§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Irish Representation in House of Commons.
§ Clause 9 (Representation in Parliament of Irish Counties and Boroughs.)
In page 4, line 30, to leave out the words "and Dublin University shall cease to return any Member."—(Mr. Parker Smith.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
said, that when the Committee adjourned last night they had just heard a brief speech from the Chief Secretary explaining the grounds on which the Government were prepared to resist the Amendment. He had to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the very flattering words he had addressed to him personally, and he assured him that it was not merely on grounds personal to themselves that he and his Colleague in the representation of Dublin University resisted the proposal. He hoped to be able to submit to the Committee convincing reasons why it would be a grave injustice not only to the political Party with which he had the honour to act, but to the University itself that it should be selected for exceptional treatment by disfranchisement as proposed by the clause under discussion. But before dealing with the main ground on which the right hon. Gentleman rested his opposition—namely, that the University of Dublin had not exercised its privilege by sending to that House men distinguished for learning and eloquence, but, on the contrary, had entirely availed itself of that privilege by returning what the right hon. Gentleman called Tory Law Officers—he would call attention to some words which fell yesterday from the Prime Minister in opposing an Amendment brought forward by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. The Prime Minister said— 1382To attempt any process of disfranchisement, even in the case of small boroughs, was a very serious affair when they were not, ex professo, dealing with Parliamentary reform at all. The public sentiment required of the Government the retention of the Irish Members. That, in turn, required a re-consideration of the numbers; but in that re-consideration of numbers they had to content themselves with a rough mode of workmanship, because, being a collateral matter, it was impossible to bring to bear the whole attention of Parliament to the subject.Then the right hon. Gentleman laid down the principle on which the Government proceeded. He said—The Government, therefore, proceeded on a basis which would avoid disfranchisement, which would not be open to the charge of injustice as between one Party and another, and which would make a sufficiently fair representation of Ireland in that House until the time should come, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded on a former night, when the whole subject of redistribution would have to be faced.He believed he would be able to show that the provision of the Bill now under consideration violated each one of the principles thus proclaimed by the Prime Minister. And first, as to disfranchisement. What was the history of the representation of the University of Dublin? The Chief Secretary laid down last night that the whole tendency of opinion was against the representation of Universities. The representation of Universities had been embodied in the Constitution of this country for two centuries and a-half; and up to the present time the principle had never been questioned by any majority in the House of Commons or elsewhere. On the contrary, on every successive occasion when the question of University representation had come up, with one exception, that principle had been adopted and steadily carried forward. At first two Representatives each were returned by the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin; but in 1800, by the Act of Union, the two Representatives of Dublin University were reduced to one. That was the only case in which there had been any attempt by legislation to diminish the force of University representation. In 1832, however, when the great Reform Bill was going through Parliament, the number of Representatives of Dublin University was restored to two. The question of University representation was again considered in 1867, and then representation was given to the Scotch Universities and to the University of 1383 London, and the Representatives of Universities were increased from six to nine. The subject was re-considered in 1885, when a further change was made in the representation of the people. Proposals for the abolition of University representation were rejected, and the principle of University representation was again endorsed. Again, when the present Prime Minister introduced the Home Rule Bill of 1886, did he propose to disfranchise the University of Dublin? Certainly not. He proposed to retain its two Members, and he made a provision in the Bill that if the Irish Legislature should so decide, they might add two further Representatives for the Royal University of Ireland. Up to the present time, therefore, there had been an increasing weight of authority for increasing and not for reducing University representation. Every Member of the House who had voted for the 7th clause of this Bill establishing a Legislative Assembly in Ireland sanctioned the idea that University representation should be maintained. Therefore, whatever idea might be in the mind of the Chief Secretary or his friends as to the propriety of University representation in the abstract, up to the present it could not be said that the weight of opinion was against it. It might be a philosophical opinion of the right hon. Gentleman; but Her Majesty's Government could find no sanction for this perfectly novel and exceptional proposal. He was glad to say that the Prime Minister, who was so long not only one of the greatest ornaments of his own University of Oxford by his learning and eloquence, but was the greatest University Representative the House of Commons had known in our time, had never, up to the present, thrown the great weight of his sword into the balance against a representation which enabled him so long not only to render great services to his University, but also to the country. Why was Dublin University selected for the treatment now proposed, while the sister Universities were left untouched? It could not be defended on the ground that the numbers represented by the Members for that University were too few. The number of electors represented by his hon. and learned Colleague and himself was as nearly equal as possible to the number which returned the Members for 1384 Oxford University. The only difference was that in Dublin University they allowed the scholars who had won honours and distinctions to vote as scholars, even though they were still undergraduates. There were, he believed, nearly 4,400 electors in the University of Dublin—that was, about 2,200 for each Member; while in Galway the number was 1,905, in Newry 1,847, and in Kilkenny only 1,805. The Chief Secretary said last night that he could not admit any special qualification in Dublin University which would justify its retention of representation; but that—If anybody would show him that the University of Dublin preserved a representation which no other part of Ireland was able to secure that fact would weigh with him to some extent, because he agreed that in Ireland, of all communities, it was most desirable to have variety of representation.If there was any virtue in variety of representation in England and Scotland, how much more must that be the case in Ireland where the constituencies contained a large percentage of illiterate voters? At any rate, Dublin University had one distinction as compared with the rest of Ireland, and that was that every man who voted for its representation in Parliament could both read and write. If they supported University representation in England and Scotland on the ground that it represented a distinctive phase of national life, assuredly there was tenfold force in that reason when applied to Ireland. Now he came to another point. The right hon. Gentleman said there would be no alteration in Irish representation which would not be perfectly fair to all political Parties. He claimed the attention of the Committee to this part of his argument: He asked was this in the Schedule a fair proposal in the sense of the speech of the Prime Minister—fair as between all political Parties? He contended that it was most unfair to the Unionist Party. The Conservative Party in 1885 were hampered by the desire to secure under the Redistribution Bill the representation of Dublin University. It was well-known that the Conservative Party gave up several advantages which they might have claimed under the redistribution of seats in Ireland in order that the representation of Dublin University might be preserved. With one exception, the 1385 representation in that House of the Unionists outside Ulster would vanish with the abolition of the representation of the University. He would take the smallest estimate. There were 280,000 Unionist voters outside Ulster. They were entitled to five or six seats, but under this Bill they would be stamped out. In the last Parliament outside Ulster there was no representation of this minority except the two Members for the University. In this Parliament the Unionists had obtained some accessions to their strength outside Ulster. There was his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin. But the Nationalists hoped to extinguish his hon. Friend at the next Election. What was to become of the Unionists of the County of Dublin under this Bill? The representation was to be gerrymandered. Because there was a great Nationalist majority of 5,000 in one division of Dublin and a Unionist majority of 700 in another, the two divisions were to be tacked together, and the one Unionist Member of the county—the Member for the Southern Division—was to be extinguished. Therefore, the Unionist seat for the St. Stephen's Green Division was, to say the least, precarious, and the Unionist seat for the County of Dublin was doomed to extinction. Now, further, it was proposed—Heaven knows why!—to destroy the two University seats. Was that just? Was it fair? Two hundred and eighty thousand voters outside Ulster were to be left permanently without any representation. He would assume this Bill passed into law. Would it be denied that the times which would follow would be anxious times for the Unionists in the South and West of Ireland? They were a scattered minority who would have interests and rights to defend and plead for in the House. Was it fair to complete the system of gagging, when this Bill was to be passed, by permanently gagging the Unionists of the South and West of Ireland? He claimed from the justice and fairness of the House that the representation of the University should not be abolished. It was absurd to contend that any principle had been established which justified that proposal. The Chief Secretary said that the University returned nothing but Tory lawyers.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, of course he was not speaking of the present time, but those returned for the University included men who shed the greatest lustre upon the Irish representation. Could a Member not represent a University and at the same time render great service to the State? Was it to be said because a University Member was able to assist the State, to whichever side of politics he belonged, by his services, he was unfit to represent the special interests of his University? Who would have said, when the Prime Minister so long represented the University of Oxford in that House, that among all the Dons and Professors there could have been found a man so well able to defend the interests of learning and his University in that House? Who would have said of one whose name he (Mr. Plunket) had the honour to bear that when his grandfather, Mr. Plunket, represented the University of Dublin for 15 years at the beginning of this century, that he was disabled, being one of the most brilliant of University men of his day, from representing its interests, because he bore a great part in carrying through that House and through another House the great measure of Roman Catholic Emancipation? But Lord Plunket had been a Liberal Law Officer! There was no inconsistency in a man being a University Member and being capable of rendering great public services in Parliament. The Tory Law Officers who had represented Dublin, about whom a cuckoo cry had been raised, had been among the most distinguished students of the University. In conclusion, he put it to the justice and fairness of the House whether any case had been made out for singling out Dublin University from the sister University and disfranchising her? Could any case be made out that those who had been sent to Westminster to represent her had been unworthy to do so, whatever their political Party? Above all, could any case be made out to show that it was not contrary to the most elementary principles of political justice and fair play to extinguish the only Representatives left in the House under the Bill: to represent in times of difficulty and 1387 danger the Unionist minority of the three Provinces outside Ulster?
§ MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said, he could assure the Committee that in speaking of Trinity College he spoke in no unfriendly tone. He was glad that his right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University had divested this question of all personal aspects, and perhaps he might be allowed to say that, much as he differed from the right hon. Gentleman in politics, he regarded him as a gentleman whose eloquence and talents would shed lustre on any Assembly. If overwhelming considerations did not move him otherwise, his feelings would lead him to say that University representation was the proper thing under proper conditions; but he was constrained to confess that those conditions had not been fulfilled since the time of the Union as regarded Dublin University. It was within the knowledge of everyone who knew anything of the subject that from 1800 to the present time the representation of Trinity College, Dublin, had simply been a nursing ground and a forcing place from which Tory barristers mounted on the Bench.
§ MR. PLUNKET
I have already said that Lord Plunket represented Trinity College for 15 years as a Liberal Law Officer.
MR. MAC NEILL
said, no one had a greater admiration than he for the right hon. Gentleman's grandfather, and he was delighted that hereditary qualities showed themselves in the right hon. Gentleman. But Lord Plunket was a Law Officer and a Judge. There had been 19 Representatives of Trinity College since the Union. Of these 16 had been lawyers. No fewer than 15 of the 16—the exception had been Lord Plunket—had been Tory lawyers, and of these 14 had mounted on the Bench, and the two gentlemen who had not mounted on the Bench had both been Tory Law Officers—both filling the position of Solicitor General for Ireland. The two Representatives of Trinity College since the Union who had not been lawyers were George Alexander Hamilton, who was Secretary to the Treasury, and John Wilson Croker, who was Secretary to the Admiralty. During the whole 93 years one man—one man only—had represented Trinity College who was not 1388 in the pay of the Government as a placeman. That was not the theory of University representation. There were 5,000 graduates who were electors of Dublin University. Of these, 3,000 were clergymen. He said, without fear of contradiction, that the Irish clergy viewed with great abhorrence the present situation, in which the University was represented by lawyers, and by lawyers alone. In 1887 the Most Rev. Dr. Knox, the Protestant Lord Primate of Ireland, wrote a letter on the eve of the election of Mr. Madden, saying that it was a disgrace and a degradation that the University should be persistently represented by lawyers, and by lawyers alone. The clergy would be only too pleased to have Trinity College disfranchised. In the case of Oxford and Cambridge, Fellows and Professors had frequently represented the University. In Ireland since the time of the Union not a single man who had been a Professor or who had been a Fellow of Trinity College had ever been able to get the representation. Candidates who represented the University spirit had invariably been swallowed up by the power of the Tory wire-pullers. Since the time of the Union only four Professors and Fellows had stood for Trinity College, backed by the governing authorities, but they had been defeated by place-hunters. With the single exception of Lord Plunket, all the Representatives of Trinity College since the Union were true blue Tories; and probably, if Lord Plunket was alive today, he also would be a true blue Tory. He would give the House the list of these gentlemen. There was, first, Mr. Foster, Law Official and Baron of the Exchequer, at a salary of £3,500 a year. Then there was Lord Plunket, Solicitor General for some years, then Lord Chancellor at £8,000 a year, and subsequently he had a pension of £4,000 for 20 years, until his death. Mr. John Wilson Croker, the only man in the whole category who had even a spark of a claim to be called a literary man, and who was now only known by the phillipic of Lord Macaulay, had a salary as Secretary to the Admiralty both in and out of Parliament. Mr. Lefroy had a salary as Chief Justice until he was 93 years of age. His son, Mr. Arthur Lefroy, was a Member of the House of Commons, and he asked to be excused from serving on 1389 Committees on account of his age at the very time that his father was head of the Judiciary of Ireland. Sir Frederick Shaw, who came next, also enjoyed a salary of £2,000 a year as Recorder of Dublin. Then there was Mr. Jackson, one of those nondescript Law Officers who constantly flit across the floor of the House on their way to the Bench. He was appointed a Puisne Judge. Then came Mr. George Alexander Hamilton, who, like Sir Frederick Shaw, was not a graduate of Trinity College at all. They were both Oxford men. Mr. Hamilton became Secretary to the Treasury. Then there was Mr. Napier, who got in as a clergyman's man, and made pious speeches. He became Lord Chancellor at a salary of £8,000 a year, and received a pension of £4,000 for 25 years. Then there was Arthur Lefroy, the son of the Chief Justice, to whom he had already referred. Mr. Lefroy was the only one of the category who did not get a direct pecuniary reward from the Government as the Representative of Trinity College. He was returned out of compliment to his father. Then there were Mr. Whiteside, who as Chief Justice received a salary of £5,000 a year for a period of 11 years; Mr. Walsh, who became Master of the Rolls; Mr. Chatter-ton, who had been Vice Chancellor from 1867 until the present day, and who could not be induced to retire.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
I rise to Order. Is it in Order for the hon. Member to refer to the learned Judge in these terms?
MR. MAC NEILL
assured the hon. Member that he had a high opinion of the Vice Chancellor, especially because he would not resign. Then there came Mr. Warren, who became a Judge of Probate; Mr. Ball, who became Lord Chancellor; Mr. Gibson, who was Lord Chancellor; Mr. Holmes, at present Judge of the Queen's Bench; and Mr. Madden, at present Judge of the Queen's Bench. Then they had the present senior Representative, who had been Solicitor General for Ireland, and of whom he would say that if anyone could save its representation to Trinity College it would be his right hon. and learned Friend. Of the late Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Carson) he would say nothing lest he might hurt his feelings. He thought he had said enough to show that University 1390 representation in Trinity College was a mere misnomer. Trinity College was simply a nomination borough, and as such ought to be disfranchised.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
As I have been made the subject of allusion by the right hon. Gentleman, I will say that I was extremely desirous, if I could consistently with my public duty, to avoid entering into this question at all, because my connection with the University of Oxford, as its Representative during 18 years, was a very peculiar one. After five contests for the same seat, I was rejected by the University of Oxford in 1865; and I must say that, from their point of view, the members of that constituency were perfectly right in rejecting me. It was only by dint of extraordinary patience, long suffering, and personal kindness on the part of the majority of that constituency during these 18 years that I retained my seat; and, consequently, I am very reluctant to take part—and especially to take a prominent part—in any question connected with University representation, to which, undoubtedly on principle, my opinion is not favourable. But with regard to the University of Dublin, I have the greatest pleasure of referring to it apart from its politics, and it is apart from its politics that the present proposals of the Government are founded. I regard it with great respect as a learned body which has, at various times, been decidedly in advance of Irish opinion. The present Provost, Dr. Salmon, is not only one of the very ablest writers, within the limits of his own professional career that belongs to the present generation, but he is also a man of great scientific distinction. With regard to the general character of the Representatives of the University of Dublin, in my opinion they have been a series of very capable and able men; and I do not think those who now represent it—I am speaking, of course, principally of the right hon. Gentleman who has represented it so long and so honourably—are likely to lower the high level which has been attained by that representation. I am inclined to say, after 60 years of Parliamentary life, that, comparing the average intellectual capacity of the Members for Dublin University with the Members for Oxford and Cambridge, I give Dublin the precedence. Undoubtedly I cannot deny that, in point of 1391 political partisanship, the character of the representation of Dublin University during these 60 years has been most unmitigated; but I will not enter into that subject. I hope I have done some justice to my feelings with respect to Dublin University, considered as a learned body. Floreat in eternum! I wish it all prosperity; and the more exclusively it attends to learning and the less to politics the greater, perhaps, is the probability of its success. With regard to the observations of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland which have been alluded to, my right hon. Friend never intended to deny that men of learning and eloquence and of marked capacity have been returned by Dublin University. I think I am authorised to state that what he meant was that, though men, certainly of capacity and eloquence, and perhaps of learning, are returned, they are not returned for their capacity, eloquence, and learning, but for their political views. I admit we are now debating a question which in principle is very closely allied to University representation, and considerations connected with University representation have undoubtedly governed the course taken by the Ministry in the proposals they have made to Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman has stated, not unfairly, that there was a course of opinion not unfavourable to University representation in this country up to a recent date; but there was associated with that a feeling that it was impossible to justify the separate representation of Universities that if the Universities were to be represented why not the other learned bodies? There is no doubt that the Inns of Court would have commanded a higher average quality of constituency than the Universities. ["No, no!"] That is my opinion. And the great medical and surgical profession is quite as well entitled to have separate representation, if we are to have class representation. The Liberalism of 1867, when this question was raised, was of a low temperature, and undoubtedly the opinion of Liberalism has been pretty steadily adverse to University representation since that date. When, in 1885, the Universities were passed by, it was distinctly stated by myself, on the part of the Government, that they were passed by because, viewing the peculiar 1392 circumstances of the crisis—Constitutional as well as legislative—in which we were involved, it was not suitable or practicable to deal with them in the course of that Bill. That was a tolerably clear intimation that in the course of some other Bill the question of University representation would have to be dealt with. Now I come to one proposition in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman which I must contest. He asked, why single out Dublin University? As regards the question of the representation of the University of Dublin for all purposes of Irish government, that is a question which in 1886 we thought, and which in 1893 we think, should be left to the Irish Legislature to deal with. We have not attempted to interfere with the representation of Dublin University so far as the Irish Legislature is concerned; but the proposal of the Bill was forced upon us by the question of the retention of Irish Representatives in this House, and we were compelled to adopt the principle of population, which we think is a most reasonable principle. If in readjusting the scheme of representation in this House we had made provision for the representation of Dublin University, we should be giving a new charter to the principle of University representation. It is not correct to say that we have singled out Dublin University; we were compelled to consider the case of Dublin. If some of my hon. Friends were to bring in a Bill for the purpose of taking away the representation of the British Universities, I would vote for that proposal; and had I been in the House in 1889 when the Chancellor of the Duchy raised the question, I would have voted with him. Suppose we had included in the Schedule of the present Bill a plan, not merely for continuing, but for renewing the representation of the University of Dublin, with what consistency or decency would it have been possible for us to disfranchise the Universities of Great Britain? I think, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will agree that we have not been anxious to find for ourselves a new subject to combat; we were bound to consider this question, and to take the course which it was absolutely necessary to take by a Party unfriendly to University representation. The business of a Representative in this House is not to represent 1393 particular classes and interests; and if we have University representation we ought to have other class representation; but I do not say that we ought to have the one or the other. The right hon. Gentleman said that University representation began two and a-half centuries ago. Yes, it did; and it began in the very worst and most reactionary period of our history for 600 years. We had no choice except to frame our Schedule upon a perfectly independent basis, and to ask the House to refrain from making any provision for further representation of Dublin University in the Imperial Parliament.
