I believe the hon. Member for North East Cork (Mr. Davitt) described it, with all the paraphernalia of a powerfulGovernment." The Prime Minister said what was not the fact 1291 when he said that the main result of the Act of Union has been an inequality of laws between Ireland and Great Britain. But if there had been an inequality of laws on which side was the balance of inequality?—which side had the balance of advantage and which the balance of disadvantage? Had the Highlands of Scotland any Congested Districts Board? Had the remote parts of England and Wales been permeated by lines of railway opened at the expense of the State? Was there any inequality in land legislation, and on which side of the sea did the advantage lie? The Prime Minister did not deal at all in his speech with the motives which actuated British statesmen when the Act of Union was passed. He said the blot on Grattan's Parliament was that there had been no Executive responsible to it. But why was there no Executive responsible to it? Because it was found by experience that two different Executives depending on two different Parliaments—one in Dublin and one in London—would inevitably have the effect of creating within the four corners of the Kingdom two Governments, which might, in a grave Constitutional crisis, take wholly different views. It was the sense of this weighing upon the minds of Pitt and the other statesmen responsible for the Government of Great Britain in the great crisis of the French War, that made them not only determined to bring about a Union, but reconciled them previously to a system of Government by corruption, because with corruption they could make the machinery, so to speak, work smoothly in Dublin, and because they knew that if once the Irish Parliament got out of their control, in the condition of the country at that time, there was no telling what national danger might not arise. Neither the Prime Minister nor any of his friends had ever shown any real desire to grapple with the question of Ulster. The right hon. Gentleman would not admit that Ulster was deserving of as much consideration as the rest of Ireland. The Prime Minister stated the proportion of Ulster Representatives in the House as one-fifth to four-fifths. But the right hon. Gentleman knew very well that the distribution of Representatives in Ireland was wholly unfair; that small boroughs like Kilkenny and several counties with sparse population in the South and West 1292 of Ireland were represented in greater proportion than the crowded manufacturing districts of Ulster, which had raised Ireland, in some degree, to a commercial level with the rest of the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman took advantage of the gross injustice from which Ulster suffered in the matter of representation, and used it as a weapon against the very people who were suffering from that injustice. What was the case of Ulster as the Gladstonians would have to meet it in this Home Rule struggle? The House had heard nothing lately about the Ulster Convention. It was time that a plain statement should be given of what that Convention meant. In every parish in Ulster the Unionists met in public meetings, and at these meetings, which were reported in the Press, delegates were elected, and these delegates assembled at the great Convention in Belfast, without a single dissentient voice—with a unanimity that was never equalled even in the days of Grattan and the Volunteers—declared for themselves and for their isolated fellowloyalists in other parts of Ireland, that they would never consent to be subjected to the rule of the administration of a Parliament in Dublin composed of nominees of the priests. No Home Ruler could deny that. It might be said that it was an exhibition of prejudice and bigotry—it might be said it was a miserable relic of the old Protestant ascendancy, but it could not be pooh-pooped or its existence denied, and as practical men they had to face the facts of the situation it created. Why, they had heard from the lips of the Prime Minister many reasons for impressing on their minds the importance of this Ulster question. The right hon. Gentleman lauded the Ulstermen for the action they took against the Union a hundred years ago. He said then the old attitude was the better course, and their present attitude was the worser course. But the more they praised the action of the men of Ulster 100 years ago, the greater weight should they attach to the words and resolutions of the sons of these men in the present day. The race had not changed. The race was the same, but their opinions had changed, and it was a curious thing to hear the Prime Minister calling the worser part the attachment of these men to England, and 1293 the better part when influenced by longstanding injustice they opposed the Union with England. When did the right hon. Gentleman find out which was the worser part? It was when the two great Political Parties in the State were nearly equal, and the temptation was offered to one of them to buy the support of the Nationalist vote by the sacrifice of principles which, up to then, all British Parties had united to uphold. This question of Ulster was closely connected with the question of the safeguards for the protection of the rights of the minority, and on that point he wished to remind the House that in the outline of the Bill given by the Prime Minister, several important cheeks or safeguards were delineated. The Viceroy of Ireland was to have the power of vetoing Bills on the advice of the Irish Cabinet, but he was liable to receive instructions from the Sovereign, otherwise the English Cabinet, as to the exercise of the veto on certain Bills. If he understood it aright, that really meant that the Imperial Cabinet would, as a general rule, exercise no veto on measures passed by the Irish Legislature, but that in certain cases the Imperial Cabinet might send instructions to the Viceroy of Ireland, if necessary, to veto Bills, to which the Dublin Cabinet desired him to give the Royal Assent. That was the first check. The second check was that an appeal might be made to the Privy Council in London to try the validity of any Act of the Irish Parliament. But let the House mark this fact: the appeal to the Privy Council to test the validity of an Act passed by the Irish Parliament could not be initiated by the aggrieved party—it could only be initiated either by the Viceroy, or by the Secretary of State, that is, the Home Secretary of England. The loyalists in Ireland might, rightly or wrongly, feel themselves aggrieved—they might, for instance, find their religious privileges in jeopardy, because it was idle to pretend that the Irish Parliament could not establish and endow a church when there was nothing to prevent them voting any sum of money they pleased for Roman Catholic endowments; or the loyalists might feel aggrieved over some question of internal commercial regulations. What locus standi had the Loyalists under the Bill to enable them to protest against grievances such as these? 1294 As far as he could see, the loyalists were entirely dependent on the action of the Imperial Cabinet in asking the Viceroy to veto a Bill, or on being able to induce the Viceroy or the Secretary of State in London to move the Privy Council to test the validity of the action of the Irish Parliament. His right hon. Friend the Solicitor General to the late Government (Sir Edward Clarke) had pointed out the perfect chaos the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster would land us into; but his right hon. Friend had omitted to point out that this question of checks and safeguards hung wholly and solely on the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster. He had shown that the Loyalists could only protest against any Act of the Irish Parliament through the Imperial Cabinet, or the Viceroy, or the Home Secretary. What did that mean? It meant that if the present Party—the Party responsible for Home Rule—were in power, their sympathies would not be with the loyalists of Ireland. If, on the other hand, the Unionist Party were in power their predilections would induce them to go to the rescue of the loyalists in every possible way. But the Irish Members at Westminster would be masters of the situation, for they would have it in their power through their 80 votes to make it impossible for any Government friendly to the Irish loyalists to extend them any relief. In fact, there would be a direct inducement to the Party at Westminster to use their votes for the sole purpose of preventing any Party that might be in power from using the clauses of the Bill for the protection of the loyalist minority in Ireland. Yet these were what were called the safeguards of the minority. His right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth (Sir Edward Clarke) had admirably depicted the confusion that would arise at Westminster through these 80 Irish Members of Ireland that were to vote on Monday and not to vote on Tuesday, that might speak on Thursday, but must keep silence on Friday. The right hon. Gentleman had shown how impossible it would be for the Parliamentary machine to work smoothly, and how no Government could be secure in its tenure of office for one day; but he (Viscount Wolmer) thought he had shown, in addition, that there was an inducement to the Irish Members, 1295 which his right hon. Friend did not at all contemplate, to prevent the checks working in the interest of the Irish loyalists. And why was the House of Commons asked to consent to all this? They were asked to submit to this disintegrating element being introduced into the House of Commons in order that the Prime Minister might be able to pass the Bill of 1886 and yet retain the support of his followers who had pledged themselves to vote against the exclusion of the Irish Members. The Unionists wished to retain the Irish Members, because it was the outward and visible sign to all the world of the union and of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. It was the sign of union, of permanent union, but they never wished the Irish Members to be retained if their retention involved the creation of a second Parliament in the centre of the British Empire; they never wished to retain them at the price of dividing into fractious the great forces round which the Empire moved; and they never wished to retain them if their retention involved the reducing to an absurdity all the principles that made the British Parliament what it was. They had been asked to do all this, though the senior partner in the firm of the United Kingdom was against it. The Prime Minister had alluded to the fact that the majority of England was against Home Rule, but he held out the hope that as the majority of England had decreased from over 200 in 1886 to 71 in 1892 it would still further fall off. He should have thought that the Prime Minister had had quite enough of speculations in political meteorology. The right hon. Gentleman used to fill up his spare time during the last Parliament in writing articles proving that his majority could not fall short of 100, and might be 170. The right hon. Gentleman seems not to be above hoping that he may yet have this majority at his back. But the right hon. Gentleman did not appear to know that the majority of 71 in England against him stands on a totally different footing to what the majority of 200 did. The majority of 200 did not mean a majority of votes, but a majority of abstensions. It was made up because the right hon. Gentleman's followers abstained from voting, and his opponents voted. But the present majority of 71 against him in 1296 England rested on a poll such as no majority had ever rested on before, and it was far more likely to increase than to diminish. He did not want to fall into the error of the Prime Minister in manipulating figures to make them yield results. They were not results, but merely his own wishes. Neither did he want to fall into the other fallacy of laying too much stress on the bye-elections; but if the bye-elections of the past six months meant anything they were an indication that the majority of 71 in England was more likely to increase than diminish. If that majority of 71 were wiped out, and if the Prime Minister had a majority not only in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but in England also, then, indeed, the Unionist Party would have a very different conflict to face. But until such a change of opinion in England had taken place, until the conversion of that majority into a minority, they would continue to protest against the Dissolution of the Union in opposition to time wishes and the votes of one of the high contracting parties to that Union. There were only two authorities who could speak for the respective opinions of the parties to that contract—the Irish Parliament speaking for Ireland, and the British Parliament for Great Britain. He might be answered that the Irish Parliament was corrupt. He did not deny it; but corruption was the weapon of that age. The Irish Parliament was corrupt before the Act of Union; and the British Parliament was corrupt before the Act of Union. But it was proposed to repeal the Union in spite of the wishes of the senior partner in the firm. It was proposed to repeal the Union in spite of the protest of Englishmen, and then, for fear they should at any time resent it and try to undo the work, the Prime Minister proposed to introduce a garrison of 80 Irish Members into the House in order to nullify the votes of England and Scotland. The Prime Minister, in a recent letter praising a book written by an American and which he was told was very hostile to England and everything English, said that he did think there was some little part for the British race to play, but no country and no race required so much discipline as the English race. Was it to discipline the English race that the 1297 Irish garrison was to be left here while Ireland was to be handed over to the Irish, they in the English Parliament having no voice in the details of Irish affairs. England being disciplined, muzzled, and nullified by the votes of those over whose concerns she was no longer to have any active part? As an Englishman he protested against it; as a Scotch Member he joined in the determined protest of the Member for East Edinburgh (Dr. Wallace) that the Bill should not be amended by allowing the Irish Members to vote on the details of Scottish or English measures. The Bill could not and should not be amended in that direction. Was it going to be amended in the direction of 1886? Was the Prime Minister's real opinion to have weight, was his real view finally to triumph, and were the Irish Members to go to Ireland and for ever repudiate their lot and parcel in the Parliament of the United British Empire? Between these two courses the Government had no alternative, and the compromise they had proposed would expire in inextinguishable laughter. If, on the one hand, the Government were going to yield and the Irish Members were not only to sit there as a garrison (whilst English Members had no votes on Irish affairs), but were also to dictate politics to England and Scotland, then he could wish for nothing better than to have such a cry at the General Election which would ensue. If, on the other hand, they went back to the Bill of 1886, then all his hon. Friends who had been returned for English and Scottish constituencies were pledged to the hilt to oppose any measure that took the Irish Members out of the Imperial Parliament. They were happy to have seen this day. For seven years they had been constantly putting this dilemma before their political opponents who had pretended they did not see it. The Home Secretary told his constituents it was customary for their political opponents to try and meet them with political cobwebs, but he thought this was a cobweb which would require some sweeping.
