HC Deb 26 July 1893 vol 15 cc549-95

COMMITTEE. [Progress, New Clauses, 25th July.]


Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

New Clause (Financial arrangements as between the United Kingdom and Ireland).—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)

Amendment proposed, In line 1, to leave out the words "the transfer hereinafter mentioned," in order to insert the words "Parliament otherwise determines."—(Mr. J. Chamberlain.)

Question again proposed, "That the words 'the transfer hereinafter mentioned' stand part of the Clause."

Debate resumed.

MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)

said, he regretted very much that the Leader of the Opposition had not more time last night for his generous and masterly reply to the Prime Minister in defence of his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. He would not travel over the points of the speech of the Prime Minister with which the Leader of the Opposition had dealt, but there were other parts of that speech to which he wished to allude. He desired to express his deep regret for having heard such a speech from the lips of the Prime Minister. It was not creditable to the Prime Minister, and was derogatory to Parliament. He had followed the Prime Minister as the Leader of the Liberal Party for a great number of years; he had never failed in his friendly feelings towards the right hon. Gentleman, and he therefore regretted all the more deeply having heard such a speech from him. The Liberal Unionist Party had the fullest confidence in the leadership of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham; they derived the greatest benefit from his vast ability, and they desired to associate themselves with his speeches, and to share, if necessary, in any condemnation of them. [Loud laughter, and cries of "Oh!" from Nationalist Members.]


I rise to Order, Mr. Mellor. I desire to call attention to the interruptions from hon. Members below the Gangway.


I hope hon. Gentlemen will not interrupt the right hon. Gentleman.

SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)

In addition to what my hon. Friend the Member for Preston has said, I would point out the inconvenience of the noise made by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to those sitting on this Bench, who are anxious to hear the speech and cannot hear it.


said, the interruptions did not make the slightest difference to him, except that they would have the effect of lengthening his observations. The Prime Minister had denounced his right hon. Friend for habitual, gross, and enormous exaggeration. He denied that that was a true representation of his right hon. Friend, and thought it was almost an unparliamentary phrase. At any rate, people who lived in glass houses should not shie stones. He would not linger on the phrase "Devil's Advocate," although he thought it had been repeated by the Prime Minister with undue reiteration. He would like, however, to remind the right hon. Gentleman that "the Devil's Advocate" appeared only at a canonisation of saints. He did not know where they would find a saint in that Assembly, unless, indeed, the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer might look forward at some distant day to being canonised under the name of Saint Coercion. But he particularly wished to refer to one remark made by the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman stated that there was no obligation of honour whatever in regard to the Land Question; that the obligation was only with reference to facts and circumstances that were then existing and was expressly so stated. The Prime Minister, however, on April 8, 1886, on the introduction of the Home Rule Bill of that year, and again on the 16th of April, in bringing in the Laud Purchase Bill, distinctly and emphatically laid it down that the Land Question and the Home Rule Question were as inseparably connected one with the other as the Siamese Twins. Speaking on the 8th April, 1886, the right hon. Gentleman said— The two questions of Land and of Irish Government are, in our view, clearly and inseparably connected, for they are the two channels through which we hope to find access, and effectual access, to that question which is the most vital of all—namely, the question of social order in Ireland. As I have said, those two questions are in our view, whatever they may be in that of anyone else, they are in our view, for reasons which I cannot now explain, inseparable the one from the other. On April 16, in asking leave to bring in the Sale and Purchase of Laud Bill, the right hon. Gentleman said— In doing this I wish to complete the speech I began on Thursday last, which, inordinately long though it may have been, still remains unfinished. I use that language to describe their Union in my own mind and in the minds of my Colleagues. He did not think that the Committee, after hearing the words of the Prime Minister on the unity of the Land Question and Home Rule, could believe that the unity was only of a temporary nature and under existing circumstances.

Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon, &c.)

I rise to Order. I wish to ask whether the right hon. Member is in Order in discussing the Laud Question and its inseparability from Home Rule on Financial Clauses?


I think it is quite out of Order to discuss the Land Question. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham referred to the Land Question by way of illustration. The Prime Minister replied to it, and so long as the right hon. Member for Grimsby confines himself to it by way of illustration he will be in Order.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

Was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in Order on the Land Question?

Mr. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

Was the Prime Minister in Order in referring to the Land Question?


said, he was not going to comment on these extracts; and if hon. Members opposite had only a little patience he would have been done with the Land Question by this time. Lord Spencer was also strong on this point with regard to the inseparability of the Land Question from Home Rule, for speaking—

MR. BODKIN (Roscommon, N.)

I rise to Order—


Order, order! I have pointed out already that so long as the right hon. Member confines himself to the Land Question by way of illustration he is in Order. If he travels beyond that he is out of Order.


said, he did not wish to put himself out of Order in any way. Lord Spencer, speaking at Newcastle on April 21, 1886, said— What is the measure? It is a great compact or treaty with the Irish people. You may call it, if you like, the Magna Charta of the Irish people; but it is necessary, under a contract or treaty of this sort, not only to lay down the principles on which you wish to proceed, but to defend some of those who oppose the policy and are in alarm at the consequences it may bring about. …. I do not for a moment think it would be just and honest in the British Parliament to leave unprotected and uncared for landlords of Ireland. We have at different times curtailed their rights by Acts of Parliament, and I think it would be a mean and treacherous thing at this moment if we did not defend what we consider their just interests; but I should like to say this in addition: that I believe it would be most unfair to the new Irish Assembly to leave this question of the land unsettled. … I believe that my Colleagues and I are agreed on this as on the other subjects connected with this measure; Mr. Gladstone himself has said that these two questions are inseparable. The Prime Minister, speaking at Edinburgh in 1885, said— Let me suppose that the Liberal Party might be returned to the coming Parliament, and that it was called upon to deal with this great Constitutional question of the government of Ireland in a position where it was a minority dependent on the Irish vote for converting it into a majority; I tell you seriously and solemnly that though I believe the Liberal Party to be honourable, patriotic, and trustworthy, in such a position as that it would not be safe for it to enter on the consideration of a measure in respect of which at the first step of its progress it would be in the power of a Party coming from Ireland to say, 'Unless you do this or do that we will turn you out tomorrow.' The Chancellor of the Duchy also had written— In the British House of Commons, with 670 Members, there are nearly 90 Irish Nationalists. They are a well-disciplined Body, voting as one man, though capable of speaking enough for a thousand; they have no interest in English, or Scottish, or Colonial, or Indian affairs, but only in Irish; and look upon the vote that they have the right of giving upon the former solely as a means of furthering their own Irish aims. He thought that that was quite authority enough for what was said by his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and he thought he was perfectly borne out in everything he had said. The Prime Minister complained of the statement of his right hon. Friend that the Irish Members would be omnipotent; but that was the view that he himself took in 1885 with reference to the Irish Members.


I rise to Order. Has the action of the Irish Members in 1885 anything to do with the Question now before the Committee?


I cannot say it has. Unless the right hon. Gentleman applies it to the Question before the Committee with reference to the period of six years he is out of Order.


said, he was proving from the Prime Minister's own lips that on this point his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham had not used language of gross exaggeration. But they need not go back; they had had an object-lesson this Session. British Representatives on questions like those involved in the 9th clause and the Financial Clauses had been outvoted by the Irish surplus representation. The Prime Minister next complained of the statement that nothing was settled by the Bill. Out of the 40 clauses of the Bill only six had been debated in the ordinary course of Parliamentary procedure; three more had been partially discussed, and closured; 20 had been passed without even being read from the Chair; and to-morrow night the remaining compartment would be disposed of. That was what was called settling the Home Rule Question. Nothing more degrading or revolutionary had ever taken place. [Cries of "Order!"]


The right hon. Gentleman is clearly out of Order in going into that matter now.


asked why the financial question was to be postponed? It was because the Government could not arrive at any arrangement with the Irish Members. Why had the original clauses been abandoned? It his opinion, they were only put in to conceal the change of front between the proposals of 1886 and those embodied in the clauses now submitted. The Government were doing nothing more nor less the and dabbling with the money of the nation. They were in this position: If they had a mandate for the original clauses they had no mandate for the clauses now under discussion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, so far from being guilty of gross exaggeration, had proved his case thoroughly, and no reply had been made to him from the Treasury Bench. The Unionist Party, he repeated, were proud to have the right hon. Gentleman as their Leader, and they associated themselves with him in bearing the condemnation of the Prime Minister.

* Mr. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)

said, the first feeling that must occur to everybody who had followed these Debates must be one of surprise that they should be on this clause at all at the present moment, as, according to the Rules of the House, the new clauses would naturally come after the postponed clauses. But the Prime Minister had given a good reason for taking the new clauses at the present time; his reason was that the postponed clauses dealt with the Consolidated Fund, which was only brought into existence by the new clauses. But, to his surprise, there was not a word in the clause about the Consolidated Fund. [Cries of "Order!"]


