§ [TWENTY-SEVENTH NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legislative Authority.
§ Clause 4 (Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature).
MR. PARKER SMITH
said, he rose to move an Amendment to add, after the 6th sub-section, the words—Whereby the actions of any official of the Government shall be removed from the cognisance of the ordinary law.The object of the Amendment was to bar the introduction by the Irish Legislature of any system of droit administratif, such as was referred to by Professor Dicey in his Law of the Constitution. This system of droit administratif was not one which existed in England, but it was adopted almost all over the Continent, and Continental jurists who studied our law considered it a remarkable feature of that law that we had no such system. The principle of the system was to give to the officials of the Government a very special position, and rights and privileges in the deciding of actions brought against them, which were not possessed by ordinary citizens. In a previous sub-section they had adopted words to the effect that the 1788 powers of the Irish Legislature should not extend to the making of any law—Whereby any person might be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, in accordance with settled principles and precedents, or may be denied the equal protection of the laws, or whereby private property may be taken without just compensation.That was the main fundamental protection which individual citizens required. It was further, however, a recognised principle in Great Britain that every man should be subject to the ordinary law, as administered by the ordinary tribunals; but he saw nothing in the Bill which would make that an essential part of the future rights of Irish citizens under this Bill. Liberty with us had been to a large extent established as the result of actions brought against officials—such as proceedings against Colonial Governors, and actions against the Serjeant-at-Arms, who had been brought before the Courts of Law for refusing to comply with the Habeas Corpus Act. It had been held that every official of the Government was subject to every tribunal, and could not defend himself by his administrative position. But this was an exceptional view—almost an insular view. But on the Continent—in France, Germany, Russia, and other countries—Government officials could not be made amenable to the ordinary Courts of Law. Acts done by them were questions of administrative law. It was before an Administrative Court, not composed of Judges of the land but of their own official superiors, that they were brought. And the case was stronger than this, because even in uncertain cases, where it was an open question whether the matter was one for the ordinary Courts or the Administrative Courts, it was not the ordinary Courts of Judicature which decided, but the Supreme Administrative Court. It seemed to him that these principles were principles which would be tempting to the Irish Legislature. They would have full confidence in themselves, and it was highly probable that they would frequently find the Judicature standing in their way. They would find that they had far more control over their own officials and the members of the Administration than they had over the Judges. It was not at all unlikely that they would resort to a principle of this kind—a principle which was not only a part of 1789 the existing law in France, but which was according to French ideas previous to the Revolution. Was the Irish Legislature to have power, subject only to the invidious control of the veto, to set up a droit administratif of this kind? Did the Committee desire that they should have that power, and did they consider that under the Bill as it stood they would have that power? On many Amendments the Solicitor General had got up and had said that the proposal was covered by words already in the Bill, and the hon. Member for North Kerry had risen and said it was an insult to the Irish people to suppose that they would ever do the particular thing it was sought to prevent, and, at the same time, that it would be an insult to deprive them of the power of doing it if they chose. Well, in regard to this particular matter, the only words he could see in the Bill which could possibly bring it within the purview were the words by which every citizen was given equal protection of the law. He would ask the Solicitor General whether he considered that those words covered the matter? [Sir J. RIGBY made no response.] The words did not seem to him to cover the matter at all. Those general words covered cases of personal injustice or inequality. They had been considered and dealt with, of course, under the American Constitution; but too much stress was not laid on them. For instance, they were not held to cover laws made against a special race—the Chinese. But, to put it on a wider ground, he did not see how it could be maintained that in France and Germany men had not the equal protection of the law. And he did not see how it could be urged that it would be an insult to Ireland to suggest that she might desire to follow the example of Continental jurists. It seemed to him that this was not only an extremely important provision, but that it would prevent what might very easily arise in Ireland. The Irish Legislature would have the Administration practically under its control. According to the desire of every active Representative Body, it would seek to get more and more power into its hands. It would find droit administratif a very straight and easy and measured path to that result, and no one would be able to say that its action was unjust, seeing that, after all, the principle 1790 of giving special privileges to servants of the Government was a principle recognised as in the best interests of the country by countries such as France and Germany. That being so, it seemed to him that his Amendment was simply a corollary of the new and most important Sub-section 5. He hoped the Government would see their way to accept it.
In page 2, after line 41, to insert as a new subsection, the words, "(7) Whereby the actions of any official of the Government shall be removed from the cognisance of the ordinary law; or."—(Mr. Parker Smith.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. and learned Member has described the method in which the Amendments moved by himself and others have been met by Her Majesty's Government; and I think I might, if I were so minded, make some remarks of a recriminatory character on the hon. and learned Member. He has been endowed, I hope I may say without discourtesy, with the gift of length. The hon. Member brings forward something out of the American Constitution, or, as in this case, out of a book by Professor Dicey, and he deals with it at a length entirely out of proportion to its importance, then he objects because we do not answer him at corresponding length. I do not propose to alter the course we have taken on previous occasions, and I will give him as short an answer as I possibly can. I quite agree with what Professor Dicey has said as to its being a distinction to our Constitutional system that we have not, and have not for many generations, had a droit administratif. But why are we to assume that the Irish Legislature will be less sensible of the superiority of our system than we are? The hon. Member talks of Russia, Germany, and France. As far as France is concerned, it is quite certain that the droit administratif is part of the old system of France, which has not been got rid of any more than many other portions of that system have been got rid of. But in Ireland they will start anew, and the whole habit of thinking about these systems has been formed on different models. We are told almost with one breath that the 1791 Irish Parliament will be a body of Anarchists, and that they will resort to the customs of centralised despotism inherited from old France and Prussia. My hon. Friend has done here what he and his friends have done in other Amendments. He has picked out a single imaginary, though not conceivable folly and iniquity, into which he says the Irish Legislature might fall, and, in order to meet it, has drawn up an Amendment in terms ludicrously and recklessly wide. My hon. Friend says that the actions of the officials of the Government are to be dealt with as the actions of any other citizens are dealt with. Is he aware that there is at this moment before Parliament a Bill for the consolidation of the laws protecting Public Authorities? That Bill consolidates hundreds of Acts which give to public officials a certain priority and protection, and absolve them from laws which affect ordinary citizens. My hon. Friend does not desire to prevent the Irish Legislature making laws of the kind now before Parliament. Why, then, does he use words which would shut out legislation of that kind? We entirely object to the Amendment, and regret that so much time has been occupied by it.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