§ *MR. DANE (Fermanagh, N.)
said, that the more the Prime Minister in his speech developed his Home Rule Bill the more did he as an Irishman, who had spent his entire life in Ireland and in touch with its people, think he had never listened to such an insane proposition as 1298 that contained in the measure. He had listened carefully to the mode in which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to construct the two Houses in Ireland, and the conclusion he arrived at was that the Legislature would be manned by Members who would be mere puppets of the priests. If the Prime Minister was prepared to hand over the 1,250,000 Protestants who had made Ireland what it was to such a Parliament, if he wished to have civil war first and afterwards the necessary expulsion of the English garrison—as the Nationalist Members called it—he could not possibly have devised a measure which would more surely have this result. He observed the new Irish House of Commons was to consist of 103 Representatives elected by the same franchise that returned Members to that House from Ireland, and he thought they might safely assume the power of the priests to return Members to the native House of Commons would at least be as extensive and powerful as at present. He would like to know what the position of the loyal minority in Ireland would be with the House of Commons consisting of 80 gentlemen who were the agents of the Irish priests, as opposed to 23 possible Representatives of the Unionist Party? As regarded the second House, which was to consist of 48 Members elected on a franchise of over £20, that world also be a House manned by agents of the clerical party. He had heard from the right hon. Gentleman no suggestion as to any safeguards for the loyal minority, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic. They were told the Lord Lieutenant was to be non-political. But he might also be a Roman Catholic, and he could quite understand a Roman Catholic Lord Lieutenant acting and wishing to act as fairly and squarely as he could, yet finding himself placed in all extraordinary and awkward position in reference to Bills coming before him which had been passed by the two Houses, consisting almost exclusively of Roman Catholics, and having regard to the power which the Roman Catholic priesthood would, in such a state of things, sway in Ireland: They were told the Lord Lieutenant was only to act by the advice of the Cabinet, which was to be the Executive Committee of the Privy Council. Was that also to be an Elective Committee, or was the right of 1299 appointing the Privy Council to be vested in a non-political Lord Lieutenant? From the first to the last of the right hon. Gentleman's speech he heard no suggestion as regarded any safeguard for the loyalist minority in Ireland. Three of the principal matters affecting that minority were the Judges, the Royal Irish Constabulary, and the land. He understood that for six years to come the Judges were to be appointed as at present, but at the end of that period they would be appointed by the authorities created by the Bill; so that if it became law they would find those who had been loudest in their denunciations of law and order in Ireland presiding in full bottomed wigs in the four Courts at Dublin. He did not see any safeguards for the loyal minority. As regarded the Royal Irish Constabulary, they were to be disbanded, and, notwithstanding the hope that was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, he was convinced that the members of this body would he very unwilling to enlist in the new force which would be created by the Irish Legislature. He failed to see what safeguards the loyal minority in Ireland would have as regarded this new force. Again, the right hon. Gentleman had also failed to provide any safeguard as to the Land Question—which question had been at the very root of the agitation which had resulted in the return of so many Nationalist Members to that House. The Land Question vitally affected every class in Ireland, but the right hon. Gentleman never said one word as regarded any safeguards in reference to the Land Question. The tenant farmers in his constituency—almost altogether Protestant descendents of Englishmen and Scotchmen, who had been in the country for the last three centuries—would feel it absolutely impossible to remain in the country if they were placed under the law made by a Parliament consisting of the agents of the priests. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Parliament in College Green was not to be let loose on the Land Question for a period of three years. That was a very short period, and with the present disposition of the British taxpayer not to advance more money for land purchase it might not be possible for the Imperial Parliament to deal with the Land Question in anything like three years. He would 1300 like to know what mercy the landlords, and especially the Protestant tenants, might expect at the hands of the new Legislature in College Green? The hon. and learned Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy), who was probably the future Chief Justice for Ireland, speaking at Boston, in America, in 1881, said—We believe that landlordism is the prop of English rule, and we are working to take that prop away. To drive British rule front Ireland we must strike at the foundation, which is landlordism. We wish to see Ireland what God intended she should be, a powerful nation. We seek no bargain with England. As the Master said unto the tempter when he offered Him a kingdom of the earth, 'Begone, Satan'! so we will say unto them, 'Begone Saxon'!He commended that language to English and Scotch Members. It would be a question of the expulsion of the Protestant landlords first and the Protestant tenants afterwards. It would appear that the right hon. Gentleman and those in his Cabinet who drew up this Bill had simply given the go-by to the history of the country for which they wished to legislate. Respecting the Royal Irish Constabulary when he heard the proposals respecting that body he was reminded that Lord Spencer, a supporter of the right hon. Gentleman, had been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland during a time of difficulty, and there was never any act on the part of any public man which had given more pain to the Irish people than the act Lord Spencer had adopted on the Irish Question. When he referred to the Irish people, he meant those who abided by law and order, who had some stake in the country, and who were not waiting for the plunder of the country. Having regard to the treatment which Lord Spencer received at the hands of the loyal minority, it was deeply to be regretted that he should have thrown them over in the way he did, and when the history of his action came to be written with reference to his treatment of the loyal minority who stood to him in a time of danger, the darkest page in that history would be the story of his treatment of them. In October, 1887, and long after the introduction of the former Home Rule Bill, Lord Spencer, speaking at Bedford, among other things, said that in many districts of Ireland a system of boycotting was adopted which was very cruel, which prevented men from the free exercise of their avocation, and there 1301 were districts in which if a man was tried for agrarian or political crime, it was difficult to get a Jury to convict him. He (Mr. Dane) should like to know how were men to be convicted for offences committed against the lives or properties of members of the loyal minority in Ireland, before a Jury constructed under the new system set up by this Bill? In the speech to which he was referring Lord Spencer bore testimony to the admirable discipline and forbearance of the Irish police, and he said that it would be impossible to hand over a county like Kerry or Clare to the local administration of police. Yet, now the right hon. Gentleman by his Bill proposes to disband the Royal Irish Constabulary, and he presumed the suggestion was that the new Legislature to be ereated in Dublin would be at liberty to recruit all the ruffians of the country as constables, sergeants, and head constables in this new constabulary. In the same speech Lord Spencer said—The question of Ulster was an extremely difficult one, and the rights of Ulster and of the minority must be guaranteed in any scheme which was produced.He asked where was the guarantee that Earl Spencer said that Ulster and the loyal minority were to have? Absolutely none. He certainly did not see it. He had failed to gather from beginning to end of the Prime Minister's speech any real reason why the Legislative Union which had existed between England and Ireland for so many years was to be broken up, and why the million and a quarter of the lawabiding inhabitants of Ireland were to be placed in jeopardy of their lives, liberties, and properties in order to gratify hon. Members (Nationalists) sitting on those Benches. The right hon. Gentleman himself knew there was no reason for it, and the real object in doing it was because the right hon. Gentleman and his Government were dependent upon the votes of those hon. Members. What did the right hon. Gentleman himself say when this matter was agitating the mind of Parliament in 1871? He said, speaking at Aberdeen on the 26th September in that year—You would expect when it is said that the Imperial Parliament is to be broken up—you would expect that at the very least a case should be made out, showing there were great subjects of policy and great demands necessary for the welfare of Ireland which the Representatives of 1302 Ireland had united to ask, and which the Representatives of England, Scotland, and Wales had united to refuse. There is no such grievance. There is nothing that Ireland has asked that this country and that this Parliament has refused. This Parliament has done for Ireland what it would have scrupled to do for England and for Scotland. [Cheers.]… What are the inequalities of England and Ireland? I declare that I know none, except that there are certain taxes still remaining which are levied over Englishmen and Scotchmen, and which are not levied over Irishmen; and likewise that there are certain purposes for which public money is freely and largely given in Ireland, and for which it is not given in England and Scotland. [Cheers.] That seems to me to be a very feeble case indeed for the argument which has been made, by means of which, as we are told, the fabric of the United Parliament of this country is to be broken…Can any sensible man, can any rational man, suppose that at this time of day—in this condition of the world—we are going to disintegrate the great capital iustitutions of this country, for the purpose of making ourselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind, and crippling any power we possess for bestowing benefits through legislation on the country to which we belong?He had heard no reason urged in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that night, or indeed since the introduction of the former Home Rule Bill, why they should proceed to set up the Legislature the right hon. Gentleman proposed to set up in Dublin, or what demand there was for it beyond the unfortunate position in which the right hon. Gentleman was placed, by the fact of being dependent on the votes of his hon. Friends behind him (the Nationalists). In a speech in Edinburgh, in November, 1885, the right hon. Gentleman made use of the following words:—Let me now suppose—for argument's sake I may suppose it possible—that the Liberal Party might be returned to the coming Parliament—that is rather a staggering supposition (laughter), but I beg you to indulge me for an instant (laughter), might be returned to the coming Parliament in a minority, but in a minority which might become a majority by the aid of the Irish vote; and I will suppose that owing to some cause the present Government has disappeared, and a Liberal Party was called to deal with this great constitutional question of the government of Ireland, in a position where it was a minority dependent on the Irish vote for converting it into a majority. Now, gentlemen, I tell you seriously and solemnly that though I believe the Liberal Party to be honourable, patriotic, and trustworthy, in such a position as that it would not be safe for it to enter on the consideration of a measure in respect to which, at the first step of its progress, it would be in the power of a Party coming from Ireland to say 'unless you do this and unless you do that we will turn you out to-morrow.'1303 Was not that exactly what the right hon. Gentleman had done? Was he not dependent upon this Irish Party, and was he not introducing this Bill in face of the danger he predicted? Lord Rosebery also gave his opinion on this very point. Speaking at Paisley on the 15th October, 1885. his Lordship said—Now, Mr.Chairman, I think that in speaking of Ireland and Irish affairs we are apt to touch too much on the Irish vote. I