MR. CAESON (Dublin University)
said, he thought the Committee would agree that it had been of some advantage to this discussion that the Debate was not closed by the very perfunctory speech of the Chief Secretary last night. He must say, if the constituency he had the honour to represent was to be disfranchised by the Committee, he was glad to think that it would be disfranchised upon reasons which had been given in the tone and in the argument which the Leader of the House had adopted rather than upon the very flimsy ground advanced by the Chief Secretary, that Dublin University had always returned Tory lawyers. The Prime Minister had discarded the question of politics in relation to the matter, and had taken an opportunity—for which he thanked him—of passing an encomium upon the men who had represented that ancient University. He would have liked to ask the Chief Secretary, who ought to have been as much Irish in his views as the Leader of the House, what he objected to in the fact that Tory lawyers represented Dublin University—whether it was the fact that they were Tories, or the fact that they were lawyers? The hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill), who showed his patriotism towards Ireland and his Home Rule instincts by going to a University in England, had given a long list of men whose names he read out with an attempt to bring some contumely upon them; but those men had been described by the Prime Minister as a series of capable and able men. He was not going into the argument as to whether a man became an improper Representative because he succeeded in 1394 obtaining a salary as a Member of the Government; but, if that were so, it would be better to lay down the principle that no Representative coming to the House should obtain any salary whatever. In his opinion, the question of University representation was not the question before the Committee at the present time. The question was, whether they were going to put Trinity College, Dublin, upon a footing which must render her vastly inferior to the sister Universities in this country, by disfranchisement at a time when they did not propose to reconsider the whole question? Dublin University, far and away beyond any other University, had essentially been the University of all the great professions in Ireland; and the Members who had come from the University to that House had been elected, not by any one single profession, but by all the professions represented in that great Institution. He must enter his protest against the statement of the hon. Member for Donegal, when he said that, so far as the clergy who were constituents of Dublin University were concerned, they looked with horror upon the representation of Dublin University, and would gladly see it disfranchised.
MR. MAC NEILL
What I said was that in 1887, on the eve of Mr. Madden being elected for Trinity College, the Most Rev. Dr. Knox, Lord Primate of Ireland, who is held in the greatest esteem by all his flock, of whom I am one, said that he considered the continuous representation of Trinity College by lawyers to be a degradation and disgrace, and I believe that 8 out of the 11 Protestant Bishops are of the same opinion.
§ MR. CARSON
failed to see how that affected what he was saying. If the hon. Member thought that a Protestant Bishop was offended at a particular election, all he could say was that Trinity College was not a constituency in which the clergy of Ireland dictated to its members. The hon. Member made the extraordinary statement that the clergy numbered 3,000 out of the electors, and wished the College to be disfranchised, or were dissatisfied with the election. The whole constituency was 4,300, and if the clergy were 3,000 and wished to have it disfranchised and were dissatisfied with the elections, how was 1395 it he and his right hon. Colleague were there? The truth was the clergy in the constituency were very much divided upon the question of elections; but he stated emphatically that the vast body of them supported the present Representatives in that House. He contended in a country like Ireland, where the minority were largely without representation, and where they had practically only one kind of representation—namely, the representation of the agrarian constituencies, it was not too much to ask that the one constituency which returned two Members representing all that was best and worthiest in the professions of the country should, at least, continue to return those Members as an admixture among the agrarian constituencies in Ireland. The chief reason the Prime Minister gave for the Government proposal was that they were obliged to adopt the principle of population, and were not prepared to give a new Charter to University representation. Nothing could be more unfair at the present moment, and under present circumstances, without a review of the whole situation, than to refuse, not to give a new Charter, but to continue the existing Charter, of the representation of Dublin University. As had already been pointed out by his right hon. Colleague, when the Franchise Bill of 1885 was passing through that House, the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) stated that the representation of the Party to which he (Mr. Carson) belonged in Ireland was put at a vast disadvantage in regard to the regulation of the franchise in Ireland, because they insisted on having the representation of Trinity College maintained; and he (Mr. Carson) asked the Government now, when the basis of the representation in Ireland and England had been fixed by Parliament in 1885, upon and conceding the principle that Dublin University should continue to return two Members, was it right, or fair, or proper, without reconsideration of the whole subject, to discard the arrangement and compact then come to, and, without taking away the disadvantages they incurred by insisting on that representation, to deprive them of the representation of Trinity College which was the very reason for imposing those disadvantages?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I made it my absolute duty to say there was no compact. As the head of the Government, I stated that we were excluding the present consideration of the University question, and I intimated that it was a question that must come under early consideration.
§ MR. CARSON
said, the argument used by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean at the time was that they were making concessions to them in the then crisis, because it was not convenient to consider the matter of University representation, and that, having made that concession to the other demands they (the Irish Representatives) were pressing upon the House, they were hampered because they were not prepared to give up that representation. They were now, however, asked to create another anomaly as regarded the representation of Ireland; because, whilst they left English and Scottish University representation in that House alone, they were going to lay down that Ireland should be placed at a disadvantage. If the matter were considered at all it should be considered as a whole, and the same advantages given to Ireland as to England. Do not let them degrade the University of Dublin below the level of the Sister Universities of this country at a time when it was certainly very inconvenient to do so. The Prime Minister said that as far as the Home Rule Bill was concerned he deprecated any process of disfranchisement, because they were not dealing with Parliamentary reform. He (Mr. Carson) contended that the question of representation of the Universities was a question of Parliamentary reform, and that showed the unfairness of dealing with this matter with reference to Trinity College alone. Was it fair to single out Trinity College, while, at the same time, they professed not to be dealing with Parliamentary reform at all? If, as the Prime Minister had said, the question of the representation of the small boroughs ought to be postponed to a time of general redistribution, was it too much to ask that the representation of Trinity College, Dublin, which had now lasted for 200 years, should also be postponed to a time of general redistribution? Surely, at a time when they were handing over Trinity College to the tender mercies of a new Irish 1397 Legislature, they ought not to refuse representation to that University in the Imperial Parliament. Outside Ulster the Unionist Party in Ireland would probably have not a single Member, if the Home Rule Bill passed, to speak on behalf of 300,000 people; and was it too much to ask, therefore, that this representation, which had lasted for 200 years, should be continued? They would need that representation more than ever in the Imperial Parliament if the Home Rule Bill passed. They regarded it almost as their sole protection against acts of oppression which, rightly or wrongly, they thought might occur; and the conduct of the Government in refusing to concede this request, which was supported by some hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway, would go far to embitter the feelings that already, to a great extent, existed between different parts of Ireland, and the loyal majority outside Ulster would begin to think they were to be absolutely thrown overboard, and to have no representation in that House whatever. The real reason the representation of Trinity College was attacked was not any of the reasons given by the Government at all. It had been attacked by the hierarchy of Ireland, and this was to be a concession to the hierarchy of Ireland. It was the most ungenerous proposition ever put forward in that House. The truth was they were not dealing with a free hand, and the Government were not dealing with a free hand, in the matter. Trinity College had been described by the head of the hierarchy in Ireland as a monument of conquest, and a citadel that must come down, and the Government were lending themselves to the pulling of it down. It was useless to expect anything from the Government for the loyal majority in Ireland; but he, as representing Trinity College, entered his most emphatic protest against that University being now disfranchised at the very time when they were handing over to an untried Legislature, with tremendous powers under this Bill, the very interests of that University which it had always hitherto been the great privilege of that Parliament to protect.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, the arguments of the Prime Minister were the most extraordinary in character and 1398 the most contradictory yet addressed to the House in connection with this Bill. The Prime Minister was not in favour of University representation, and that was the reason he would not continue the representation of Dublin University. But he (Mr. Rentoul) submitted that, by abolishing University education, the Prime Minister would be doing something which would have an evil effect on the education of the country. Able writers had spoken of the manly tone and of the other advantages following upon training in University life. But, apart from the question of University representation generally, this was a question particularly affecting Dublin University; and even supposing the Prime Minister to be right—supposing that University representation should be abolished—then they said that the abolition should not be commenced in Ireland. The Government had asserted that Ireland should not labour under any disadvantages with regard to England and Scotland; but Ireland would labour under great disadvantage if University representation was continued in England and Scotland and was abolished in Ireland. Therefore, it seemed to him (Mr. Rentoul) that a man might conscientiously, fairly, and enthusiastically vote for the representation of Dublin University being continued, yet be strictly opposed to such representation all round. It was one thing to begin with Ireland, and quite another thing to abolish University representation altogether. The Prime Minister said that since 1867 Liberalism had been growing more and more strongly in the opinion that University education should be abolished—that it was growing more and more unfavourable to it. But it was equally true that during the same period Liberalism had become more and more favourable to illiteracy, so that now it was probably considered that the man who was not educated at all was more entitled to the privilege of voting than the man who was educated at a University. The next argument was still more extraordinary. It was said that if they continued Dublin University, they ought to give equal power in such matters to the Inns of Court and the Medical and Surgical Institutions. The comparison did not arise, for, if they took the Inns of Court, the members did not 1399 go through any examination at all. There was a form of eating certain—