The hon. Member must discuss the Amendment.


said, he was sorry if he was out of Order. He believed there was a good reason for postponing Clauses 14, 15, and 16—the fact that the Member for North Kerry had a series of Amendments down to those clauses—[Cries of "Order!"]


I must really call the hon. Member's attention to the fact that what he is discussing has nothing whatever to do with the Amendment.


said, that with regard to this Amendment they had had a long, dull discourse from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman quoted a number of figures, but he had not shown that brilliancy which he sometimes displayed. He exhibited that dismal, ponderous, dull spirit which he had shown in that House ever since he took to drink as a subject for legislation.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon, &c.)

rose to Order. Had this anything to do with the Amendment?


No. And I have already told the hon. Member what to do. He is not now dealing with the Amendment.


said, he could not vote for the Amendment for the same reasons that led him last night to vote with the Member for Waterford. If they gave Ireland Home Rule they should let Ireland collect her own taxes. Perhaps the first demand in the new Home Rule Parliament would be to ask for money to put down Ulster. ["Question!"] That was a financial question. Probably, indeed, the Irish would come here for money to help them to coerce Ulster. ["Question!"] They would be asked to come, as they often had to come, to the financial aid of Ireland. There were only two representatives of authority known to the people—the policeman and the tax-collector. They had taken away the policeman; would they now take away the tax-collector? What remained? Not even the bailiff, because he could not get protection in the performance of his duty. All the credit of Government, so far as any credit could be applied to the Government of Ireland, would be gained by the Irish Legislature, and all the discredit and obloquy would be fastened upon the English Legislature. They had been told by Members below the Gangway that they always had their hand in the Irish pocket; they had sometimes, but in that case their hand went in full and came out empty, and that would be the case again. Therefore, it seemed to him, if the Home Rule Bill was to pass, if the Irish wanted to learn to swim, they should be put into the water, and the water of Irish finance being somewhat deep, it was there that they would best learn the art of natation. Let them undertake their responsibility at once. He felt compelled to vote against the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman on the ground that the Irish Legislature, if it was to be set up, should have imposed on it the duty of collecting taxes, among its other duties.

* MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said, he would advise the hon. Member for North Kerry not to wander into the domain of prophecy as to anything the Ulster Unionists might do in the future. There was very good reason why they had not taken part in these Debates. Looking at the conditions under which they were discussing matters of enormous moment, he thought the less they interfered in a matter like this the better. The whole Debate was, as he had said, unreal, although in another sense they were bound to discuss it as if it were real. That was the awkward predicament in which they were placed. If he could not discuss it more effectively than the hon. Member for North Roscommon, he would not touch it at all, for anything more absurd, irrelevant, or out of Order than the hon. Member's proceedings that day he had never known in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister, who was responsible for this clause, had simply thrown it on the Table without a word of explanation, and asked the House of Commons to take it or do what they liked with it. What was the position? The clause itself fixed a transitional period of six years. One of the chief objections of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham against that and a great many of the most important parts of the Bill was that they were made provisional or transitory. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that what had been made transitory were the Land Question, the Judiciary, Irish Representation, Finance, and the Police. He should have thought that these five matters were the main points in any Home Rule Bill, and yet every one of these points had been deliberately left unsettled. And why? Because any attempt to settle them must have produced dissensions between the Front Bench and the Irish Members. The Amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was to the effect that this matter should stand as ordinary matters stood in an Act of Parliament. The transitional period was now fixed at six years, and the right hon. Gentleman proposed to strike out these words, leaving Parliament to alter it when it liked. It had been pointed out again and again that if the period of six years were left in the Hill, the Irish Government would have no earthly inducement to lessen the Irish expenditure. On the contrary, they would have every inducement to keep it as it was at present, because they knew that at the end of six years they would have a right to come to the Imperial Parliament, and the poorer the case they could make out the better it would be for any further demands they might make on the part of Ireland. At the end of six years, as the Bill stood, the Irish Members not only knew they could ask for better terms, but they knew that the 9th clause made it certain they could compel better terms. The Prime Minister was passing a happy-go-lucky clause which professed to be a temporary settlement. The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that at the end of six years, when probably he had no longer the control of the affairs of the Government, and when the country was getting deeper and deeper into this pit, the Irish Members could then demand better terms from the British taxpayer than now. He (Mr. Russell) preferred the Amendment of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, because if it passed the Irish Members would be forced to look the situation in the face at once and make arrangements accordingly; whereas if the clause passed as introduced by the Prime Minister, the inducement would be the other way. At all events, he thought it would be better to know the worst, and if the Irish Exchequer was to be bankrupt it would be better for it to go bankrupt at once rather than at the end of six years.

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

Hitherto, in these discussions, I have not availed myself of my undoubted right to make a second speech on the same Amendment. But on the present occasion I hope the House will feel that I have some claim to say one or two words in reference to the ferocious speech which was made last night by the First Lord of the Treasury. That speech took mo somewhat by surprise, because in the remarks which gave rise to it I had been endeavouring to follow the advice of my right hon. Friend to treat this subject of finance in the dry manner which he suggests as proper to this controversy, and I was quite unable to see in anything I had said cause for the extreme energy and the extreme violence of my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend complained, in the first instance, that I imputed motives which were distinctly denied by the persons to whom I imputed them. Sir, the motive which I had imputed was in regard to the reason for adopting this transitional period. I said I gave my right hon. Friend full credit for his confidence in the latest plan which he had proposed; and I asked how it comes if, after all this time he has brought forward a proposal in which he necessarily must feel confidence, he proposes to confine its operation to six years only, and at the cud of that period to throw the whole question into the melting-pot again. I said the reason was obvious, and that arose from the desire of hon. Members opposite that there should be a transitional arrangement, and to the impossibility of the Government and their allies coming to an agreement as to a permanent arrangement. That is the gist of the offence which brought down upon me the thunders of my right hon. Friend, and I ask the House now, in the first place, whether there is anything offensive in the statement; and, in the second place, whether it is not absolutely proved both by the speech of my right hon. Friend and what took place in face of the whole Committee? What happened? My right hon. Friend, in the first instance, did not propose or suggest a transitional period; but when the matter was under discussion in Committee, up rose the hon. Member for North Kerry and made the suggestion which was eagerly grasped at by my right hon. Friend My right hon. Friend says that the transaction was perfectly public and took place across the floor of the House. Yes, Sir; but I suppose it followed upon private negotiations which went on behind the back of the House.

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

As the right lion. Gentleman has referred to me perhaps he will allow me to say that the suggestion as to the transitional period was made for the first time to the Government in my speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, and my sole motive was that it was an impossibility for us, until we had first had a searching inquiry into the taxable capacity of Ireland, to determine accurately any principle as to the amount of Ireland's contribution.


I am perfectly aware of the reasons given by the hon. Member for North Kerry. I did not say the suggestion had not previously been made. I was going to point out that these negotiations in, the open House are generally preceded by private negotiations, and again I had the authority of my right hon. Friend, who has told us he has been in communication with hon. Members opposite—I do not deny his right—and that it was in consequence of these communications he placed his proposal before the Committee. I again appeal to the House whether, under these circumstances, I was not perfectly justified in saying that the transitional period was the result of a suggestion of the hon. Member for North Kerry? But, Sir, I said further that the reason for that suggestion—as well as the reason given by the hon. Member—was not far to seek. Does anybody suppose that my right hon. Friend accepted that suggestion in the belief that at the end of six years the British Exchequer will get better terms? Does anyone believe that the hon. Member for North Kerry made the sug- gestion with the idea that six years hence a larger tribute will be imposed upon the Irish people? No, Sir. I said to the Committee—and this was a statement of my own, not based upon a statement of my right hon. Friend—that six years hence hon. Members opposite will have the matter in their own hands; and my right hon. Friend replied to that that at present there were 103 of them in the House, and six years hence there will only be 80. I may say 80 is quite enough to give a majority of 40. But that is not the point. The point is that these 80 will be here under totally different circumstances to the 103. They will be hero ready and able to deal with every British question without any interest in or responsibility for it; and, under these circumstances, their action must necessarily be guided entirely by Irish interest, and they must use these British questions in order to put pressure upon the British Parliament. That, I say, is self-evident, and that I again accept, on the authority of my right hon. Friend, who was so impressed with this danger that some years ago he told this House and the country he would never be a party to it, and yet now we find him submitting to this dual control and giving the Irishmen the power of dealing with our affairs when we are supposed to be giving up the whole power of dealing with theirs. The second charge which the Prime Minister made against me was one of gross, habitual, and enormous exaggeration. Do hon. Members behind me agree with the charge? Do hon. Members opposite agree with him?

MR. T. M. HEALY (ironically)

Oh, no, no.