think the Irish vote should no longer be a factor in the British Parliament, and for this reason: that there is to be no reliance to be placed upon it. The Irish vote is not guided by consideration of what is best for Great Britain and for the Empire.As regarded the absence of any safeguard in the Bill for the protection of the loyal minority, the Prime Minister appeared to have followed the advice given to him by the late Mr. Parnell, because that gentleman, in a speech at Wicklow in October, 1885, stated that it was impossible for his Party to give any guarantee. Was it any wonder, in face of the history of Ireland, that the loyal minority in Ireland looked with horror to the fate which would be before them if they were to be handed over to this Irish Parliament? They were a minority that had done a great deal for Ireland; they had held that country for England since they went over there under the protection of the British flag, relying on the honour of this great Empire. Hon. Members ought to know sufficient from what they had heard in reference to the Meath Petitions to recognise that this fear which the loyal Protestants in Ireland had with reference to the power which would be exercised over them by a Roman Catholic Parliament was not a groundless thing, more especially having regard to the history of the Rebellions of 1641 and 1798. Before they had these Petitions Protestants in Ireland always asserted that they might look for no justice under an Irish Parliament in College Green. Long before the Meath Election Petitions they had one of the most remarkable demonstrations that was ever witnessed in any country in the world. He alluded to the Convention in Belfast on the 17th June last, when 12,000 of the finest peasantry, commercial classes, artisan, and labouring classes in Ulster met to solemnly protest against the position in which they would be placed if, by any possibility, such a thing as Home Rule should be granted in Ire- 1304 land. That Convention was representative of every parish in Ulster, and it would be remembered in history for the gravity and solemnity with which it met and for the weighty resolutions which it passed. These resolutions declared—
These were strong resolutions, but they voiced the feeling of the Protestants of every class and denomination in Ireland. They were asked by that Bill to set up in Ireland for the first time since James II. was King a Popish Parliament. He (Mr. Dane) said for the first time, because the Parliament formed in 1689 by James II., which existed for such a short time, was the only purely Roman Catholic Parliament that ever existed in Ireland. What did this Papist Parliament do during the few short weeks of its existence? It confiscated 2,400,000 acres of land in the occupation and possession of English and Scotch settlers. What the Irish Nationalists meant by Home Rule was this. They said that the English and Scotch minority in Ireland had no business there; that they were not the sons of Ireland; that the land belonged to the sons of Ireland, and within that definition the English and Scotch settlers are not included. The Roman Catholic Parliament of James II. not only confiscated 2,400,000 acres, then in the occupation of English and Scotch settlers, but it also attainted and sentenced to death without trial of any kind 2,600 Protestants. In 1869 the Irish Protestant Church was disestablished. What was 1305 then called Protestant ascendency was done away with, but they were now asked to set up on the ruins of that ascendency, an ascendency of the Church of Rome by a Parliament controlled by priests who would not even follow the directions of the Church of Rome, as was shown by their conduct in regard to the Papal Rescript. To establish such a Parliament would inevitably lead to great difficulties, very likely to civil war, and eventually to the re-conquest of the country. The Protestants of Ireland would never consent to be ruled by a Parliament in Dublin. They would never take part in the election of Members to it; they would never consent to obey its laws, and, rather than do so, they would, if forced by the bayonets of the Imperial Parliament, suffer expulsion from the country.
- "(a) Our devoted attachment to the Crown and Constitution of the United Kingdom.
- (b) Our earnest protest against any legislation that would rob us of our inheritance in the Imperial Parliament; and our firm resolve to refuse to surrender our position as an integral portion of the United Kingdom.
- (c) Our fixed determination to have nothing to do with an Irish Parliament, controlled as it would be by men directly responsible for the crime and outrage of the Land League and the dishonesty of the Plan of Campaign—the majority of whom have proved themselves the ready instruments of clerical domination; to take no part whatever in the election or proceedings of such a Parliament, the authority of which we should be forced to repudiate.
- (d) Our conviction that the establishment of such a Parliament in Ireland would inevitably result in disorder, violence, and bloodshed, would destroy the safeguards of our civil and religious liberty, unsettle the foundations of our industry and commerce, and bring financial confusion and disaster on our country."
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. G. W. WOLFF (Belfast E.)
said, he wished to address a few words to the House, but he was not going into the details of the Bill, which had been introduced that evening. It was described as a Bill for the better government of Ireland, and it was hoped, he believed, that it would be passed through the present Parliament. But there were certain points upon which they (the Ulster Unionist Members) could not agree. The Prime Minister had told them that they were a simple minority of about one-fifth. This was not an accurate or a just statement. In his (Mr. Wolff's) opinion, the minority was nearer one-third. They objected to the Bill as a whole, because it would interfere with their prosperity. They were asked to elect 103 Members in Ireland and then to elect 80 Members to come to Westminster to vote sometimes, and sometimes not to vote—sometimes to turn out the Government, and sometimes to not turn them out. If that were to be carried out they must have a new franchise. The new Bill gave them no guarantee as to the men who would govern them. Taking the offices of Attorney General and Solicitor General, why did not the right hon. Gentleman make the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Louth his Attorney General? They knew very well that in England no Irish need apply. He was anxious to impress upon the House that 1306 they in Ulster most emphatically protested and objected to this Home Rule Bill. As presented to the English people, the Home Rule Question was connected with the agrarian aspect of Irish matters; they heard little of the claim of commerce and manufactures. There was much that was not connected with land which was of great importance. He pointed to the advance of Belfast as a port, and said that when the Union was passed there were only 3,000 inhabitants in that place, whereas they had now 275,000. They had gone up in similar ratio as regards customs, and, with the exception of Liverpool and Loudon, no port in the Kingdom paid a greater duty. Belfast, too, it was to be remembered, was the great distributing port in the North of Ireland. They had £2,000,000 of money invested in their leading industry originally; now they had £16,000,000. The men in Belfast who were opposed to the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman were not aristocrats; they were working men, and they were as much opposed to it as any class of landlords. They hail prospered under the magnificent rule of England. They had not only increased their prosperity, but they had set up an excellent administration in sanitary and other municipal works, and any transfer of authority would totally and effectually interfere with this prosperity. He claimed that the North of Ireland was entitled to consideration, and that gentlemen behind (the Nationalists) would better employ their talents and their undoubted ability than they had been doing for the past 10 or 15 years by preaching other doctrines than they were accustomed to preach and making fewer speeches in resistance of the law. They in Ulster did not know what was before them if they were to have a Home Rule Parliament. They were to have 103 Members at home and 80 at Westminster. His argument was, that the inducement to stay at Westminster would be taken by abler and better men, and that they in Ireland would have the inferior men opposed to them, and it would then be seen that they had killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. In fact, they would have a Parliament conducted after the manner of some of the Boards of Guardians in the South of Ireland.
§ MR. WOLFF
Then the Customs rights were to be reserved; but how did they know that there would not be an alteration in that provision five or ten years hence? Had this Parliament any right to bind its successors, and, even if so, had they any guarantee of finality? Then, again, with regard to the arrangement for the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster, did they suppose that the Irish Members would stay there and give their support to a particular Party in the State without getting something for it? The Irish Members always got something for their support. He was of opinion, too, that in an Irish Parliament the Members would be paid, and he feared that the sum set apart by the Government would be spent in that way, which he considered a very strong reason for objection to the measure. When they considered the endowments that would be given to the Catholic Church, to Catholics Schools, and everything Catholic, he was afraid that the £500,000 would melt into thin air, and new efforts would have to be made to raise taxes. Where were these taxes to be raised? They would not think of imposing taxes on the poor and ruined peasantry. It was to Ulster that the Irish Parliament would look for gathering in the taxes. It was Ulster they would rob in every way, and then he was afraid the trouble would begin, for Ulster would have very little inclination to send their hard-earned money to Dublin to pay for Catholic endowments and for the keeping up of a Parliament in which, probably, no Ulster loyalist would ever sit. Those who took part in the Ulster Convention had declared that they would never take part in the new Parliament, and they were getting more and more in earnest in the matter. They would resist the imposition of taxes by the Irish Parliament, and the result would be a repetition of the rioting which had taken place on previous occasions in Belfast. Another trouble he foresaw was in connection with the Catholic Church. He was not one of those who thought that every man opposed to him must be wrong. He was the last Man in the House who would doubt the sincerity of the Catholic clergy. He believed that they were convinced of their doctrines and devoted to their flocks, and would make great sacrifices to further the inte- 1308 rests of their Church; but the more he was convinced of that the more did he feel satisfied that for the very purpose of promoting their Church they were bound in their consciences to do everything they could to put down the Protestant minority. ["No, no!"]. It was possible that hon. Members who said "No" were sincere, but he must be allowed to enjoy his own opinion. The cases of Austria, France, and Italy, referred to by the Chief Secretary, afforded no analogy to Ireland. In those countries the Protestant minorities were small and weak; but in Ireland the minority was one-third of the population. It was strong, active, and determined to hold to its faith. Besides, on the Continent many of the Catholics were very lax and easy in their religion. It was a matter of indifference to them whether they were Catholics or Protestants, but in Ireland both parties regarded their religion as an active principle which they would carry out to the end. A few years ago it was thought that the Protestants had established an unjust ascendancy in Ireland. That ascendancy was destroyed and all were put on an equal footing, but to what purpose would that have been done if another ascendancy were set up infinitely more powerful, and determined to put down Protestantism? He looked forward with anything but confidence to the establishment of that quietness, harmony, and love between Irishmen which it was understood to be the object of the Bill to bring about. Instead of causing peace it would create war and discontent. The prosperity of Ireland would be put back for many years, if it ever recovered at all, from such a blow. The Ulster people would oppose the Bill to the utmost of their ability. They would not sit in the new Parliament, but would offer strenuous opposition to it, and in doing this it seemed to him that they would only be taking a right and proper course.