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, he could assert that not 19–20ths of the present members of the Inns of Court had passed any examination at all. Recently there had been some kind of examination introduced, but he understood it was of a very inferior character. That did not apply in relation to this argument. The members of the Inns of Court—the majority, at any rate—were graduates of the University, and, according to the right hon. Gentleman, they would have a treble qualification—as citizens, as graduates, and as members of the Inns. But they had to be reminded that they were graduates, and voted as such—nine-tenths of them were. He considered the Prime Minister's argument on the point a most extraordinary one—perhaps the most extraordinary that could be brought forward. As to the medical and surgical professions, many of their members took degrees in the University—in all the Universities returning Members. It was well known in Ireland that the majority of them at the Irish Bar had either graduated through the University or through prison—which was another way of gaining notoriety, and perhaps a much easier one. They were of opinion that it was not a case of consistency or inconsistency in reference to the action of the Government on the representation of Dublin University. It was simply a case of having two Representatives—the only two Unionist Representatives that Ireland might produce, outside Ulster, in the future. Hon. Members below the Gangway (the Irish Nationalists) desired, no doubt, that this representation should be wiped out, because they were anxious to strike another blow at the University. The right hon. Gentleman said the University would have a new Charter; but he did not see why they should not allow the University to remain as it was. By doing that they would not be placing any man in an awkward position if he wanted to vote against University representation in its entirety. They were told yesterday that the borough representation of Ireland was continued because of the smallness of borough life in Ireland. The Government wanted to encourage borough 1400 life in Ireland. But if they wanted to go out of their way in that matter, why should they not apply the same principle to University education, which they should require to encourage in Ireland, and to increase from every point of view? The Prime Minister said they were against this continuance of University representation, on the ground that it was a representation of particular interests. But were not the Liberals identified with representation of particular interests—Labour rights, for instance? If that were so—and it was—how were they to reconcile the statement of the Prime Minister? The right hon. Gentleman deprecated any process of disfranchisement; but what would be the process in this case if not disfranchisement? They were taking away the representation of the oldest constituency in Ireland. No other constituency, he believed, had held for so long the same franchise as this University, or had voted for the same franchise. There was nothing very singular in the demand that Dublin University should be allowed to remain as long as the other Universities were represented. The present Irish Party (the Nationalists) had scarcely more than one or two graduates of Dublin University; and it was, therefore, perfectly natural they should desire to see the power taken from a place in which they were not interested. The right of voting for University Members had been hardly earned—it was hard work securing a degree, and the man who gained that distinction had a right to the privilege of voting. The Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley) did not consider the claim of Dublin University, as he did that of the Royal University, as ludicrous. The Chief Secretary, however, had evidently forgotten that in no single instance had a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge gone to graduate in other Universities, whereas graduates of other Universities had gone to Oxford and Cambridge, which was a proof that the Universities returning Members to that House were higher in status than the others. He would point out to the Chief Secretary that there was a great difference between the case of Dublin and Victoria, the latter of which was only a high-class educational institution. But the Chief Secretary, among many excellences, had the quality of extraordinary frankness, and this he had 1401 shown in his objection to Dublin University. The Chief Secretary's objection was that the University returned two Tory Members. The objection was that the University returned a Tory lawyer. The question was, whether the Tory lawyer was objectionable because he was a Tory, or because he was a lawyer, or because of the union of the two capacities? At the last General Election there were 230 lawyers who were candidates for seats in the House of Commons, and of these 141 were Gladstonians, while only 89 were Tories. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman sneered at lawyers as Members of Parliament, his sneer would apply with much greater force to his own Party than to the Conservative Party. On the other hand, if he sneered at Tories, Great Britain returned a larger number of Tories than of Gladstonians. Everyone was aware that a Fellowship of Dublin University was an incomparably higher test of education than a Fellowship of Oxford or Cambridge. There was, perhaps, very good reason for this, because the Fellowships of Dublin were about ten times as valuable, as far as money was concerned, as those of Oxford or Cambridge, and money, after all, was likely to attract the best men. Under all the circumstances, he hoped that Dublin University would be allowed, as a matter of fair play, to retain its Parliamentary representation until Oxford, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh, and other Scotch Universities were deprived of theirs.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, he could not vote for the Amendment on several grounds. He was against University representation altogether, and did not see how it could be defended in these democratic days. In his opinion it ought to have been abolished long ago, and he was certain that in a very few years it would be completely a thing of the past. As the Prime Minister had said, if Universities were to be represented, there was no reason why other learned bodies should not be represented also. He was also against University representation, because of the manner in which the privilege of representation had been abused by the Universities. He supposed the theory was that Members for Universities would look after the interests of science, literature, and art. He did not wish to make any reflection 1402 on any past or present Representatives of a University; but he did not think that a single University Member, except the Prime Minister, who was the most illustrious Representative a University had ever had, had pretended to represent the interests of science, literature, and art. It was quite sufficient to show that Dublin University was no exception to the general rule. He should be the last to deny that most of the men who had sat for Dublin University had been able and eloquent men, and he could not condemn them because they were Party men. He did condemn them, however, on the ground that, being University Representatives, they had no raison d'être, as far as Party conflicts were concerned. His third reason for objecting to University representation was that it enabled certain electors to give double and treble votes. Graduates of Dublin might actually have three votes—one for the University, one for the City of Dublin, and one for the County of Dublin. He could not, therefore, vote for the Amendment, although he sympathised, to some extent, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Plunket) in his plea that if the Amendment were not carried the Loyalist Party would have no representation in the three Southern Provinces of Ireland. He spoke sincerely when he said that he would not object if one or more counties in Leinster or Munster gave representation in the House of Commons to the loyal minority in those Provinces. But all he had to say in reply to the right hon. Gentleman's pathetic appeal was that it was the fate of a minority to be extinguished. He could not admit the sufficiency of the plea that a minority should be represented because it was a minority. On the other hand, he could not vote against the Amendment, because the small Party with which he was connected had already declared by speech and vote that they could not support any reduction of the Irish representation. To his mind it really mattered not one straw whether the Irish Members voted for or against the Amendment, except that if they voted for the exclusion of the Representatives of Dublin from the House they practically voted for the reduction of the Irish representation by two men. The Prime Minister had said that if in a redistribution scheme the House gave 1403 representation to Universities they would give new life or a new Charter to such representation. That seemed to be an argument for leaving things exactly as they were. No Charter and no fresh lease of life would be given to University representation if no change were made in the Irish representation. In conclusion, he had to say he hoped the Government would re-consider their intention of reducing the Irish representation in the House of Commons, and would avoid all the irritating questions which were being raised by simply dropping the clause altogether.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said, the Prime Minister had stated that political reasons had nothing to do with the disfranchisement of Dublin University; but the Committee certainly understood last night that that University was to be disfranchised because it had become a sort of resting place for Tory Law Officers. The right hon. Gentleman had given the Committee no reason to believe that if two gentlemen holding opposite opinions were invariably returned he would entertain the same objection to the University Members as he now expressed. If this were a question of University franchise he fancied the matter would be on a different footing. Opposition to the University franchise was a perfectly arguable position. There were many Conservative Members who were opposed to that franchise, but they were not now dealing with the University franchise. This was not a disfranchising Bill, but a Bill for the better government of Ireland; and therefore he was unable to understand why the Government left the representation of the Universities of England and Scotland as it stood, and proposed to take away the representation of the Irish University. The only reason the Unionist Members could imagine was that the Members for Dublin University were two thorns in the side of the Government. The two Irish lawyers who formerly sat on the Front Ministerial Bench, and who now sat on the Front Opposition Bench, were no doubt very disagreeable to the Government. But if a majority was to be used to extinguish two adversaries who had made themselves disagreeable, it would be making a tyrannical use of that majority. On the Redistribution Bill of 1885 the Prime 1404 Minister said that he would decline to support any proposal for the destruction of the representation of the Universities. Of course, from 1885 to 1893 was rather a longish time to hold an opinion; but he might be allowed to ask why the Government had decided on such a change of front—why did they wish now to destroy that University representation which formerly they were so ready to support in common with the occupants of the present Opposition Front Bench? The words originally used in granting representation to the Universities were—The interests of learning and religion deserve to be represented in this House as well as the material interests of the Kingdom.These were wise words used a long time ago, but there were many Members on both sides of the House who thought the Government believed that they were quite true at the present day. The hon. Member for Louth and the hon. Member for Kerry represented material interests in that House; but others might be allowed to hold the opinion that the two Members for the Dublin University represented learning and religion. Failing evidence to justify a change of view, he did not see why they should not hold right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to the opinions they expressed in 1885.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, the hon. Member for North Dublin, who recently took part in the Debate, had said that he could see no reason of any kind for voting for this Amendment, which was especially opposed to democratic ideas. Well, he (Mr. Courtney) did not suppose he should be able to influence the hon. Member's judgment in the matter; but he hoped before he sat down to suggest to him that there might be something to be said for the Amendment from the point of view even of the democracy. The question they were dealing with was not representation in an Irish Legislature, but the representation of Ireland in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. He regretted that they were now engaged in such a task, and trusted that their present experience would convince them of the desirability of approaching the matter on any future occasion in a different spirit to that they found themselves in at present. They were engaged on the question of the representation of Ireland in the United 1405 Parliament, and the Prime Minister had stated that this was a new question, and that if they now started a new work and inserted in that new work the representation of Dublin University it would be regarded as a precedent—as an argument in favour of University representation—and would prohibit contrary action in the future. That was what he understood the right hon. Gentleman to argue. Now, he must protest altogether against the notion that in this matter they were committing themselves to anything in the nature of permanent policy as to University representation. They had to undertake this with reference to the circumstances of Ireland itself; and although this was a new question, they were bound, in this as in other cases, to remember that their action could never be entirely new, but must have some relation to the historic past, to the circumstances in which they were placed, and the conditions under which they were acting. Having regard to the present circumstances of Ireland, and also to the state of things in the past with regard to the representation of Ireland, was it or was it not desirable that Ireland should have among its Representatives Members for the Dublin University? The Chief Secretary last night expressed, not for the first time, a somewhat pathetic regret that he could not secure the variety which he would desire in the representation of Ireland, and he said that if he could obtain any approach to that variety he would gladly seize on it. And the hon. Member for North Dublin, who addressed them just now, frankly confessed that if he could discover any way of securing representation for the loyal minority in Munster, Leinster, and Connaught, he would gladly support it.