I thought they would not. I thought they were too fair-minded even in the case of such an opponent as myself to agree in the altogether exaggerated language of the Prime Minister. Why did my right hon. Friend bring the charge against me? It was because he assumed I had said that this Bill settled nothing. That was a misrepresentation or misunderstanding, because what I did say was that this Bill settled none of the great problems about which we had been anxious when Home Rule was discussed in the country. Now, Sir, is it gross, habitual, and enormous exaggeration to say that this Bill settles none of these great problems? I do not know whether hon. Members opposite, who refused to make themselves parties to the statement of my right hon. Friend because they knew what it would involve, will say so. But, Sir, if I were guilty of gross, habitual, and enormous exaggeration in making this statement, what is to be said of the hon. Member for North Kerry? Here is what the hon. Member for North Kerry said in the Debate on Clause 9— The whole Bill, in fact, had been made transitional and almost experimental in its character by reason of the provisions deferring the power of the Irish Government for a given period of years in regard to judicial appointments, the Land Question, and certain financial topics; and, therefore, it would be in accord with the general character of the Bill that the words should be allowed to stand. That is to say, the question of the retention of the Irish Members should be made transitional also. It is true, as the hon. Member for North Kerry said, and as I said, that all these points which were questioned in the country, upon which we vainly endeavoured to get information from the Government beforehand, and as to which we said they presented problems which we, at all events, were unable to solve—everyone of them has been left in a transitional condition. You may add to that also the question of the Police, the whole position of which Force is to be altered after a period of six years. I say if there is gross, habitual, and enormous exaggeration anywhere it does not rest upon the Member for North Kerry nor upon myself. There is hardly a statement which was made about this Bill in the country which has been carried out in the course of the Debates in this House. We were told in the country that the absolute supremacy of Parliament would be maintained. We know now that the supremacy of Parliament, by the confession of Ministers, is only to be exercised in certain extraordinary cases of gross abuse. We were told the Irish Members should not be brought here to deal with British affairs. They are to be brought here to deal with British affairs. We were told the minority would be protected, but almost every practical suggestion for the protection of the minority has been rejected by the Government. We were told that the Irish freely accepted this great boon. We know perfectly well that that is not the case; that it is not accepted as a final settlement, but only pro tanto for what it is worth. And, lastly, we were told, as a great inducement to carry out this extraordinary proposal, that at least it would be a final settlement of all difficulties, of all ill-feeling between the two countries, and now we are told it is to be all transitional, and six years hence we shall have to go through the whole business once again. My right hon. Friend, in a passage which was extremely humorous, and which no one enjoyed more than myself, compared me to the Devil's Advocate. I suppose it is a Parliamentary expression, and reference to a certain fallen potentate has become very common in these Debates, because I recollect a supporter of the Government compared my right hon. Friend himself to a certain personage who "finds mischief still for evil—idle hands to do." Therefore, Sir, I take no offence at being described as the Devil's Advocate. But I would remind my right hon. Friend that the function of this Devil's Advocate is often one which has been most usefully fulfilled. There have been numbers of cases, in connection with the ecclesiastical organisation of which he forms a part, on which it has been his privilege to expose many doubtful virtues, and to destroy on more than one occasion the angelic theory. Sir, I modestly hope I may enjoy a similar privilege.

* SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

observed, that although the Prime Minister had made a very interesting speech on the previous night, he had not attempted to deal with the main argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in support of his Amendment, which was that unless it were accepted no inducement would be given to the Irish Government to be economical, but that every inducement would be held out to them to be extravagant, and then come to that House and ask for assistance. He rose not to re-argue the point which had been so admirably stated, but to ask the Government whether they expected the Committee to go to a Division upon this very important question and without the shadow of an attempt on the part of the Government to answer the right hon. Gentleman? If the Government did not attempt an answer the country would know the reason, which was that no answer could be given.

MR. J. MORLEY moved, "That the Question be now put," and Mr. A. J. Balfour rose at the same time.


I did not see the right hon. Gentleman get up.


I think the Committee would wish to hear the right hon. Gentleman.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)

I do not intend to intervene at any great length in this Debate, but I do desire to support the appeal which has just been made by the right hon. Baronet. I make no complaint against the action which the Government took last night on this matter. All those who recall the somewhat heated incidents of the Debate subsequent to half-past 10 or 11 o'clock must be aware that, owing to various causes, we had travelled very wide of the Amendment. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham got up and made a speech of great force and power, to which the Prime Minister felt bound to reply; but although his reply was marked by great vigour and eloquence, the right hon. Gentleman did not think it necessary to meet the argument of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham in regard to this Amendment in any direct manner. He took up certain other side challenges and side issues, and dealt with them with his usual debating capacity, and when I rose to follow him I confess I was more concerned in dealing with the right hon. Gentleman's speech than I was in defending the special Amendment; and though in theory I may have been wrong, I think those who were present on the occasion will admit that if I was wrong I had considerable excuse for it. Now, Sir, we can approach this question in a calmer and more businesslike spirit; and though I do not wish to press upon the Government to make a lengthy reply to the pertinent issues raised, I think it would conduce to the proper conduct of our Debates if they were to deal with two or three of the main issues, at all events, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has raised. I do not ask them again to go over the ground whether or not this Bill settles the Irish problem, or to deal at any length with any question except the financial question. On the financial question and on the Amendment, which says now is the time for a permanent settlement between the countries, much has been said against the plan of the Government; and, as far as I can see, nothing whatever has been said as yet in favour of it, if I am to except the one argument that the financial relations are to be the subject of investigation by a Royal Commission. Rutting that single argument on one side, I do not see that any reply has been made to the view advanced by Members of the Liberal Unionist Party opposite. One argument which they have urged I will just mention. It has been pointed out with conclusive force that whatever other result may follow from hanging up the question of Irish finance for six years, this one, at all events, will follow: that every inducement which ordinarily animates a Chancellor of the Exchequer or a Government in the direction of economy will be removed from the Irish Government. Now, surely, in dealing with Ireland, of all countries, that is a consideration we should not lose sight of. We on this side have been accused of advocating a policy of bribes and doles. I do not intend to go now into that matter at any length or defend the action we took. I have done so on previous occasions, and on a proper occasion I shall be able to defend it again. I make this admission: undoubtedly it is a fact that in financial matters we have done something, rightly or wrongly, in the last 50 years—ever since the famine—financially to pamper the Irish people. ["Oh, oh!"] If hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway do not agree with that statement, at all events they cannot assent to the criticisms made upon us by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to our policy. I entirely admit that sometimes with good cause, sometimes with bad cause, we have expended money in Ireland we should not have thought of expending in similar circumstances in England or Scotland, and the result has been a certain amount of financial demoralisation, and a certain impression has been created in Ireland that whenever they are in a difficulty of any sort it is their right or business to come to the Imperial Exchequer and ask for money. Very well; that habit having been generated by the practice to which I have referred, is it not the more necessary we should put the Irish Government, in financial and other matters, in such a position as will give them every inducement for a severe and rigid policy of economy in dealing with Irish matters? If some of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler), in his speech the other day, be true as regards this country, on this point regarding the calls upon Imperial finance, surely the danger in Ireland is far greater, and the risk of constant demands on the Irish Exchequer is one that must cause serious financial difficulties—difficulties that the Government will have to meet. I would like to put it to the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) and his friends, when they make their forecast of the probable results of the establishment of this Government in Ireland, whether they do not look forward with profound misgiving to the kind of demands that will be made upon the Irish Exchequer and the excessive difficulty of meeting those demands in a satisfactory fashion? It is the business of the Committee to strengthen as much as they can the hands of the future Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer—to put a weapon into his hands—in order that he may be able to resist the pressure that will be brought to bear upon him. Anyone who had any experience in the government of the country knows that in the Imperial Parliament the colleagues of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are constantly going to him and saying that they want money for important objects connected with their respective offices, and he has to meet their demands by saying that to give effect to them would necessitate fresh taxation, and that the result of imposing more taxes would be to make the Government unpopular in the country, and greatly to diminish its chances at the next General Election. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt) were in his place, I feel sure he would bear me out in that; and my right hon. Friend beside me (Mr. Goschen) will say I am not far from the truth. But the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be able to meet demands for expenditure in this way, because it will be out of his power to impose fresh taxation for six years certainly. His colleagues will, therefore, be in a position to say that by yielding to their demands he cannot injure their prospects at the next General Election, and will be doing exactly what the Irish ratepayer wishes him to do, for the Irish taxpayer will wish him to be in a position to declare, at the expiration of the six years, that the terms imposed upon Ireland are too hard, that he cannot meet half the claims that are made upon the Exchequer, and that, therefore, the tribute payable to the Imperial Exchequer ought to be greatly reduced. In that contention all Irish Parties would, I believe, unite. It will be a unanimous demand, for upon this question of receiving money from the British Exchequer I think you will always find the Members from Antrim and those from Connaught in agreement. If I am to form an opinion from the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Carson) last night, I think if there is to be a Member for that University he would act along with Members from all other parts of Ireland in this matter, and that you would find him on the side with them in asking for an increased subvention from this Imperial Parliament. And so you would have 80 Irish Members in this House advocating a policy of increased subvention from the Imperial Parliament. That is a condition of things which every English politician must take into account. I say, therefore, that when the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer is asked to grant these demands for, say, some public work—a useful work it may be, but beyond the means of the Chancellor—he would be required to obtain the money, and he would have to go to the Imperial Government and ask for a re-arrangement. This would be one of the strongest weapons in his hand for the purpose of extorting from the Imperial Parliament a favourable arrangement. I think I have endeavoured to put this argument as clearly as I can, and I hope the Government will not refuse some reply. I do hope some of those members of the Government will speak in reply. Having put the point as clearly as I possibly can, I need not discuss it or enlarge upon it further.