§ *MAJOR DARWIN (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
claimed the indulgence always shown to new Members when going through the uncomfortable task of making a first speech. They had all heard the speech of the Prime Minister this afternoon with intense interest, but of course it was impossible to form an accurate estimate of the provisions of the Bill before they had it in their hands. Still, the best use they could make of such an oppor- 1309 tunity as the present was to point out from what general aspect the Bill should be judged between this time and the Second Reading. Each Member should attempt only to deal with those points which interested him most and with which he felt most familiar. For himself he only desired to speak on one point, and that was the protection of minorities. The matter had been discussed a good deal to-night, but from an Irish rather than from an English point of view. The Prime Minister had told them that every practical provision would be made for the protection of minorities, and that the supremacy of Parliament would remain intact. Hence the British House of Commons would continue as heretofore to be responsible for the protection of minorities in Ireland. But he was very much disappointed at the small amount of attention the Prime Minister had given to the matter. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of Ulster as having been once the champion of Irish liberties. He had said she had now retired from that position, but he seemed to think that before long she would join the Nationalists in their demands for Home Rule. He could easily understand the change of opinion that seemed to have come over Ulster; the fact was, Ulster men now considered that they had won the liberties they strove for in the past. If the House looked at the way in which this agitation had been conducted during the past 30 years, and if they bad regard to the position of that section of Irishmen who appealed to them not to thrust them out of the Union, it appeared to him essential that they should adopt some means of protecting minorities. With regard to this important point, there were three possible policies: First, there was the plan of retaining the British Parliament with unquestioned and unquestionable authority over all persons in Ireland, which authority should be continuously, effectively, and vigilantly exercised for the protection of minorities. That was the Unionist policy. Then there was the plan of establishing in Ireland a Constitution with special provisions for the protection of minorities, but dispensing the British Parliament from further responsibility in the matter. That was what he might venture to call the Nationalist policy. And there was a sort of intermediate plan, that of keeping the responsibility 1310 and power to act with the British Parliament, but under the condition that interference should only take place in extreme cases. That he should call the policy of effective veto. There was a fourth policy which he would not even consider—the policy of granting Home Rule to Ireland with the view of seeing if it would work, reserving the right to take it away again if necessary. The loyalists of Ireland, and those who sympathised with them, had often been accused of exciting to civil war, but it appeared to him that this latter plan was one which was sure to bring about civil war—namely, to grant Home Ride and then take away the privilege. They must, therefore, look on this Home Rule measure as final, a step from which there could be no retreat. He did not mean that the provisions of the Bill might not be altered; but if they were altered it would be in the direction of giving further powers to the Legislature in Dublin, and not lessening those powers—therefore it was absolutely necessary that they should see that the safeguards introduced into the Bill were effective; for if they were not, there would be no chance of making them so in the future. It went without saying that the Bill was not favourable to the Unionist policy of an effective and vigilant watching over the interests of minorities in Ireland. The question, then, remained whether it belonged to either of the other policies? It appeared to him that for internal affairs the position of Ireland under the Bill would be similar to the position of Canada and our other large colonies. With regard to the question of veto, an eminent Nationalist had said, and said correctly from his point of view, that the veto in Canada was harmless, because it was already a dead letter. In his opinion, it should be laid down as a general principle that no Government might to undertake responsibility without corresponding power, and that no Government ought to have powers conferred upon it without having ample means of getting information on which to act, so that the power might be correctly applied. He would illustrate the point by reference to a rebellion which occurred in Canada in 1885. Well, was this rebellion, in which several hundred lives were lost, ever debated in this House? He believed he was right in 1311 saying that the only steps taken in this matter in Parliament was the asking of a single question in the House of Commons and the asking of another in the House of Lords. And lie ventured to think that the answers to these questions were important, as showing the powers of the Executive in England over the Executive in Canada. In the Commons the Minister said he had no Papers to show the House in order to make it evident what were the grievances that induced the rebels to take up arms. In the House of Lords Lord Derby said the question of the relations between the Government of Canada and the rebels was not one which had come, or could come, before the Colonial Office. Thus they washed their hands of all responsibility with regard to the causes of the rebellion. How was it that Parliament had not taken the trouble to inquire into the grievance of these men in Canada? It did not do so, because it was felt that the sovereignty of the Parliament over Canada was not a real but a fictitious sovereignty; Parliament, in fact, was not supreme over Canada except in name. If Parliament had had power to protect the minorities in Canada it would have been necessary in the first instance to obtain information, and the only way to get information would have been to call for documents and question Ministers. Then Parliament ought also to have been able to compensate those who were injured, and, further, to modify the Canadian laws in order to redress grievances. Of course, it was absolutely hopeless to attempt to modify the Canadian Constitution when we had in fact parted with our sovereign power over Canada. It might be said that the case of Ireland differed from that of Canada, inasmuch as we had a force under Imperial control always to be stationed there. In discussing such points, however, he thought the House was far too apt to consider the Legislature in Dublin only and to leave the Executive out of consideration. It by no means followed that by limiting the power of the Legislature we limited also the power of the Executive. Would the Irish Executive have any power over the British Army in Ireland? Many hon. Members would be inclined to say it would not. He thought they were mistaken. The authority of the Crown was to be delegated to the Lord 1312 Lieutenant, who was to be responsible to his Irish Ministers, in precisely the same way the authority of the Crown was delegated to the Governor of a Colony who was responsible to his Ministers. What, then, was the position of the Army in a colony? The Queen's Regulations said—Except in case of invasion or assault by a foreign enemy, it is the duty of the Governor to determine the objects with which, and the extent to which, Her Majesty's troops are to be employed. He is, therefore, authorised to issue to the officer in command of the Forces directions respecting their distribution and their employment on escort, and other duties required for the safety and welfare of the colony.He was aware this Regulation had no legal authority; but if it represented truly the position the Army would hold in Ireland, the effect would be that the Lord Lieutenant by and with the advice of his Irish Executive would have the power of directing the British Army in all matters connected with the suppression of civil outbreaks. Not long ago a Constabulary Inspector was found guilty of contempt of Court in not having given protection to a Sheriff who was serving a writ. The position of soldiers in the eyes of the law was exactly the same as the position of policemen. He thought it was perfectly certain that the Irish Sheriffs would become servants of the Irish Legislature; and those servants of the Irish Legislature, inasmuch as they could claim protection from the military, would have a distinct power over the British Army. In his opinion, the position of Army officers in Ireland, after the passing of this Bill, would be simply unbearable. They would have to serve two masters—the Sheriffs and the Lord Lieutenant responsible to the Irish Legislature, on the one band, and their own officers, responsible to this Parliament, on the other. The House of Commons at Westminster would have no power of dealing with the Army in Ireland, so far as the protection of minorities was concerned. Supposing the Civil Courts ceased to act in Ireland as had occasionally happened in our colonies, who would be supreme? Mr. Justice Blackburne, in General Eyre's case, which practically dealt with the protection of minorities in Jamaica, declared that the supreme power in any country had the power to declare Martial Law when an emergency arose. Who would have this power in Ireland when an emergency 1313 arose? It appeared to him that the Irish Legislature, unless specially barred, and also the Executive, would have the power of dealing with Martial Law. If this were so, if the British Parliament would have no means of enforcing its authority, nor any means of extracting information on which to act, then the protection of minorities, so far as the House of Commons was concerned, would be, he ventured to say, an absolute sham. If this were the right view to take, the question to consider was whether the House should reject this Home Rule measure altogether or abandon the men of Ulster who were appealing to their English brethren to be kept within the Union? He was prepared to admit that the rejection of this Home Rule Bill must entail grave consequences, and that such consequences should be carefully considered; but if reason told them to throw out the measure, it would, in his opinion, be an abject act of cowardice to refuse to take the responsibility of so doing because of the fear of consequences. When he remembered the strength of the appeal that had been made to English Members, especially from Ulster, he thought it would be a vile act of treachery on the part of any Unionist to desert his allies in Ireland. He was sure a certain portion of the supporters of the Government were depending on the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament for securing the protection of minorities, and he besought them to look into the measure and see whether this safeguard was not, as he contended, really a sham.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
The animus of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is sufficiently discernible in one phrase which he let drop when he was approaching the conclusion of his speech. He spoke of those who impudently arrogate to themselves the title of Loyalists in Ireland, but who are only loyal so long as the Crown consents to be the servant of their interests, as the "allies" of himself and his friends. Does not the hon. Gentleman perceive that when he speaks of the minority in Ireland as his allies, he implies that he considers the people of Ireland to be enemies and Ireland an enemies' country? The short reply to the hon. Gentleman and all pessimists of his school is that where there is a will there is a way. If a thing 1314 is worth doing and is right to do, the way can be easily found by a less ingenious body of persons than composes this Assembly. If it is right to give liberty to the people of Ireland a mode can be easily devised; but if Members of this House begin, as the hon. Member has begun, by detesting the idea of giving them liberty, there is nothing easier than to accumulate difficulties against any proposal that is made. The hon. Member spoke of the position of an Army officer in Ireland who would find himself in some extraordinary difficulty, because his commanding officer would be an officer in the service of the Queen and the Sheriff; whom the commanding officer would have to obey would be an officer of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. But why did the hon. Gentleman forget that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland is also an officer of the Queen? The law of Ireland would be the law of the Queen. If the commanding officer found himself in any other part of the British Empire, he would be bound to observe the law there prevailing. It is, therefore, quite plain that the Army officer mentioned, in proof of the difficulties which would result from Home Rule, would find himself in no greater difficulty in Ireland than elsewhere. I fail to appreciate the reference to Canada. Clearly the only lesson to be drawn from Canada is a lesson on our side. Canada was disloyal and bred rebellion. You granted her Home Rule. When you had done so her disloyalty became loyalty, and her convulsion became content. And let me add, with reference to the view of the hon. Gentleman that the supremacy over Canada is only of a limited kind, that if you had not given Home Rule to Canada, if you had not done for Canada what you have refused to do for Ireland, the possession of that great Dominion would long ago have been lost to the British Crown. I think it would be easy, if we had time and cared to take the trouble, to analyse such speeches as that of the hon. Gentleman—speeches which, I presume will be delivered by the dozen in this Debate—and expose the flimsy character of the arguments adduced to support a foregone conclusion. I shall not, however, follow the