§ [FIFTEENTH NIGHT.]
§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legislative Authority.
§ Clause 3 (Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature).
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
, who was interrupted in his observations last night by the Twelve o'Clock Rule, said, that although he spoke on his Amendment under some difficulty last night owing to the lateness of the hour, he had had the advantage of the Chief Secretary's attention. He did not, therefore, desire to repeat the arguments he addressed to the Committee last night, and would simply sum up the effect of his Amendment. He believed that the question of immigration was almost certain to raise controversies between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United States. Having regard to the fact that foreigners came to these countries from the United States every year, it was impossible to suppose that no difficulties would arise between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United States, and that we might not also become embroiled with foreign nations. There would be the greatest possible temptation to the Irish Government to interfere in these matters, and the Irish Government would interfere with them without the knowledge and experience of the Foreign Office of the difficulties and dangers attending questions of that kind. Therefore, while the Irish Government would have no right to embroil us with foreign 406 nations, they would undoubtedly have the power. As to the importance of his Amendment, he based his contention on the Prime Minister's declaration that these subjects were in the highest degree calculated to arouse the jealousies and susceptibilities of foreign nations, and he urged its acceptance on the grounds that immigration was not a matter strictly Irish and strictly domestic, and that to leave it within the purview of the Irish Government would be nconsistent with the words "or other relations with foreign States" which they had already introduced into the clause. Under these circumstances, it was obvious that with regard to the immigration portion of the Amendment, the Government had a case to meet. With regard to the other matter involved—the status of aliens generally—he contended that it was necessary that the status and the conditions under which aliens lived in Ireland should be excluded from the purview of the Irish Government, as they were questions which were likely to bring us into collision with foreign States. He did not think the subject was covered by the Bill, and he therefore hoped that the Government would insert such words—if they did not approve of his words—as would leave the subject without any doubt whatever. He begged to move the insertion in the clause of the words "the immigration and expulsion of aliens, the rights of aliens resident in Ireland."
In page 2, line 6, after the word "alienage," to insert the words, "the immigration and expulsion of aliens, the rights of aliens resident in Ireland."—(Mr. Brodrick)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I think the hon. Member has argued his case with temperateness and fairness. We are quite alive to the difficulties that the hon. Member pointed out last night, and which he has just now briefly recapitulated. The Government view however, is that the matter is covered by the sub-section which prohibits the Irish Legislature from making laws affecting the Imperial relations with foreign nations. As I understand it, 407 most of the matters affecting aliens are dealt within Conventions or Treaties, and, therefore, would be excluded from the purview of the Irish Legislature by Sub-section 4. However, as there may be some doubt about the matter, we are willing to meet the hon. Member, not by accepting his Amendment, which is open to some objections in point of form, but by agreeing to insert the word "aliens" after the word "alienage" in the clause. The 6th sub-section would then run—"Treason, treason-felony, alienage, aliens, or naturalisation." I hope that that will meet the views of the hon. Member. Of course, we do not contemplate—nor do we believe that it would be a fair construction of the word "aliens" in this connection—to withdraw the alien in any degree whatever from the general law of Ireland. We think the insertion of the word "aliens" will meet the legitimate objections of the hon. Gentleman, and will not claim for aliens special treatment, a matter which the Irish Government could not be expected to entertain.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had fairly met the point. He was quite willing to accept the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman suggested in place of his own, and he therefore begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I move to insert the word "aliens" after the word "alienage" in the 6th sub-section of the clause.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 6, after the word "alienage," to insert the word "aliens."—(Mr. John Morley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'aliens' be there inserted."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
thought that the word "alienage" included everything relating to the subject; and as the word was inserted by the distinguished lawyer who had drafted the Bill in that view, he objected to any other word being added to it. The Government, by accepting these small and unnecessary Amendments, were affording the Opposition the opportunity of as- 408 sorting that they were amending the Bill and were making good its defects. In his opinion, the Opposition were not amending the Bill, and were not making good any of its defects—they were merely wasting time, and the Government was assisting them.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
In my opinion, the word "alien" has a different meaning from that of "alienage," and it is necessary that it should be introduced into the Bill. I think a protest must be made against the assumption of the hon. and learned Member opposite, and of a certain section of the House, that no alterations should be made in the Bill as it is drafted, and that the Committee is bound to accept the Bill as it stands. No draftsman could perfectly carry out the intentions of the Government or the views of the House in drafting a Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I presume that the competent draftsman to whom the hon. and learned Member for North Louth alludes is the same distinguished public officer who has helped successive Administrations in drawing up the Bills for which they were responsible. I think I am right in saying he was responsible for the drafting of many of the Bills which I myself have conducted through the House, and I do not remember having then heard this great admiration for the draftsman on the part of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I can conceive the shriek of indignation that would have arisen from the Benches below the Gangway had some supporter of the Government got up and said that, as the Bill had been drafted by an able and distinguished lawyer, the Government ought to refuse any Amendments to the measure. The hon. and learned Gentleman below the Gangway asks whether we accepted Amendments. It is not competent for me to discuss that matter at any length now, but it is relevent to the point of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who asserts that the Government are delaying the Bill by accepting Amendments. If the hon. and 409 learned Member will look back to the authentic Records of the House, he will see that the late Government constantly accepted Amendments to their measures, sometimes, not because they thought the Amendments would improve the Bill, but for the sake of peace, and sometimes because the Amendments were supported by adequate argument. I do not think we have had many mercies in the way of concessions from the Government, and it is a noteworthy fact that When the Members of the Government are carrying out what they believe to be their duty in accepting Amendments to this Bill, hon. Members below the Gangway should denounce them for delaying their own measure.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I think it is rather early in the day for any heat to be displayed. Upon consideration, the Government find that the word "alienage" does not satisfactorily carry out our intention to exclude the making of laws affecting aliens from the purview of the Irish Government, and we therefore propose to add the word "aliens" after the word "alienage."
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin, N.)
was of opinion that if this Amendment were carried they would be forbidden in Ireland from making any laws regarding aliens. Under the present Registration Law an alien could not be registered as a Parliamentary voter. Suppose the Irish Legislature chose to pass a Bill enfranchising aliens, were they to be prevented from doing so under this clause? He thought that was a strictly municipal matter. He considered that the question of the franchise rights of a man resident in Ireland, whether he was an alien or not, was a strictly Irish matter within the competence of the Irish Legislature, and the Irish Legislature ought to be competent to deal with it. He would suggest that before the Government accepted this Amendment they should place it on the Paper, so that hon. Members might be allowed to consider what its effect would be.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I venture to point out—and I think the learned draftsman will agree with me—that the insertion of the word 410 "aliens" in this Amendment is inconsistent with the drafting of the clause; for if the right hon. Gentleman will turn to the clause, he will read that the Irish Legislature shall not have power to make laws in respect of certain matters, or any of them. It is subjects, not persons, that are dealt with in that clause, and by introducing persons you include something which the clause was not intended to include. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will look down through Clause 3 he will find enumerated the subjects which are excluded from the Irish Legislature—The Crown, the making of peace or war, the Naval or Military Forces, treaties and other relations with foreign States, treason, beacons, lighthouses,and so forth. Now, for the first time the right hon. Gentleman, by the Amendment which he has accepted, has introduced quite a different principle of enumeration. Alienage is a matter which is properly included in the clause; but by introducing persons by moans of the word "aliens" you introduce a new kind of enumeration.
§ MR. SEXTON
The Lord Lieutenant as a Representative of the Crown and as exercising certain functions. You could not deal with it otherwise there. There is a duplication in speaking of alienage and then introducing the word "aliens." I fear that the addition of the word "aliens" after the word "alienage" may be open to some misconception and confusion. The meaning of the word "alienage" is clear—that the Irish Legislature should not have power to make laws in regard to aliens so far as regards their condition of alienage. Of course, aliens liviug in Ireland may have many other relations to the Municipal Law in Ireland besides that which relates to alienage; and if you introduce the word "aliens," you debar the Irish Legislature from making any law with respect to aliens in any aspect, of their interest. Aliens have ordinary interests as resident members of the community in Ireland. I submit that there is a very embarrassing and 411 a very doubtful extension given to the clause by the insertion of these words. If they were introduced, I am not sure whether the Irish Legislature would not be debarred from legislating with regard to aliens in those matters in which they would have a perfect right to legislate with regard to other persons resident in Ireland. The matter is one which requires consideration as to whether your intention is not exceeded by the introduction of this word "aliens," and whether aliens, in regard to the ordinary rights and interests of persons living in Ireland, would not stand in a different relation to the Irish Parliament and its powers from that of every other person in Ireland. I therefore press for a modification of the position of the Government on this question. The introduction of a word of this scope without notice is certainly objectionable. I have already made a protest against that course. ["Oh, oh!"] If anyone has a right to protest, an Irish Member has it, and I am perfectly within my right, and am speaking in a perfectly reasonable spirit when I say that in an Act which is to form the basis of the Irish Constitution in the future, a word which greatly enlarges the operation of the clause should not be introduced without notice and without time for consideration before the Debate comes on. I press upon the Government the duty of postponing any action in the matter.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
said, they always listened with respect to the Irish Members, because they were very often right; but he thought upon this occasion the criticism which was made, more especially by the hon. Member for North Dublin, was too fine. The hon. Member's objection was that if they inserted the word "alien" it would prevent, the Irish Parliament from legislating with regard to their own franchise. All enfranchising Acts were local Acts; and notwithstanding that the Irish Parliament was precluded from legislating about aliens, it would be distinctly within the power of the Irish Parliament in extending the franchise, to give rights to people who had not got them before, or to withhold those rights from a particular class, whether they were aliens or 412 not, so that the objection was not one which was sustainable. But on the wide ground which the hon. Gentleman opposite put, that there was a danger of their accepting an unnecessary Amendment, in this respect he doubted that. In 1891 a case came before the Privy Council which had thrown considerable light upon this topic. Under the Act of 1855 power was given to the Government of Victoria to make laws for the Colony. Under the provisions of that Statute an Act was passed in 1865 interfering with the right of Chinese immigrants to come into the Colony by imposing a tax upon them. In 1891, for the first time, the question of its validity—and, indeed, the question of the validity of the action of the Victorian citizens in refusing to permit Chinese immigrants to land on their shores—was raised, and it was admitted that the Crown having assented to the Act of 1865, the power of interfering and dealing with aliens generally was within their competence. Although in the present case the words were exclusively relating to Ireland, he thought after the word "alienage" it was necessary to put in the word "aliens" for the purpose of maintaining a general principle. He took that general principle to be that the Government of Ireland would not desire, and ought not, to interfere in international matters; and it was distinctly laid down, in the case to which he had referred, that the status and rights of aliens were matters of International Treaty, and for this reason: while, by the law of this laud, there was no power, in the absence of a Statute, to report an alien, there was power to refuse him; permission to land. The whole subject of aliens was one properly for international consideration, and, that being so, it seemed to him right that they should include the word "aliens."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I should like to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General a question. At the beginning of the Session the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Thanet Division of Kent (Mr. J. Lowther) brought forward a Motion with regard to pauper aliens, endeavouring to exclude a number of persons whom he described as in jurious to this country. Let us suppose a number of persons lauded in Dublin in 413 a state of poverty by some foreign Government, and that they became a danger and flooded our poor houses. We should have no right to deport them. The Cork workhouse is continually charged with a number of aliens, who are sent here from America under circumstances that it is needless to discuss. As I understand it, under this Amendment we should have no power whatever to say that these persons should not be brought in to be a burden upon the country. That is an entirely different proposition from the proposition with which we started—namely, that as regards the international question of aliens, we should have no right to affect the status of any Body. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry. I regard these words as affecting not matters, but persons. I do regard them as importing subjects which may be troublesome hereafter, and I think they are most objectionable.
§ * MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
My impression is that the word "alienage" is adequate to the objects avowed by the Government. The question of alienage in the sense in which the Government desires to deal with the subject is not exclusively Irish at all; but if "aliens" is to be introduced, if the question of making laws relating to persons who happen to be aliens is to be entirely excepted from the powers of the Irish Legislature, then with reference to all municipal questions, with reference to all questions of restrictions in the holding of property and so forth, you may have a separate set of laws for the purely domestic concerns of Ireland, so far as they I relate to persons who happen to be aliens made by this Parliament, while the Irish Parliament will have no power to deal with that subject at all. In other countries which are generally regulated by the principles of British liberty, it has boon found advisable, from time to time, largely to increase the liberty which is given to aliens to hold property, and so forth. In some of the United States of America very wide liberty is given with regard to the holding of property; it is given in some of the Provinces of the Dominion of Canada. I should regard it as extremely question- 414 able whether the amplification and whether the restriction of the power of aliens to hold property would remain within the competence of the Irish Legislature if these words are introduced. I do not desire to press that to a decision. I merely reinforce the suggestion that concessions of this kind by the Government should not be made upon the moment, but that some opportunity should be given of considering their effect and force before the final decision is taken.
§ * THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY,) Forfar
If I thought we were introducing a new principle here, I should be of the same opinion as that expressed from the opposite Benches, that a now principle ought not to be introduced without due consideration—which certainly has been given to this matter on the part of the Government—but also opportunities for due consideration given to all sections of the Committee. Rut I really think the objections which are taken from the opposite Benches, to a certain extent, are rather too remote and too refined to be of any importance. Undoubtedly, in the first instance, when the word "alienage" was used, it was the intention, taken in conjunction with other parts of the Bill, to prohibit any special dealing with aliens, treating such a matter as an international affair, because we have Treaties—I cannot say how many or how few—upon the subject. But there are important Treaties on the subject. We had recently an important Convention with the Empire of Germany with regard to navigation; and under that Convention we strictly stipulated with the German Empire that there shall be equality of treatment in Her Majesty's dominions of German subjects and in the dominions of the German Emperor with regard to British subjects. There are other Treaties which very naturally affect our position with regard to European and other countries with reference to the treatment of aliens. For that and other purposes, and especially because this does not in any way fall within the lines of the Bill, which gives to the Irish Legislature only the right of dealing with matters exclusively Irish, 415 we have been of opinion, and I am prepared to say now we are of opinion, that as the Bill stands, and without the introduction of that word, the effect would be precisely the same as when the word was introduced. It has been pointed out that there might be some doubts upon the subject, and we thought it best to get rid of the doubts and difficulties by the simple introduction of a word which, in our opinion, does not alter the spirit or affect the operations of the Bill in any way. Any general Municipal Act would not be an Act with regard to aliens. It is not intended that aliens are to form a privileged class, who are to be freed from any ordinary legislation of the Irish Legislature; but a general law would affect them as it affected the rest of the community. The Irish Legislature, however, will be prevented from making any law with regard to them alone. By our recent legislation in England and Ireland—I do not know about Scotland—aliens are entitled to hold property practically upon the same terms as subjects of Her Majesty. That is a matter of great importance, because we are perpetually in negotiation with foreign countries. They like to see what sort of privileges we give to their subjects who reside among us; and they will give us about as much as we give them, and not a jot more. The result is, we take these Acts and say, "This is what we have done for your subjects; won't you do the same for us"? and they go and do it. If we had two Authorities dealing with such questions, and a line being drawn entirely with regard to these things as affecting Ireland, it would lead to difficulties, and by the word "alienage" it was intended to take away from the Irish Legislature the power and responsibility of dealing with aliens in an exceptional manner. I think hon. Members will see that it is for their interest and for ours that we should be in a position to make the best possible terms, and that there should be but one Authority to make terms from time to time with foreign countries. If the Irish Legislature were fixed with the duty of making such terms, they might do something that might run counter to other negotiations going on at the same time through the Foreign Office; and they might without knowing it—for they could not have the full means of knowledge given 416 to the authorities of the Foreign Office—be doing something which would deprive them of a great deal of those privileges which British subjects possess in foreign countries.
§ * MR. H. L. LAWSON (Gloucester, Cirencester)
said, the hon. and learned Member for North Louth had suggested as a possible occurrence with reference to these words the lumping down by some foreign country of a number of pauper aliens in Dublin. He should like to follow up the line of argument pursued by the Solicitor General, and say he held that would be distinctly an Imperial matter for the Imperial Government and Parliament to deal with. He could not conceive of anything more calculated to disturb and embitter foreign relations than any action taken by the Irish Executive or by the Irish Legislature which would interfere with the rights secured to them by Treaties, with Russia for example, as to Russians who had taken up their residence in Dublin. If there were any doubts as to the words in the Bill, then it was highly necessary to add the word suggested by way of amendment. There was a question not long ago with the Australian Colonies, Victoria in particular, of much delicacy and difficulty in regard to the settlement of Chinese, which very nearly led to a serious state of friction between the Imperial Government and the Government of the Chinese Empire. If that took place with regard to a state of things arising in the Antipodes he thought it possible it might occur also in regard to Ireland, and he thought it absolutely necessary that words should be inserted which would secure to foreign subjects who took up their residence in Dublin or any other part of Ireland the rights which were common to aliens in every part of Her Majesty's. Dominions.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
I feel bound to say a few words upon this matter. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth referred to the Amendment which I brought forward upon the Address deal- 417 ing with the question of alien immigration into the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Member has informed the House, what I have reason to believe is the case, that in Cork a large number of persons who are subjects of foreign States are made chargeable upon the ratepayers of that county. I quite agree with the hon. and learned Member that is a monstrous state of affairs. I am speaking my own sentiments, but I do consider if there is a bonâ fide Irish grievance it is such a one as the hon. and learned Gentleman very properly called attention to. That we should refuse the Irish Government of the future power to prevent such a grave injustice as a large number of foreign subjects becoming chargeable upon the local revenue of Ireland is a state of matters which the Committee ought to contemplate and be prepared to do one of two things: either the Imperial Government ought to be prepared to apply a remedy itself, or else allow others to do that which it is unwilling to do. That is a point the hon. and learned Member very properly emphasised, and one which I think the attention of the Government ought to be promptly addressed to. It is obvious that if we were to hand over to the Irish Parliament in future the power to pass laws which might conflict with our Treaty obligations, we should be creating a state of affairs replete with danger; and on that I fully agree with the Solicitor General. But I think the hon. Member for Louth has shown that Ireland, in this respect, has a claim upon the consideration of the Imperial Parliament; and if the Imperial Parliament is not prepared to discharge its manifest duty, he may very well say—"You ought to allow us the power which you yourself decline to exercise." I would suggest to the Government that they should without delay see that laws applicable to the United Kingdom are so framed that the injustice at Cork, or the grave injustice at Glasgow, to which attention was called the other day, can be remedied by some authority or other. I hope the result of this discussion will be that the Imperial Government will undertake to remedy a state of affairs which is capable of inflicting grave injustice upon various sections of the United Kingdom, 418 and from that point of view the discussion will not be in vain.
§ MR. SEXTON
After hearing the speech of the Solicitor General, I am inclined to think that there is no material difference in substance between him and the Irish Members. The hon. and learned Gentleman has argued that the introduction of the word "aliens" adds nothing to the force of the word "alienage," which is already in the Bill. If that be so, there is no material contention, because we are agreed that the subject comprised in the word "alienage," which is a subject easily understood, is one that we would not desire at all to bring within the powers of the Irish Parliament. It is strictly an Imperial subject, and one with which wo have no desire to interfere. But observe that you have made this subject, and this subject alone, a matter of double reference in this clause. Every other subject is referred to once. This subject is referred to twice—by reference to the matter, and by reference to the persons who are the subject of the matter. If you thought that the word "aliens" added nothing to the word "alienage," you might have left "alienage" to stand alone. It is rather unfortunate that a word which adds nothing to the force of the Bill, but yet which creates some doubt and apprehension in many minds, is to be introduced. I would be disposed to say this: I fear that any lawyer going into the Act hereafter would be of opinion that the word "aliens" added something. [Sir HENRY JAMES: Hear, hear!] I see that the right hon. and learned Member for Bury agrees with me—because he would say that if it added nothing the word "alienage" would have been sufficient. You have put in treason here, but you have not put in traitors as well; you have put in treason-felony, but you have not put in treason-felons. If it should appear on further consideration that the insertion of the word "aliens" does not cramp the Irish Legislature in regard to domestic matters, and that the subject is to be limited to the condition of aliens as such, we should be disposed not to prolong the Debate on the subject; but if it should appear upon consideration that the 419 insertion of the word does add something to what was imparted by the insertion of the word "alienage," then I think we must reserve our rights to return to the subject at a later stage of the Bill.
§ SIR H. JAMES
expressed the opinion that the word "aliens" added materially to the Bill. Aliens could not vote in this country. Under the Bill the Irish Legislature had power to deal with the election laws, which were defined as including franchise in Ireland. If the word was not put in the Irish Legislature could say that the period of residence should be for one week, and that every alien should vote. They could not do so, however, if the Amendment was adopted. Therefore, there was a distinct addition to the Bill by inserting the word "aliens." "Alienage" represented the general status as opposed to "naturalisation;" "aliens" represented the individual.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
protested against the acceptance of the Amendment. He failed altogether to recognise anything in the speech of the Solicitor General which should change the opinions which had been expressed from the Irish Benches on this matter. They were all anxious that this Bill should go through as quickly as possible, and, that being so, he could not see for the life of him why a Debate should be introduced and then allowed to collapse without having any result whatever. His principal objection to the Amendment was the quarter from which it had proceeded. He had not the slightest objection to any reasonable Amendment which the Government or the framers of the Bill might consider it necessary to make; but he thought it was an extremely unfortunate thing that if anything necessary had to be done with regard to this Bill, or if any alteration of a necessary character had to be made, it should not be made by the framers of the Bill instead of being left to hon. Gentlemen who had declared over and over again that their object was to destroy the measure and make it utterly worthless. He, therefore, looked with great suspicion upon the Amendment, which he did not think would have been 420 proposed if it were not considered to be a considerable curtailment of the rights of the Irish Parliament. There were many matters in which the rights of the proposed Legislature had been, in the opinion of many people, unwarrantably curtailed; and it was a monstrous thing to now propose to prevent the Irish people from having the power to deal with aliens resident in Ireland. That was surely a subject which should be left to the Irish Parliament, and he failed to see how it could cause any friction between the Imperial and the Irish Parliament. He based his objection to this Amendment, not because he thought it curtailed the right of the Irish Parliament, or dealt with a subject which should be left to the Irish Parliament, but because he believed if they made the Imperial Government the only Government having the right to deal with this subject it would give rise to discussions and differences of opinion between the Legislature in Dublin and the Imperial Parliament.