The Government appreciate the courteous tone and good temper of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. But I do not think it dealt with the question before the Committee. The question before the Committee is this—Should the financial arrangement which the Government propose he permanent, or should it exist only for a period of six years, in order that experience may be gained before the scheme is finally stereotyped? The right hon. Gentleman has himself answered the question, because he has pointed out that there are at the present moment disputed questions of finance which can only be finally and satisfactorily settled by experience. The speech of the Prime Minister on this clause has, I think, settled one question beyond dispute—namely, that the Home Rule Parliament must contribute a fixed sum towards the Imperial Expenditure of the United Kingdom, of which Ireland will continue to form part, and in whose affairs she will continue to be deeply interested, for without the protection of the Imperial Parliament she would be exposed to great risks. The right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Colleagues aver that the Government are not charging enough; hon. Members from Ireland, on the other hand, declare that they are charging too much. The opinion of the Government is that, as nearly as possible, they have hit upon the mean; but that, having regard to the controversy raging round the question, it is fair to Great Britain and to Ireland that the subject should be investigated independently by a Royal Commission, whose decision will command confidence and respect. That is the justification of the Government for making this a temporary arrangement. The right hon. Gentleman says that it is a premium upon extravagance. Hitherto, however, the argument of the Opposition has been that, under the scheme of the Government, Ireland will not be solvent, and will not be able to pay her way. If that notion is well-founded, surely there will be no temptation to incur undue and unnecessary expenditure. For my part, I believe that if Ireland is prudent she will be able to pay her way; but, no doubt, careful management will be re- quired. The Irish Government will not have much money to spare. By increasing their expenditure the Irish Government will be diminishing the surplus which they will be anxious to have, and which will be necessary for carrying out public works and improvements which it is agreed on both sides of the House ought to be carried out. But if there should be extravagance, I do not think there can be any doubt that the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and the British Parliament will detect it. The Bill does not say that whatever the Irish Members ask for six years hence they are to have. Their demands will be matter for discussion, and the House by that time will know what is really the tax-paying capacity of Ireland and what the proportion of Imperial Expenditure that she should defray. The whole question constitutes a difficult financial problem, which cannot be solved off-hand in Party Debates in this House. The Government propose to maintain the status quo for six years, believing that at the end of that time the Parliament of Great Britain will be in a better position to arrive at a permanent solution of the question than now. That is our reason for resisting the Amendment.

MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)

The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down seems to think that it would be a great blunder to stereotype present arrangements. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that he was a party to the first proposals of the Government which were to be permanent.


No; for 15 years only.


Well, 15 years; that is pretty permanent, I think. No one, then, would more properly fall under the censure of the President of the Local Government Board than himself. I do not wish to prolong the controversy with my right hon. Friend in regard to expenditure; but there are one or two points to which, I think, objection must be taken. One of the dangers of the Ministerial plan is that no arrangement is made for the disposal of any surplus in Ireland. In this country when there is a surplus it is devoted to the extinction of the National Debt. The absence of any provision of that kind in this Bill seems to me to be a direct temptation to extravagance, for the view of the Irish Government would be that a surplus must be spent. The main contention of the right hon. Gentleman is that it is desirable that there should be an inquiry by a Royal Commission. There are two sets of considerations in regard to this Committee. First, what would have to be paid on a certain, or given, state of facts, and the other as to the facts themselves. Well, there is no dispute at present in regard to the facts; we know them in regard to all the departments, and it appears to me that all that is wanted is a further verification of the figures at our disposal, and such verification could be effected in less than a year. I maintain that we have already sufficient facts before us, and there is no dispute about them. The difference of opinion is as to the application of those facts. Is a Royal Commission the proper tribunal for determining the principles upon which taxation should be levied and paid? To answer in the affirmative would be to abdicate the functions of statesmen. The settlement of the amount which a country ought to pay towards Imperial Expenditure ought not to be delegated to a Commission.


It ought not to be.


I am very glad to have elicited that from the right hon. Gentleman, and to learn that this question is not to be referred to the Commission. I understood from a remark of his that that was to be done. Well, Sir, I would urge the Government to accept the Amendment, because they may find that all that they wish to do before arriving at a final decision can be done in two years, or even one, and that they can shorten what must be a most disagreeable period of uncertainty both for the British and the Irish taxpayer. To stereotype the proposed arrangement for six years is unnecessary. It would be much better to sanction it only until Parliament should otherwise determine. I hope the Government will agree, and that they will not surrender to a Royal Commission a question which they themselves ought to be in a position in a very short time to settle.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 226; Noes 166.—(Division List, No. 241.)

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,


said, he rose to move to omit Sub-sections (2), (3), (4), and (5). He said that whether he should divide or not would depend upon the support he received. He could quite understand that there might be Home Rulers who, while perceiving the objections to the main provisions of the clause, yet voted for it as a whole on Monday because it was necessary to have some clause in the Bill on the subject. He objected to those provisions, because, in the first place, be believed that the attempt to distinguish between the general and special Revenue would lead to endless disputes. Again, there were taxes, such as the Income Tax, which it was really impossible to divide with accuracy. The Somerset House officials had stated so themselves in a Return. These questions were to be referred to a Committee appointed by the Treasury and the Irish Government. But if the Committee were equally divided how was the matter to be decided? There would be endless friction and a vista of irritating differences, and an interminable series of Irish questions would occupy the time of the House in the future as much as in the past. He objected, moreover, to the unjust proposal that, while Ireland was to pay one-third of her Revenue for common purposes and keep two-thirds for herself, England was to pay more than two-thirds for joint expenses and keep less than one-third for herself. Moreover, even as regarded this small proportion, Englishmen were not to spend it as they liked; but Irishmen were to have 80 votes in deciding what Englishmen should do with the small amount of their money graciously left to them for their own purposes. When he had alluded to this the other night, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had asked him on what Return he based his figures. He had not the Return by him at the moment, but the right hon. Gentleman would find the figures in the Return of the 3rd of July this year. In that Return the amount contributed by England was given as £72,800,000; that by Scotland as £9,900,000, making £82,700,000, or, in round numbers, the £83,000,000 he had mentioned. He was sorry to have to allude to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his absence; but his right hon. Friend was well represented on the Treasury Bench.


Mr. Mellor, I should like to take your judgment on a point of Order. It seems to me that we shall get into hopeless confusion if we take Sub-sections 2, 3, and 4 before approaching the endless Amendments that are to be moved upon them. I submit that it will be very convenient to the Committee that we should, after dealing with this Amendment, have to go back to the sub-sections on the Amendments which other Members wish to move.


As I explained the other day, there is a difference between a clause and a sub-section. So many sub-sections mean so many lines of a clause. What the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do is to leave out four sub-sections, or, in other words, to omit from "For" in line 6, to "Ireland," in line 29. That he is entitled to do, but in order to save the Amendments on the Paper I propose to put the Question on practically the first two lines. As the right hon. Gentleman proposes to leave out these sub-sections, I think he is entitled to discuss them in the manner in which he is discussing them, although, of course, it may lead to the same points being discussed twice over. That is, unfortunately, the state of things that arises under the present Rules.