Without complaining of the argument with which the Chief Secretary has met that of my hon. Friend, I would venture to point out to him that it was quite unnecessary that he should have introduced into that argument the acrimonious attack he made on my hon. Friend. He has singled out my hon. Friend's speech as a special illustration of a type of opposition to which he objects. He says my hon. Friend speaks with unnecessary length. I will make two remarks on that. The first is that the longest speeches made upon any Amendment on this Bill have been made from the Treasury Bench, whilst the speeches of the Opposition in support of that Amendment have been extremely short, and gone closely and directly to the question before the Committee. I do not, therefore, think it lies in the mouth of my right hon. Friend to make such an attack upon my hon. Friend. It is quite true that we do not agree with the Government as to the time that ought to be occupied in the consideration of Amendments. Thirty minutes, out of 1792 which 20 minutes were occupied by the speech of the Prime Minister, were considered enough to deal with the interests of the Freemasons.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The total time occupied by the Debate on the Freemasons last night was 39 minutes. I cannot say what was the exact time occupied by my right hon. Friend, but it was about 20 minutes.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, I expect my watch does not keep the same time as that of my right hon. Friend. The particular illustration, however, is really of very slight consequence. It cannot be denied that on the matter to which we are referring the Government took themselves a large portion of the short time which they considered sufficient for dealing with a subject that interests, as they will discover, an enormous number of the voters of this country. I come to the arguments of the Chief Secretary in reference to the Amendment. He asks why we should assume that the Irish Parliament will establish anything in the nature of a droit administratif? I venture to say that it is the duty of this Committee and of the Government to protect Ireland against serious mistakes of that kind on the part of the Irish Parliament. The Chief Secretary admits that it would be a great mistake, and that it would be thoroughly wrong to establish anything in the nature of a droit administratif; and, that being so, why not prevent it in the Bill? How is it possible that the Chief Secretary can be prepared to answer not only for the Irish Legislature of to-day, but for the Irish Legislature in perpetuity? Will he say that the Irish Legislature will under no circumstances do foolish or wrong things? If so, that will be an argument against taking any precautions whatever. But the Government have themselves introduced certain precautionary provisions. We have not had a single point raised yet as to which the Government have not said that they do not believe the Irish Parliament would do so foolish and wrong a thing. What is the ground for the confidence of the Chief Secretary in this matter? It is, apparently, that we have alleged that the Irish Legislature 1793 will be anarchical, and he thinks it contrary to the experience of Anarchical Bodies that they should establish a droit administratif. I would refer him to his own writings about the French Revolution. The Government of Robespierre and his friends was revolutionary enough, and yet never was the droit administratif more strongly insisted upon than by them. In those days the officials were the only persons who could not do wrong. The other objection which the Chief Secretary takes to the Amendment is that it is too wide, and he seemed to think that the Opposition deliberately made all their Amendments altogether too wide for their purpose. That may be the case, and I am not particularly concerned to justify the Opposition in such a respect. But why do the Government make it a crime against the Opposition that our drafting is not as good as theirs? The Government have all the greatest talent at their disposal in the matter of drafting, and yet even they fall into very considerable mistakes. They managed to draft Sub-section 6, for instance, so that, as they themselves admit, it is a mass of confusion, and is so ungrammatical that it will have to be re-drawn upon Report. Why, then, should they be so hard upon us? In all former cases, when the Government have agreed with the object of Amendments, but the Amendment is badly drawn, the Government have undertaken, with the assistance of their draftsman, to correct the wording. If the Government think this Amendment goes too far, they have only to suggest to us what changes should be made, and, provided such changes meet our object, we shall accept them. I do not think it necessary or desirable that a Debate on a point of this kind should be carried on at any great length. I would only point out, in conclusion, that the Amendment seeks to prevent what it is admitted it would be wrong to do, and yet the Government will put nothing in its place.
§ Viscount CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said, he did not think the Chief Secretary realised the importance of the Amendment. Its importance consisted in the fact that, even with the best intentions, the Irish Legislature was certain to pass a great many laws which would transgress the exceptions laid down in the Bill. 1794 What the Opposition feared was that the officials of the Government would be placed in such a position as to save them from the evil result of their action, or to deprive any party aggrieved by such action of his proper remedy. It was a most amazing thing that this point, had not occurred to the Government. They had removed many things from the cognisance of the Irish Legislature, but they had not removed what was, perhaps, the most important of all—namely, the Courts that must protect aggrieved parties. The Irish Legislature would have the power in its hands of altering the law under which the legal tribunals in Ireland would administer justice in such a way as to prevent them giving a remedy even under the excepted eases in Clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill. For instance, he submitted that the Irish Legislature would be able to pass an Act which would relieve Executive officers acting in the bonâ fide execution of their duty from liability to be fined for any mistake they made or wrong they did. It would also be perfectly possible for the Irish Legislature to change the whole Law of Contempt of Court, so as to deprive the Exchequer Judges of the power of enforcing their decisions by imprisonment for contempt of Court. It might also take cases of grievances arising out of illegal action on its part out of the purview of the Magistrates, and insist upon such cases being tried before the High Court. This would, of course, amount to a denial of justice to poor persons. He thought it a most extraordinary thing that, whilst the Government excepted certain subjects from the jurisdiction of the Irish Parliament, they did not also remove from their power the remedies to which aggrieved parties might resort in case the law was broken.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 230; Noes 272.—(Division List, No. 168.)
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, the next Amendment stood in his name. It was:—Page 3, line 1, leave out "(7)." The sub-section dealt with the deprivation of equal rights respecting sea fisheries. He believed the Government were willing to accept the Amendment. The sub-section was a limiting one, and he thought it should be omitted.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 1, to leave out "(7.)"—(Mr. Bartley.)
§ Question proposed, "That '(7)' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. GOSCHEN
asked what words the Government proposed to cover the various branches? It might be well to omit this sub-section, but it was but right they should understand the attitude of the Government.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, they proposed to insert the words "or of business," and they would bring the amended form up on the Report stage.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, this was a case of resident or non-resident, and it seemed to him that the Government did not propose to give "equal rights" to "any inhabitant of the United Kingdom." He thought the Amendment introduced should enable them to discriminate in the case of a landlord owning property in Ireland but living in England.