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, he would endeavour to remove the scruples of the hon. Member for Clare. If he thought the introduction of this word would prevent legislation with regard to aliens in common with all other persons resident in Ireland he would strongly oppose it. But it was, he thought, reasonably plain that it did not at all interfere with the right of taxing aliens, not because they were aliens, but because they were resident in Ireland, or with the right to pass any law with regard to civil property which would apply to aliens, not because they were aliens, but because they were members of the Irish community. Turning to the statement of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury, he would go so far as to say the Irish Legislature might pass a General Franchise Act, providing, for instance, that every person residing in Ireland for a week or a month should have the right to vote. That would not be a law as to aliens. It would give the privilege of the franchise to persons whether from Canada or Great Britain or from all parts of the world, not because they were of this country or of that, but because they were resident in Ireland for the time being, and subject 421 to the general laws of the Irish Legislature.
§ MR. MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)
What has just fallen from the Solicitor General gives a singular importance to this Amendment. As I understand this word "aliens," it adds immensely to the force of the clause. The word "alienage," I take leave to say, is not an English word, but is a word used by American law writers. It is extremely difficult to say what its meaning is; but if it has any meaning at all, it means simply the state of being an alien; and if it stood alone in the Kill the Irish Parliament could, no doubt, repeal the Alien Act, could give the franchise to aliens, and could deal with the rights and conditions of aliens resident in Ireland as it pleased. In my judgment, by the introduction of the word "aliens" the Irish Parliament will, as it ought to, be prevented from dealing with these matters. It would be an evasion of the plain intention which the Government have themselves expressed if, under the colour of general words dealing with franchise and residence, the present provision of the law against the franchise being enjoyed by aliens were to be subverted and put an end to. It would be practically conferring on aliens a privilege which they do not enjoy, and, therefore, would be "legislation respecting aliens." I can quite understand that the Solicitor General should try to soothe hon. Gentlemen from Ireland on this point; but I think it right to say that, in my view, the introduction of this word would clearly prevent the Irish Parliament from declaring by Statute that an alien should enjoy the franchise.
§ MR. SEXTON
remarked, that the force of this word seemed extremely doubtful. The most eminent Legal Authorities in the House wore in conflict on the subject. The Irish Members were not lawyers, and they had not had time to consider the word. It appeared to him to be open to the interpretation that it would create two classes of persons in Ireland, and that the rights of the Irish Legislature would be different with regard to aliens, and to the community at large. He would vote against the intro- 422 duction of the word, first, because he was entirely doubtful as to its force and effect; and, secondly, because, as they had protested against the introduction of important words without notice, they considered that in this case they should have had sufficient notice to have enabled them to consider the Amendment.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
protested against the proposition that had been put forward by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, that the Committee were not to consider any Amendments to the Bill, even though they might be accepted by Her Majesty's Government, simply because those Amendments in their present shape had not been upon the Paper. The Amendment proposed by the Chief Secretary was much smaller in its construction, and amounted very much to the same thing as the Amendment proposed the previous night, and which hail been on the Paper for many days. With reference to the substantial question at issue, the Solicitor General had raised a point of considerable importance which ought to be elucidated before they went further. He, himself, had endeavoured to make out what the meaning of "alienage" was, and he had not been able to come to any clear conclusion. The only conclusion he arrived at was that the interpretation given to it a little while ago by the Chief Secretary was not the right interpretation. The Chief Secretary said the word "alienage" must be taken in connection with the word "naturalisation." Naturalisation was, of course, the process which converted an alien into a natural born subject. Alienage, according to the Chief Secretary, suggested the turning of a natural-born subject into an alien. That construction, he thought, was not accurate, because there was no such possibility known to the Common Law as the possibility of a natural-born subject becoming an alien. The word itself, therefore, being very obscure, the word it was proposed to substitute for it, or add to it, was very clear. It imported that the Irish Parliament should not be able to make or pass any law affecting aliens. The Solicitor General had stated that they might pass a general law as regarded 423 enfranchisement without mentioning I aliens which should, at the same time, enfranchise aliens. He differed from the acceptance of that principle without further consideration. It had been well said that if they were to pass an Act giving the Parliamentary franchise to women, simpliciter, possessing the qualifications under which men now obtained the franchise, married women would not be thereby enfranchised. They were under a Common Law disability which would not be removed by a general Act. He submitted that aliens under Common Law were disabled from being voters, and a General Enfranchising Act which did not mention aliens would not give them power to vote or remove their disability. They must have specific and definite legislation with respect to this class in order to enable them to obtain a vote; therefore the introduction of the word "alien" at this point had a very clear effect, which was intended to be given—namely, to disable the Irish Parliament from passing any law affecting aliens, and, therefore, from passing any law giving them the franchise.
§ MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
contended that if the meaning of the word was to create in Ireland an excepted class of persons who would be subject to Imperial and not to Irish law, the matter should be dealt with among the restrictions in Clause 4. He, therefore, asked the Government to postpone it until they came to that clause.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said, if the speech of the Solicitor General had been unbiassed by a desire to conciliate hon. Members below the Gangway he should have been disturbed at its tenour, because, in common with his hon. Friends on that side of the House, he was anxious to support the Amendment for the very reason that the Solicitor General excluded—namely, that it would, in their judgment, prevent the Irish Parliament from enfranchising aliens. That, of course, was the real reason why hon. Members below the Gangway so strenuously resisted it. Their real reason for resisting it was because they wanted to enfranchise in Ireland every Irish-American immigrant 424 who came over to Ireland in order to disturb the peace and good order of the country. That they should be enfranchised would not be at all surprising, considering the relations that subsisted between the Irish-Americans and hon. Members below the Gangway. Let hon. Members sometimes be honest in that House. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: Hear, hear! "Hottentots!"] Let the Irish Members get up and say what was their real meaning in opposing this Amendment. He respectfully invited Her Majesty's Government to be candid also. He gave Her Majesty's Government the credit for proposing this Amendment because they desired that Irish-American immigrants should not be enfranchised. Why should Her Majesty's Government always be occupying the humiliating position of apologising to the Irish Members for accepting an Amendment? They might assume that if they inserted this word "aliens" in the clause, they should prevent, as they ought to prevent, the Irish Parliament from enfranchising aliens, and especially the class to which he had alluded.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
No other hon. Member taking part in this Debate has found it necessary to introduce contentious matter into the discussion; and the felicitous distinction which the noble Lord enjoys is that, after everybody has more than once avoided running upon any of these rocks, the noble Lord was determined that there should not be a rock in the whole waters on which he would not dash himself. The question before the Committee is not whether the Amendment does or does not add to the original intention of the Bill. The question is, what does the Amendment import, and are we willing to accept it? It is pretty clear that it does import a certain disability on the Irish Parliament in regard to enfranchisement. But in these matters it is, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has well said, a question of balance. What the Government have in view is the insertion of words large enough to cover every subject that could possibly attach to the foreign relations of the country. It is for the Irish Members to consider whether they will accept the Amendment. I rather hope 425 they will, for I really do not think there is any reason for their doing otherwise. The purpose of the Government is not to disable the Irish Legislature, but to extend the provisions of the Bill with regard to what is essential—namely, the maintenance under Imperial control of Imperial questions.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
agreed with the Irish Members in objecting to this word. It seemed to him, if they were going to set up a Parliament in Ireland within the scope of its functions, they should extend its powers as far as possible. It also seemed to him that in introducing the word "aliens" into the clause they were introducing into Ireland what, for the misfortune of certain Eastern Countries, they had long introduced and maintained there—namely, a system of extra-territoriality. They proposed to withdraw from the Irish Government the power of dealing with aliens resident in Ireland. The effect of the adoption of such a principle would be to encourage in Ireland—as it had encouraged in Turkey—the commission of crimes by persons who felt they were not subject to the laws of the country in which they lived. If they made the distinction in favour of Englishmen—if they said no Englishmen should be subject to the laws of the Irish Legislature—he could understand it. Still less could be said against it if it were to apply to the Irish people. But they were going to give this immunity in Ireland to aliens alone; and he thought the principle most objectionable from the point of view of England, but still more objectionable from the point of view of those who would have to manage the affairs of Ireland. He did not desire that the Bill should pass; but if it was to pass it ought to be shaped so as to enable the new Irish Government to do its work effectively, and this the Government could not do if a largo class of persons within the limits of its jurisdiction were withdrawn from its control. He would, therefore, vote against the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 328; Noes 139.—(Division List, No. 123.)426
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he desired to move an Amendment to make clear the meaning and scope of the word which had just been introduced.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that any hon. Member who listened to the course of the Debate on the last Amendment must admit that it was open to some conflict of opinion as to the extent of the word which had just been introduced. For example, the Solicitor General had said that the introduction of the word "aliens" added nothing to the force of the word "alienage" already in the Bill, whilst the late Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury were of opinion that something very material had been added. He wished to move an Amendment for, in his judgment, the indispensable purpose of making clear the meaning of the word, which differed from alienage, and which stood on different ground from any other proposal in the Bill. In regard to other subjects, they had been content with reference to matter simply. In this case they had referred first to the matter of alienage and then to aliens. In his judgment, the reference to alienage included all that it was necessary to include. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin—and, of course, on such a subject, he spoke with great diffidence—as to the meaning of the word "alienage." Judged by the right hon. Gentleman's language, it did not mean a conversion from one state to another—it meant a condition.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he had misunderstood the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman evidently was at one with him in reading that "alienage" meant the condition of an alien.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he had spoken negatively—to say that it did not mean that which the hon. Gentleman said it did not mean.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that practically, therefore, there was no difference between them. He submitted that "alienage" related to the condition of aliens; therefore, when they provided that the Irish Legislature should not make laws in respect of alienage, they provided that the Irish Parliament should not make laws touching any alien—touching his condition as such alien. Then they had added the word "aliens," and when they did that they did something that was open to the presumption that in addition to excluding the subject of alienage, which related to the condition of an alien, from the Legislature of Ireland, they, in some manner more or less open to doubt, barred legislation as affecting persons who happened to be aliens, beyond the scope of what they had asserted was the condition of such aliens. If these disputes arose on the instant—during the passing of the Bill—between eminent lawyers, what was to happen hereafter, when the clause came before the Judicial Committee, or before an Inferior Court, to be interpreted—because they had heard in the course of these Debates that the language of the Bill, when it became an Act, might be interpreted not only by the Judicial Committee, but by every Court in Ireland, down to the lowest. What would the Exchequer Judges in Ireland say when they found that at first the subject of alienage was dealt with, and that they advanced from alienage to deal with persons as aliens? He thought they would be disposed to infer that the Bill did not refer to the question of alienage, but touched individuals. He would not waste time by dealing at length with the absurd assumption of the noble Lord above the Gangway, who had evidently been trying to make stock-in-trade for Tory platforms hereafter. It was as well to give an emphatic and unequivocal denial to the statement of the noble Lord. He had said the Irish Members objected to this word, because they wished to enfranchise aliens in Ireland. He (Mr. Sexton), however, understood that under Common Law aliens had never been allowed to vote. The Irish Members had no desire nor intention to interfere with that subject. The position of aliens was defined by three different 428 authorities—by the Common Law, by Imperial Statutes, and by Treaties. By one or other of these three authorities rights were conferred or disabilities were imposed on aliens. The Irish Parliament would not desire to touch those rights or disabilities. They had nothing to do with it. Lot the condition of aliens remain, so far as the Irish Parliament was concerned, as it was, whether as to the rights conferred, or as to the disabilities imposed, whether those rights were conferred, or disabilities imposed by Common Law, by Statutes passed now or hereafter, or by Treaties yet to be made. But aliens residing in Ireland ought to be subject, like other people, to the laws made by the Irish Legislature—laws within its sphere of legislation. That was the object of the Irish Members. They wished to make that clear. They had no other object. An alien, as an alien, was outside their purview. The Amendment he now moved was intended to make it clear that there should not be two classes of persons resident in Ireland. He moved to insert after the word "aliens" just added to the clause, the words "as such." That would exclude from the sphere of the Irish Parliament everything relating to aliens as such—their rights and disabilities, no matter how those rights and disabilities arose. It would make clear what he thought the Irish Members had a right to ask to be made clear—namely, that all persons resident in Ireland should be equally subject to the laws of the Irish Parliament, while the Irish Parliament would not intrude within the sphere of the Imperial authority.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 6, after the word "aliens," to insert the words "as such."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'as such' be there inserted."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I have considered very carefully what the bearing of the introduction of these words will be. Now, why did I accept in principle the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Guildford Division (Mr. Brodrick), and why did I propose my own word in substitution for his? It was because, after very full consideration with the Legal Authorities, we felt that the word 429 "alienage" might be so construed as not to cover cases which it was desirable to cover. It has been suggested that the place for dealing with this subject is in Clause 4. That is not so. The subject of alienage must be dealt with in Clause 3, because that clause deals with special Imperial topics—that is to say, with topics and subjects which might bring the Imperial Government into relation with some Foreign Power. The whole principle of Clause 3 is that certain subjects should be excluded from the purview of the Irish Parliament. My hon. Friend who has just spoken thinks that the word "aliens" is too wide, just as the word "alienage" was held by lawyers to be too narrow. He therefore proposes to follow it by the descriptive words "as such." I am not at all sure that these words will carry out some of the objects that are mentioned by my hon. Friend. I do not think they will carry the Amendment which has just been introduced beyond the meaning we had in proposing it, and I have, therefore, no objection to the proposal.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, the right hon. Gentleman had put rather a serious complexion on the change of front which the Government had just adopted. The object of that Amendment was to prevent the Irish Government dealing with questions of immigration in a sense different from that in which the Imperial Parliament dealt with them. Immigration affected British subjects as well as aliens; and he wished to ask the Solicitor General whether it was or was not the case that, under the restriction proposed by the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton), immigration might be generally prohibited, and the landing of all aliens might consequently be stopped?