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, the hon. Member, however, had not been able to see his way to adopting this particular form of securing the representation of the different elements in Ireland—that was to say, by University Members. Everyone acquainted with the circumstances of Ireland must be conscious as a most regrettable fact, as was said by the Chief Secretary last night, and as had been said by the ex-Chief Secretary (Mr. Balfour), that there was a want of variety in Irish 1406 society, a want of variety in Irish opinion, and a want of living and vital development of separate and distinct ideas throughout the whole community. If that were so, and if there was to be got in any one way an element of variety not otherwise to be secured, surely it was the part of a practical statesman, when endeavouring to perfect Irish representation, not to disregard it. The Chief Secretary said that Dublin University did not give that variety; but he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would see, on reflection, that he had been indulging in a play upon words. What was wanted was variety in the representation of Ireland at large, not variety in the representation of Dublin University. They did not want Dublin University to be a sort of kaleidoscope, now turning one colour and now another. They did not want it to be like a variable star, now appearing red, now green, and now blue. It was enough if it gave an element not otherwise to be secured. It was not to the point to say that Dublin University always returned two Tory lawyers, if those Tory lawyers were of a different type to the other Conservatives returned, and afforded a representation which in Irish society could not otherwise be secured. From the extremest democratic view it must be allowed that Tory lawyers as well as Liberal lawyers, like those who were not lawyers, were God's creatures; and if they represented an adequate number of other God's creatures, whether in one place or scattered up and down the country, they had primâ facie as much reason to appear in the House of Commons as those who represented other divisions of the Island. He was inclined to think that if his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary could secure the seats which would return two Liberal lawyers, he did not mean to say that it would change his opinion, but he was sure it would be of great assistance to him in arriving at a decision; and his right hon. Friend, he thought, would then discover that the existence of the seats did afford some contribution to the variety of representation in Ireland which was so sadly wanted. It would be admitted, he thought, even by opponents of the Amendment, that the Representatives of the University of Dublin were a 1407 type of Conservatives in Ireland not to be found in other constituencies. They were more reasonable people; they had a knowledge of life; they had experience and understanding of the past and present; they could cope with the problems of the day, and this could not always be said of hon. Members who represented Conservative constituencies in Ireland. If Parliament were to deprive the representation of Ireland of such persons it would be felt that there was something lacking, and that the representation of Ireland was not complete. This would be an insufficient plea if the University Representatives came here without being supported by an adequate number of electors. But, after all, something like 5,000 electors were represented by the two Members for Dublin University—nearly as many as the number of electors in the three smallest Irish boroughs. But the hon. Member for North Dublin said that these electors voted elsewhere. Yes; but what was the value of their votes elsewhere? If they were asked to make a choice, would they not give up their votes elsewhere? The scattered Conservative electors of Munster, Leinster, and Connaught had no power of making their voices heard though they had votes; but here they had a means and method of collecting together those electors and securing to them a representation they would not otherwise possess; and in that respect it was a most valuable thing. In the existing system they had something which worked smoothly—they had a contribution to the variety of representation already secured. They were going to throw away the advantages which experience had proved to exist. They were going to deprive future Parliaments of that which had hitherto been secured to them; they were, in fact, going to deprive the democracy of Ireland of that complete representation which was the ideal of democratic institutions. They were considering the simple question of the representation of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament, and if he were arguing the case of the Universities of England he could not, perhaps, adduce some of the arguments which were applicable to Ireland. It was true that the views and opinions which were represented by the Members for the Oxford and Cambridge Universities did find expression—if not adequate 1408 expression—by other means in the House but the Irish case stood on its merits by itself. Complete Irish representation was not to be secured otherwise than by the representation of Dublin University. It was no answer to say, as the right hon. Gentleman had said—"Oh, you might on the same grounds have representation for the Inns of Court." If there were no other way of securing the adequate representation of persons engaged in the law, they might raise a constituency of that character, as was recommended many years ago by Lord Grey, and supported" by Mr. Baggallay and Mr. John Stuart Mill. The last argument used by his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was that the tendency of opinion was against representation for the Universities. What was the weight of that tendency of opinion, which did not exist before 1867, and about the permanency of which he had the greatest doubt? There was a reaction dating from 1867, which tended more and more to the representation of the working industrial masses. That was hurrying them, as his right hon. Friend thought, irresistibly. They took comfort to themselves that they were going with the stream; but it was hurrying them not really into adequate and just representation of the masses, but into the destruction of the representation of the classes. He did not want the classes or the masses over-represented in Parliament. The ideal he would aim at was that all persons should, by being grouped together, be able to represent their opinions and political views and aspirations. It was generally confessed that the popular—he might say the vulgar—methods of representation lacked some of the elements of true representation, and that there was something yet to be got which could not be secured by the existing methods. On these grounds he thought he was justified in appealing to the most absolute democrat to stand up and support the representation of the University of Dublin, because it was a part of the representation of the people which could not otherwise be secured, because through its machinery they could obtain some approximation to that they all had to work at—namely, the complete, the absolute representation of all divisions of the people they wished to have represented.
§ MR. SWEETMAN (Wicklow, E.)
said, the Committee had already decided that Ireland should not return 103 Members to the Imperial Parliament. The Amendment proposed that Trinity College should continue to send two Members to the House, but he did not see how that representation could continue without disfranchising two other constituencies in Ireland. He had been sent to the House by the agricultural labourers of Wicklow to represent their views. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Manchester (Mr. A. J. Balfour) taunted them with the fact that on those Benches there were not many graduates of Dublin University.
§ MR. SWEETMAN
said, that he had understood the right hon. Gentleman to do that. At any rate, the statement was perfectly true. There were not many graduates of the University amongst the Nationalist Members. They could not afford a University education, and even the few Catholics in Ireland who could afford it had no University to go to. The agricultural labourers whom he represented did not wish that any other constituency in Ireland should be disfranchised for the sake of enabling Trinity College, whose graduates consisted principally of parsons, lawyers, and landlords, to send two Members to the House—Members who, no doubt, would speak eloquently, but who would work to the best of their ability—their great ability—against the wishes of the Irish people. In the future the fight would be between the masses and the classes not only in Ireland, but all over the United Kingdom. The Irish Members had been criticised for having voted the other day against a London Private Bill, the merits of which they knew nothing about; but they had done that because they knew that the Representatives of the people were against the Bill, and that the plutocrats were in favour of it. They knew the English masses never tyrannised over Ireland, but that the classes had done so. Was it any wonder, then, that the Irish Members were willing to throw in their lot with the English people, represented so worthily by the hon. Member for Batter-sea (Mr. Burns), and were not willing to throw in their lot with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Man- 1410 chester, who led the aristocratic Party and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who so worthily led the Party of the plutocrats? As they were to lessen the number of Irish Representatives in that House he had no difficulty in deciding that the first constituency that should be disfranchised was Trinity College, representing as it did the landlords, the parsons, and the lawyers.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
claimed the indulgence of the Committee while he ventured to say a few words, not having hitherto spoken on any stage of the measure. If he spoke now it was because he was an elector of the University, because he had studied there with its students and its fellows, and because he felt the warmest affection and attachment for the noble Institution. He could speak in the highest terms of its liberal sentiment in its educational treatment of the students within its walls. When he himself, more than 40 years ago, was a student of Trinity College, he had as intimate friends and associates two of the grandsons of O'Connell. He had many Roman Catholic friends among the students of that day, and he cherished a lively recollection of their pleasant intercourse, and the many opportunities they had for discussing various matters in connection with the education of the country. He trusted that the Committee, when it was disestablishing various parts of Ireland, would not disestablish Dublin University. It was in this representation that the Irish clergyman had an opportunity of having his voice reechoed in the House of Commons. Many wrongs had been done to some of their people in Ireland—and he spoke as one who had assisted the Nationalist Members on many occasions, and who had frequently voted with the Prime Minister in extending and amplifying the Land Laws of Ireland; he spoke as one who had always sympathised with the people and had desired to advocate their cause, and he spoke as one of those "unreasonable" Representatives alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin—and as representing a large body of the working classes in Belfast he protested in the strongest manner against this proposal to disfranchise Dublin Uni- 1411 versity. He saw in this work of the Prime Minister the hidden hand endeavouring to destroy the Protestantism of Ireland, and he should be unworthy of the religious belief he had the honour to cherish if he hesitated to protest against the blow which was now being struck at Protestantism. It would be impertinent in him to venture to describe the gentlemen who at present represented the University in the House of Commons, but they were part of a long line of eloquent men and brilliant Members. The Prime Minister had said that he was prepared to disfranchise not only the Irish University, but also the Universities of England and Scotland. Well, there were some of them who thought that this blow would not be threatened if the Representatives of the Universities in the House were Gladstonians and not Unionists; but be that as it might, he simply asked in the name of justice and fair play to Dublin University that it should not be deprived of its representation. The proposal to deprive it of its representation he regarded as the worst and wickedest feature of a worthless and wicked Bill.