hon. Gentleman's remarks further, because I think the Government, the House, and the country have a right to hear without delay from us who are in a 1315 special degree concerned what impression has been made upon our minds by the statement submitted to us by the First Minister of the Crown. Before I go any further I wish to say that this ancient Parliament, this mother of Parliaments, which has lived through many centuries, and passed through many memorable and dramatic vicissitudes, has never witnessed a more marvellous episode, one more touching to the thoughtful mind, one more pathetic even to the general apprehension than that with which our proceedings began to-day. Few of us who remember the day when the right hon. Gentleman, at the age of 77, brought in his Bill of 1886 thought it within the limits of possibility that, after a further period of seven years, it would fall to his lot to renew that noble effort. Looking back upon all that has passed within the last seven years, remembering how cheerfully the right hon. Gentleman accepted the fiat of the people, with what energy, with what singleminded devotion he has supported, sustained, and advanced the Home Rule cause in the seven years that have since intervened, remembering with what heroic will and with what even temper he has encountered all the difficulties inherent to the situation, and those which neither he nor we could have anticipated—when we regard these things, and remember how he has stood by our cause, I say that, win or lose—and he will win—he has secured beyond all change the gratitude of the Irish people. I know that if I were an Englishman, no matter what were my Party, I should feel proud that my race had produced a man who does not find his peer to-day in any other race in the world, because there is no man, I believe, except the Prime Minister of England, who, at the age of 84, could have even attempted to approach the task which with such brilliant lucidity and such masterly concentration of intellectual power he has accomplished in this House to-day. The devotion at his age to the cause of a poor country, and the heroism with which he has accepted almost incessant labour on her behalf, have gathered to the aid of the Irish cause in the breasts of a generous-minded people of England an intensity of feeling which is something more than political, which has in it something more than the devotion of personal feeling, and which in my judgment, 1316 whatever may be said about obstruction in the House of Commons and about possible action on the part of the House of Lords, will prove to be an unconquerable force. It is but simple justice to acknowledge the diligence with which the Prime Minister has proceeded in the discharge of his promises to the electorate of the United Kingdom, and his engagements to the people of Ireland. I am glad to recall the fact that the Prime Minister, having accepted the policy of Home Rule at the end of 1885, within three months produced a Bill which was accepted by the Irish Party and by the Irish people and their race throughout the world as the basis of a permanent settlement. [An hon. MEMBER: The basis?] Yes, the basis. We can say no more of the First and Second Reading. So far as the Bill could be accepted upon the Second Reading, it was accepted as a settlement of the constitutional question, and the fact that it was so accepted narrowed, in my opinion, the area of the controversy which it is necessary to carry on to-day. I am glad to bear testimony to the fact that on the first day allowed to him by Parliamentary usage, the right hon. Gentleman again brings forward his Bill for the better government of Ireland, in pursuance of the pledge on which he was returned to power at the last General Election. I call that a prompt and an honourable proceeding in the discharge of a promise, and I augur well from it for the future. Now, the question is whether the Bill produced in outline to-day by the First Minister of the Crown offers fair security to Ireland, within the usages of the British Constitution, for a free Legislative Executive. Certain formulae have been familiar during the last few years. A pledge was given that the Liberal Party would endeavour to confer upon Ireland a Legislature having power to deal with the affairs of Ireland, and an Executive Government responsible to that Legislature. But before I proceed to ask whether this scheme provides such an Executive and such a Legislature, let me refer for a moment to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. [At this stage the speech of the hon. Member was interrupted by the Ministerial cheers which greeted the receipt of the news of the return of the Gladstonian candidate for Pontefract, and referring to this he said]: 1317 The Prime Minister once spoke of the flowing tide. That tide appears to be flowing still. We have not, I think, quite reached high water yet, but we are very near it, and I believe that on the crest of that wave, near as its arrival is, we shall either carry Home Rule at the first attempt or submerge, perhaps, some ancient institution. I was about to say a few words on the subject of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I wish to say that upon it a great deal of language has been wasted. The supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is an incontrovertible fact. A fact cannot be any more than a fact; and it does not become more actual when it is made the subject of a declaration. It is not less actual even if there be no declaration. The supremacy of the Imperial Parliament exists, and cannot be altered; and, for my part, I do not object to any declaration either in the Preamble or in the clauses of the Bill which declares what I accept as a notorious and incontrovertible fact. I have seen it suggested sometimes that a declaration should be made to the effect that the Imperial Parliament will not interfere within the appointed sphere of the Parliament of Ireland. I should not value a declaration of that kind, even if made, because such a declaration by this Parliament would not bind another Parliament, nor even itself. Whenever I hear about declarations intended to be of a lasting character 1 call to mind the fact that in the year 1782 you renounced in the most solemn language the right to make laws for Ireland, and in the year 1800 you tranquilly resumed that right, and took it away from Ireland. The Imperial Parliament is supreme, but I regard the passing of a Home Rule Bill, reserving certain subjects to the Imperial Parliament and committing others to the Parliament of Ireland, as amounting to a compact which wine observed by men of common sense that there will be no capricious or vexatious interference by this Parliament with an action within the appointed sphere of the Parliament of Ireland, and I have to add that if such interference were attempted, the presence in this Parliament of 80 Irish Members—a number which has been found to be sufficient to make a detested Home Rule a matter of Imperial policy and to initiate a movement giving an 1318 Irish Constitution—will be found sufficient to protect an Irish Constitution when it is given. I now pass to the question of the Irish Executive, which may be disposed of in a very few words. I think that the Prime Minister created some confusion in the minds of those who heard him by speaking of the Executive Government of Ireland as a Committee of the Irish Privy Council. That is the technical and constitutional method of describing a Cabinet. The Cabinet of England are a Committee of the Imperial Privy Council; every Member of the Cabinet must be a Member of the Privy Council; and what the Prime Minister meant, no doubt was that the Cabinet Ministers of the Irish House of Commons will be Members of the Irish Privy Council, but that the Members of the Executive Committee will he the persons chosen and maintained in the position of Ministers by the confidence of the Irish people. The provision in this Bill for an Irish Executive is better than it was in the Bill of 1886. I may say at once—and I think it right to put forward an unmistakeable declaration—that, regarding the Bill as a scheme for the establishment of Constitutional Government in Ireland—a Legislature free according to constitutional usage, and an Executive responsible to native control—the plan as a whole is a better plan than that of 1886. The plan, as described to the House this afternoon, puts before us the constitutional function of the Irish Ministers, and their power to control the Government of the country and the relations to the Representatives of the people with a clearness which was absent from the former Bill. Next, I have to say a few words as regards the control of the police, which is a fundamental matter in the sphere of Executive government. If I remember rightly the statement of the Prime Minister, it is intended that the Irish Government from its inception shall have the power at its discretion to establish a local and civil force. As it proceeds and notifies to the Lord Lieutenant that it has established an adequate civil force in any county the Lord Lieutenant, after a limited interval, will withdraw the constabulary from that area; and when the Irish Government notifies that they have completed the organisation of the civil force for Ireland the Lord Lieutenant, after a certain in- 1319 terval, or at his discretion after the lapse of a certain number of years from the passing of the Bill, will dissolve the constabulary force. I do not gather from the Prime Minister whether a term of years is named, but I am entitled to expect that a term of years will be defined in the Bill. The term of years, I think, will not be a matter of disagreement, but it should be a limited term. I do not think that the Irish people or their Representatives will be disposed to be exacting as to the question of a year or two. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the transfer of men from the existing force to the force to be established by the Irish Government. I speak to-night with full authority from the whole body of Irish Nationalists.
§ MR. SEXTON
If the hon. and gallant Member, who is a famous range finder, but whose hearing is not so good, had listened to what I was about to say, he would have found that I spoke for the full body of Nationalists with whom I am at present acting. Even those Nationalists, with whom on some questions I regret to find myself in disagreement, will not dispute the statement that such disputes had occurred between the constabulary of Ireland and the Irish people have been greatlydue to the fact that the police, because of their position as a political and semi-military force, have to maintain a policy hateful to the people and very often hateful to themselves. With Home Rule all that will pass away; and under a Home Rule Government the police will have no duties which will place them in antagonism with the people. So far as I can speak for the Irish people, and so far as we can forecast the future, they will most willingly concur in promoting the transfer of men from the Constabulary Force to the civil force to be formed by the new Legislature in Ireland, and in facilitating any mode of arrangement by which they will secure that the engagements of the Imperial Parliament to these men shall be faithfully kept. Passing from that matter to the question of the Irish Legislature, I may at once say that, as between two Orders in one House, or two Houses separate from each other, we think it better to have two Houses in a country inhabited by people of quick tem- 1320 perament like the Irish nation. I do not think it would tend to the tranquillity of Parliamentary life in Ireland to let the separate bodies meet in a joint Sitting. Of course, as the existence of the second House is intended as a safeguard for the minority in Ireland, we have no objection to it. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) indulges in some genial laughter at that. I think I shall be able to show him presently that if the Irish Unionists exist to the number he states they will necessarily elect a majority, if not every Member of the Legislative Council. As to the Legislative Assembly, I am satisfied that, elected by the present constituents on the present franchise, it would duly represent the opinion of Ireland and faithfully discharge its functions. The number may be found too small; the proposed Legislature would be the smallest in the world for such a population; and it may be well to have power in the Bill to alter the numbers in both Houses provided that the proportion between the numbers is not altered. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who lightens up the question occasionally by sallies into arithmetic, thereby better illustrating his courage than his scientific training, is in the habit of saying sometimes that the Unionists of Ireland number one-third of the people, and at other times that they reach 2,000,000. The Legislative Council will be elected on a franchise of over £20;and I do not believe that the number of people rated at an amount over £20 exceeds 150,000, although we have been told it is 170,000. The population is 4,700,000; therefore, only one in 30 of the population, and one in six of the Parliamentary electors in Ireland will vote for the Members of the Legislative Assembly. If the Unionists in Ireland number 2,000,000 out of 4,750,000, and if, as we know, on the unimpeachable authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, they hold not only most of the intelligence and nearly all the education, but absolutely all the wealth, does it not follow that they will so dominate the electorate from which the Council is chosen that they would necessarily elect the whole of the Legislative Council. If it were intended that the Legislative Council should by dissent defeat Bills sent up from the 1321 Assembly the case would be one of deadlock, and we could not accept such a Chamber. But the function of the Legislative Council is to secure reasonable delay and full re-consideration of every important Bill, to guard the minority of Ireland against precipitate legislation, and therefore we are not too censorious, nor do we inquire too curiously into the franchise by which the Upper Chamber is constituted. We are willing that the minority shall have a strong majority there; and if they are half the number stated by the right hon. Gentleman, they will be able not only to elect the whole of the Legislative Council, but when it comes to the question of a joint Session it may perhaps be a close run between the popular Party and the Party elected on the property franchise. I, however, am satisfied. I am quite willing to give the minority the control of the Upper Chamber; I am willing to give them such a force as will enable them upon certain questions even to defeat Bills in the joint Session; but I believe that the constitution of the proposed Legislature secures the passing of any Bill in which the feelings and interests of the main body of the Irish people are deeply concerned. The provision for a joint Session secures the passing of such Bills, and in this respect, again, the Bill is an improvement on the one of 1886, because by that Bill the Upper Chamber was so artificially constructed that it might impede the Lower Chamber for three years, or until a Dissolution, whichever was the longer period. Now such a delay would excite public feeling upon important Bills to the pitch of irritation, without accomplishing any useful result which could not have been accomplished by a shorter term. I consider the proposal in the present Bill of the summoning forthwith of a Joint Council is a great improvement. I think that this gives a fair prospect of reasonably safe and speedy legislation as to all questions in which the Irish people are deeply concerned, and that being its main object I am disposed to assent to it. The Prime Minister said the Irish Parliament was to have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the country, and that its jurisdiction should extend to all matters relating to Ireland or parts thereof. The language of the Bill of 1886 was, to some extent, dissimilar, but it is for a constitutional lawyer to decide whether 1322 there is any material difference. It appears to me that the Bill of to-day is sufficient for the purpose. As to the restrictions upon the Irish Parliament, we were informed that they were to be substantially the same as in the Bill of 1886, with an addition from the American Constitution as to personal freedom. I should desire to study the language of this Amendment. In the meantime, I may say that any language on such a matter as personal freedom taken from the American Constitution will be scarcely likely to meet with objections at our hands. Generally, on the subject of restrictions, I should say tile Irish people will not desire to perpetrate oppression against, or inflict any injustice upon, any class or any man with respect either to his religious belief, his property, his income, or any interest of his, his freedom, or his life. There will be no such desire; and so far as the insertion of restrictions may tend to dissipate the apprehensions felt—although they may be unfounded—we shall not be disposed to offer any opposition, provided always that there is no restriction which will interfere with the necessary powers of the Legislature where the public interests are concerned. As to the reservations of the Imperial Parliament, there is no material difference from tile Bill of 1886; and, as we made no objection then, we make none now. As to the Laud Question, the Prime Minister said it would, for a term of three years, be reserved from the Irish Parliament. Then, again, tile leaders of the Liberal Party in 1891 undertook to deal with the Land Question simultaneously, and to insert a provision engaging either that the Imperial Parliament should deal with it, or that it should be committed to the Irish Legislature. The statement of the Prime Minister to-night does not precisely accord with that arrangement, but it is in substance the same, as the forbidding of the Irish Legislature to deal with the question for three years reserves power to the Imperial Parliament to deal with it. I assume, however, that after three years it will pass without reserve to the Irish Legislature. In the meantime, we must not forget such matters as the revision of judicial rent, compulsory sale, and other grave questions which are agitating the minds of the Irish farmers. To provide against any contingency here the Irish Members 1323 should be retained in this House in their present number. We cannot consent to allow the greatest of Irish questions to be dealt with while our numbers are diminished. As to the veto of the Crown, I think it recognises more clearly the nature of the working of the Irish Constitution than the Bill of 1886. The veto in 1886 was unanimously accepted by the Irish Members and the Irish people, and I need not, therefore, dwell upon that point. Upon the question of ultra vires I have a few words to say. It is quite clear there must be a tribunal to decide any dispute which may arise as to whether the Irish Parliament has exceeded its powers. In 1886 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was accepted as a tribunal. We have heard from the Prime Minister not only what was contained in the Bill of 1886—namely, that the Committee, when called together for hearing appeals on questions of the incompetence of the Irish Parliament, would include in its composition some representative of the Irish Judiciary, but also that the judgment of the Privy Council would be a reasoned judgment. We regard it as of considerable importance that the Privy Council should explain their judgments and give their reasons in cases involving questions of public right. I trust I may be allowed to make one or two suggestions on this point. I think it would greatly tend to conciliate feeling in Ireland if it could be arranged that there should be a rota of the Privy Council for the purpose of determining questions of this kind, in order to secure that the tribunal should not be arbitrarily formed. I hope, too, that the parties to a case may be represented by counsel. These points being granted, I should say that the adjudication of the Privy Council would be most readily and cordially accepted by the Representatives of Ireland. In the scheme of 1886 the whole Revenue of Ireland was to be collected by a Receiver General, and I must acknowledge that the disappearance of that official and the substitution of the plan whereby the Government of Ireland will collect the whole of the local Revenue, Customs alone being excepted, is an improvement of very great importance, but I would suggest that one Exchequer Judge would be sufficient to deal with questions arising in connection with the Imperial Revenue. 1324 As to the question of contribution in case of national emergency, in 1886 there was before the House a scheme which excluded Irish Members from the Imperial Parliament, and it was to be left to the Imperial Parliament to determine what the contribution should be; but now the Irish Members are to continue Members of the Imperial Parliament. So long as. Ireland contributes to the Imperial Exchequer, so long is the right of her Representatives to vote in proportion to her population upon Imperial affairs unquestionable, and having that power we should agree to contribute in case of national emergency. But in regard to the proposition of the Prime Minister that the whole of the Revenue produced by an increase in the Excise Duties, should be paid into the Imperial Exchequer, I must point out that such a, proposal is not admissible in point of equity. Ireland contributes in Excise one-eighth of the whole contribution of the United Kingdom. It is manifest that in the case of an increase in the Excise the amount of the increase taken by the Imperial Exchequer should not exceed 1–25th, and the remainder should be returned to the Irish Exchequer, to which it would properly belong. With regard to the voting power of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, we have already said that we are not disposed to give any trouble on that question. We cannot be expected to give up our representation so long as our right to deal with certain Irish questions is reserved; but moment when the period during which the Irish Parliament is precluded from dealing with the Land Question has elapsed, we shall assent to any proposition to which Englishmen and Scotchmen may agree as to the mode of limitation. We have no desire to interfere with your local matters; and the probability is, that when Home Rule is passed, the Imperial Parliament will not be troubled with us unless it makes some attempt to meddle with Irish affairs. If it should be found that the Imperial Parliament capriciously and vexatiously interferes in the sphere it has defined for the Parliament of Ireland, or that British Ministers are reasonably suspected of attempting to use the veto of the Crown against time just rights of the Irish Legislature, then, I think, it will be found that the unique position which Ireland occupies, having 1325 a Legislature in Ireland and also Representatives in that House, will stand them in good stead. So far as the scheme is concerned with the framing of a political Constitution, it is worth acceptance at the hands of the people of Ireland. The question of finance is one of no mean importance. It will he admitted that the Irish Legislature would be placed in a critical position, especially in its earliest and most difficult years, unless it were provided with means sufficient to enable it to develop a useful policy and to repair in some measure the defects of the Imperial Administration, and to attempt some urgent practical measures without imposing any fresh burdens on the Irish people. The Prime Minister produced a balance-sheet. It is desirable that it should be known to what year it relates. [Mr. J. MORLEY:1892–93.] Then it is not an actual statement of receipts and expenditure; it is an estimate for the year ending the 31st of March next. While fully accepting the statement of the Prime Minister, I ask that as soon as practicable the House shall he furnished with particulars of the calculation of the Treasury upon which the adjustment of the several items is founded, and also with particulars of the items which constitute the totals of the Civil Government charges in Ireland. I admit that the financial position has in some respects improved since 1886. Owing to the increase of Revenue and the increase of local charges the Irish Government would have a larger fund to administer than in 1886. Under the Bill of that year the fund to be administered by the Irish Government would have been about £3,000,000 a year. Now, the Civil charges would probably amount to between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 a year; and no doubt with a larger fund greater relative economy would be effected. But such economy is a question of the future, and of a future which I may call relatively remote, because I assume that the arrangements of 1886 will be repeated as to the pay, pensions, and continued employment of Civil servants. After the most careful examination, I cannot foresee that any considerable economy will be possible in Ireland for a good many years to come. I say that the scheme of finance developed to-day is open to three objections. The financial proposals of 1886 met with the sternest opposition of the Irish Members, 1326 who gave notice of their intention to contest them in Committee, and I would scarcely go so far as to say that the present financial proposals will give to the Imperial Exchequer a larger contribution than was given by the scheme of 1886. In that year the Prime Minister proposed to take out of the Revenues of Ireland £2,200,000 a year, and now he proposes to take £2,350,000. In 1886, when the proposals of the Government were condemned, we received the promise of more favourable terms, but indeed we find that our contribution is to be increased £150,000 a year. I admit that as against that circumstance we have the fact that under the scheme of 1886 the Imperial Exchequer would have been relieved of a contribution of £500,000 for the Irish Constabulary. Now I understand it is proposed that the Imperial Exchequer shall continue to bear one-third of the charge for the constabulary as long as there is any charge. Therefore, the difference between the two schemes would not be very great. At any rate, we are certainly entitled to receive more favourable treatment on that point than is offered to us. I contend, in the second place, that it would not be fair, and it would not be generous, to make the occasion of a grant of autonomy to Ireland, which, while it gives Ireland the control of her own affairs, will also give you the control of yours—to make such a grant the occasion for extracting from the Irish Exchequer for the Imperial Exchequer a larger profit than they now derived. I undertake to demonstrate upon any series of years—and it is only upon a series of years that you can judge—that the profit of the Imperial Exchequer for Ireland has been less, and very considerably less, than the contribution now demanded. I urge, therefore, that the profit to be taken by the Exchequer under the Home Rule system should not he materially greater than the profit derived under the administration of this Parliament. In the third place, I say the surplus of £500,000 will not be free for the general purposes of Ireland. I understood that the intention was that it should be free; but it will not be so, because by the arrangement it gives for the Imperial Treasury £500,000 a year for Irish Police and takes for the same purpose out of the Irish Budget £1,000,000. It is obvious that if the surplus of £500,000 is to be 1327 free for the general purposes of the Government of Ireland, the whole cost under the head of the police will have to be discharged for the sum of £1,000,000 a year. The Irish Government will be responsible, first, for the pay of the Dublin Police; secondly, for two-thirds of the present pension money, now about £350,000 a year, and for a further pension charge which is estimated to amount, probably to not less than £400,000. When you put these three sums together and calculate, in addition, that Ireland will have to pay the cost of her own local police, I think it must be quite evident that, when the local police force is complete, or even when it is in course of establishment, the charge on Ireland for police will so far exceed the sum of £1,000,000 a year, which is the only sum in our Budget for police, that not only will the surplus of £500,000 not be free, but it will be wholly absorbed, or in the greater part absorbed, in the payment of the police. We have studied this question according to our faculties and to the material in our hands, and we have come to the conclusion that the terms offered are less favourable now than they were in 1886. I do not seriously imagine that the scheme in that respect will be maintained. I have the most unqualified confidence in the equitable spirit of the Prime Minister, and I feel the most unqualified confidence in the spirit of the Liberal Party who have stood by us so nobly and acted so generously from the beginning of this struggle; and if there is one thing more certain than anything else about the generous masses of the people of this country who have accepted the policy of Home Rule, I think it would be this: They would say, "If you give a native Government and a native Constitution to Ireland, give them with it the means to carry that Constitution on." I press the question no further upon the House. I ask particularly for a re-consideration of the proposals as to that policy, and I feel the utmost confidence that you will not allow any trivial question of account to impair the greatness and the grace of a Constitution which, in my opinion, will secure political liberty for Ireland, and by political liberty I mean, firstly, the right of the Legislature of Ireland to make laws for that country, and the duty of that Legislature to hold itself responsible to the Irish people.