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he thought this could not be done. The immigration of aliens was a matter which so closely concerned Imperial Authority that he did not think it could be dealt with by the Irish Legislature.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, the question was one of legal definition. Could not the Irish Legislature pass a Resolution which would have the effect of embroil- 430 ing the foreign relations of the country without dealing with aliens "as such"? Two-thirds of the immigrants who entered Ireland were British subjects, whilst only one-third were aliens, so that it would be perfectly possible for the Irish Government to declare that they were dealing generally with the subject of immigration when their object was really to exclude aliens.
§ SIR J. RIGBY
I think I can answer the question put by the hon. Gentleman in a very few words. The hon. Gentleman suggests that there should be such an impossible thing as a general prohibition of immigration into Ireland, and he thinks that in that respect Ave might get into difficulties with Foreign Powers. No Foreign Power I ever heard of has insisted upon greater rights being reserved to its subjects than are reserved or possessed by the subjects of the legislating State; therefore we could not get into collision with Foreign Powers, even in the extravagant, and I may say almost unreasonable, supposition that immigration was absolutely stopped.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I think the Committee islanded in a difficulty by what has taken place. In an earlier part of the discussion hon. Gentlemen opposite lectured the Government very severely for having accepted an Amendment which was on the Paper, and which was covered by Amendments on the Paper. It appeared to be their view that this Bill was perfect as produced in the House, and that no alteration should be tolerated in any line or word. Of course, that is perfectly absurd, and the moment we come to anything like practical application hon. Gentlemen opposite are the first to see the absurdity of it. Although it would be absurd to say the Government should not accept an Amendment of which full notice has been given, there is a certain amount of inconvenience in accepting an Amendment which is not on the Paper, and which nobody has had an opportunity of considering. If the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) thought that the words "as such" were desirable, he might have put them down as an Amendment.
§ MR. SEXTON
They would not have applied to the Amendment on the Paper. They only apply to the Amendment proposed without notice.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, it does not matter about the exact words; the hon. Gentleman is quite skilful enough to propose words that would apply, and if he wore not he always has the assistance of the hon. and learned Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy). Members of the Committee who have not the advantage of the legal advice of the hon. and learned Member, however, have some difficulty in understanding the effect of an Amendment sprung upon us at the last moment, and, I think, too hastily accepted by the Government. Do the Government mean to say it will be absolutely impossible for the Irish Parliament to pass a general law affecting aliens—a general law which includes in its ambit the question of aliens? The insertion of the words "as such" would certainly seem, to a non-legal mind, to make it impossible to deal with aliens, and then to excuse the dealing with aliens by saying—"We are not dealing with aliens as such; we are dealing with the general population." Although a Bill might be brought in with the special object of dealing with aliens, it would not, if it had a general purport, be affected by this Amendment. Can the Government say that is not a possibility? Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the word "aliens," without limitation, might impose an unnecessary restriction, on the Irish Legislature. What is the worst that can happen in that case? It is that what has to be done in the way of reasonable legislation will have to be done by the Imperial Parliament, and not by the Irish Legislature. Now, Sir, may I appeal to the Government? Why is there this continual distrust of the British people and the Imperial Parliament? I am not angry; I confess I think I may say I am pained to think that the Irish Members should still entertain this rooted distrust of the good faith and common sense of the British people. It fills me with amazement that they should hunt up and down to find possible crimes that the British Parliament may 432 commit, and should impute to us the certainty that we shall commit them after this Bill is passed.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he had been unable to gather from the speeches that had been delivered any interpretation of the effect of these words. He had given his best attention to them; but he had not the slightest idea what their effect would be. Would the Solicitor General tell the Committee what sort of legislation would be admitted if these words were inserted that would be shut out if they were not inserted? The Solicitor General had seemed to hint that even if the word "aliens" were left alone aliens might be enfranchised. Was that opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman strengthened by the introduction of the words "as such?" Would it be competent, after these words had boon inserted, for the Irish Legislature to pass a law providing that anybody possessed of Irish property who did not reside on that property for 10 months in the year should forfeit the rights of franchise or any of the rights that ordinarily belonged to British citizens?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he was aware that a man in such a position would not be an alien; but he wanted to know whether the Irish Legislature might reduce a non-alien into the position of an alien? As a general principle, nothing could be more undesirable than to put words into a Bill upon which nobody could place any clear meaning. Of course, if this was merely an exchange of courtesy between the Government and its allies or leaders, whichever the Nationalist Members were, the introduction of the words might be regarded as immaterial; but if it was to have any effect on the clause, he hoped some of the legal luminaries on the Government side would tell the Committee what that effect would be.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, the hon. Member for North Kerry had converted him on one point—namely, that it was very 433 unwise to insert words without giving the Committee time to consider what their meaning was. At the present moment he had not the slightest idea what meaning the Amendment would convey. Could the Solicitor General give the Committee one instance in which such words had been used in an Act of Parliament? It was better to tell the Judges what the Committee meant than to leave it to the Judges to discover what their meaning was. He asked the Solicitor General to say whether, if the Irish Legislature passed an Act providing that any person residing in Ireland should have a vote, that would not really enable all aliens to vote?
§ MR. BODKIN (Roscommon, N.)
I wish to inform the right hon, and learned Gentleman—[Cries of "Order!"]
Order, order! The hon. Member can speak after the right hon. and learned Gentleman has finished.
§ SIR H. JAMES
I would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General whether these words add anything to the word "aliens"? If they do not, it is useless to insert them; if they do, will my hon. and learned Friend tell the Committee to what extent they qualify it?
§ MR. BODKIN
wished to state, for the information of the right hon. Gentleman, that the words "as such" did occur in an Act passed by the last Parliament—the Crimes Act—in reference to the prohibition of a meeting of National Leaguers as such. The only interpretation obtained arose in the course of a protracted trial of members of the National League.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
To my mind the introduction of the words "as such" do not alter the meaning of the Act by one jot or tittle. The Committee has spent 434 hours and hours in discussing Amendments of which the same thing is said, and the right hon. Gentleman continually asks—"Why do you object to the addition of these words if, on your own showing, they do not alter the meaning of the Act?" The Government have again and again introduced words which do not alter the meaning of the Act ii order to satisfy the doubts and scruple: entertained by others, but which the Government themselves do not entertain. Why, then, should we refuse to extend the same courtesy to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite which we have shown to other hon. Members of the Committee who have proposed Amendments, particularly having regard to the fact that those hon. Members opposite have had no opportunity of considering the words proposed? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham seemed to suppose that notice had been given of the Amendment; but that is not the case. The word we suggested was one which we thought would in all probability meet with the unanimous assent of the House. It was assented to by an overwhelming majority; but surely, seeing that the word has been introduced without notice, an opportunity ought to be afforded to hon. Gentlemen opposite for suggesting, as they have done very temperately, that they are not quite satisfied that the view the Committee has taken is the correct one. They are justified in maintaining that it can do no harm to say that there maybe legislation affecting aliens in their capacity of temporary subjects of Her Majesty. From that no possible harm can arise, and, therefore, for the satisfaction of the doubts and difficulties of hon. Gentlemen such words ought to be admitted. The right hon. Gentleman appeals to me to say whether there are such words in any Act of Parliament. But the right hon. Gentleman is not ignorant of the fact that there is no such thing as Parliamentary language in Acts of Parliament as distinguished from other language. All our Acts of Parliament are primâ facie interpreted according to the meaning of the words in their popular sense, and not according to technicalities of language, in the same way that a deed or any other legal document would be. Again and again it has been said— 435 in fact it is a commonplace—that we must not consider the strict legal meaning, but must consider the words of an Act in their ordinary popular sense. There can be no doubt that if it is said that the Irish Legislature is not to legislate for aliens "as such," the meaning is that it shall not legislate for them in regard to their rights and disabilities by virtue of their capacity and position as aliens. A man resident in Ireland may be an alien, but that is only one name for him. An alien cannot help being subject to the laws of the country in which he chooses to reside. If a man is resident in Ireland, the Irish Legislature can deal with him in any capacity other than that of alien. By whatever designation other than that of an alien he is properly described, it may legislate for him just as if he were not an alien.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, that the Solicitor General had told them that the words would not add anything whatever to the meaning of the section. But the hon. Member for North Roscommon had declared that a protracted inquiry took place as to the meaning of the words "as such."