said, he was moving the Amendment in its present form in order to save the time of the Committee, and he thought it was more convenient to the Committee that they should take a general view of the whole of the proposals. Otherwise he should have to make four different speeches, which would certainly not conduce to a saving of time. He did not understand that there was any difference of opinion as to the facts. It was admitted by the Government that Ireland was to pay one-third of her Revenue for common purposes, and to keep two-thirds for herself; whilst Great Britain was to pay more than two-thirds for joint expenses, and to keep less than one-third for herself. Moreover, even as regarded this small proportion, Great Britain was not to spend it as she liked, but Irishmen were to have 80 votes in deciding what the British people were to do with the money graciously left to them for their own purposes. No doubt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have attempted to show this was fair if he could have done so. All the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said on the point was that Great Britain was at present paying two-thirds and Ireland one-third, and that if Ireland paid the same proportion as Great Britain, her taxation would have to be doubled. That might be a practical answer, but it did not affect the justice of the case. It showed, however, how liberally Ireland had been dealt with in the past. The contention of the Unionists was that, while Great Britain had been willing, as long as there was a united Exchequer, to pay these large sums without looking too closely into the absolute equity of the matter, the circumstances of the case would be altogether altered if Ireland elected to occupy a totally fresh position in reference to the United Kingdom. He was surprised that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not see this, but he thought the country would. Although he did not deny that England was a richer country than Ireland, he thought the poverty of Ireland had been a good deal exaggerated in these Debates. No doubt there were poor and distressed districts in the Sister Island, and be sincerely regretted and deplored it. But there were very poor and suffering districts in England also. He would not go fully into the question, but would just take two tests which he thought would be admitted to be fair ones—namely, the consumption of tea and tobacco. What did the officials of the Inland Revenue tell them? Speaking of tobacco they said, in the Return No. 329 of 1891, that the average consumption in Ireland came Very near the average amount per head of the whole United Kingdom. Again, speaking of tea, they told them that the Consumption of tea in that division of the Kingdom approximates to the average consumption of the United Kingdom as a whole. Now, if the working classes in Ireland could afford to smoke as much tobacco and drink as much tea as our working classes, he did not see why our working classes should be called on to pay so much more heavily towards the joint expenses of the Kingdom. They were accustomed to great complaints from hon. Members opposite, but what had Ireland to complain of? Her Laud Laws were the same as ours, or when they differed it was to meet Irish views? Her taxation was the same as ours, except that we paid some taxes from which she was exempt, such as the Land Tax and the Assessed Taxes? The Irish farmer paid a lower rate of Income Tax than the English farmer. The Irish labourer paid no taxes at all except on spirits, tobacco, and tea. If he did not smoke or drink spirits or tea he would pay no taxes at all. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) objected to the duties on spirits. His argument was for temperance and cheap whisk'. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred at some length to the expense of the Irish Police as if it were something abnormal and excessive. Of course it was deplorably large, but who was responsible for that? Not the English Government, but the Irish Land League. He would not dwell on this, because he did not wish to enter on any combative matter, but he must entirely deny the proposition that Great Britain was to blame for the expense of the Irish Police. No doubt the cost was great, but was it, after all, so very excessive? No doubt in the English counties the cost of police was very small. But take London. The population of Ireland was 4,700,000, and the Police cost £1,500,000. The population of London was under 5,000,000, and the Police cost £1,811,000. He did not, then, see that there was much to be made out of that argument. But whether it cost much or little, hon. Members must remember that, while in Great Britain most of the cost of the Police was borne by the localities, that of the Irish Police was borne by the Imperial Exchequer. Again, let them take the case of elementary education. In England in 1891, the last year for which they had the amounts, over £2,000,000 was raised from local sources, without counting the school pence, which amounted to £2,000,000 more; in Ireland, on the contrary, the whole expense was borne by the Imperial Exchequer. In fact, as a distinguished Irishman, Lord Emly, pointed out 20 years ago, if it were not for these grants from the Imperial Exchequer the rates in Ireland would have been far heavier than they now are. They were told that, owing to the action of the Government of this country, the expense of government of Ireland was very great. He admitted that in some respects the state of things in Ireland had led to expense. But even if it were so, we had paid over 90 per cent, of it, and, therefore, if anyone had a right to complain it was the British and not the Irish taxpayer. But in other respects the Government was economical, and, on the whole, the expense was by no moans great as compared with other countries. The Revenue raised in Ireland with a population of 4,700,000 was given in Parliamentary Return 334 of the present Session at £7,360,000. Now, if they looked at other countries that was by no means a heavy amount. Holland, with a smaller population—4,500,000—paid over £10,000,000; Belgium, with a, population of 6,000,000 paid £12,000,000. Under this Bill Ireland was to contribute £1,550,000 for the service of Debt, for Military and Naval Expenditure, for Diplomatic and all other joint expenditure for Imperial purposes. Holland, for Military Expenditure alone, paid £3,000,000 and Belgium £2,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the expenditure in Ireland as forced upon her by the British Government. No, it had been forced on this country by her. We paid 92 per cent, and Ireland only paid 8 per cent. But was the cost to Ireland so enormous? The Chancellor of the Exchequer described it as "enormous, exorbitant, extravagant, and wanton." He said, "It is the most extravagant Government which the brain of man ever conceived." [Mr. W. E. Gladstone: Hear, hear!] His right hon. Friend said "Hear, hear," but was it so extravagant a Government? Let hon. Gentlemen look at the amount paid by other countries. The Revenue raised in Ireland was given in the last Return (July 14) at £7,400,000, or £1 12s. per head. Now, the annual Expenditure of Belgium was £2 5s. of Holland £2 10s., of France £3 7s. W., of Italy £2 1s., of Denmark £2 2s., of Spain £1 18s., of Greece £1 16s., of Hungary £1 19s., and of the United States £2 7s. Were not these figures sufficient to prove that the Expenditure m Ireland was not extravagant? Even in their own case—the case of Great Britain, which he wondered did not occur to the right hon. Gentleman—it was £2 10s. He would not accuse the Chancellor of the Exchequer of intentional exaggeration, but it was surprising he should have made a statement such as this which was absolutely incorrect. There was another deduction to be drawn from the figures, and he commended it to the serious attention of the Government. Nobody who looked at the figures could doubt for a moment that if during the last century Ireland had been an independent country her taxation would have been heavier than had been the case. The fact that unless this country continued to pay in the future, as it had done in the past, far more than its fair share the Irish Exchequer would be bankrupt only proved how liberally Ireland had been dealt with in the past, and ought to make every prudent Irishman hesitate to ask for Home Rule, which would certainly involve a considerable addition to Irish taxation. His desire was that they should act liberally towards Ireland, but he objected to grants being dragged out of them by 80 Irish Members. Let the English and Scotch Members at least exercise their own discretion in these matters.


Leave us our money then.

MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

We do not want your generosity; we only ask for justice.


, continuing, said, he thought he had shown that they asked a great deal more. In opposing Home Rule, he was speaking in the interests of Ireland from a pecuniary point of view, and he repeated that as prudent and sensible men they were making a great mistake in severing their partnership with a country so much wealthier than their own. If they did that they would find bitter cause to regret it. It was very difficult to bring the enormous figures involved home to the minds of the people. Even the President of the Local Government Board cast them all aside—




said, the right hon. Gentleman at the end of his speech declared that this matter was not to be settled by paltry considera- tions of pounds, shillings, and pence. There was one means by which the facts could be more vividly impressed on the imagination, and that was by estimating how much work would have to be performed to make up the sum which Great Britain would have to find. If, as he thought had been shown, Great Britain under this Bill would in round numbers pay £2,000,000 a year more than its fair share, and if they took the value of human labour at 1s. an hour, that meant 40,000,000 hours a year of human labour which Englishmen and Scotchmen were to give for the relief of Ireland. Surely those figures brought home to their minds the sacrifice they were being called upon to make. He thought, then, it had been shown that the plan in these sub-sections was impracticable, unworkable, and grievously unfair to English and Scotch taxpayers. He was well aware that discussions on financial topics were likely to give rise to heat and discussion, but he had always endeavoured to deal with the case of Ireland in a fair and even liberal spirit; and he would urge hon. Members to realise that if they were removing from the Imperial Parliament the task now cast on it of dealing with Irish legislation they were at the same time opening the door for continual Debates on money matters, which must lead to still greater irritation than had prevailed in the past.

Amendment proposed, to leave out Sub-sections (2), (3), (4), and (5).—(Sir J. Lubbock.)

Question put, That the words '(2) for the purposes of this Act, the public revenue of Ireland shall be divided into general revenue and special revenue, and the general revenue shall consist of' stand part of the Clause."


The Amendment of my right hon. Friend is really an Amendment upon the whole clause, and his speech is a speech on the whole clause. The defence of the clause on the part of the Government has been made by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it would be an unwarrantable intrusion on the time of the Committee if any other Members of the Government were to enter into the discussion now that the Committee has already affirmed the principle of the clause. I do not for a moment dispute the right of my right hon. Friend to oppose the clause at any moment or to raise any question upon it. I simply say we are content with the defence of our proposal by my right hon. Friends.

* MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)

said, it was evident the Government would not answer the case advanced against their proposal, because it was, in fact, unanswerable, and they wore unable to impugn the accuracy of the facts and figures cited by the right hon. Baronet. The present scheme had only been before the country for about a month, and he believed that, had an opportunity offered for dealing in Committee with the February scheme a month after that had been disclosed, the Government would have treated it in precisely the same manner as this scheme, and would have declined to answer any of the arguments put forward. They would not have explained why Great Britain should pay two-thirds and Ireland only a fourth or fifth of its Revenue towards Imperial charges; but by means of the Closure they would have passed the scheme, and we should have now been revelling in a plan which every Member who had spoken in these Debates had admitted to be fundamentally unsound. Even the hon. Member for Kerry had insisted on the immense advantages of this present scheme over the February plan.

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

I said this was the first scheme which offered a prospect of arriving at an equitable arrangement, inasmuch as it left the door open for full inquiry.