MR. J. MORLEY
was understood to say that the Government would make ample provision for safeguarding all rights.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Do I understand that the Government are willing to introduce the words "or business"?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
said, in that case he should advise the withdrawal of the Amendment. The concession of the Government went much further than he had hoped for, and they were entitled to acknowledge the manner in which they had been met.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N)
said, they were quite well able by this time to appreciate the amiable motives of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in the overstrained praise which he bestowed on the concession of the Government. They were not able, however, to appreciate the force of the contention which had been advanced, and they reserved to themselves the right to deal with the ultimate form of words.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, the "business" of fishermen was in the great waters. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Morley) seemed to be under the impression that fish coming into Ireland from Scotland were articles 1796 of Scotch manufacture imported by way of trade, and could be defined in the Bill under "trade"; but that was not so. Scotch and other fishermen might catch fish in the sea, and Irish fishermen might object to the competition, and might place them under some disability when they came in to land their "catches." Was the fisherman's place of business to be considered the place where he went in to deliver the fish?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
said, it was undesirable there should be any misunderstanding. When the Chief Secretary spoke first he used the words "or business," and the restriction would then have read:—"On account of place of birth, parentage, or business." On his speaking a second time, he understood his right hon. Friend to speak simply of "place of business." He thought they should hoar from the Government what the words really were to be.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that was not a safe meaning. He hoped his right hon. Friend, upon whose good faith they wished to rely, would give an undertaking that the object of the sub-section would be carried out as clearly as possible.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the Government were willing to introduce words which would carry out the meaning of the sub-section.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, the Government would do what it was intended should be done when the sub-section was introduced into the Bill.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, he was of opinion that they should allow the words to stand until the next stage. He was at one with the Member for North Kerry in saying that they did not know what the effect of the new words would be, and, if they accepted his suggestion, they could at the proper time introduce words to give effect to their object.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, his point was that the sub-section should be so wide as to include not only fisheries, but all trades. This sub-section limited the restrictions in the Bill. They were assured by the Government that they wished to prevent any undue preference being given, and he wanted the words to be as wide as possible. He hoped the words the Government would insert would render undue preference an impossibility.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
said, he would suggest "place of abode" instead of "place of business." The Division called last night had placed hon. Members in a difficulty; but he thought if the Chief Secretary would go a step further he would carry out his object.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, he had already explained what the Government were willing to do. He could only say that the word "abode" would be clearly out of place.
§ Question put, and negatived.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The decision of the Committee disposed of several of the Amendments which stand next on the Paper. The Amendments standing in the names of the hon. Member for York and the hon. Member for Wandsworth are out of Order.
§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
said, in reference to his Amendment which proposed to prohibit the Irish Legislature "altering its own constitution," he wished to explain—
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I rise to Order. I wish to know is it in Order for a Member to interrupt the ruling of the Chair by making a speech?
§ MR. KIMBER
I do not wish to interrupt the ruling of the Chair. I abide by the ruling; but I think it competent for an hon. Member to ask for an explanation why his Amendment has been ruled out of Order.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I beg to ask you, Mr. Mellor, whether you have not already ruled that it is perfectly in Order to ask the Chair to be kind enough to tell the reason for its ruling?
* THE CHAIRMAN
I have already said that I am prepared to answer such a question, so Ions: as there is no in- 1798 tention to dispute my ruling or to raise an argument. With regard to this particular Amendment, I have to say that, as the Irish Parliament will derive its existence from this Bill, it will be incapable of altering it when it becomes an Act. The Amendment proposes to prevent the Irish Legislature doing what it cannot possibly do, and is, therefore, out of Order. The next Amendment in Order stands in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
rose to move—In page 3, line 2, at end, add, "(8) Affecting the remedies of any person aggrieved by anything dune in omitted to be done in pursuance of any Law made in contravention of this section.He submitted that the common-sense reading of Clause 9, which related to the Exchequer Judges, was that the power and jurisdiction of the Judges were to a large extent left subjected to the Irish Parliament. But he did not confine the meaning of his Amendment to the Exchequer Judges. The Committee should recollect that every Court of Justice in Ireland, from the highest to the lowest, would be called upon to decide whether any particular law passed by the Irish Legislature was ultra vires or not. Therefore, any subject of the Queen who felt aggrieved might be obliged to bring an action, in the first instance, before the Magistrates' Court, and if the procedure and power of that Court were controlled by the Irish Legislature, it would be possible for the Irish Legislature to alter that power and procedure and thereby render the safeguards in Clauses 3 and 4 nugatory. He begged to move his Amendment.
In page 3, line 2, at end, add "(8) Affect -ting the remedies of any person aggrieved by anything done or omitted to be done in pursuance of any Law made in contravention of this section." —(Viscount Cranborne.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY,) Forfar
We do not think that the result apprehended by the noble Lord is likely to arise. Clause 19 establishes the Exchequer Judges as the Judges who will have to decide matters outside the jurisdiction of the Irish 1799 Legislature. I do not say these are the words, but that is clearly the result—
§ SIR J. RIGBY
Because we have drafted the clause far better. Why should we alter every section to please the fancy of those who do not give us much assistance? I say that the Exchequer Judges are the persons who will have to decide those points, and, therefore, this Amendment is unnecessary. There can be no doubt that the suggestion made by the noble Lord has been made without sufficient consideration.
§ Question put, and negatived.