§ MR. BODKIN
I never said that a protracted trial took place on these words. Two Removable Magistrates found no difficulty whatever in giving an interpretation to the words.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, the Solicitor General had told them that these words were useless. Why, then, should they introduce words which would add nothing to the value of the section, but which might at a trial give rise to protracted discussion? ["Divide!"]
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that, as the one man on the Conservative Benches who had protested against the exclusion of aliens from the authority of the Irish Government or Parliament, he might be allowed to say that the addition to the word "aliens" of the words "as such" by no means satisfied him. The use of such words would invest everything and everybody with a dual character. There would be dual Lords Lieutenant, dual Members of Parliament, and 436 so on. With such words they would be in the position of the master in the French comedy, who always had to ask his servant if he was speaking to his cook or his coachman. They had excluded the concrete alien from the purview of the Irish Parliament, and now they proposed, by the addition of the words "as such," to introduce the abstract alien. They seemed to imply that, so far as the abstract alien was concerned, the Irish Legislature was to have no power, but with regard to the concrete alien it was to have power. When a murder was committed by an alien the question would immediately arise whether it had been done by an abstract or a concrete alien? [Cries of "Divide!"] They had been told by the Solicitor General that the words added not one jot or tittle to the meaning of the Act. He entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that was a most sufficient and conclusive reason why the Committee should not accept the words.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not rise to prolong this Debate. I have no desire to quarrel with the Solicitor General for trying to make peace all round by adding words which he admits have no meaning: but both the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary think the introduction of the word "aliens" will bring the Bill more into harmony with the expressed intentions of the Government. Both the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary stated they were of opinion that the words added by the Chief Secretary altered the substance of the Bill, and brought it more into harmony with the expressed intentions of the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General openly has avowed that no further meaning will be added to the Bill by the words "as such," and that he assents to their introduction merely because, forsooth, hon. Members below the Gangway desire it. I am not sufficiently a lawyer myself to pronounce upon matters on which lawyers do not agree. The Solicitor General says that the Courts or Judges always interpret words in their ordinary sense. I have had a great deal to do with the drafting of Bills, and when I have endeavoured to introduce ordinary phraseology I have been inva- 437 riably told, by the high legal authorities whom I consulted, that such words were unusual. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that the only persons who did not understand the English language in England were the Judges. I do not think, however, this is a matter of sufficient importance either to prolong the Debate or to go to a Division. I will, therefore, recommend the Committee to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. J. G. LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
said, he desired to move the insertion, after "naturalisation," of the words "or the taking of the Oath of Allegiance;" and he was prepared, if any legal Gentlemen deemed it necessary, to add the further words "or declaration in lieu of such oath." He had hoped that the Government would have accepted his proposal. Last week the Solicitor General remarked, in answer to a question, that a nation that had no power over alienage and naturalisation could have no power over the question of allegiance, in that case the hon. and learned Gentleman was speaking of the status of allegiance, and the Amendment proposed that the Irish Parliament should have no power to interfere or to deal with the outward sign of that allegiance. He was aware that Amendments coming from the opponents of the Bill were viewed with much distrust; but it was not intended by this Amendment to cast any reflection on the loyalty of the Irish Members, or to imply any doubt of their willingness to express that loyalty openly. Every one of them had taken the Oath of Allegiance without any limitation as to time or place as Members of that House; and if it could be shown that those hon. Gentlemen would, in future, monopolise all the representation of Ireland in the new Legislature, and fill all the great Public Offices to be created by the Bill, there would be no necessity for the Amendment. There was, however, a certain rule in all successful revolutions; and if this Bill was carried, the Irish National movement would, he supposed, rank in history as a successful revolution. That rule was that the more moderate loaders, who brought the movement to a successful issue, were then rapidly thrust aside by men of more extreme views. He quite admitted that the hon. Gentle- 438 men, who themselves had taken the Oath of Allegiance, would be willing that the others should take it; but what about their probable successors—the men who had regarded the toast of the health of the Queen as a Party toast, and whose allegiance to the Crown was not always true? It was against such men as these, if they should be called on to take any position of power in Ireland, that the Amendment was directed, and not against the present Members for Ireland. It was of great importance, bearing in mind the history of the past few years, that every man who undertook a position of power and responsibility in Ireland under this Bill should be required to openly express his fidelity to the Queen, and his intention to be a loyal subject. It might be said that promissory oaths had no great binding effect; but Parliament had always attached, and rightly attached, importance and responsibility to the Oath of Allegiance. In 1889, when it was proposed to create the Board of Agriculture, it was thought desirable to put in the Act constituting the Board a provision that the President should take the Oath of Allegiance. No one for an instant thought of suspecting either the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford or the present President of the Board of any treasonable designs, yet the House decided that they should be called upon to take the Oath of Allegiance. Again, by Act of Parliament, various public officials in Ireland were required to take the oath. Among them were the Lord Lieutenant, the Commander of the Forces, the Chief Secretary, and the Lord Chancellor. As regarded some of the offices, the Imperial Parliament would, under Home Rule, retain the power of filling them; other offices would cease to exist; but what would be the position of the Lord Chancellor? Bearing in mind the conditions under which he would hold his Office, surely it was important that he should be loyal to the Crown. At present, every judicial officer in Ireland, from the highest Judge down to the Magistrate in the smallest borough, had to take the Oath of Allegiance; so, too, did Queen's Counsel, the men of the Royal Irish Constabulary, Privy Councillors, and the holders of certain dignities. His Amendment, if carried, would enable them in the future, as they had done in the past, 439 to insure that those on whom public duties devolved should publicly swear their allegiance to the Queen. The Bill was somewhat obscure as to what was to be done in this matter by the Members of the proposed new Legislature. In the Bill of 1886, Clause 34, Sub-section 2, it was clearly provided that the Oath of Allegiance should be taken. In the present Bill it was provided that the Lord Lieutenant and Council should, by the day appointed for the opening of the new Parliament, make regulations for the adaptation of the laws and customs relating to the House of Commons and its Members; but he did not gather what was the exact meaning of those words. He was sure all Members of the Committee would desire that the solemn duty of performing the outward sign of loyalty which, as Members of that House, they had performed by taking the Oath of Allegiance, should be continued in Ireland as well as in England, and his Amendment would give them the power to secure that very desirable end.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 6, after the word "naturalisation," to insert the words "or the taking of the Oath of Allegiance."—(Mr. Grant Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The Amendment is open to one objection, which precludes the Government from accepting it. No doubt the Irish Government will create a number of new offices. The hon. Member desires that those who are appointed to the offices thus set up shall take the Oath of Allegiance. But what does he do in order to secure that? He proposes to prohibit the Irish Government from attaching to those offices the obligation of taking the Oath of Allegiance, and he imposes upon this Parliament the duty of seeing that the duty of taking the oath is attached to the new offices. He does that, too, in a Bill the main object of which is to relieve this Parliament from the duty of dealing with exclusively Irish affairs. The hon. Member supposes a state of things in which the Irish Legislature would be manned by persons who own no allegiance to the Crown. In that case the serious and 440 important point is that such sentiments should prevail, and not that the persons who entertain them should be free from the Oath of Allegiance. I think the hon. Member will be candid enough to admit that his proposal defeats its own purpose. I need not go into the question as to what additional sanctity is given by the taking of an oath or making an affirmation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman must feel that whatever weight in theory there may be in his argument, it has very little force in practice. According to the Prime Minister, the chief function of the Irish Legislature in relation to offices will be in the direction of abolition rather than of creation, for we are constantly told that the Public Service in Ireland is overmanned. Under the present state of things, every Judge and Magistrate in Ireland is bound to take the Oath of Allegiance; and the question is, whether the Irish Legislature ought to be able to put an end to that condition or not? In the House of Commons it has always been thought desirable that the holders of offices should publicly pronounce themselves loyal subjects to the Queen; but unless the Amendment is put in the Bill, it will be in the power of the Irish Legislature to abolish this safeguard, whatever it may be worth. If it is intended that the new Irish Legislature shall take the Oath of Allegiance as the House of Common does, and that the new Irish Judges and Magistrates shall take the Oath as the existing Judges and Magistrates do, then let the intention be embodied in the Bill. I cannot conceive how anyone can object to that. Hon. Members below the Gangway have been under the suspicion that in some of their actions loyalty has not occupied a prominent place, and therefore they ought to hail this opportunity of declaring that they do not intend any disloyalty to the Crown. The Government and hon. Members below the Gangway will be guilty of a great indiscretion in refusing that which, as far as paper safeguards can go, will enforce the duty of loyalty to the Queen. If the hon. Member goes to a Division I shall certainly vote with him.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he hoped that the hon. Member would not go to a Division, as in that case he should have 441 to vote against the Amendment. He did not regard these Oaths of Allegiance as of any value. Though they might have some influence with a tender conscience, they never captured a robust conscience. The Committee would remember the case of Louis Napoleon in France, to whom an Oath of Allegiance was given by many, who subsequently broke it. He would not take away from the Irish Legislature the power of dealing with the Oaths to be taken by its Members, and on that ground he should vote against the Amendment if it were pressed to a Division.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, it might be a question to what extent oaths were useful in the case of people of "robust conscience." But if there was to be an abolition of the Oath of Allegiance, should not it be by general law applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom? He gathered that there was a sentiment on the other side of the House against imposing these Oaths at all; but such a sentiment ought not to influence the Committee in deciding on this particular proposal. After all that had passed in Ireland, was it wise to give the Irish Legislature the power of abolishing the Oath of Allegiance which was still taken in this country? Looking to the views which wore held as to the possible absence of thorough loyalty in Ireland, would not an unfavourable impression be left on the public mind if the Irish Legislature were given the power of dispensing with the Oath of Allegiance? This was not a purely Irish affair. The Oath of Allegiance was of importance to the Empire at large, and a painful effect on public opinion as regarded this Bill would be produced if the Government showed themselves prepared to liberate Ireland from the obligation of imposing on its public officials the duty of taking the Oath of Allegiance, which, though in all cases it might not be binding on individual consciences, would be a declaration on the part of Parliament that those who took office should own allegiance to the Crown.
§ MR. LITTLE (Whitehaven)
said, it seemed to him that the Amendment was directly intended to prevent the Irish Parliament doing the graceful act of pronouncing by its own Legislature that it accepted this Bill as a settlement of 442 the great controversy between this country and Ireland. We ought to give the Irish Parliament the opportunity of legislating upon the subject, because if they had the opportunity they would be able to show to the whole world, by not destroying the Act of Allegiance, that they accepted the Bill as a settlement.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he did not know the object of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, or its bearing on the Amendment. The speech of the Chief Secretary, however, appeared to him to be a speech in favour of the abolition of Oaths. That might be a right or a wrong thing to do—there was a feeling in regard to it—but if Oaths were to be abolished—
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The whole drift of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks was apparently in that direction.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The drift of my remarks was in the very opposite direction. It was to disable them from abolishing the Oath.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, the speech meant more than that. It meant, apparently, the abolition of the Oath. He understood the position of many who objected to the Oath as useless; but Ireland was not the place in which to begin the abolition—a place where loyalty was conditional loyalty, a country where—it occurred in the Mansion House in Dublin a few years ago—a Lord Mayor took down the British flag and stowed it away in a dust-bin, and the letters "V. R.," in device form, along with it. If they were to begin abolition, let them begin in some place that was unaccustomed to things like that. It might be reasonable to abolish it—he did not say so—but they could differ upon the point. For his part, he thought Ireland was not the place where they should begin, and if the Mover of the Amendment went to a Division he should vote with him.