, continuing, said, the hon. Member's argument was that the second scheme was of a temporary character, and would give both countries an interest in increasing the Revenue of Ireland. If that was an advantage in connection with the second scheme, surely it amounted to a condemnation of the first. The Opposition wanted to deal with this question as a matter of business; the Government, on the other hand, were treating it as a matter of charity, and in so doing they were vio- lating every single profession they made at the outset. The Prime Minister defended his 1886 proposal chiefly on the ground that it afforded a permanent settlement of the question; yet they were now told that a temporary settlement was absolutely necessary. The ground alleged was that at present they were not sufficiently informed as to the financial relations between the two countries to make a permanent settlement. Then in what state were they in 1886? It was difficult to enter into the state of mind of a man who in 1886 argued that a permanent settlement was possible, and then, in 1893, after seven years' study of figures, declared it to be impossible because we were ill-informed of the financial relations between England and Ireland. Important statistics had been published within the last few days, and he would like to know what answer the Government were going to give to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, who made against them an impeachment of a very serious character? He told them that they had included in the ordinary Civil expenditure of Ireland of the last three years abnormal expenditure on public works to the extent of nearly £1,000,000, and that the sum so included was put in with a view to decreasing the amount to be exacted from Ireland for Imperial purposes. Did he choose to use less pleasant language than his right hon. Friend he would accuse the Government of furnishing the House with cooked statistics. Were the Government not going to reply to the accusation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds?


The statistics in question were supplied by the right hon. Gentleman himself.


said, it was no doubt true that the statistics wore those of the right hon. Gentleman himself, bit he only used them to show what the actual expenditure had been, and he did not seek to make them the basis of Ireland's permanent contribution. What the Government had done was to take an absolutely temporary charge, and use it in order to deprive this country of the amount it was justly entitled to receive. This was really au attempt to hoodwink the House into undue liberality, and it certainly required explanation at the hands of the Government. The President of the Local Government Board had dealt with the matter as if it were a mixture of business and charity. Why did he not fill up the hiatus in his speech of the preceding Friday? On that occasion he was very frank with the Committee. He told them that the proportion which Ireland could afford to pay might be gauged by various standards: that according to the Income Tax it was 1–24th, and according to the Savings Banks 1–19th; while it appeared from a Return issued that very morning, according to the property assessable to the Death Duties, it was 1–16th or 1–17th. If that were so, where was the justification for recommending that the proportion should be 1–27th as the Government put it, or 1–40th as the Opposition knew it would be if kept on the Government basis.


I am sure the lion. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me, but he is, as a fact, doing so. I never laid down any of these figures. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had told the Committee that Ireland ought to pay according to her taxable capacity, and I simply pointed out what was her taxable capacity according to various standards of comparison. I gave all the figures I could obtain, and I pointed out that while on the one basis the proportion was 1–27th, on another—say Income Tax, Schedule "D"—it was nearer 1–50th.


said, they had given the right hon. Gentleman credit for expressing the views of the Government on the subject. The Prime Minister in 1886 distinctly accepted the principle of the quota, and fixed the quota at 1–15th. He argued the whole matter on that basis, and took the Death Duties as the measure of revenue. Now the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board rejected that and gave different figures.


I neither accepted nor rejected it.


said, the country wanted to know why the Government had departed from their proposal of 1886? They knew that the scheme of that year was recommended to the House largely on the ground that Mr. Parnell had accepted it.


The financial part of the 1886 scheme was certainly left open for discussion.

MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford)

Mr. Parnell expressly safeguarded himself from accepting the financial details of the 1886 scheme. In his speech he stated that in Committee he would be prepared to lay before the House strong arguments showing that the proposal was unjust to Ireland.


We never had the advantage of hearing Mr. Parnell's arguments, because the Bill never got into Committee.


But you heard him on the Second Reading.


said, the hon. Member for Waterford had entirely repudiated the hon. Member for North Kerry. He stated that there were four points on which he intended to insist, and the first was that this should be a temporary arrangement subject to revision. He told them that the position of Ireland under the Bill was most dangerous; he urged that the contribution should be a fourth and not a third, and he asked the House to guarantee a surplus of £500,000. Was it not a strange thing to ask the country, which had to find the money but could not regulate the expenditure, to guarantee a surplus also of £500,000?


The hon. Gentleman will recollect that I based my argument on the supposition that there was going to be a temporary arrangement and a thorough investigation of the real relations between the two countries. As in the meantime the power of imposing taxes was to be withheld from us, I thought it only fair we should have a working surplus guaranteed.


said, he quite understood the hon. Member's point. But it was evident that he was confident neither of increasing Revenue nor of decreasing Expenditure. While the Prime Minister was assuring the merchants of Belfast that there would be a plethora of money and a falling off of expenditure, every speech made in the Committee had pointed to the necessity of increased expenditure in certain departments and the impossibility of working without a guaranteed surplus of £500,000. It was impossible for the Member for Waterford to do more than reject this arrangement. They had heard from him of Ireland being badly treated under the scheme; but they were to have no control over the Expenditure of Ireland. The argument of the President of the Local Government Board in regard to the Civil Service applied also to the Constabulary as to reductions, and the consequence would be increased demands on the Irish Exchequer. He very much doubted whether the surplus which the Irish Government were to have would cover the demands that would be made upon it in respect of the reduction of the Civil Service and of the Constabulary. This temporary arrangement would, in his opinion, end in a demand for revision before many mouths had passed, because the Government had adopted the principle that the Irish Government was to pay what it could afford to pay, and not a quota. The right hon. Member for the University of London (Sir J. Lubbock) had brought forward some weighty statistics as to payments of various kinds made by British working-men as compared with Irish working-men. He would take the question of Excise. Irishmen, taking them all round, contributed 13s. per head towards the Excise, while Englishmen contributed 15s. per head. The proposal of the Government was that Irishmen who paid 13s. towards the Excise should pay 2s. 7d. towards the Imperial charges, but that Englishmen who contributed 15s. towards the Excise should pay 10s. towards the Imperial charges. He did not contend that the Irish artisan should pay exactly the same amount as the English artisan, but he would compare his payment towards the national defences with the payments made in other countries of Europe for the same purpose. A great deal had been said about the extravagant expenditure on troops in Ireland. These troops would have been largely removed long ago had there been barrack accommodation for them elsewhere. But what was the proposal, and how did it affect the Revenue of Ireland? In Denmark every man contributed 6s. 1d. towards the national defences; in Switzerland every man paid 8s. 9d. towards those defences; but under the proposal of the Government every man in Ireland would only pay 3s. 6d., while in Great Britain every man won Id pay 19s. 9d. Under these circumstances, he thought that to give this surplus of £500,000 to Ireland without retaining any hold over the Irish Expenditure was a gross injustice to the working-men of this country. Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had come forward in a perfunctory manner to support this scheme, of which he was to some extent the putative father, or would any other Member of the Government, venture to tell the Committee that it would be possible to carry it into effect without further taxation? It seemed to him that there were only two logical ways of dealing with the subject. One way was to allow the Irish to manage their own Revenue, as was proposed in 1886; the other way was to retain the collection of the whole of the Revenue in the hands of the Imperial Parliament, and to give Ireland a certain sum to expend each year. The one system would have the advantage of permanency, while by adopting the other system they would not commit themselves to any such chances in respect of what they might get from Ireland as we would have to encounter under the scheme proposed by the Government. At present England was getting the worst of the bargain. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) and his friends would hardly deny that it was unfair that, with such proposals as these in force, the whole force of Ireland's 80 Members could be brought to bear on the re-adjustment of this system of taxation.