All the other Amendments to the clause on the Paper are out of Order. The Question I have to put now is "That Clause 4, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
It may be in the recollection of the Committee that when we were discussing certain rather important matters connected with Trinity College and higher education in Ireland, I put certain questions to the Prime Minister, and the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that those questions would be more appropriately put when the Question that the Clause stand part of the Bill was put from the Chair. In conformity with the wishes of the Prime Minister I adjourned those questions to the present stage of the clause. But before I put these questions let me, without at all going into the subjects we have already decided on this clause, point out that our decisions cannot really be said to have left the clause in a very satisfactory condition. We have been discussing the clause now for some days, and yet I find that the Government have postponed from this stage to the Report stage all kinds of questions of importance connected with the drafting of the clause, and some questions substantially connected with the clause. So far from the labours of the Committee leaving the clause in its final shape, I find, on looking to Sub-section 3, that the Government admit that the word "diverting," with which that sub-section is opened, will have to be altered. The Chief Secretary told us the Government would be able to 1800 provide a more satisfactory word, but evidently that word has not yet been found, notwithstanding the great talents that are being devoted to its discovery. It is also admitted by the Government that Sub-section 6 as it stands, whatever definite meaning it may have, is not the meaning the Government desire to attach to it; and again, notwithstanding the long time the sub-section has been under discussion, the Government have failed to find words to express their own meaning. Again, I find that the Government expressed their intention early in the discussions on the clause to find words which would prevent anything in the nature of undue preference being shown by the Irish Legislature on any matter that might arise; but though words were thrown out tentatively yesterday, and again tentatively amended to-day, they do not seem to carry out the object which the Prime Minister had in view. Therefore, despite all the labour we have devoted to this clause, it still remains in the condition merely of a noble ruin, or perhaps I should say an incomplete edifice, and we do not yet know by what steps, in what manner, and by what method its final shape will be given to the clause. I have had a great deal of experience in dealing with Amendments to Bills, and I cannot recollect any Government or any Ministers in charge of a Bill who would have been let off so easily if it had ventured to adopt the course which the Government have adopted on the present occasion. But I pass from that to the questions which I propose to put to the Prime Minister. Let me first remind the Committee that on Sub-section 2 and Sub-section 3 a controversy was raised as to the power of the Irish Legislature with regard to the Training Colleges in Ireland. It was pointed out to the Committee that two of the existing Training Colleges were strictly Denominational Institutions. It was further pointed out to the Committee that these Institutions are supported by public moneys; that, these public moneys are annually voted by an Appropriation Bill, and that, therefore, there will have to be an annual legislative measure passed by the Irish Parliament if these Denominational Institutions are to continue. I put it to the Government whether they think or do not think that Sub-sections 2 and 3 would permit the 1801 Irish Legislature to vote and appropriate money for the support of those Institutions. It is quite true that the Prime Minister did say that, in his opinion, it would be competent for the Irish Legislature to continue to support these Colleges in the future as we have done in the past. But the matter was not argued at length, and no question was asked as to the bearing of that decision upon the maintenance and support of Denominational Institutions as sot out in the sub-sections. The next act of the drama, if I may use the expression, arose on the subject of Trinity College and the establishment of a Catholic University in Ireland. When the fate and fortunes of Trinity College were under discussion the Irish Members pointed out with considerable force that they considered they had a right to an Institution for the higher education which should be under the control of the Catholic clergy, and they did not think it would be necessary, in order to obtain that object, that Trinity College should be despoiled. They argued that it was not necessary, in order to establish a University or College under Catholic control, to despoil Trinity College. Of course, their contention is that they can obtain that object by voting money for the establishment of such an Institution under the powers given by this Bill. Thereupon, I asked the Government whether, in their view, it would be in the competency of the Irish Legislature under this clause to establish a catholic college or Catholic University, and that was the Specific question which the prime Minister desired me to postpone to this stage of the clause. If the right hon. Gentleman is going to answer this question about the Catholic Training Colleges, I Wish to ask him further Whether he thinks this clause does or does not prevent the establishment by the Irish Legislature out of public funds of primary schools all over the country of a strictly denominational character? I am quite certain that the effect of the whole clause taken together is practically to prevent any change in the existing undenominational system of education in Ireland—seeing that Public funds are obtained by taxation from Catholics and protestants alike—in the 1802 direction of establishing Catholic places of education throughout the country. Speaking for myself personally, I desire to give the Irish Legislature the power of supporting the Denominational Training Colleges. Speaking again solely for myself, I should hesitate greatly before forbidding the establishment of a Catholic College; but I could not approve of the general system of education—primary and secondary—supported as it is out of public funds—to be placed on a denominational basis. It is true to say that in a great many of the primary schools there is a system in vogue not very easily distinct from a denominational system protected by a Conscience Clause; but it is not true to say that the system in Ireland generally is a denominational system. We want, therefore, to know whether the existing system is protected by the clause as it stands?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am anxious to meet the right hon. Gentleman, who at hit request, or at all events in conformity with the regular rule of business, postponed his questions on this subject until the present stage. In the little I have to say I shall not be argumentative, but simply explanatory. It would be of little value to be argumentative, because we have passed the point when we could amend the clause or discuss Amendments to the clause. I shall, therefore, simply meet what I think is the question put to the Government—namely, as to their view of the effect of the present provisions in the clause with regard to the system of undenominational education in Ireland, embracing the primary schools and reaching up as far, at any rate, as the College. With regard to the University, I do not pretend to say anything, because there are so many ways in which the question might be brought forward that I would require to see the particular form before I could possibly venture to give an opinion on the subject. The restraining provisions on the Irish Legislature in this important matter are two in number. First, there is the provision preventing them from endowing a religion; and, secondly, there is the provision aiming at undue preference in religious matters. It is in the light of these two provisions that I consider the questions which have been put to me by the right hon. Gentleman. 1803 As regards the present undenominational schools in Ireland and the Training Colleges, we accept in full the incompatibility of denominational schools in Ireland, and, of course, all future denominational schools, if such should be founded with the provisions of this clause; but we excepted the Training Colleges, though they are strictly of a denominational character, just as in England under our undenominational system, protected by a Conscience Clause, we have Training Colleges which, though they receive support from the State on liberal terms, are of a denominational character, and so much so that if they were set up as independent Institutions, and not purely ministerial to the schools, it would be a question whether they did not come within the meaning of undue preference. Then we are asked to consider the provisions of the clause with respect to Colleges or higher education. It is quite clear that to establish a religious endowment, or anything that is liable to the charge of undue preference, as described by the Bill, cannot he done by the Irish Legislature; but I am not prepared to say on that account that a College establishment of a denominational character, bound by certain conditions, is excluded by the Bill. On the contrary, it would be consistent with what we have done—perhaps it is required in consistence with what we have done with regard to denominational schools—that we should hold this ground: that the Irish Legislature should not be precluded from founding any Denominational College which shall put no compulsion or those outside the denomination in respect to instruction or worship, and which shall elect to its professorships and other appointments, supported by public endowment, irrespective of creed, except such as in their nature are associated with denominational duties. So far as I can judge, that would be in clear analogy with respect to the undenominational schools, and it would, in a sense, correspond with the arrangements of Trinity College which undoubtedly as it stands, however free and open to Roman Catholics it may be by Statute, is, for certain purposes, and especially for the purposes of the Christian ministry, a great Protestant Training Institution. We are all of opinion that under the 1804 conditions we have described the founding of such a College would be within the provisions of the Bill as it now stands.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman has read us out the carefully-considered judgment of the interpretation which he and his friends are disposed to put upon the clause. Would it be asking too much of the Government to consider whether, when the subject comes on again on Report, they could not introduce formal words to put it beyond doubt in the clause itself that the interpretation the right hon. Gentleman puts on the clause is the interpretation which the Courts will put upon it? I think the distinctions the right hon. Gentleman has drawn are of a subtle character, and upon so important a question as this it is inexpedient to leave it to the Courts to go upon the narrow line which the right hon. Gentleman travels so easily; and I think the Courts would take a broader and probably a cruder view of this clause. The present system of primary education in Ireland is undenominational in this sense: that it belongs to a Board constituted by Protestants and Catholics, which absolutely manages the whole system; and though there is nothing in the regulations of that Board to prevent a clergyman or parish priest being a manager of a school, the system in Ireland is distinctly an undenominational system. I am anxious to know whether the right hon. Gentleman finds it would be impossible for the Irish Legislature to alter that system, and to carry out what hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have never concealed their desire to carry out, and that is, to hand over the schools in which Catholic children attend entirely to Catholic authorities?