§ Mr. Clancy rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.443
§ * MR. DARLING (Deptford)
said, he would not have risen had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Little). He thought the time had come when English Members should give some sort of expression with reference to the concessions that were being made to what was called Irish sentiment and Irish prejudice. He did not think the people of this country were anxious to trifle with the Oath of Allegiance simply in order that the Irish Members might have an opportunity of doing a graceful act. He had never yet seen these hon. Member doing a graceful act, and he did not know how they might avail themselves of the opportunity which the hon. Member desired should be given to them. Were the people of England and of Scotland and Wales to be told that in giving the Irish an opportunity of enacting the Oath they were being given simply an opportunity of doing a graceful act? That assumed that they had no wish to take the Oath—that they would take the salary. ["Oh!"] Yes, the salary without the Oath.
§ * MR. DARLING
asked, which would they not take? He thought the House would know which. A graceful action only came in when a man did that which he regretted. When a Scotchman gave money—he spoke as a Scotchman himself—he did a graceful act. If an Irishman took the Oath, saying he took it for what it was worth, then he did that which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Little) desired—he did a graceful action simply because he did that which he was unwilling to do. He (Mr. Darling) had no idea of legislating on those principles. If it was necessary for an Englishman—and all Englishmen were loyal, not even excepting those on the Liberal Benches—to take the Oath, if Englishmen were bound to do it in certain circumstances, why should not an Irishman? That was one reason why he supported the Amendment. [Cry of "Divide!"] They might divide on the closure; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Morley) would hardly serve him as he did the two Egyptians yesterday. If he wanted a further reason for voting for the Amendment he found it in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman 444 opposite, who told them of the people who deserted Louis Napoleon after taking the oath of allegiance to him. [Cries of "Order!"] The right hon. Gentleman was afraid that if they forced the Irish to take the Oath they would prove treacherous just as Louis Napoleon's followers had done. He did not think that was a very dignified compliment to the Irish Members. If he (Mr. Darling) sat on the Irish Benches that argument would make him vote for the Amendment, for he should not think it just to put the Irish on a level with the French in that matter. [Cries of "Divide!"]
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 242; Noes 288.—(Division List, No. 124.)
§ MR. COURTNEY
rose to move, in page 2, line 7, to leave out "trade with any other place out of Ireland, or quarantine, or." He said: The Amendment which stands in my name is of a different character from most of the Amendments that have been under the consideration of the Committee. Those Amendments have been directed to the diminution or restriction of the powers of the Legislative Assembly which it is proposed to set up in Dublin. This one is directed in a contrary sense to relieve that Legislative Assembly, from restrictions imposed upon it by the Bill. It may seem inconsistent that there should be any disposition to favour, in this part of the House, Amendments of an apparently opposite character—restricting at one time and at other times enlarging the powers of the Assembly. But our view on that question is guided by the work in which we are engaged. If it were likely that this Bill should ever pass into law, our action might be of a different character, but we have reason to hope and to believe that it will not ripen into an Act. Our view is that we are at present, in effect, trying to impress upon the electors outside this House, to whom will be committed the determination of this problem, the difficulties involved in it which were not immediately apparent to them from the submission of the simple idea of Home Rule—Home Rule, I mean, as submitted to the constituencies and approved of by 445 a majority in this House. We were told that Home Rule meant the setting up of a Parliament in Dublin. We never had any explanation of what that meant; we could not have it, for the reason we never had a scheme put forward. It was with the greatest difficulty, common to all Members of the House, we could get anything for the electorate to examine for themselves, so as to consider what was involved in the principle of setting up a Parliament in Dublin. By a succession of Amendments we have been urging on the Government for restriction of these powers; we have, one by one, submitted these several questions for explanation, so that the country can understand that the setting up of a Parliament in Dublin means the dealing with this or that branch of law; we are descending from generalities to particulars, and bringing home to the intelligence of every elector what are the necessary consequences of the apparently simple idea adopted by many with a sense of relief when they supported this policy of Home Rule. My desire is to bring home to the electors of the Kingdom that if they sincerely understand the policy of Home Rule, meaning thereby the granting to the inhabitants of Ireland the realisation of their alleged aspirations to settle their own conduct and to do what they can to promote the material well-being of the inhabitants of the country, they will be reasonably drawn to giving to the Parliament set up the power given to every Parliament created the power of regulating their own trade, in a sense of imposing Customs Duties, and protecting their own industries. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not share that view myself, though the hon. Member for Sheffield seems to hold it: but I do recognise that if you mean to adopt Home Rule, you give to the Legislature—and you must give to the Legislature which you propose to bring into existence—the means of unwisdom as well as of wisdom, the possibility of being unjust as well as of being just. You must accept the risk that is involved in the concession of a mischievous and mistaken policy, and it is not for you to determine beforehand whether it is mischievous or mistaken. You may entertain that opinion yourselves, but by adopting an idea of Home Rule you are properly to commit the determination of such questions to the 446 Assembly you propose to create. There is another point worthy of observation. I think some persons who have had a large share in the construction of this Bill have confined their attention to the substitution of one kind of legislative machinery for another; they have supposed that everything is satisfactory—that no further claim is needed. I protest against that as a wholly inadequate conception of the case upon which the framers of the Bill are engaged. It is not only the substitution of one machinery for another which they have entered upon; they must consider a change of operation, and they must look for a difference of result. You have to conceive not only a Legislature in Ireland undertaking the affairs of Ireland, but that Legislature may, and certainly will, claim to have the power of working in a different sense towards different objects.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I rise to Order, Sir. May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is speaking to the Amendment before the Committee?
§ MR. COURTNEY
If the hon. Member would look at the Amendment on the Paper he would be in a better position to understand the relevancy of my remarks. I say, Sir, you must consider that what you are enacting will work different processes, and be aimed at different results to the processes and results viewed by the Body here. Every case of conceding Home Rule to an English-speaking community, to all the large Colonies throughout the world, has been accompanied as a necessary part of that concession, as an inevitable part of the recognition of that demand for self-sustained existence, the admission of the power on the part of the community so enfranchised for the setting up of Customs Duties and of legislating in respect of its trade and commerce. What is the idea of separate national existence which has been embodied in the demand of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which this Bill proposes to satisfy? They desire to work out their own salvation, and if they have views—and most hon. Members opposite and large numbers of their followers have—as to the means of working out their material prosperity through Home Rule which are not satisfied by 447 the machinery of this Bill, then you are really offering what they will consider is a pretence, not a reality—something suited to your ideas and not theirs. I hold it is not justifiable to exclude from the power you propose to confer on the Irish Legislature these powers which I propose to confer upon them, and I am quite sure, in the path of peace on which you think you have entered, you will not realise that peace you desire unless yon go further than you have done and give the Irish Parliament not merely the legislation you propose to give them, but the means of satisfying the ambition which they entertain to become an industrial power—an industrial community amongst the nations of the world. They desire to have manufactures of their own; trade of their own. They believe that the legislation of the Imperial Parliament in the past has injured and destroyed their manufactures—["Hear, hear!"]—I do not agree with them, but I think their opinion must be taken into account if this problem is to be grappled with. The great bulk of the Irish people want from the Government the power that is necessary to satisfy those desires; they believe it only requires action on the part of the Legislature to secure those manufactures; and you are denying them, in the scheme you bring forward, the power necessary to set them up as a manufacturing and prosperous country. And they may appeal, in that regard, to the opinions of the late Mr. Parnell, who said that in respect of certain local communities protection was perhaps necessary in order to give a start to industry that would be self-sustaining after. And in that connection I may say that a distinguished Irish economist who held the same opinion, in a conversation with respect to Ireland, said he thought a ease might at least be made on the part of Irish manufactures; that; if Ireland wore to be separated legislatively from England, which he did not desire, but if Ireland were to receive a separate Parliament, he thought a case might be established on the part of Ireland demanding powers of protection, powers of fostering manufactures, and setting on foot and starting afresh those manufactures which had been destroyed and entirely abolished by the past action or inaction of this Parliament. I do not share that view, and I 448 think the experience of the United States, especially within the last 20 years, has given the strongest confutation of the principle of protection of manufactures in small communities. Since the war manufactures have sprung up in the South without any kind of assistance from protective or other duties; without any fostering aid they have sprung up in rivalry to the manufactures of the older New England, and they have been carried on satisfactorily; they have sprung up merely through the natural operation of economic force. If the Irish Legislature had this power, I repeat, it would be a power injurious to themselves, injurious to their material prosperity—[An hon. MEMBER: Question!] I thought the hon. Member was a genuine Home Ruler. You must give power, even if it does operate mischievously to those who have; you must give it them; the necessity of the case requires it being given, and on them the responsibility of the consequences must fall. The fact is that it is demanded in a large degree throughout Ireland, and it is a test of sincerity on the part of Home Rulers whether they are willing to legislate in deference to Irish opinion; whether they will grant or withhold this power. I would put it in another way. You are launching an Irish Parliament with a particular scheme of finance, a particular means of income, and particular modes of collecting income for the needs of your Irish Administration. The Irish Government in the future, if ever it should come into existence, will be in a very tight fit in regard to finance. The money given is not less than they are entitled to demand; and though Ireland would be in a tight fit it does not involve that Ireland is unjustly or even illiberally treated, but, at all events, she would be very hard up. I would recall to hon. Members of the Committee the observation made by the hon. Member for Cork, who said—The Irish Parliament would have a good deal of leeway to make up, neglected industries to look after, opportunities of material development which have been overlooked or put aside, work of that kind to be undertaken, all of which involves money;and you are greatly restricting them in the way of money if you sot up a Parliament, as you propose, and deny them the power of levying Customs Unties as they 449 would desire. By this you are preparing in the future remonstrances against limitations you put on their tax-levying authority. It must be obvious to hon. Members that the power of free legislation in respect to trade has a considerable bearing on the prospects of income to an Irish Parliament, and to which most Parliaments and most Governments first look in desiring to meet the charges of the year; and therefore the insufficiency of the tax-levying power given to the Irish Parliament, and the calls that the Irish Parliament will have to meet, is an additional argument in favour of going the length of your own principles, and meeting, as you profess to meet in full, the claims of the Irish Representatives in giving what they desire—power over Customs Unties, power over regulating trade. They want money—here is the only means of obtaining it, and you deny them that means. They might borrow money, but those who lend generally like to receive interest, and they look to the income out of which it is to be do-rived. So far as I have any knowledge of loans lent to foreign countries, the Customs Unties are generally considered the first charge with which to pay the interest on the loans. I might go to many observations, adduce many circumstances to enhance the views that prevail in Ireland for this demand of power; but it is enough if I refer to the language of the late Mr. Parnell, who did not give expression to opinions at variance with what he believed to be the popular sentiment and what he understood to be the popular demand. On two occasions, at least, he expressly claimed for the Irish Legislature the power which I say must be given to this Legislature if Home Rule is to be considered in the sense in which it has been described. He declared the claim of his country to the power of developing their own resources by means of establishing a Customs tariff. That runs through the whole scheme of Home Rule, and I think this scheme is a hasty blunder from beginning to end. It is our work to make the country understand that, to make the people understand what is invalid in it, and when they have realised it, we shall secure the verdict to reject what has been too hastily proposed. We recognise the authority to which we must go, and we want to bring Home Rule to the mind of 450 that authority, to bring before it all the speeches, and to show in detail what are the special things to be taken into account.