§ SIR J. E. MOWBRAY (Oxford University)
said, he rose for two reasons: First of all, as a Representative of an older Institution, he wished to express sympathy with a Sister University in what was considered a most unjust attack that was being made upon her. The hon. Member who had just spoken had known that Sister University for 40 years; and during that period, as the hon. Member would be able to assure the Committee, the Representatives she had sent to the House had included amongst them men of high character and renown, and of singular ability. He (Sir J. Mowbray) had had the privilege of being associated for 40 years in that House with the Representatives for Dublin University. He knew the high character and the eloquence of Napier and White-side, the learning of Dr. Ball, and the brilliant debating qualities of Lord Ashbourne. And he knew that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Plunket), and the junior Member for the University, were no unworthy successors of the men he had named. He had had the honour of presenting a numerously-signed Petition from his own constituency against the disfranchise- 1412 ment of Dublin University. He was told that the present proposal really involved a larger question. The Chief Secretary for Ireland held that the tendency of recent legislation was against the representation of the Universities, and the Prime Minister had said that the Government had considered the question, and that their intention was to abolish the University representation. All he could say was, do not let them decide so large a question in an off-hand manner and after so short a Debate. This question had been debated in former Parliaments. They knew perfectly well what was the tendency of the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty on this question. They had had to meet them in debate; also the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. But when it was proposed to upset such an old-established principle as University representation—the University he represented having had the privilege of returning Representatives since 1604—the question should be raised in a proper way and at a proper time. They were told last night that this was a rough scheme prepared to save time in debate, and that there was no taint of disfranchisement in it. Well, if that were the case, in Heaven's name let them have this question raised when there was ample time to debate it! This Bill was dead—as dead as it could be. What, then, was the use of discussing such details as these? To-morrow night the Committee would have to pass some 10 clauses in a couple of hours. Under such circumstances, it was useless to say that this great question could be adequately dealt with. It had been said that if it was right that the Universities should have representation other learned Bodies might also be enfranchised. It should not be forgotten that in 1854 the Prime Minister was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was a member of a Cabinet which brought in a Bill one clause of which was to give representation to the Inns of Court. There were, therefore, many aspects to this question, and he contended that if it were raised at all it should be raised and dealt with as a whole. He had risen, in the first place, to express hearty sympathy with Dublin University in the attack now being made upon it; and, in the next place, to 1413 express an earnest hope that they would not prejudge a great question of this kind.
§ Mr. J. Morley rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. W. KENNY
said, he thought the Committee would find a remarkable difference between the arguments that had been addressed to them to-day by the Prime Minister in support of the retention of this disfranchising clause and the arguments used by the Chief Secretary last evening and by the Nationalist Members to-day. The Chief Secretary had told them that this disfranchising proposal was inserted in the 9th clause because there was a monotony in the representation of Dublin University—the University always returning not only lawyers, but Tory lawyers. The Prime Minister had said that when the provision was inserted in the clause the Government had in their minds the general principle with regard to University representation. But the hon. Member for Waterford had declared that the Government were trying an experiment with reference to University representation. The only argument advanced had been the want of variety in the representation of Dublin University, and that there had been a long train of Tory lawyers returned. Surely they were entitled to have had from the Chief Secretary on the previous night some better reasons in support of the retention of the clause. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman if, supposing there existed a University in Ireland, called, say, the St. Patrick's University, and returning Members of the Party to which the Chief Secretary belonged, he would have been as eager to disfranchise it as he was to disfranchise Dublin University? He ventured to think that what had induced the Government to insert this provision in their Bill was that it would deprive the Irish representation in Parliament of two Unionist Members. They had had to listen to a long string of sneers and reflections upon the distinguished men who had from time to time represented Dublin Uni- 1414 versity in Parliament from the hon. Member for South Donegal, who had shown not a little bias. But he would point out that the Dublin University constituency was unique in Ireland, inasmuch as it did not contain a single illiterate; and in that respect it contrasted favourably with the constituency of the hon. and learned Member for South Donegal, which contained, he believed, a larger percentage of illiterates than any other Irish constituency. It was, therefore, hardly becoming on the part of the hon. and learned Member to indulge in sneers and gibes directed at the long roll of distinguished men who had represented Dublin University. Passing from that speech, he had to observe that the speech of the Prime Minister had given an adequate answer both to the hon. Member for Donegal and to the Chief Secretary. The Prime Minister said that the proposal of the Government was not founded upon a political basis, but that if the University was to be allowed to continue to return Members to this House under what he called the new Constitution that would in effect be granting a new Charter to the principle of University representation. But that new Charter was already given in the very first section of the Bill, which provided that there should be in Ireland a Legislature consisting of Her Majesty the Queen and two Houses of the Legislative Council; while Clause 7, passed by the automatic action of the Closure, provided that the Lower Assembly should consist of 103 Members returned by the existing constituencies, including the University of Dublin, and it was further provided that there should be no change in the character of those constituencies for six years after the passing of the Act. Thus the right hon. Gentleman had himself given the new Charter to University representation, and all the supporters of the Amendment asked was that what the representation of the University had been in the past it should continue to be in the future.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am really surprised at the manner in which the Chief Secretary thinks this important question of University disfranchisement can be treated. He seems to believe that it can be dismissed summarily. The right hon. Gentleman thought it sufficient to speak last night for five or six minutes on the 1415 subject, and introduced into his observations the words "before the Division takes place," as if he expected that the Division could be taken at once. The right hon. Gentleman, who for some time has been fidgetting in his seat, thinks that a great Irish University can be disfranchised after a few minutes' debate. He holds that the Debate ought to be closured, and hon. Members below the Gangway agree with him. But those hon. Members have themselves taken up a considerable amount of time in discussing this question. Four of them have taken an opportunity of speaking upon it, and surely the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters must feel that a great University cannot be disfranchised after only a few minutes' debate. If such a suggestion had been made by a Unionist Government would it not have been treated as the greatest insult to Ireland? If some years ago a proposal had been made to disfranchise the University of Oxford, when it was represented by the Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman, I believe, would have made a speech against the proposal that would have occupied alone as much time as has been devoted to the present Debate. The hon. Member for North Dublin has contributed an interesting speech to the Debate. He took a more liberal view of the subject than has been taken by the great bulk of hon. Members opposite. He said he would like to see not only the Protestants of Ulster, but the Protestants of Ireland generally represented, and it was only as a democrat that he was opposed to the principle of University representation. He recognised, at all events, that it was desirable to give the minority in Ireland representation in Parliament. How has this proposal been recommended and defended by the right hon. Gentleman opposite? I say that this disfranchisement of Dublin University is as shabby a proceeding as any that has been proposed. It is shabby for two reasons: In the first place, it will disfranchise an Irish University, whilst English and Scotch Universities will continue to be represented; and, in the second place, as has been so eloquently stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, it removes one means of representation from the 270,000 Protestants who are outside Ulster. If right hon. Gentlemen opposite 1416 had treated this matter in the spirit of statesmen, they would have gone out of their way to preserve this means of representation for the minority. The argument of the Chief Secretary is that the representation of the University has only been maintained in order that that Institution may send Tory lawyers to Parliament, but the right hon. Gentleman's remarks were repudiated by the Prime Minister, who did justice to the distinguished men who have represented Dublin University in this House. He said the University had sent better Representatives to this House than even the English or the Scotch Universities. Therefore, the question cannot be argued from the point of Tory lawyers and Tory Law Officers. But I may point out to the Chief Secretary that if this Bill passes it will be out of the power of the University to return Tory Law Officers to this House, for there will be no such, officials in it. The Government have totally failed to dispose of the argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, that by means of this University representation a varied Irish representation is secured, to some extent exactly where it is most wanted. Although the House apparently complains of the length of this discussion many hon. Members did not hear the speech of the Prime Minister which was delivered to a very thin House. The right hon. Gentleman raised a question with regard to University representation, and, I ask, is it fair that he should be left unanswered, and that our opportunities of offering criticism upon it should be curtailed? In putting a University on the same footing as the Inns of Court, or the College of Surgeons, the Prime Minister missed the point that a University embraces all the learned professions, and therefore affords a more varied representation than any other learned Institution. An hon. Member below the Gangway interprets that to mean that they represent the classes, but I do not know to what extent he suggests that the garaduates of the University are identified with the classes. I am sure the hon. Member for Waterford is proud of his University, and does not wish to see it degraded by disfranchisement as compared with the English and Scotch Universities. I should have thought all Irishmen would have had the same 1417 feeling. A great deal has been said on the question of the representation of Dublin University itself, and I think it is due to its eloquent Representatives, who are at present in this House, that the defence of the University should not be allowed to rest solely on them. Many men on both sides of the House would deeply regret that Parliament should be deprived of men of such distinction as have been returned by the University of Dublin—men who have been selected by successive Governments for important posts, and have been promoted to the highest positions on the Judicial Bench. The Prime Minister told us he was compelled to cut out the University representation by reason of the reduction of the number of Members from 103 to 80. The Chief Secretary did not even hint at that; but surely the scheme of the Government is not so perfect but that they could have saved the University seats by grouping small boroughs. I will not attribute to the Government generally the naive declaration of the hon. Member for East Wicklow that Trinity College only returns Tories, and people connected with the land and with Conservative interests; and that if any constituency is to be disfranchised that is the proper one, although that does seem to be the view taken by the Chief Secretary, who said it always sent Tory lawyers.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I do not see how that has anything to do with the question. But I may point out, as proving that the University has returned the best men, that the Government have realised that fact by promoting them in the service of the country. Is it not monstrous to bring a charge against a University because its Representatives have invariably been promoted to the highest posts in the land? If there had been any generosity or statesmanship in the constructors of the Bill they would have left the University Members as a check on the Executive and a more real safeguard of the minority than others afforded by the Bill. Hon. Members are so anxious to get rid of the representation of Dublin University because they know the University would continue to send to this House—as it has done for 250 years—valuable exponents of the opinions of the minority in the South and West of Ire- 1418 land. I think the maintenance of this representation would in many respects be a stronger safeguard than the fictitious ones, as we think them to be, put into this Bill. Why should the number of the Representatives of the loyal minority thus be reduced? At whose instance has the right hon. Gentleman taken this course? I am sure the Nationalist feeling is against placing Dublin University in an inferior position to the English and Scotch Universities. I do not believe the proposal is in accord with the inclination of the Prime Minister himself, but I do believe that this change has been made to satisfy the anti-University feelings of the supporters of the Government, who cheered the Prime Minister when he said that the tendency of the day is against University representation. It is in order to give some satisfaction to those Radicals that the representation of Dublin University is to be sacrificed, at the very time when it is most needed to secure the adequate representation of the minority in this Parliament. To gratify these Radical feelings the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to deal one more blow at the representation of the minority, and to permanently exclude from the Imperial Parliament some of Ireland's ablest sons.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 280; Noes 248.—(Division List, No. 210.)