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

If the Irish Revenue is increased you pay one-third more, and if it falls you pay one-third less. What more do you want?


said, the hon. Member had already announced that he would come here and ask for more. They had been promised that with the giving of Home Rule they should be quit of Irish subjects; but there was to be a Commission which would be sitting all through the year; at the end of six years there would be serious troubles and irritating Debates as to the amount to be paid by Ireland; for three years the Land Question would be open to this Parliament, and there were loopholes about the Police. The franchise was left open also—


I must ask the hon. Gentleman to keep to the question.


said, he had wandered a little, no doubt; but others in the same Debate had wandered more. Well, if the financial question was to be left open he would urge the Government, at the last moment, to consent to leave it as it was, for the proposed arrangement rested on no appreciable basis, and there was reason to fear it would entail a heavy burden on English taxpayers. Apart from other considerations, it was based upon figures, some of them only issued that day, and they could not come to a conclusion upon them.


said that, on the military question, so far from the Irish contribution being 3s. 6d. a head, as was estimated by the hon. Member who had just sat down, the division of the amount by the population would give about 10s. a head. In speaking of the cost of the defence of other countries the hon. Gentleman omitted those whose defence cost the least.


said, if he had taken the strongest case on the other side it would have been Holland, whose defence cost 13s. a head.


said, part of the charge on Ireland was for the interest of her National Debt.


replied that Holland's Indian Budget was bigger than his Home Budget, and you could not compare Ireland with Holland, because Ireland had no colonies, unless, indeed, you said that the United States were an Irish colony. Taking, as he did the other day, the smaller Western States of Europe as a basis of calculation, the defence of Ireland should cost £1,400,000. His position was that all English Parties had robbed Ireland; they had done collectively what they would not have done individually: they had, as the great Dr. McHall, Archbishop of Tuam, once told him, given the fool a little of his own; and the Liberal Unionist (Sir J. Lubbock), who was canonised in his lifetime and had four saints' days a year, was now the hardest man in the House that Ireland had to deal with. They might as well argue that an English workman who consumed as many taxable commodities as a man with £10,000 a year ought to pay the same in taxes as test the tax-bearing capacity of the Irish by the amount of whisky and tobacco they consumed. The Irish did not ask for English money; they simply asked to be robbed a little less. They would be very well content with the money collected in Ireland, which would meet all their wants and enable them to make Ireland a prosperous country. England had command of the Treasury. It might he fairly stated that Irishmen had not been at the Treasury for 40 or 50 years, and they were totally unrepresented there. He believed they could manage their Police at £400,000, but it was now put down at £1,500,000. As a general rule, England had used her money in corrupting the higher classes in Ireland by giving them good appointments, and it was a good way of managing Ireland. They had given these appointments all over Ireland, and the Irish people would have to pay for them for the next 20 or 30 years in the form of pensions. There was also a strong tendency to exaggerate what Ireland ought to pay in the matter of the National Debt. They would have got on splendidly if England had not interfered with them. He intended, on these Financial Clauses, to support the Government against the Opposition, for the reason that he found they wanted to rob them less than the Unionists did.

MR. JESSE CODLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)

said, the speech to which they had just listened was an illustration of the settlement which had been arrived at as regarded the financial relations between the two countries, and it was a revelation of what they had to expect in the future. Let the Committee consider how hon. Members should place the effects of this scheme before the constituencies. The electors might be told that this country needed a certain amount of money for Imperial expenses every year, and that this money must be found. They could be told that the Irish people enjoyed the same advantages of this Imperial Expenditure as the population in other parts of the Kingdom, and that, while the amount which Ireland was asked to contribute was less than that country ought to pay, the difference must be made good by the British taxpayer, and that the amount which Ireland did not pay was the amount which must be given by the British taxpayer in consequence of Homo Rule. The electors might also be told that, while Great Britain was required to pay two-thirds of her Revenue towards Imperial Expenditure, Ireland was only expected to pay One-third—that Great Britain was expected to pay at the rate of 35s. per head of the population, while Ireland was only to pay 6s. 6d. per head, though receiving the same advantages from the Expenditure. He should tell his constituents that the Bill had been forced through the House by means of the gag, and that their share of the Expenditure not contributed by Ireland would be £4,000. It was the business, therefore, of English and Scottish Members to ask their constituents whether they were willing to submit to such atrocious terms as were now proposed? His right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) said that without this arrangement Ireland could not pay its way. What had that to do with Britain? If Ireland wanted Home Ride she must pay for it. His own feeling was that it was the duty of the Opposition to oppose the Government in every way, to prevent every single line of legislation, and to force them by every conceivable way to do what they dared not do—namely, ask the opinion of the constituencies on their monstrous and infamous policy.

* SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)

said, the hon. Member for Galway had now, for the second time, repeated the military argument regarding the smaller Bowers of Europe, and it was necessary that some answer should be given him. He had adduced the cases of Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, and Scandinavia, saying that these nations paid about £1,500,000 each, and that this would suffice for Ireland also. But those eases had nothing whatever to do with the quota that Ireland ought to pay, because those smaller Powers, though they incurred expenses for their defence, were not really defended. Not one of them was secure against invasion from any of the Great Powers of Europe. Ireland, on the other band, was defended; she was inviolate and inviolable. No enemy could touch her without forcing his way through the most powerful as well as the most expensive fleet in the world. The hon. and gallant Member spoke as if Ireland had no particular concern in the National Debt, but be contended that the Napoleonic Wars were as much for Ireland as for Great Britain. Had it not been for those wars and the measures taken by England, Ireland would undoubtedly have been overrun by a foreign enemy. The hon. and gallant Member spoke of £9,000,000 of taxation being levied from Ireland, and said that if she had all the money to spend upon herself—that is, on her Civil Establishments and material expenditure—she would get on very well. She was to contribute nothing to national defence and obligations. [Colonel NOLAN: Oh, yes; £1,400,000.] He had not heard the gallant Gentleman admit even that much, and was glad that the admission was now made, only it was not nearly enough. Why, all other nations bad to pay the greater part of their taxation away for defence and national obligations. All other nations had to pay at least one-half; we had to pay two-thirds. Why was Ireland, of all places, to be free from such obligations? Our Imperial obligations amounted to over £60,000,000 sterling annually. Of this Ireland was to pay £1,500,000, or under £2,000,000, and the remaining £58,500,000 were to be found by Great Britain. Was that primâ facie fair? This would never be accepted by the men who had sent him to Parliament. When these facts were put before the constituencies he was convinced the verdict would be that the scheme of the Government would not hold water, and would never be accepted.

* MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

said, he observed that the discussion this afternoon had led them to the practical way of looking at this financial question—namely, how it would affect the individual constituency. The people of Great Britain were being robbed more and more by the different schemes which were put before the House, and under the latest scheme they were to be saddled with a far larger share than they had any right to pay. In the Bill of 1886 there was a sum of £1,466,000 a year to be paid by Ireland for interest and management of her share of the National Debt. That was somewhat reduced now by the reduction in the rate of interest, but the amount would still remain more than £1,250,000, in addition to which in 1886 they were to pay £1,666,000 for the Army and Navy and £110,000 for general Civil Expenditure. He wished to remind the Committee that at the time of the Union Ireland was paying for her National Debt a sum of nearly £1,000,000. If Ireland at that time was paying a sum of £600,000 or £800,000 a year, why was Ireland now to get the whole benefit of the great protection of this country, all the advantage of being connected with this country, and all the arrangements drawn up dining the last 50 years, and yet only to pay a trifling sum in addition to the amount of the interest she was paying at that time on her National Debt. He must impress upon the Government—and he hoped it would be impressed on the constituencies—that every single constituency was to pay about £1,000 a year to start Home Rule. That was a fact that must be rubbed into the people. They would give Home Rule in theory if it did not cost them any tiling; but when it came to this—that they were not only to give Home Rule to the Irish people, but to pay them to carry it on—that was a state of things the people of this country would not tolerate for a single moment. Why, for instance, should his poor constituency be called upon to pay £1,700 a year to the Irish Members in order to enable them to run this show in Dublin? If this Government, with all its faults and blunders, was determined to give Home Rule to Ireland, let it give Home Rule pure and simple, and let Irishmen raise their own taxes to carry it on, and not come on the poor districts of England to pay the cost. The poor of London were now struggling with all sorts of difficulties, and he could not understand how any Government having the audacity to call itself a Liberal Government could come to that House and say that they were going to tax the poor districts of England, Scotland, and Wales in order to start the Irish in their Home Rule. If that was the principle of the Bill, they must preach against it on the housetops, and he had not the least doubt whatever that when it was known the country would give one decided answer, and send this Government and all its belongings into that region from which they would never return.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 252; Noes 205.—(Division List, No. 242.)

SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)