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I do not wish to parody the language of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. I am not the least angry at that interruption; but, I am sincerely grieved that the hon. Member, who has great ability, and has shown it previously in Debates in this House, should descend to these ridiculous interruptions that do no honour to himself, that depreciate the value of his career, and for the sake of his reputation I hope that he will abstain from them. I will not occupy the attention of the Committee very long now. I have said the fears of hon. Gentlemen opposite are not generally expressed; but we all know the expression of their desire is limited to what they can obtain. If they have anything offered them, will they reject it—will it be otherwise than agreeable, and a fulfilment of what they want? I have heard them say—"We want better earnings; we want to be better off, and we can do it if you let us have the power." I do not believe they would; but that is their belief, and if you are going to act on their belief, you cannot refuse the means by which they hope to bring about their desire. There is only one other point in connection with this that I ought to allude to, and that is that in considering this Amendment I can never get rid of the reference to Clause 9. It is intimately connected with the retention of the Irish Members. Every limitation you put upon the power of the Irish Legislature renders it the more imperative that the Irish Members should remain here; and if you maintain this limitation in respect of trade, and disable the Irish Legislature from legislating in respect of Customs, or in respect of Excise, you make it absolutely necessary that there should be Irish Representatives in this House. I associated my Amendment with an alteration of Clause 9 so as to exclude the Irish Members from the Imperial Parliament, because it would be impossible to deny this power, and to deny them, at the same time, representation in the House of Commons. I know it is said that question was settled 451 by the constituencies. I do not believe it was, but I believe it is still an open question. I apologise to the Committee for having detained them at such length; but, at the same time, I am conscious of the importance of the subject, which require some elaboration in presenting it to the Committee, and I must press upon the head of the Government that it is one which cannot be disposed of, simply because it is an unpleasant matter to consider. It is a thing you will have to consider in proposing to legislate according to Irish ideas and wishes, and it is because I desire to have that brought home to the people at large that I make this proposal. I beg to move the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 7, to leave out the words "Trade with any place out of Ireland or quarantine or."—(Mr. Courtney.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My right hon. Friend has delivered an extremely comprehensive speech. I do not think it is necessary for me to enter, at this time, upon the question of the retention of the Irish Members; nor do I think it is desirable that I should discuss the question of Irish finance, both of which subjects I look upon as rather extraneous. Although this is a Motion for the extension of the powers of the Irish Legislature, my right hon. Friend will not expect any lively gratitude from me as a promoter of the Bill. The moral lessons which my right hon. Friend appeared to think would attend the adoption of his Amendment is another and very different thing. I am not sure how far my right hon. Friend intended to go in recommending his own Motion. He said—"I urge the necessity of granting to the Irish Legislature the possession of the very large power described in my Amendment, but I think it right to give notice to you and the Irish Members that the possession of that power will be injurious to them." So singular a form of recommendation as that would justify me in compressing as much as I can, the reply I have to make. I quite agree that this is a very serious question, and one that it is absolutely necessary for all persons connected with the framing of 452 the Bill, to look in the face and endeavour to deal with according to the main and leading considerations that bear upon it. The Government are not in a position to consider the possibility of accepting the Amendment. I think my right, hon. Friend will recognise that we could not make a change of this character—a change going so near to the root of the Bill in the matter of such vital and practical importance—without endangering the measure of which we have charge. Let the Committee look very briefly at the history of this question. In the Bill of 1886, not without having given the best consideration in their power to the subject, we proposed to withhold from the Irish Legislature the power of dealing with external trade. But we were conscious, in doing that, that we were making a very serious demand upon Ireland. The management of the trade of a country is a very serious portion of what may be considered as properly its own affairs; and it might have been that Ireland would have resented this aggression, so to call it, on our part, and having obtained the power of declaring her intention with regard to our proposals would have said—"We cannot accept your gift upon such a condition." The Irish Nationalists and the people of Ireland would have been perfectly entitled to take that ground if they had pleased; but that ground was not taken. My right hon. Friend says, and says truly, that at one period Mr. Parnell, who necessarily spoke with enormous weight upon every subject relating to the affairs of Ireland, demanded this power on the part of Ireland. Yes, Sir; Mr. Parnell demanded many things on the part of Ireland—and I am not here censuring those demands—which demands, notwithstanding, he was content to withdraw when once he found a great practical proposition made to him which he thought would be to the interest of Ireland to accept, and I am not aware that since 1886 Mr. Parnell ever made that demand. Unquestionably, when Mr. Parnell rose in this House and accepted, on the part of himself and his Colleagues, in all its main outlines, the plan proposed in 1886, I think we were entitled to understand—I am quite certain we did understand, and I am also quite certain we have never been shaken in this understanding—that Ireland was content to forego this portion 453 of her claim which, on abstract grounds, she might have adhered to if she had chosen. This reservation was adopted by the Government deliberately, and after mature consideration it has been adhered to; it was accepted on the part of the people of Ireland in 1886, and I am not aware that there has been any disposition shown to retract that acceptance. That places us in a position of entire incapacity to accept this Amendment, unless it be that my right hon. Friend, with the great argumentative power he possesses, had gone more deeply into the subject, and said—"Now I will show you from my knowledge and reasonings that this is a power so beneficial to Ireland, and so essential to her, that you cannot possibly withhold it." But, instead of that, he told the Committee that the power he desired to give to Ireland would be distinctly injurious to her. My right hon. Friend has given the Committee no assistance whatever in moving towards him for the purpose of agreeing with the Amendment. So much for the history of the question. I will speak now of the practical considerations which led the Government originally to adopt the scheme which they have promoted and proposed to the House. Fully adhering to my position that I considered the concession of this power a very large concession on the part of Ireland, a very large deduction from what she might have demanded on abstract grounds, I think it ought also to be a very conciliatory concession. Although my right hon. Friend does not appear to agree with me, I consider this a sagacious and wise plan in the last degree. My right hon. Friend contended that all the Colonies had absolute possession of liberty of trade and the Government of trade laws. That is true, no doubt, up to a certain point, but it is not so true as he appears to suppose. There are portions of our Commercial Law that are in force in the Colonies. The Merchant Shipping Law of this country is a very important part of our Commercial Law, and that is, I believe I am right in saying, as a general rule, in force in the Colonies. My right hon. Friend will well recollect the case of the Shenandoah and the conduct pursued by the Colonial Government during the American Civil War. The consequence of the conflict arising out of that case, which we had no power of control- 454 ling, was that this country was called upon to pay by the decision of the arbitrators a good many hundred thousand pounds, and the money came, not out of the Revenues of the Colony, but out of the British Treasury. If the Commercial Law were placed under the control of the Irish Authorities, and if a case bearing any analogy to that of the Shenandoah were to arise in an Irish port, and the Central Government of the country were to be mulcted by the decision of arbitrators in a large sum of money and the Imperial Treasury were called upon to liquidate it, every wise Irish Nationalist would join with every inhabitant of Great Britain in deprecating such a result and the state of the law that had led to it. These questions of trade law are connected at a number of important, points with the foreign relations of the country, and that is one reason why I think Ireland and her Representatives have been very wise in making the large and handsome concession in this matter which I thankfully acknowledge they have made. The question of the treatment of foreign ships and foreign crews in the Irish ports is a question of the utmost importance, involving the responsibility of this country under Treaties with Foreign Powers. The fact that Great Britain's responsibility is involved renders it impossible to surrender the whole regulation of Irish trade with other countries to the local Legislature of Ireland. There also arise sometimes very inconvenient cases, involving demands upon the Imperial Treasury in connection with the Customs Duties. I remember, rather more than half a century ago when I was at the Board of Trade, a case in which, as a consequence of the legislation which the Government had thought good to adopt as to the introduction of rice from various countries, America demanded, under the terms of their Treaty, the repayment out of the public Treasury of Great Britain of a large sum of money which had been levied here as Customs Duly in excess of the amount sanctioned by the Treaty. Great inconvenience would be caused in eases of that kind, supposing that Ireland's Customs Duties were to be fixed by the Irish authorities. The question of the foreign relations of the country is a question of great practical weight and importance, which must be seriously 455 considered in the discussion of this Amendment, but it is not the main consideration which has led the Government to the conclusion at which they have arrived, and to which we are bound to adhere. That main consideration is this: that the United Kingdom, from geographical circumstances as well as from circumstances which are social and moral, constitutes one great and vast trade circle. If you depart from the principle of uniformity in trade matters you might, perhaps, satisfy to a greater extent the abstract idea of the right of local legislation, but by satisfying that abstract idea you might inflict an immense practical injury. It is necessary in the interests of Ireland herself that this uniformity of Commercial Law should prevail throughout those islands. My right hon. Friend has not noticed this all-important question—how the producers of this country, the men who regulate and carry on the distribution of the products of its enormous, its immeasurable industries, would be affected by the introduction of different commercial laws within the limits of the United Kingdom. If the power which my right hon. Friend desires to confer upon the Irish Legislature were granted, I do not suppose that it would be misused. My confidence in the good sense of the Irish people is such that I do not believe anything of the kind. But I do not care to debate the question whether they would misuse the power or not, for I base my position on this, that it is vital to the commerce of the Three Kingdoms that there should be uniformity of Commercial Law from one extremity of the land to the other. Sir, I think it will be unnecessary for me to go further into the history of the question. I have touched upon the great subject of foreign relations; I have touched, above all, upon the internal relations of the trade and industries and business of the country, which appear to me to establish so conclusive a case in favour of adhering to the restrictive provisions in the Bill that I must own myself surprised that this question should be raised with the view that has been proclaimed to-day, and still more that, if it were to be raised, it should be raised by my right hon. Friend.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Those who have listened to the interesting speeches just delivered can have no 456 doubt whatever as to the importance of the question that has been raised. I attach the greatest importance to the speech just delivered by my right hon. Friend, in the course of which he has now laid down several doctrines which are new as coming from the Treasury Bench, and to which in future discussions we shall have to make frequent reference. I will only allude to the latest doctrine to which my right hon. Friend has given utterance, and that is, that in his opinion, and, therefore, in the view of the Government, whilst the right of Ireland to do what the right hon. Member for Bodmin proposed she should be empowered to do might be considered as an abstract right to injure herself, that abstract right did not include any right whatever to injure anybody else. This admission will bring into view a great number of the Amendments which Ave have already proposed and which we have to propose on the distinct ground that, whatever right Ireland has to injure herself, she has no right to do anything, directly or indirectly, that could injure this country. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin has not argued that the power proposed to be conferred by his Amendment is in itself desirable, but that, whether it is desirable or injurious, it is inevitable. Its ultimate adoption is an undoubted consequence of the Home Rule principle, whether you grant it now or do not as one of the consequences of Home Rule. I agree with my right hon. Friend that if a Home Rule Parliament is granted to Ireland, the power to deal with external trade will have to be conceded sooner or later. I proceed to notice the various objections which, as a Home Ruler, my right hon. Friend has put before the House. He speaks, of course, as a consistent Home Ruler, and yet he objects to give Ireland this particular power. He said, in the first place, that the proposal of the right hon. Member for Bodmin went to the root of the Bill, and that, therefore, it could not be accepted. But we have been told over and over again that the object of the Bill is to give to Ireland the management of exclusively Irish affairs, and what can be more exclusively Irish than Irish trade? I think the argument used against us is often pressed too far. It is very difficult to find anything in the strictest sense exclusively Irish. It will 457 almost always be possible to say, indirectly at any rate, Great Britain may be affected by the conduct of the Irish Legislature. But, at all events, the argument which has been used to show many of our Amendments are entirely inconsistent with what has already been done has been that matters exclusively Irish are, by the consent of the House and by Resolution already come to, to be handed over for the consideration of the Irish Legislature. My right hon. Friend objects to the Amendment because of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin, in which he said that if Irishmen abused, or, rather, misused this power and established Protective Duties, it would be injurious to Ireland. Of course, Free Traders believed it would be injurious to Ireland, and I myself think so. But the point is—Are we going to refuse to the Irish Legislature any power which by any possibility they might misuse? The House has been told over and over again by the right hon. Gentleman that he has absolute confidence in the good sense of the Irish people, and the right hon. Gentleman has told the Committee again this afternoon that he has every confidence that the Irish Legislature or the Irish Government would not do anything so foolish as to enforce Protective Duties against this country. Entertaining these views, how can the right hon. Gentleman say, "I am not going to give them this power, because they might use it injuriously to themselves"? Then the Prime Minister objects to the Amendment because it would be attended with inconvenience to this country; and he gave two illustrations. The first was the escape of the Shenandoah from an Australian port. But how would the escape from an Australian port of the Shenandoah or any other ship be in the slightest degree affected by allowing the Irish Parliament to deal with trade? That is a question of Executive authority and administration. The right hon. Gentleman touched upon a blot in the Bill. A Shenandoah might escape from an Irish port, and might leave the Imperial Parliament with tremendous responsibilities to which it would not in the slightest degree have contributed; but the handing over of trade to the Irish Parliament would make no difference whatever. The second case was the 458 over-levying of Rice Duties upon a foreign ship. But if a mistake of that kind were made and if compensation had to be given for it hereafter, of course—if Ireland and the Irish Legislature were given the control of the Customs—the Irish Legislatures, and not the Imperial Parliament, ought to be made responsible for the mistakes of its officials, and it is perfectly absurd to suppose that the Imperial Parliament would agree to take responsibility for the commission of mistakes in a matter which had been handed over exclusively to the Irish Parliament. Then the right hon. Gentleman came to what he said was the dominant consideration in this matter, and he asked the Committee to boar in mind that at present the United Kingdom constituted one vast trade circle. Yes; but, he might have asked the Committee, for that matter, to bear in mind that it constituted at the present time one vast legislative circle. For myself, I confess that I think it may be difficult when Ireland ceases to be part of one vast legislative circle to keep the other relations in the same harmony as they were at present.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
That really pains me to the heart. There is an hon. Member sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman who entertains suspicious as to the good faith and good feelings of hon. Members opposite. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman is—that at present Ireland constitutes, with the rest of the United Kingdom, one vast trade circle, and that it would not be for the interest of Ireland that those trade relations should be interfered with. Perhaps not for the interest of Ireland, but it is part of the right hon. Gentleman's case that it is no' business of ours to consider the interests of Ireland exclusively. The right hon. Gentleman has another argument—that any interference with the existing trade relations would also be disadvantageous to the producers of this country—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, the United Kingdom, and, so far as it concerns them, the producers of Ireland or any portion of Ireland; but according to the principles which the right hon. 459 Gentleman asks the Committee to accept, that is a matter that ought to be left to Ireland to settle. If the right hon. Gentleman were to say that the producers of Great Britain would be affected, I would agree with the right hon. Gentleman. It is because the British manufacturers would be affected, and because the right hon. Gentleman knows that the unpopularity of such a proposal would be fatal to his Bill, that he admits this one point alone to be an exception to the general principle he has been endeavouring throughout this Bill to establish. The right hon. Member for Bodmin has said that this concession is inevitable. The Prime Minister told us it was quite true that a long while ago Mr. Parnell, speaking with full authority as the representative of the Irish people, stated that he demanded for the Irish people the right, if they pleased, to establish protection. It is important to recollect that Mr. Parnell stated in the most positive way that he warned the Liberals and Radicals of this country that no settlement could be final or satisfactory that did not give this power to the Irish people. It might be that Mr. Parnell accepted at a later period the withdrawal of that proposal; but he said on another occasion that neither he nor anyone else could set a limit to the march of a nation. Therefore, if the people of Ireland believe that it is the first duty of the Irish Legislature to establish and stimulate their trade by Protective Duties, neither Mr. Parnell's declarations nor those of anybody else would affect their right to demand the power to do so. The right hon. Gentleman says that Mr. Parnell subsequently withdrew his demand, but never did so publicly, except in the speech in this House in which he accepted the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. A great light has been thrown on the sense in which he accepted that Bill. Mr. Parnell said he only accepted it pro tanto. In fact, it was accepted, as this Bill is accepted, merely as an instalment and as an instrument by which further concessions can be extorted from the British Parliament. It may be that, for the moment, hon. Members opposite accept the measure; but I do not believe that one of them will get up and say, on behalf of the Irish people, that they would never ask for power to impose Protective Duties. I 460 am quite certain that, so long as the majority of the Irish people believe that their material interest can only be secured by such a policy, so long will the British Parliament be open to the continual demands which this Bill renders so easy for them to make.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham reminded him of looking through a telescope at the wrong end—it turned everything topsy-turvy. He had voted against the Second Reading, and, although solicitous about the extension of the powers of the Irish Legislature, he did not say whether he intended to vote for the Third Reading. The right hon. Gentleman advocated a proposal which he (Colonel Nolan) did not consider as an honest proposal, looking at the quarter of the House from which it came. The object of the right hon. Gentleman was to make the Bill unpopular with the English people. This Amendment was put down as a crux for the Irish Members, and it was difficult for them to pronounce upon it in this hasty manner. He thought he might be able to throw a little more light upon what Mr. Parnell had done in the matter. Mr. Parnell had always been avowedly in favour of Protection for Ireland until the introduction of the Home Rule Bill in 1886. Mr. Parnell afterwards said he could not recollect whether it was in a speech or in private conversation; but he certainly said that he merely gave up this trade question for a quid pro quo which rested on the financial proposals contained in the Bill of 1886. When the Committee came to the question of land, the Irish Members would be able to determine whether the financial proposals were as good as, or better than, the proposals contained in the last Bill. The two questions were placed in juxtaposition in the last Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman now raised the question at a time which, he thought, was extremely inconvenient. The right hon. Gentleman might have left the question to the Irish Members. Speaking for himself, he (Colonel Nolan)—and he did not seek to bind anyone else by his opinion—believed it would be a great benefit to Ireland if she could regulate her own trade, but it would be very foolish if she were to begin to tax anything 461 English. Ireland wanted to develop her manufactures, and the Irish Legislature might bear that wish in mind when making some regulations about trade. He had never concealed his opinions on this point. But the question now was whether the Irish Members were to help the right hon. Gentleman to make the Bill unpalatable to the English Members. On the other hand, they must not forget what Mr. Parnell did on this point. The position taken up by the Mover of the Amendment and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was to force the hands of the Irish Members on this subject before the financial question came on, so that he might have power to destroy the Bill. That being his object, he, for one, would not assist him.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
rose amid loud cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Divide!" He said: I hear an "Oh, oh!" as if the provision Ave are discussing as to the fiscal liberty of Ireland were not one of fundamental importance in the consideration of this Bill as to need fair debate. I put it to the Government that it is one for fair discussion. Lot the Committee suppose that the Irish Members have not been, if I may use the expression, "squared" on this point; that there has not been an arrangement—a quid pro quo—would it not then be considered that at least an evening should be given up to the discussion of the subject? ["Oh, oh!"] If the Irish Members were opposed to this question of fiscal liberty, would it not be a question to deserve a long examination by the Committee? This subject is not only deeply important to Ireland, but to Great Britain and the Empire at large. I think the Committee is under deep obligation to the right hon. Gentleman for calling attention to this provision, which should not be passed without notice. It is interesting to note the opportunity which it has afforded to the Prime Minister to speak in a new character, and to defend the Imperial trade circle; but it would also be interesting to hear the answer which the Prime Minister would give to his own speech if it were made by an hon. Member on the Oppo- 462 sition side. If the importance of this Debate is only diminished by the fact that the Irish Members assent to these proposals, then the Committee has a right to ask what is the nature of the bargain, and what security there is that that bargain will be kept; and whether it can be kept. [Cries of "Divide!"]
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I think I am entitled to speak on this important matter. Hon Gentlemen may be anxious to divide, but I do not think they can fairly dispute the importance of these two propositions. The Prime Minister has shown the Committee how deeply injurious to this country it would be were this power retained in the Irish Legislature. If the Opposition can show, both from the utterances of the past and the attitude of hon. Members from Ireland, that there is no security whatever, if an Irish Legislature is established, that it would not gain this fiscal freedom, the Opposition is bound to take this fact into consideration, and to place it before the constituencies, and to allow it to become an important element in these discussions. The Committee has heard of the quid pro quo laid down by Mr. Parnell; but we now want to know what is the quid pro quo which hon. Members from Ireland have now received? Have they received any? If so, the Committee is entitled to know. Though challenged on the point by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, the Irish Members are dumb; they dare not open their lips and tell the Committee whether they believe that Protection is or is not desired by the Irish people whom they represent. The British elector is interested in this power being withheld from the Irish Legislature; and, therefore, I shall vote against the Amendment of my right hon. Friend, because I am anxious that the Irish people should not have this power. I do not agree, however, with the Prime Minister that it is a power which would, in all probability, not be used if placed in the control of the Irish Legislature. 463 The value of the discussion consists in this. The Colonies have often been cited in the course of these discussions; but their content has arisen because they have had fiscal freedom; and we believe that the Irish would not be contented unless they also had fiscal liberty. This compromise would not only be viewed with disfavour by the British elector, but the result would be constant friction and the disappointment of all hopes entertained by what I may call the "Ministerial Band of Hope" that peace and good feeling would be promoted by this Bill.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 293; Noes 256.—(Division List, No. 125.)
§ Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ It being after half-past Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.