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I desire to make an important proposal to the Committee with respect to Sections 3 and 4, and therefore I have no hesitation in accepting this opportunity, and in making the Motion which so many gentlemen in so many different parts of the House have indicated by notice their intention to make. The Committee may, perhaps, remember that in introducing this Bill I set out in as strong terms as I could the considerable difficulties, and even inconveniences, that may be reasonably thought to attend the retention of Irish representation at Westminster under the system of Home Rule. My endeavour was to be strictly impartial with regard to those sets or groups of inconveniences. I and several of my Colleagues felt them strongly, and we were desirous to state 1419 them strongly in order that we might do what we could to bring them home to the mind of the House, and to assist the House as far as was in our power in arriving at a just conclusion. I need not dwell now upon that class of inconveniences which we sought to avoid by the proposal as it stands embodied in Sections 3 and 4. The rival plan to that was the plan of empowering or leaving the Members representing Ireland to vote on all subjects without the slightest limitation, and to maintain their absolute equality in all respects with other Members of the House. I stated, to that method of proceeding, the main objection which occurred to me. It was that it might lead to transactions of an illegitimate character upon particular occasions, and to particular combinations of Parties, between the Irish Members, or groups and sections of them, and the Government of the day, with a view to giving votes, not upon the merits of the question, but for some indirect purpose to be attained by the giving of these votes. I should not like to introduce unnecessarily contested matter into a discussion of this kind, which, it seems to me, might be tolerably impartial; but I am certainly of opinion that it would be easy to point at least to one occasion in our history when the sort of combination which I so strongly deprecated did take place, and did produce very important results. However, Sir, the House will bear in mind that I never presumed to intimate, nor did any of my Colleagues presume to intimate on the part of the Government as a whole, though we might to some extent have different leanings and different appreciations of the relative inconvenience—on the part of the Government as a whole I never indicated any strong or invincible preference for either of these two methods of proceeding. I know it was thought by some to be very inconsistent on our part that we should not, in the well-known phrase, nail our colours to the mast and indicate a determination to make a question of life and death not only of the proposal to retain the Irish Members at Westminster, with regard to which, undoubtedly, we have given a most serious pledge, but with regard to the mode of retaining them, the numbers in which they shall be retained, and the powers which they 1420 shall exercise when coming into this House, as to which I think I am correct in saying we have never given any pledge at all. Submitting ourselves as we did to the guidance of the prevailing and deliberate opinion with respect to the main proposition—the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster—I think it very naturally appeared to us that, with regard to the subordinate questions of the mode and conditions under which that retention was to be carried into effect, it followed, as a matter of course, that we were still more disposed to look for the manifestations of that opinion, and to follow them in the course we might pursue. Now, Sir, we have reached a certain point. Until we came near that point, it was not so easy to elicit or obtain sufficient evidence on this question; but, very naturally, as we come nearer to the point, it has become easier to detect and to obtain those indications. In the first place, it appears to us that, although there are individual and partial preferences in respect of the method we have proposed, yet the general sentiment is decidedly inclined to the adoption of the other alternative. Everyone knows that the communications which are now carried on between heads of Parties, and representatives of Parties, on behalf of the bulk of Members, give large and ample means, on questions in which considerable interest is felt, of anticipating what the judgment of hon. Members is likely to be. Undoubtedly, so far as regards the friends and supporters of the Bill, there is a very large preponderance indeed of preference for the method of retention which makes no limitation of powers; over the other plan which aims at meeting any jealousy which may be felt in England at the interference of the Irish Members by an attempt to discriminate between Irish and Imperial subjects, in which attempt to discriminate we laboured hard and faithfully. But we were compelled to admit—although I think we have achieved considerable success—that it was impossible, or, to use my own old expression, it passed the wit of man to frame any distinct, thorough - going, universal severance between the one class of subjects and the other. But what we feel is this—and I think the House will perhaps appreciate the sentiment—that it was a 1421 doubtful thing for us, as a Government, to propose to the British people or their Representatives what would appear primâ facie to be an invasion of the rights and claims that, if so disposed, they might justly urge. If the Members of this House, and if the people of this country, were so inclined, it is conceivable, and I cannot say it would be unjust, that they should take exception to a system under which Members coming from Ireland were at once, either in their own persons or through their countrymen, to have a complete control over their own domestic affairs, and, at the same time, I will not say to enjoy—the enjoyment, perhaps, might not be very great—but, at any rate, to possess a power of controlling the domestic affairs of Great Britain equal to that of those representing Great Britain. But, on the other hand, though it would be very difficult for us to take into our hands, even if we had a clear, unequivocal, and strong preference that way—it would be very difficult for us to take upon ourselves, while we were ignorant of the state of opinion, the responsibility of making a proposal of that kind; yet it is perfectly clear to our minds that the Representatives of Great Britain here assembled are under no such limitations, and that they are perfectly competent, if they think fit, to adopt the plan of retention of the Irish Members with unlimited powers, in preference to the plan of retention of the Irish Members with limited powers. The question is: Which way does the preference lie? In the first place, we have the means of ascertaining the sentiments of those who are politically allied with us much larger than we possess with regard to those who are politically opposed to us. For example, during the seven years since 1886, with respect to the question whether Irish Members should be retained at all, we were under the impression that the present Duke of Devonshire, who was then the Leader of the Liberal Unionists, had expressed a strong opinion in favour of their retention; and we were under the impression—though an explanation has been given on that subject since—that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham was in favour of their retention—an opinion with respect to which I am aware that he has given an explanation within the last few days; 1422 but in respect to that explanation—I have no doubt it is my fault, and not his—I must confess that it has left the matter darker than it was before. As to the opinion of the Opposition, when we came to discuss the total exclusion of the Irish Members, there was an efficient, vehement, and able support given to the proposition, thereby developing and disclosing a state of sentiment on the part of the whole Opposition which, from its deliberate and energetic character, I have no doubt must have subsisted during the last six years, but of which the secret had been so well kept that I do not think a single indication of it had been allowed anywhere to escape. Using the means of communication we possess, we have found in the most decided manner that there exists a preference for the unlimited power of voting on the part of the Irish Members which we had not felt ourselves at liberty to propose to the House, and the possible inconvenience, of which it is not for those who were Members of the Government of 1885 to be the first to deny. This evidence has been followed up by the evidence of various speeches, made even in anticipation of the discussion, indicating a desire that the plan of voting with unlimited powers and absolute equality should be retained. There is, however, happily, a third method of coming at the sentiments prevailing in the House, for which I am most thankful, because it has shown that this preference is not limited to any particular quarter of the House. The Notices on the Paper on this subject are very remarkable. They are no less than nine in number, and it is difficult to say which section of the House is best represented by them. The Nationalists of Ireland are not directly represented except by one hon. Gentleman, who is understood to act not in uniform accordance with the mass of that Party. But, of course, we have means of knowing that while they were, as I think wisely, indisposed to put forward a demand for the right of unlimited voting, yet that method would be agreeable to them. Among the ranks of the Tories, among the ranks of the Liberal Unionists, and among our own supporters we have obtained a strong indication that a large number of Members of all Parties feel themselves bound by their public duty to come forward for the purpose of 1423 declining to adopt the proposition made by the Government, which contemplates limited powers of voting, evidently with the intention of substituting unlimited powers. For this purpose there is no necessity to embody in the Bill a novel enactment. All we require is to leave the present law as it is; and, having provided the basis of representation on which Irish Members are to come here, everything follows in its train under the law. In these circumstances, having undisguisedly given it to be understood on this question that what were our original opinions are not perhaps wholly abandoned, but modified, to a certain extent, where we felt the main object of endowing Ireland with the power of self-government in her domestic affairs was of such paramount importance, it would have been preposterous on our part to allow a question of this kind to interfere with our endeavours to promote such a measure. It followed immediately from that state of facts—as we viewed the state of facts—that we should be inclined to look to the guidance of Parliamentary opinion. We have looked to it, and feel no doubt whatever as to the direction in which it leads us. Though sensible that inconveniences of some description arise from the power of unlimited voting, yet on the one hand we feel most strongly the enormous desire to avoid all attempts to introduce a distinction between a class of fully-qualified Members and partially-qualified Members, which, after all, would be the greatest innovation by far connected with any portion of the subject. On the other hand, I feel that we may expect a mitigation of the evils that have heretofore attended combinations between Irish Members and sections of Parties of British Members. I do not dwell on the mitigation of the evils which will arise, but from our point of view we dwell upon another sentiment which we strongly embrace; but I do not know whether it is embraced