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I think that most Members of this House who happened to be present in 1886 will have almost felt that the past seven years were but a passing dream. We have had the same scene exactlyrepresented. We have had the same excitement in the House, the same throng of Members to hear a notable oration, and, Sir, more wonderful still, we have had the same orator, upon whom the hand of time appears to have no effect, who with the same eloquence and the same power of presenting a difficult, nay, a desperate case to the House of Commons, appearing as unflagged and as energetic. as ever. And, above all, he appeared to, me to be animated with the same determination and the same unremorseful desire to culminate a great career in the ruins of the Constitution of his country. [Ministerial laughter.] The House is pleased to laugh at what, they appear to think a figure of rhetoric on my part. But as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian gave us several quotations from distinguished personages. who lived at a somewhat remote period of our history at the end of the last century and at the beginning of this, I think I may, in order to justify the remark I have made, read to the House a quotation from a speech made by a very distinguished Member of this House not very long ago, within living memory—a speech which was delivered on the Home Rule question by the right hon. Gentleman himself. He said—We are told that it is necessary for Ireland to close her relations with the Parliament of this country and to have a Parliament of her own. Why now we shall say to the hon. learned Gentleman (Mr. Butt), Why is Parliament to be broken up? Has Ireland great grievances? What is it that Ireland has demanded from the Imperial Parliament that the Imperial Parliament has refused? It will not do to deal with this matter in vague and shadowy assertions. I have looked in vain for the setting forth of any practical scheme of policy which the Imperial Parliament is not able to deal with, or which it has refused to deal with, and which is to be brought about by Home Rule. You would expect when it is said that the Imperial Parliament is to be broken up that at least a case should I be made out showing that there are great questions of policy and great demands which the Representatives of Ireland had united to ask and the Representatives of England, Scotland, and Wales had united to refuse. There is no such grievance. There is nothing which Ireland has asked that this country has refused. This country has done for Ireland what it would have scruple to do for England or Scotland. What are the inequalities of England and Ireland? I 1329 confess I know of none except that there are certain taxes remaining which are levied from every Englishman and Scotchman and are no levied from every Irishman, and that there are public boons which are freely and largely given to Ireland and are not given to England or Scotland. That seems a very feeble basis indeed for the argument that the fabric of the United Parliament of this country is to be broken up. Can any sensible man, can any rational man, suppose that at this time of day, in this condition of the world, we are going to disintegrate the great capital institutions of the country for the purpose of making ourselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind, of crippling every power we possess, and of upsetting the Constitution of the country to which we belong?Those words were delivered 21 years years ago. Let me ask the House, let me ask hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, what, during the course of those 21 years, has proved that the assertions of the right hon. Gentleman were false and contrary to the fact? What has this country done for Ireland during the last 21 years? Can any Irishman deny that during those 21 years Ireland has occupied the foremost place on the stage of the political world? Can anyone deny that Irish grievances occupied a considerable share of the attention of Parliament? Can anyone deny that during those 21 years the House of Commons and the Parliament of Great Britain have not by their legislation sought, at any rate, to wipe away from the mind of Ireland those sad memories which existed amongst her people? Do they forget how, in order to satisfy the demands of those Roman Catholic priests of Ireland, they swept away the Irish Church? Can they deny that, in order to secure the position of the Irish tenants, they gave them more than half the possession of the land they held, anal the power to sell it at their will? Can they deny that this country has advanced many millions of money in order to make the Irish tenant owner of the land he tills? During those 21 years no one can prove, except by empty assertions, that this House has denied to Ireland the right of making out grievances, and done her best to redress them. What, then, has changed the mind of the right hon. Gentleman? The answer is supplied by the hon. Member who has just addressed the House. He said that it was 85 Irish votes which made Home Rule an Imperial question. It is not because there is any justice in the question; it is not because Irish Members have made out a case against the British Parliament; but it is simply because, in 1330 the words of the hon. Member, the Government required the Irish votes, and because they still require the votes they proceed, in the language of the speech I have read, to disintegrate the institutions of their country. I do not think the House will deny that perhaps there is no Member of it who has a better right to speak on this question than I have. No one can deny that I speak in file name of the loyalty of Ireland, and therefore the House can easily imagine that I listened with deep attention to time speech of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech by saying that there were two roads—coercion on the one side and Home Rule on the other. What did the right hon. Gentleman mean by coercion? There is coercion in every civilised country. Unjustifiable coercion is interference with the liberties of law-abiding citizens; justifiable coercion is interference with the criminal population. No Irishman who obeyed the law ever suffered from coercion. It all depends upon how the law is administered. The right hon. Gentleman did not point out one single case in which the socalled coercion pressed unduly upon any other than the criminal population in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman went on to inform, the House that Belfast ought to accept this Bill. That will be news for Belfast. It is rather more than 110 years ago that a considerable portion of the population of Belfast appeared to sympathise with the Revolutionary Party of that time. But Belfast has had 110 years' experience since then. Since then Belfast has grown to be the third greatest port in the United Kingdom, and with the experience it has had since then Belfast is at the present moment the capital of loyal Ireland. I do not think that argument of the right hon. Gentleman will find much sympathy in Belfast. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he recognised the fact that there was a minority in Ireland that required consideration, and in order to give them that protection which he understood they might require he proceeded to create a Council to be elected, and to consist of 48 Members. First of all, I do not believe that Council will exist. I think the majority of the Council will invariably belong to the Party of the hon. Member who has just sat down. Even if we had a majority in that protective 1331 Council it would only protect us for a year or two. But the right hon. Gentleman told the House that the new nation—the Irish nation—will start with a capital of £500,000. I consider that is a small capital for a new nation, and I observed that there was on the Nationalist Benches a deadly silence when that announcement was made. Out of this £500,000 they will have to pay the Irish Members, the Irish Ministers, and the evicted tenants, and there will be very little left over. I do not think that that prospect will be satisfactory. It appears to me that the only part of the Bill that the hon. Member who has just sat down objected to was the financial part. He is good enough, in a patronising way, which is peculiar to him, to inform the House that he and the Party which he represents is satisfied to accept the various concessions which this Bill makes to his Party. He objects to certain financial details, and from the manner of the Government Bench I imagine they have informed the hon. Member, and those whom they may have consulted, that on certain points they were essentially squeezable. The Bill contains three points which, in my opinion, are important. It grants a Parliament in Dublin, and an Executive Government responsible to that Parliament. It grants the Irish Parliament power over the Judges, power over the land, and power over the police—that is to say, the power of plunder without the fear of judgment. I do not care, and my people do not care, a farthing about the details of the Bill. What we oppose, and have opposed all along, is the general principle of granting a Home Rule Government to Ireland responsible to an Irish Parliament. That is quite sufficient for us. What are the probabilities of the success of this Bill? The only way we can judge of these is by an examination of the results of the introduction of the Bill of 1886. 1n 1886, when the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Bill, there were certain difficulties in the way which ultimately proved insuperable. First of all, the right hon. Gentleman was met with the difficulty which we thought would have been the hardest for him to dispose of—namely, the difficulty created by the words which he and his colleagues had recently employed, and by the policy which they had always 1332 previously pursued. This difficulty, however, was easily got over, for words and policy were swallowed. But it was a ticklish task to lead a Party accustomed to go one way into an exactly opposite direction. The right hon. Gentleman, in 1886, might be pictured as driving a coach, which he suddenly turned round, with the natural result that most of the passengers flew off, in obedience to the law of political momentum. For seven years the right hon. Gentleman and his friends have tried to persuade the country that to be a Liberal of the modern school one need not hold certain specific political opinions, but you are bound to follow your leader without hesitation, even though he called that black to-day which yesterday he called white. Members of the Liberal Party no doubt found it difficult at first to grasp the situation. It would surprise anyone, when a man had been pointing in condemnation at a gang of robbers marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire, to see that same man joining their ranks—nay, leading the gang. This principle of Liberalism belongs to the school of Bishop Nulty. But there were favourable circumstances at that time which do not exist now. The right hon. Gentleman at that time said that the law could not be maintained in Ireland, that it was a physical impossibility, without the exercise of intolerable oppression, to keep down the Irish people and maintain the law. You cannot say that now. Seven years' experience of a Unionist Government has left Ireland a peaceful country, as time right hon. Gentleman must admit; and when he gets up in this House and congratulates the House on the condition of Ireland, he must remember that that condition is owing to the fact that the law of the land was in firm hands, and administered with justice and with courage. There was one advantage which the right hon. Gentleman possessed formerly that he does not possess now. In 1886 the right hon. Gentleman was able to say that he was dealing with a united Party winch could make terms between him and the Irish people. Above all, he had a leader to deal with then who by his ability, determination, and knowledge of men had succeeded in reducing the Irish Nationalist representation into a harmoniously working machine. Can he 1333 say that now? 