§ MR. SEXTON
That never was demanded. What was suggested was that where there was a school for different denominations in the same locality attended only by the children of one creed, that such schools might be treated as what they really actually were—namely, as denominational.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I was aware that that was the particular demand put forward by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, on the supposition that the present Board of Education was to go on as it is, and the present system of administra- 1805 tion was to last. But what I want to know is, is it to be in their power to modify from top to bottom the whole system of primary education in Ireland in a denominational sense? I am convinced that if the Government answer in the affirmative, they will be raising a hornets nest in this country and in Ireland, and they do not know what they are doing. There is a large section of the people attached to the present system; vast bodies in this country of Nonconformists and others, who certainly would not look, without the gravest suspicion and the greatest fear, on any proposal for allowing this question to come under the influence of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway; and these people, both in Ireland and England, are under the impression at present that their views are carried out and their interests protected in this clause. I understand, however, that the Government do not take that view, and their contention, hitherto uuexpressed—up to this date quite unexpressed—is that the Irish Legislature should be handed over, without any other control than that requiring the imposition of a Conscience Clause, the whole machinery of primary education, from top to bottom, in Ulster as well as the rest of Ireland.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
We have never stated that primary education is to be handed over unconditionally, except under the protection of a Conscience Clause. In point of fact, the Government have followed the guidance of the discussion which took place in the House the other day. The right hon. Gentleman says that the system of Irish education is undenominational. In my opinion, it is practically pervaded by a strong denominational taint. If the right hon. Gentleman asks me whether it would be in the power of the Irish Legislature to carry the denominational principle to whatever length they please, I should say it appears to me humbly, and speaking perhaps hastily, upon my own view of the clause, that if they did so they would certainly come into conflict, if not with the provision as to the endowment of religion, certainly with the provision as to undue preference.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I think there would be. With regard to the 1806 Education Board in Ireland, I am aware of no feeling hostile to the existence of that Board or of any intention to disturb it.
§ MR J. CHAMBERLAIN
Two questions arise from the very important statement of the Prime Minister. The first is, as to whether the interpretation the Government place upon the Bill is the correct interpretation?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (interposing)
Allow mc to interpose just for one moment. I ought to have said, in answer to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, that, of course, I give no pledge on this matter, and I am not convinced that further precision and further definition is required in the clause. Of course, we ought not to leave this matter in a state of uncertainty, and it is a very fair question for consideration whether the intention of the Legislature did or did not require to be made more distinct and clear.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The first question is, whether the interpretation the Government put upon the Bill is the correct interpretation, and one that would be likely to be upheld it' ever questioned in the Courts? and the second point is, whether the interpretation which the Government now put upon their Bill is in accord with the feeling, the sentiment, and the intention of the majority of the Committee and of the majority of the country. I gather this is the interpretation of the Government: they consider that primary education in Ireland is at the present time denominational, and they consider there is nothing in the Bill to prevent it from being denominational, at all events to the extent to which it is at present, and they think that, in regard to secondary education and the highest education—University education—both these will be controlled by reference to the state of things with regard to denominational education—that is to say, governed by what the Government believe with regard to primary education; and they therefore hold that, provided in principle a Denominational College does not go further in regard to denominationalism than primary education at present, the Irish Legislature under the Bill will be permitted to regard Training Colleges as ancillary to and connected with denominationally-provided schools and will have power to provide such Colleges. 1807 Is that the case? The Government, in accordance with that view, holds that the Irish Legislature might found and endow at the public expense—that is to say, at the expense very largely of Protestants, who, although not the most numerous proportion of the population, are at all events the largest taxpayers—a Roman Catholic College, provided conditions were laid down, including a Conscience Clause, which would preclude the idea of compulsion in regard to education in that College. I suppose, in effect, if it gave a Conscience Clause so that anyone might stay away from any particular class or instruction, and, secondly, that it did not make specially favourable regulations with regard to the employment of teachers. I need scarcely say that neither of these conditions could be regarded as of the slightest conceivable value as safeguards. Without making a single regulation in respect to the creed of the teachers to be employed, it is perfectly certain that a Roman Catholic University, governed by a Roman Catholic administration, would of course only employ Roman Catholic teachers. Therefore, if the view of the Government is correct, the Irish Legislature will have the power of founding a purely Denominational Roman Catholic College at the public expense. My first question is, is that interpretation correct? In the interests of the Irish themselves it ought to be made perfectly clear whether they are or are not to have this power. I should have thought that the words which prevent the Irish Legislature from establishing or endowing religion, whether directly or indirectly, would absolutely preclude such a state of things. To say that a Roman Catholic University or College founded in Dublin is not an indirect endowment of religion seems to me to be ignorant of the meaning of the words; therefore, I should say it is a most doubtful point whether the Government interpretation put upon their own view would be upheld in the Courts. I assume the Government will take care to make that clear. We know what their intention is. Their intention is, in the first place, that the Irish Legislature shall have practically full power over the primary system. That is a course which goes against the views of almost everyone who has written or spoken on 1808 this subject—against the views, strongly expressed, of all Nonconformist Bodies in England and Scotland, because they (the Government) say that the present system is a purely denominational system; therefore, they will put no restrictions upon the Irish Legislature to prevent it making it more denominational. They can alter the whole administration of this denominational system, whereby every safeguard at present given to secure the unsectarian character of the schools will be taken away. That is the intention of the Government; that is the interpretation of their view. When we come to Training Colleges, absolutely no interference with the Irish Legislature is to be allowed; and not only are the existing Colleges to be supported, but the Irish Legislature are to have a free hand to establish as many more Denominational Training Colleges as it pleases, becauses this is ancillary to primary education. When they have done all this, and when they have made the primary system thoroughly denominational, and handed it entirely over to the control of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and established as many Training Colleges as they please, they may then go on and make a Roman Catholic University and College, provided only that the Roman Catholics consent that they will not have printed regulations ordaining the creed of the persons whom I hey will select as instructors in the University. I say, the country was not prepared for that. This is a most important change. It shows the necessity of having this great Bill discussed in the country. We have been for more than 20 days upon this Bill, and it is only now, at the end of the 4th clause, that we learn from the Government that they intend to give to the Irish Legislature the power of reversing the legislation which has hitherto prevailed on the subject of sectarian education. When the Bill of 1870 was brought forward, one of the strongest points which I and others urged was that, by the measure the Government were proposing for this country, they were likely to undermine the unsectarian character of the Irish educational system. I do not hesitate to say that at that time you would not have found throughout the whole of England a Nonconformist who was not 1809 prepared to go any length to maintain in its entirety the existing educational system in Ireland. I am not prepared to say what the Nonconformist conscience is now; but this I will say, that there must have been many Nonconformists who voted for Government candidates at the late Election who would not have done so had they known that the tin-sectarian system of education in Ireland is to be revolutionised under this Bill.
§ MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
I do not intend to press further the argument just addressed to the Committee by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. It appeared to me his argument was conclusive, and showed that whatever might be the pretences of this section or of any other part of the Bill, there is really no substantial restriction whatever upon the power of the Irish Legislature, which it is proposed to create, to deal as they may please at any future time with the rules and principles which have hitherto controlled, and are still supposed to control, the educational system as at present established in Ireland. I desire to say a word upon another point of view. This clause has been held out to us from the first introduction of the Bill up to the present time as that part of the measure which would give ample protection to the minority in Ireland. There is not a particle of substantial protection in the clause. There is nothing whatever to allay the just apprehensions we feel as to what may be our fate under such a Legislature if it were ever established. Attempts have been made to create a feeling that something was really being done for the protection of the minority by importing certain clauses from the American Constitution. These clauses have been proved to be utterly inappropriate to the situation to which they were to be applied, and utterly valueless as any protection whatever. There is, for instance, "due process of law," that enfant terrible of the Bill which, wherever it occurs, creates the greatest confusion, and upsets all the other arrangement of the drafting of this clause. It is utterly valueless as applied to the system of a country where it really has come, in the truest sense, in a foreign garb, and is wholly unintelligible. Whenever we did ask for a clause from the American Constitution which might have afforded some 1810 real protection, we were flatly refused it. We desired that the Petition of Right should be preserved; that the writ of habeas corpus should be preserved, and that other protections, which were introduced into the American Constitution to control the action of State Legislatures—where such protection was much loss needed than it would be in Ireland—should be introduced into this Bill, and in every case our request has been flatly refused. The matters borrowed from the American Constitution are nugatory so far as the protection of the minority in Ireland is concerned, and those which would have some protection have been refused to us. That is, I think, a most unsatisfactory state of things, especially as regards the Institution which I personally am here most directly to represent. We have been refused the adoption of an Amendment which would have given some protection to Trinity College and to the Dublin University, and we were given in exchange only a sub-section which was unintelligible enough when first put upon the Paper, but which has been rendered more unintelligible by the alterations made in it. The words "due process of law" will produce an opposite effect to what was intended by those who framed the Bill, and that is the only protection left to us in the circumstances of danger and difficulty which are admitted by the introduction of the clause into the Bill at all. But it is not only the Dublin University and all the other great Chartered Corporations which are left in this condition of abject terror and danger. There is another matter to which I should like to refer. Yesterday evening an Amendment was brought before the Committee framed for the purpose of protecting perfectly lawful Societies. I will not go into the question of what other Societies would have been protected by that Amendment if it had been introduced, but I do say the way in which the great Society of Freemasons in Ireland has been dealt with is simply scandalous. A clause intended for their protection was introduced in a speech, I think, of great ability and great force. What was the answer given by the Prime Minister? Nothing but a sneer at the Institution which he said himself he hail never thought it worth his while to inquire into the character of, and knew and cared nothing about; and, therefore, he would refuse 1811 protection to it against the efforts and influence of those who have again and again denounced it, and, so far as their language conveys any meaning, have uttered most determined threats against its existence. I can tell the Prime Minister this: there are many people in Ireland and England who will be offended and insulted by the way he deals with that great Institution; but every man who does know it—for I had the great honour once of holding high office in that Order—and knows what it is feels the deepest sympathy and greatest respect for it as a Charitable Institution doing a great and good work for orphans and disabled old people, administering large funds in Ireland, and having no enemies in that country except those who might have been made so by that unfortunate opposition which in modern times had been raised against it by the heads of the Roman Catholic Church. That Institution in Ireland is part of the great Institution of Freemasonry in this country presided over by the Heir to the Throne. It is an Institution in which the deepest interest is felt by thousands and tens of thousands in Ireland, and by greater numbers in England, the United States, and all over the world who sympathise and honour a Society for which the Prime Minister yesterday could find nothing but words of obloquy and contempt. ["No, no!"] In answer to a request modestly put forward, the Prime Minister spoke of it as an Institution of which he knew nothing, and about which he cared nothing. ["No, no!"] I can assure those who say "No, no!" that the words of the Prime Minister have produced the greatest possible feeling of irritation and disappointment. However, I do not wish to pursue the subject further. As to this Clause 4, which is offered to the minority in Ireland as a fulfilment of many pledges, not only to them, but to the electors throughout the Three Kingdoms, every so-called protection put into the clause is introduced in such a way as to be wholly worthless, and every protection asked for by those who best know what they have to fear has been ignominiously rejected.