on the other side of the House, or whether it is strongly repudiated. In our opinion, when this Bill passes, and when an Irish Legislature is formed, it will give freer course to the currents of political opinion in Ireland. Liberty will be restored to Ireland in the choice of Representatives which at present the people do not and cannot possess, because the nomination and preponderance of one vast overwhelming 1424 interest over every other compels them to consult that one single interest and to cast behind them the consideration of a multitude of points which will assume their natural dimensions when once that paramount question is disposed of. When we are told that four-fifths of the Nationalists will be returned to this House, and that that will give a very limited representation to others in the Imperial Parliament, I say that I doubt the soundness of that opinion. I think that other sections of opinion will appear, and defenders of various interests will arise, that are not dreamt of; and the substitution of a system of representation giving greater scope to varieties of opinion for one that gives little or no scope to the exhibition of such variety will greatly diminish the likelihood of the inconveniences of any such combination as that I have referred to. In any case, what we have felt throughout is this: that whatever plan you adopt it is our duty to confess any possible inconvenience attending that plan. We have a paramount object in view of such Imperial weight and importance that none of these minor considerations ought to be allowed to influence our course. We must make the best choice we can as to the method of procedure, and in making that choice it is obvious that we have to pay the utmost regard to the state of Parliamentary opinion. I frankly own that the evidence, as it stands before us, is to the effect that the plan proposed in Subsections 3 and 4 is a plan which it is beyond our power to carry. In these circumstances, there remains but one alternative open to us. The plan of unlimited voting power is the only other method of proceeding that has been, or can possibly be, suggested; and we think that it is a plan to which the nation and the House of Commons are decidedly inclined. We think it our duty to adopt this method with its inconvenience, which, however, is unworthy of mention in comparison with the great purpose we have in view. We therefore offer a willing acceptance to what we believe to be the deliberate judgment of the House of Commons; and, accordingly, it is my first duty to move, on the part of the Government, the omission of the 3rd and 4th sub-sections of this clause.
In page 4, line 34, to leave out Sub-sections (3) and (4).—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'an Irish representative Peer in the House of Lords stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said, he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in looking upon this question as a matter of secondary importance. If he opposed in the strongest manner the retention of Irish Members in this House, to vote on questions other than those which they were debarred from dealing with under Clauses 3 and 4 of the present Bill, it was certainly not on the grounds of intense distrust expressed by hon. Members opposite in the people of Ireland and their Leaders, but because he thought that it would be most unwise and un-statesmanlike to place Irish or any other Members in circumstances of almost irresistible temptation to impede British legislation and to neglect their own. In his opinion, to do this would be largely to increase the difficulties of British legislation, to demoralise our whole political life, while such a policy would be even more disadvantageous and demoralising to Ireland than to this country. It would ensure the utter failure of Home Rule; and he could not conceive that any such inequitable or unworkable arrangement could be accepted, or would be accepted, by the constituencies of Great Britain, or, if accepted, could fail to produce increased friction and alienation between the different nationalities. He contended that they had ample experience not only in this country, but in America, of the utter demoralisation which such a system would cause in Imperial and local politics. If they had a number of Irish Members present and able to take part in legislation in which they had absolutely no interest, was it not inevitable that they would be irresistibly tempted to use their position to obtain Imperial credit and Imperial resources for Irish objects instead of setting themselves manfully to work out Irish Home Rule with the resources, legislative and financial, which were placed at their disposal? Not only would such a policy be demoralising, but it would make Home Rule a failure. Nothing had been more unfortunate and demoralising to that portion of the Irish 1426 people in America who had hung about the great towns, instead of becoming practically American in their feelings and objects, as an integral part of the American people, than this temptation to become the plaything of Parties. Most of the Irish emigration into America had become really American, but he had watched for 50 years the disastrous effect on the character of the remainder,—of the unprincipled action of Parties in America—in bidding for the so-called Irish vote. They all knew how this practice had discredited American political character and had corrupted and degraded public morality, both in Federal States and, still more, in local affairs. They had had some experience of its effects in this country, and their earnest endeavour ought to be to minimise the danger as much as possible, alike for the sake of Great Britain and the Empire, but especially for the sake of Ireland and the Irish. If Irish Members were to be hanging about this House with no other business to do, they would be put under the inevitable temptation of employing their powers to impede legislation in order to force fresh concessions from this Parliament, instead of wisely and patriotically using those powers which they already would enjoy. Irishmen possessed very fine qualities, but, after all, they were human—he supposed it would not be said they were more than human—and no nationality could resist such temptation as that which would be put in their way. It was said that this was only to last for six years. Yes, but what years were they? During those six years the crisis of this great experiment would have to be passed, in which Irishmen would have to put themselves in the right or the wrong. He would not have minded half so much if the proposal was to come into operation six years hence, when Irishmen would have settled down to their work. Let them look at the position of things. They all knew that during this great struggle Irishmen had learnt to expect that, as soon as they got a Government of their own, they would be able to have everything that legislation could enact or that money could buy, and they believed that all this had been kept from them hitherto by the Imperial Parliament. But this Parliament ought surely to protect the Irish Representatives from an 1427 impossible situation; for if the latter were to fail to give their constituents all they wanted and all they had been led to expect, the Irish Members themselves would be swept away. They ought not to be put in a position in which they would be tempted to engage in all sorts of undertakings, and then come over here and endeavour to get the deficiencies on those undertakings made up by the Imperial Parliament. He was quite sure that hon. Members opposite meant to be as prudent as possible; but they would find themselves swept away if this Parliament did not protect them from engaging in schemes which, he feared, would be beyond the resources of Ireland. The most important effect would be that produced upon national character. He had ventured to put upon the Paper a series of Amendments which were ruled out of Order. Those Amendments were put down with the view of showing how the danger which he feared might be minimised by putting special powers in the hands of the Executive and by calling Irishmen into this House when Irish subjects were under discussion. If they were only here for that purpose our own legislation would not be impeded, and Irish Members would be saved from the temptation of impeding it and would be able to devote their own undivided energies to their own affairs. Anything would, in his opinion, be less serious than dividing the attention of Irishmen between two places and leaving them free to interfere with our legislation. Once get them to devote their energies to the development of their own country and its resources, and we should no longer have to consider the state of Ireland a discredit to the British nation.
§ MR. E. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
said, that he had listened with the deepest respect to the statement made by the Prime Minister; but he might say that, deep as was his respect, his sense of disappointment was still deeper—a disappointment arising not only out of the tremendous nature of the conclusion which the right hon. Gentleman announced, but a disappointment also arising from the nature of the causes which the right hon. Gentleman described as having led him to the conclusion which he had just made known to the Committee. In his view, weaker and 1428 more inconclusive reasons to form so great and formidable a decision could hardly have been placed before a Legislative Assembly. What was the true character of the announcement which the right hon. Gentleman had at last made to the Committee? It amounted to an entire revolutionising of the Bill. Hitherto he had with perfect heartiness defended the great principle of this Bill, and had even desired its extension beyond the limits set upon it. The object of the Bill was to give self-government to Ireland. It proposed to give it with a comparatively generous hand, although not with the fulness and absoluteness that he, for one, would have desired. Accordingly, wherever he had differed in the course of these discussions, it had been not in contrariety to the aim and object of the Bill, but because he thought that object and aim were not being carried out with the fulness which he thought desirable and possible. But the proposal which the Prime Minister had now laid before the Committee would pervert the Bill, so that it was no longer simply a measure to give self-government to Ireland, but became at the same time a proposal to take away self-government from Great Britain. It was now a double-headed Bill—he would not say a two-faced Bill, because that expression would be open to a construction which would seem uncomplimentary to the Prime Minister and the Government. But it was a double-headed Bill: with one mouth it proclaimed self-government; with the other mouth it denied self-government. The only distinction lay in the locality where the affirmation and negation of that principle were respectively to be given and applied. The same principles which made him an out-and-out supporter of the Bill in the form which it possessed, down to a few minutes ago, also made him an out-and-out opponent of the new and contrary proposal of the Prime Minister.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUE (Manchester, E.) rose to a point of Order.
The right hon. Gentleman is rising to a point of Order [Cries of "Time!"] and for the convenience of the Committee—
The right hon. Gentleman is rising to a point of Order. Strictly speaking, I ought to leave the Chair, but I think it would be convenient to the House to allow the point of Order to be stated.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
On a point of Order I would ask what your business in the Chair is after half-past 5?
§ The Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.