rose to move the following Amendment:— Line 17, after "Britain," insert—"Provided also that there shall be deducted from the gross Revenue collected in Ireland within the meaning of this Act such sum as is, from time to time, directed by the Treasury to be so deducted in respect of the costs, charges, and expenses of and incident to the collection and management of the said duties in Ireland not exceeding 4 per cent, of the amount so collected. He said, the Amendment of which he had given notice was practically the same as that given notice of by his hon. Friend the Member for the Partick Division (Mr. Parker Smith), who was absent. This Amendment was really moved in the interests of financial propriety, because, in the case of Revenue of this kind, subject afterwards to distribution, it was clearly the most businesslike and at the same time the most just method to make the Revenue so collected and distributed net, not gross Revenue. Clearly, the cost of the collection of Revenue should be deducted from the Revenue before it was distributed. If this Bill passed, the Revenue would be contributed partly by Ireland and partly by Great Britain. Then the Revenue would be distributed, first of all in Irish domestic expenditure, then into the Irish Imperial Expenditure or contribution thereto; then there would be the British domestic expenditure and the British contribution to Imperial Expenditure. There would thus be four different funds. Of course, if the Irish domestic expenditure bore exactly the same relation to the Irish contribution to the Imperial Expenditure that the British domestic expenditure did to the British contribution to Imperial Expenditure it would not matter at all, as far as the fair interests of all the parties were concerned, whether the cost of collection were made an Imperial charge or not, or whether the sum distributed were gross Revenue or net Revenue. But inasmuch as this Revenue was unequally distributed, and not distributed in the same proportion, the result of taking the gross Revenue instead of the net Revenue, and of charging the whole of the cost of collection as an Imperial charge against the total Revenue, was to give a small but very decided advantage in the matter to Ireland, and to inflict upon Great Britain a small but still an appreciable injustice. It seemed to him to be in the interest of the Irish Members and of Ireland that this matter should be dealt with in a just and businesslike manner, almost as much as it was for the interest of the British taxpayer. He did not suppose the Irish wanted to gains small trifling advantage out of the British taxpayers by an unfair and unbusinesslike arrangement of this character. Of the Imperial contribution to the Imperial Expenditure which would be raised in Great Britain and Ireland, Ireland would contribute 1–28th. But, inasmuch as the taxes raised in Ireland were not 1–28th, it was quite clear that Ireland, according to the scheme of the Bill, would pay 1–28th only of the cost of collection, whereas the amount of Revenue collected in Ireland was much more—about 1–12th. So that while Ireland, if she were put on an equality, ought to contribute 1–12th to the cost of collection she would, under this scheme, only contribute 1–28th. An arrangement of that kind was not reasonable and fair to the taxpayers of the two countries, but would give an undue advantage to Ireland and inflict undue disadvantage on Great Britain. He did not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer meant to give up this clause or not. [Mr. H. H. FOWLER indicated the negative.] In that case he supposed the Government would refuse to agree to the Amendment. Such a refusal, however, would not be one of the greatest injustices done in the course of the progress of this Hill. Compared with many other refusals the Government had made to proposals put forward by the Opposition it would be a very small matter. His Amendment was made for the purpose of improving the Bill in the particular he had indicated; but having made his suggestion he should not be sorry if, in their obstinacy, the Government refused the proffer of assistance and persisted in carrying out the scheme in what he could not help regarding as its present unfair and unbusiness like condition. He would, before sitting down, direct the attention of the Committee to the Bill of 1886, where a provision was to be found of a, like character to that contained in the Amendment. Indeed, he had copied the words. There was no use in hammering away at the question. The better way was to do as he suggested. The clause in the Bill of 1886 was the 14th. There was no object at that time of going any other way than in that of perfect business propriety. If the right hon. Gentleman opposite would refer to the terms of the clause he would see that this was so, and that those terms were absolutely consistent with the terms which he (Sir J. Gorst) had put down on the Paper. Another illustration might be found in the Papers which had been issued by the late Government and by the present Government sis to the financial relations between the two countries. Those Returns showed that the charges should be laid down, not as Imperial Expenditure, but as items of local expenditure, and so divided between the three countries. He thought he had made his point clear to the Committee, and he did not think it was necessary to trouble the Committee further; but he hoped it would be possible to hear a few words from the Government on these points.

Amendment proposed, Line 17, after "Britain," insert—"Provided also that there shall be deducted from the gross Revenue collected in Ireland within the meaning of this Act such sum as is, from time to time, directed by the Treasury to be so deducted in respect of the costs, charges, and expenses of and incident to the collection and management of the said duties in Ireland not exceeding 4 per cent, of the amount so collected."—(Sir J. Gorst.)

Question propose "That those words be there inserted."


I understand the right hon. Gentleman to raise the question as to the charges upon contribution. Well, I think our main concern is with the Amendment before us, and I may say it is impossible for the Government to agree to the Amendment, because it would be unworkable. There is no statutory distinction between "gross" and "net" Revenue, as involving that "gross" Revenue indicates Revenue without any deduction on account of the cost of collection, and that "net" Revenue means Revenue after the cost of collection has been deducted. There are, however, other difficulties in the modus operandi suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. It is impossible to reckon the cost of collection upon each branch of Revenue separately. We may take the entire cost of collection and distribute it; but that will lead to a proceeding entirely different from the one proposed. A further reason why the Government cannot accept the Amendment is that the right hon. Gentleman makes no distinction between the large Revenue collected in Ireland for the benefit of Great Britain and the rest of the Irish Revenue—the former sum amounting to about £1,800,000, which is really not Irish Revenue. According to the Amendment, Ireland alone would be charged for the collection of that sum, and, of course, to agree to such a proceeding would be unjust. If Ave agreed to this proposal, it would entirely change the form of the Bill, and I think the right hon. Gentleman must see the injustice which it would work to the people of Ireland.


The right hon. Gentleman has dwelt upon the difficulties in this case: but, Mr. Mellor, if there is any desire to accept the principle of the Amendment, it should be perfectly easy to devise a method by which it could be carried out. The proposal of Hoi-Majesty's Government puts £2,600,000, the cost of collection of the whole Revenue, as an Imperial charge. Of this Ireland is to pay 1–28th. I would say 1–26th rather than 1–28th, because it gives us even figures; thus Ireland will pay £100,000. But the cost of collecting the Irish Revenue is between £200,000 and £250,000; so the taxpayers of Great Britain lose more than £100,000 by the proposal. In 1886 the Prime Minister himself made a similar proposal to the one now before the House, but be now objects to the substitution of the word "net" for "gross." Perhaps it is not necessary to make that substitution, and my light hon. Friend might withdraw the Amendment; but, clearly, it is possible to make a proviso to the effect that there should be a calculation made, and that Ireland should pay upon the proportion of the Revenue appertaining to her, as it should be directed by the Treasury, in concert, if my right hon. Friend prefers it, with the Irish Government. If my right hon. Friend would admit the force of the principle which he himself laid down in 1886, Ave might easily arrive at some conclusion; but I do not think the British taxpayer ought to be mulcted to the extent of £150,000, or even £100,000, on account of any difficulty in machinery. I trust the Prime Minister will be able to meet us to some extent, or otherwise that he will state on what principle Ireland is to be exonerated from paying what is paid by the rest of the United Kingdom—its fair proportion. I would sooner, for administrative reasons, give Ireland a sum to work upon than diminish the amount which, as a contribution, she ought to pay.

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

I do not profess to be able to estimate the exact effect of the proposal that this word should be struck out: but I can very clearly perceive the object of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen.) I think the Amendment and the speeches which have been delivered in support of it betray an extremely peddling' and huckstering spirit, not creditable to the Tory Party or to the House of Commons, and unworthy of a great people like the English. My belief is that if the people of England of every Party could clearly understand the point to which the right hon. Gentleman has now directed his undoubted ingenuity they would resent his object rather than approve of it. Under the scheme of the Bill the whole cost of collecting the Imperial Revenue of England, Scotland, and Ireland, is charged in one item—£2,600,000. The Prime Minister takes that sum, and puts it down as an Imperial charge. ["No!"] What else is it? Is it not an Imperial charge? The Government propose—for six years, at any rate—to collect the whole of the Revenue of Ireland; and, therefore, the collection of the Revenue of Ireland is a part of the Imperial operation. The Prime Minister proposes that Ireland should pay her share of that £2,600.000 in just the same proportion as she contributes to every other Imperial charge. Surely that is an unassailable proposal. Under it Ireland will pay £95,000 or £100,000 a year as her proportion of the whole cost of the collection. Now comes in the ingenious and public-spirited gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench, speaking for the wealthiest nation in the world, and in this case dealing with the poorest—


said, he hoped if the hon. Gentleman made that charge against the Opposition he would include the Prime Minister, because the proposal they now made was taken verbatim and textually from the Bill of 1886, which was accepted by the Irish. If the proposition was unjust in the view of the hon. Gentleman he ought to extend his censure to the original author, whom the Opposition had only copied.

MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

rose to a point of Order. They were now discussing the second Amendment. Would it not be better to dispose of the first?


said, that if it would be convenient he would withdraw the first Amendment and move the second.


I must decline to be interrupted. I have to say, in the first place, that Ave never assented to the financial details of the Bill of 1886, and especially not to so minute a detail as that relating to the cost of collection. In the second place, I have to say that the Bill of 1886 was not regarded at the time by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) as a fair authority on any subject, and, therefore, he was not entitled to quote it now; and, in the next place, I have to say that the Prime Minister evidently considers that second thoughts are the best, and that the present proposal is better than that of 1886. The ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer says that £9,000,000 sterling are collected in Ireland.


said, the figure he had given, or meant to give, was £7,000,000.


Very well. I accept the correction, and am glad to find the right hon. Gentleman does not intend that Ireland should be charged with the cost of the collection of the £2,000,000 of Customs Revenue, which is collected in Ireland, but consumed in Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman, however, proposes to charge Ireland with the cost of the collection of the whole of the £7,000,000, although one-third of that amount is to be paid to Great Britain. I cannot see the fairness of charging Ireland with the cost of the collection of the amount paid to Great Britain. In conclusion, I express sorrow, for the sake of the name of Great Britain, that the discussion on this financial question has been allowed to sink to such a plane. I think the Prime Minister disposed of the question, and I will not say anything more about it.

Question put, and negatived.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone,)—put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.