§ MR. ROBERT WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
said, he had put down an Amendment to each sub-section of the clause, as well as a collective Amend- 1812 ment to the whole, for the purpose of rejecting each and all of them; but he thought it right to spare the time of the Committee by only moving the rejection of the whole clause. He regarded this clause as anti-Home Rule in its spirit and character. As it stood until an hour ago he read it as a declaration that, while Home Rule was equal to every other political problem that might be presented to it, it curiously and inexplicably broke down in face of the problems raised by the heterogeneous quartette of religion, American extracts, Corporations, and fish. One of these had been withdrawn, and to that extent the character of the clause was less singular; but the spirit of it had in no way been changed or improved by that alteration. The policy of the Pill was most properly to give to Ireland the freest possible hand in the exercise of her own self-government, on the ground that the honour and interests of a self-governing people are perfectly safe, and, indeed, most secure in their own hands; but the policy of the clause was in the teeth of that description. Its policy was, to his mind, one of distrust of the Irish people, and to tie their hands. The Committee had intrusted already to the Irish people far greater powers than those which were restricted by this clause, and had refused to protect the Irish Legislature from temptations far more powerful than any from which they would be protected by this clause. A Catholic people who could be trusted with Divorce and Marriage Laws and a people, whether Catholic or not, who could be trusted with the whole Criminal Law, were qualified to be trusted with any problem or any social question, civil or religious. He might be asked whether he was to allow the Irish people to be absolutely free in their self-government. He would say that he believed far greater evils would arise, and perhaps in the not distant future, out of the restrictions in this clause, than would have arisen from giving the Irish people complete freedom. If he were asked whether he would allow Ireland to begin at once in the possession of her full freedom, or whether she must not be compelled to creep before she walked, he wanted to know why should Ireland be dealt with as a baby nation—put in legislative leading strings and administrative bib and tucker? It might be said it was necessary to conciliate opposition, 1813 possibly on both sides of the House. With respect to conciliating hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, he had carefully observed their proceedings during the discussion of the clause in Committee, and he was of opinion that nothing would reconcile them. And he was not surprised at it, because they were debating the Radical distinction between the two Parties—between the Party whose watchword was "Trust in the people" and the Party whose watchword was "Distrust in the people." It was impossible that there could be any reconciliation between Parties with these respective watchwords when any question arose that brought them to close quarters. Even if there had been a desire to conciliate the Opposition, he wished to know why the Government had systematically refused things for which they had expressed the strongest desire, and put upon them things for which they had expressed no desire whatever. He had not seen the conciliatory temper advancing as the discussion proceeded on the other side of the House. He had watched with a great amount of ethical interest the development of virtues in the public characters of the right hon. Gentleman the Loader of the Opposition and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as these controversies proceeded, and he had not noticed that sweet reasonableness was the virtue that made the most rapid progress in the course of that development. Was the action of the Government intended to conciliate the weak brethren on their own side? He had never thought it was a wise policy to trouble much about weak brethren; but he refused to believe in the existence of many weak brethren on that (the Liberal) side. The weak brethren were getting very much stronger, especially in the power of digestion. They were tired of the prolonged character of the discussions and of their evil effect in preventing the House from dealing with questions of political, industrial, and social reform, and were getting more and more ready to swallow almost anything—a most dangerous and fatal disposition—that was put before them in the shape of Home Rule that would pass in any way in order that they might get to these problems. He wished to refer to the religious sub-sections of the Bill, and he 1814 wanted to ask with respect to them, What was the principle upon which these provisions rested, if it was not that Ireland was not fit to be trusted with the control of the State relations to religion? He denied that with respect not only to Ireland, but to every self-governing people. For his own part, he was an uncompromising advocate of the principle of religious equality and an opponent of every form of religious disability; and if he were asked his opinion of the merits of the sub-sections considered merely by themselves, he approved of them, so far as they went, most cordially. But he was equally attached to another great Liberal principle—a principle which was paramount to the principle of religious equality, and, indeed, paramount to all other Liberal principles—he meant the doctrine that a self-governing people ought to be allowed to govern themselves exactly as they pleased. If such people asked him he should advise them to have nothing to do with any religious endowment with religious disability, or educational sectarianism; still, if they refused to take his advice, whilst he should be sorry to think they had made a mistake, he should have no right to interfere; it was the community's own business, and it was for them to say what they were to do with their own resources and to order their own arrangements. He should like to ask his Scotch Home Rule friends a question on this matter. He was not at the present moment an aggressive Home Ruler. He had not received quite enough provocation even yet. The cup of Governmental iniquity was not yet quite full. He was a contingent Scotch Home Ruler, contingent upon the ultimate deliverance of the Scotch people—by no means yet authoritatively declared—as to the whether, and what, or when, of any Home Rule they might desire. He knew there were other friends of his who had gone further ahead. They had gone, it seemed to him, in front of the people; and in a spirit of what he ventured to call anti-democratic self-will they were calling out for Home Rule legislation for Scotland precisely upon the footing of the Home Rule legislation for Ireland. He wanted to ask them how they would like this clause, and how they could consistently press upon the Irish people a clause of this description? Were they 1815 prepared to see the control of religions questions and of ecclesiastical questions denied to the Scottish people? If not, why did they press upon Ireland a measure which deprived her of the absolute control of her religious relations? He might be told that the Irish people were willing to accept the clause. He was not sure that that was entirely the fact; but if it were, that was not enough for him. Home Rule had its duties as well as its rights; and if they took great pains and made certain sacrifices in that House to put Ireland in possession of Home Rule, the Irish people were bound to carry away with them every subject that was capable of being an obstruction or aggravation and an irritation in the Imperial Parliament. He wanted to ask what had been the policy of the Liberal Party in connection with these religions and ecclesiastical questions? Was it not that the Scotch ecclesiastical question was to be left to Scotland, the Welsh ecclesiastical question to Wales; and if the English ecclesiastical question had not been proposed to be left to the English people as yet, he presumed it was because the subject was not within the range of practical politics; and in the same spirit he asked ought not the religious and ecclesiastical questions of Ireland to be left entirely in the hands and the control of the Irish people themselves? They might tell him the Irish people did not want religious endowment and educational exclusivism. If that were so, what was the danger of leaving them in the formal control of a matter they were not going substantially to meddle with? He was not sure that the confidence in this matter rested on a sound foundation. He did not see why the Catholic Church should not in the course of time—although at the present moment she might not—desire something in the nature of religious endowment. Other Catholic countries called for and had State support for Churches and State support for educational exclusivism, and why should not Ireland, as its history proceeded, desire the same, more particularly as they were continuing to keep up in England, and possibly in Scotland also, an Established Church and a system of education which, though undenominational in name, was substantially sectarian in character? If such controversies as these were to be raised at 1816 all, let them be raised in Ireland where they had a right to settle them. Do not let them be raised here where, after giving Home Rule to Ireland, they had a right to expect they should be delivered from the trouble of dealing with Irish problems. There would then be less chance of danger being done in Ireland, because the expenses would come out of the Irish pocket; whereas if they had to do with the matter in the Imperial Parliament, they would have to pay