'Who is the leader of the Nationalist Party? I conclude that the right hon. Gentleman in introducing this Bill desires the House and the country to believe that this will be a final remedy for Ireland's wrongs. Who can get up now with authority on the side of the Irish Nationalists and tell us that this will be a final settlement? The experience of the past two years prevents that being possible. We all remember when Mr. Parnell got up in this House the adoring adulation he received from that Front Bench. We all remember how, when we doubted his judgment, we were scoffed at and derided, and when he stated that this was to be received as a final settlement and when we denied the fact we were looked upon as incredulous Irish bigots. But Mr. Parnell himself subsequently declared that, so far from looking upon the Home Rule Bill which he had said he accepted as a final settlement in that House, he looked upon it simply as an instalment on the Way to that final settlement of the Irish Question which he all along believed in—namely, to create Ireland a free country and a free people amongst the peoples of the world. I should like to know very much who the right hon. Gentleman is going to deal with on the Nationalist Benches in order to arrive, as he ought to try and arrive, at the question whether this is to be final or not. There are two Parties—there may be more, but, at any rate, we know there are two Parties—below the Gangway. I venture to assert that there is only one gentleman below the Gangway who has the right to say that he speaks in the name of the Nationalist Irish electors in Ireland, and that is the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond.) The Member for Waterford and his eight colleagues profess, I understand to come to this House returned to be the Representatives of the voters in their constituencies; they can speak, at any rate, in their name. But, Sir, there is another Party, numbering 71, who do not represent, the electors of Ireland at all and, what is more, do not profess to represent the Irish electors. This may appear all exaggerated statement of mine; but if the House asks me who I look upon as the Leader of the Ecclesiastical Party in this House, I unquestionably say it is the hon. and learned Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy.) The hon. and learned 1334 Member, by his ability and knowledge of Parliamentary tactics, and the position he occupies and assumes in the House, must undoubtedly be looked upon as the Parliamentary Leader of the Party. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Sexton) is a man of immense ability. However, he only occasionally delights the ears of this House with what I may call a set oration. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth is always present, and as he is always ready to speak on every subject he may be taken to represent virtually the Leader of that Party. What does the hon. and learned Member for North Louth himself say as to the mode in which Irish elections take place and this I look upon as a point of vital importance in considering the Home Rule Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. This is what the hon. Member says—The candidates came forward on both sides and forsooth, if the election was not to be void the voice of religion must be silenced, and rights must be exercised according to what was called the right of private judgment, or as it has been better phrased, the right of private stupidity. The more ignorant a man was the more obstinate he generally was, grounded upon the impregnable basis of his own ignorance.That is the description of the hon. Member for North Louth of the ordinary elector who exercises his private judgment. And then the hon. Member goes on to say that the Church had jurisdiction where morals were concerned, and had jurisdiction over its own jurisdiction, otherwise every man would he a law giver unto himself—His learned Friend might not like the Catholic doctrine, the State might not like the Catholic doctrine, and the candidates might not like it, but the Catholic doctrine would not be changed for them. The rude peasants at Clonard Gates said. 'If you want private judgment go to Roper.'That is not an un-Parliamentary expression. That simply meant they might go to the Protestant clergymen and become Protestants. Therefore, Sir, according to the hon. and learned Member for North Louth, there are two Parties in this House from Ireland representing Nationalist opinion. There is the hon. Member for Waterford, who represents the ignorant opinion of the electors of the constituencies which he and his friends represent, and then we have that holy van of 71 who are the incar- 1335 nation in this House, according to the hon. Member, of the inherited wisdom of the twelve Apostles. So we have below the Gangway nine Parnellites, and we have 71 Apostolic Members from Ireland. Now, Sir, what we want to know is, how are you going to arrive at the real wishes and determination of the Irish people by consulting the hon. Member who has just sat down, or the hon. and learned Member for North Louth, who has openly professed, in the speech he made the other day at the Meath Election Petition, he does not pretend to represent the constituencies which he and his friends are returned to this House to represent, but that he simply represents the voice of the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops? I have not much experience of the inner workings of the mind of the Irish Nationalist electors—it is hard to understand the workings of their minds by the Representatives they send here—but if this is true, I venture to say it proves this: that these electors, who delegate to the Irish Bishops the right to decide who they are to vote for, are not deserving of the franchise, and that certainly they are not deserving of self-government. In fact, Sir, these 71 gentlemen in this House may stand up here and speak as patriots, whereas they are but puppets, who speak, and act, and vote, as the strings are pulled in Dublin by Archbishop Walsh and his friends; therefore, I say that the difficulty in the way of the right hon. Gentleman is very greatly increased. He cannot say now, in dealing with the Irish Nationalists, that he knows the wishes of the Irish people; he can say that he knows the wishes and desires of the Irish Roman Catholic priests. The question I want to know is this: Is the Parliament of Great Britain going to alter, to change, and to destroy, as we look upon it, the Constitution of this country, and not to satisfy the overwhelming demands of a fluted people in Ireland, but to satisfy the demands of the overweening assumption of the Roman Catholic clergy? Then, Sir, how are you to arrive at the question of finality? Who is to state that this will be accepted as a final settlement? Hon. Members, when they speak about Home Rule for Ireland, speak in very different terms over in Ireland. Let me read what the hon. Member for Mayo said two years after 1336 the union of hearts had taken place. He said—I have never hesitated to express my admiration for the men of '67,"(that is, the Fenians)"and I declare that our movement is, in all its main principles and great issues at which it aims, the legitimate successor of that movement, as well as of '48 and '98. Our objects are the same, although our methods may be different. Our chief object is the liberty of Ireland.Then, Sir, if the hon. Gentleman gets up and states in this House he is willing to accept this Home Rule Bill as it stands as a final settlement, will he state to the House that the speech I have just quoted is absolutely devoid of foundation? Unless he does, his acceptance of this Bill is a fraud and a delusion. Sir, there is one difficulty that stands in the path of the right hon. Gentleman which, I believe, will defeat his Bill, and that is ascendency. It has been clearly proved to demonstration that at the present moment the Roman Catholic priests in Ireland are the masters of the political situation. This has been asserted over and over again, and it has been conclusively proved. Of all the people in the world whom we Irish Unionists looked upon as opposing ascendency it was the Radical Party. Ascendency was a name which, all through the years that have gone by, they held up to public execration. It was the upas tree which the Member for Midlothian held to be his chief honour to have destroyed; but now it appears they have changed their tone. Ireland has been answerable in the past for the production of many political curiosities; but I venture to say that the most astounding and most monstrous political curiosity that has ever yet appeared on the arena of politics is a priest-ridden, priest-guided Radical. I take, as a specimen of this abnormal mixture of sacerdotalism and Radicalism, the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Paul), who made a very eloquent and able speech the other night. What did he say? He said—It was equally useless for that House to endeavour to prevent the priests from exercising influence. When the priests told the people that their salvation depended upon the way in which they voted, what did the people care for election addresses? What would people in such circumstances care for any human tribunal"?What indeed? Is that the new doctrine of the Radical Party? that with their eyes open to the present condition of Ireland, with the 1337 tremendous assumption of power which the priests have triumphantly asserted at the last Election; that with their eyes open, they are going deliberately to hand over Ireland to a priestly Government, which to Radicals of all former schools was the most abhorrent of all? Well, Sir, I cannot conceive that that will be the ultimate decision of the Member for South Edinburgh or of the British people. We, Sir, venture to assert that we stand logically in a stronger position than we did in 1886. All our predictions have been absolutely verified. We warned the House of Commons and the country then, that although the power of the Romish clergy had not been absolutely asserted it was bound to assert itself. And what has been the result? The hon. and learned Member for North Louth himself tells us. He tells us that the Romish Church in Ireland is bound to interfere in almost every case of political opinion in Ireland. He said that in almost all relations of life questions of morality thrust themselves into every chink or cranny, and that when such questions arose the Church would pronounce upon them. Have we, the Irish Unionists, not been amply justified in the position we have taken up? We refuse this yoke; we refuse to bow our heads to a sacerdotal oppression in Ireland which your forefathers shook off in England 200 years ago: and with regard to this Bill, Sir, in the name of the Irish Unionist Party I venture to assert in this House that it will receive from us, from start to finish, the most determined and uncompromising opposition. We do not oppose this Bill because it interferes with a class or with one creed; we oppose this Bill because we believe it would be absolutely destructive to the liberty and prosperity of Ireland. I have no intention in this House at the present moment—and there is no need that I should utter any threats as to what we intend to do. I have simply to say that unless this country is blind they cannot be indifferent to the great manifestations that were made in Ireland last summer at the two Conventions which represented the loyalists of Ireland. Those two Conventions spoke with no uncertain sound as to what the Irish loyalists intended to do if Parliament was ever mad enough to pass a Home Rule Bill. We believe that we have an inheritance in the British Parliament; we believe that 1338 under the British Parliament the prosperity of Ireland has increased from year to year, and in introducing his Bill the right hon. Gentleman never attempted to show by one figure that that prosperity has decreased since the Union, because he knows he could not. He knows that since the Union the riches and wealth of Ireland have increased twenty-fold, and our prosperity having been built up under the sanction and support of the authority of the British Parliament we say you have no right to destroy this inheritance. You have the power, I admit, to pass your Home Rule Bill, and to create this Dublin Parliament and this Dublin Government, but you have not got the power to make us obey it. [A laugh.] It is all very well to laugh, but allow me to remind hon. Members below the Gangway that is not the line they take in public speeches. Why, Sir, in public speeches hon. Members below the Gangway point out to the British people that if the loyalists in Ireland resist the authority of a Home Rule Parliament, they will have to confront the Army of Great Britain. Allow me to tell them that before the Army of Great Britain is employed to shoot down the Irish loyalists you must have a British majority at your back. The only use they intend to make of their connection with England is to employ her soldiers to weld round our necks this hateful yoke. Agreeable thought! The hon. Member for Mayo, the hon. and learned Member for North Louth, and the hon. Member for Cork sitting in a Government Office in Dublin, issuing orders, perhaps, to Lord Wolseley to march with the Army of the Curragh to shoot down Ulstermen. It requires an imagination far greater than mine to conceive such a possibility. Sir, they know perfectly well that in Ireland there is a minority—certainly minority, but a minority strong enough and powerful enough, if you took away every soldier out of the country, to make the land our own. Well, Sir, in the position we have taken up, in the uncompromising position the loyalists of Ireland have taken up to oppose to the last a Home Rule Bill as destructive of their freedom, of their liberty and of their prosperity, I say, Sir, that although we may be in a minority in this House, we are strengthened by the knowledge that on our side is the majority of the British people.
1339 That will destroy your Home Rule Bill, and when it is understood in the country it will receive the ridicule it received to-night in the House of Commons; and in standing, as we do, in uncompromising opposition to this measure, and in professing, as we do, our intentions in regard to it if it is ever passed into law, I say we may confidently appeal to the sympathy and the support of every man who loves the name of freedom.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.