for it. Let him say a word on one other clause of the Bill. He referred to the 5th subsection, which from its parentage he hoped he might not be considered irreverent if he said it might well be called the "Yankee-Doodle sub-section." They had heard a great deal about insulting Ireland and the Irish people. He took it upon him to say that if ever there was an insult offered to any people as betraying a want, of confidence in them and suspecting them of deficiency in the most elementary principles and faculties of self-government this was exactly the clause. If language had any meaning, the only meaning that could be put upon the clause was that there was a probability (so strong that it required to be legislatively guarded against) that one of the first measures of the Irish Legislature would be to pass an Act for hanging, say, his hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone without due process of law, and with nothing but due process of hemp, and that there might be continual appeals to the country on the question of the Plunket Decapitation Bill, or the Carson Cremation Bill, or the Johnston Chains and Slavery Bill. He could not understand how the clause came to be in the Bill. He supposed it might have been out of compliment to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy in recognition of the splendid success of the American Commonwealth—he meant, of course, the book, not the Republic. He would only say in this connection, "Oh that my right hon. Friend had not written the book!"—at all events, until after the Home Rule Bill was passed; for when an author had written a splendidly successful book, it was not in human nature for him not to desire that the world, or some part of it, should take a leaf or two out of it, to say nothing of the whole edition. He hoped that the responsible editor of the Bill, the Prime Minister, 1817 would really send this clause back to the place whence it came, in the usual form—"Returned, with thanks, as unsuitable to our columns, which, besides, are pressed for space." As to the 6th and other sub-sections, he should only submit to the Committee whether it was not pertinent to ask that if such questions—even though they were petty in many of their characteristics and relations—were to be left here to be a source of possible interruption and irritation, where was the benefit to Great Britain to come from the passing of this Bill? They were told that "Ireland blocked the way," and that when Home Rule passed it would block the way no longer. That all depended on the completeness of the powers with which the Irish Legislature was endowed. But if the irritations arising from these questions were to be left here, then they should have Dublin resounding with Ireland, while Westminster would be simultaneously resounding with Ireland. In short, it would be, "Ireland; Ireland everywhere, and not a drop to Britain!" There was one other reason which weighed with him perhaps more gravely than any he had mentioned why he desired to see this clause, if possible, out of the Bill. He desired to remove every vestige of an excuse for the monstrous and dangerous proposition which he believed would be made by-and-bye, to retain the Irish Members in this House with full powers to deal with British questions after they had been gifted with a Legislature of their own for the transaction of their Irish affairs. That proposition was of a double character—it imported not only Home Rule for Ireland, but Irish Rule for Britain. He had been sorry to observe that certain Irish Members appeared to be clutching at these unjust and altogether intolerable powers, for the trumpery reason that certain Irish matters which they did not seem very unwilling to leave behind them were to be left in this Imperial Parliament. In that light the provision of this clause filled him with suspicion and foreboding. The way in which the matter stood—if he might be allowed the language of illustration—was this: "You and I have been keeping house together for a great many years, but you are leaving with all your belongings to go into a brand-new house—which, by the way, has been 1818 to a large extent built by my exertions. There is an old sideboard and a poker which you do not find it convenient to take along with you at this moment, and which you desire me to give house-room for; but, no sooner have I consented, than on the strength of my good nature and the alleged necessity of looking after your articles of vertu, you insist that you must have the full run of the house—my house now by the hypothesis—with your latch-key, and your bedroom, and your four meals a day, and your hot and cold water, and all the modern conveniences as before, and exactly when you like." Now that was too much. He said: "Take away your effete sideboard, your duty poker; who wants your ridiculous chattels? Mind you your own house and let me mind mine." If his hon. Friends from Ireland insisted upon having some of their property left behind, then in that case he would say, "Leave it at your own risk. You must not quarter yourself on me on the pretence of looking after your things." No doubt the Irish Members would vote against the omission of the clause—that was to say, they insisted on leaving some of their property behind them; but in that case they left it at their own risk. He did not want their blessed things. Take them away, and if they would not, at all events take themselves away. Let them send for their things when they wanted them, and they might rely upon it that, so far as he was concerned, they should be sent by return of parcels post. These were the grounds on which he opposed the clause. His was the action not of an anti-Home Ruler, but of a thoroughgoing Home Ruler in favour of a more thoroughgoing form of Home Ride than that which the Government had placed before the Committee and the country, and on the strength of these reasons he had considered it right to make his protest in this way, and to move the omission of the clause.
§ Moved, "That the Clause be omitted." —(Mr. Robert Wallace.)
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
said, the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down was undoubtedly interesting, forcible, and witty; but he should like to ask the hon. Member what was the meaning of it? The hon. Member had favoured the House with 1819 one or two of these speeches. Nevertheless, their outcome had been that the hon. Member had voted with the Government throughout the proceedings on this Bill. The votes of the hon. Member pointed in one direction and his speeches in another. The hon. Member had said that if he did not make the speech he had just delivered he might have been misunderstood; but the fact was, the hon. Member was the most misunderstood man in the House, because he never could bring himself to vote in accordance with the views he expressed in his speeches. The hon. Member had said that the Government ought to go much further in order to gratify the Irish people; but he now expressed such a want of confidence in the Irish Representatives that he wanted to get rid of them altogether. The hon. Member said that this clause placed no trust in the Irish people; that its restrictions would produce great irritation in Ireland, and would be useless for good but most effective for harm. The hon. Member said that the great difference between himself and his Party and the Unionists was that the former had adopted the principle of trusting the people. But now the hon. Member said that the Government had inserted this clause in the Bill because they could not trust the people.
§ MR. R. WALLACE
said, that his contention was that the Government had not trusted the Irish people sufficiently.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
said, he thought the argument of the hon. Member went far beyond that. The hon. Member ought not to make speeches of the kind that he had just delivered unless he was prepared to act up to them. The hon. Member laid down without any qualification whatever that the Irish people ought to be allowed to govern themselves exactly as they pleased in all things. The hon. Member would give the Irish Legislature the power of doing what they chose with regard to the endowment of education and religion. He said that the Irish people would change in their feeling about this question; but if the hon. Member was honest in his condemnation of the proposals of this Bill, he ought to vote against them. He did not see how he reconciled trust as to endowment in one case with distrust in another, and he feared the hon. Member's manner of dealing with the question would turn the 1820 whole Bill into ridicule. It was difficult to conceive that he would vote for clauses that he thought so ridiculous. With regard to the attitude of the Government, he should like to refer, if not out of Order, to the Amendment brought forward last night. He could not understand how the Chief Secretary could allow a Bill for which he was responsible to be turned against an Institution like the Masonic Body, which had many merits, and which had never been detected in any errors of policy or in errors in the management of its affairs. Why should such an Institution be treated as if it were the most mischievous and worthless Body that ever existed? Why should it be left without the smallest protection for its property—property which it had in Dublin and in many parts of Ireland—when, refraining from the expression of political opinion of any sort, it was quietly devoting itself to its own charitable work, in which in Ireland, as in other places, it had accomplished so much good? As the Bill stood, the Masonic Body in Ireland was left to the mercy of the Roman Catholic Bishops and priests. He did not know whether the Chief Secretary would condescend to notice what he said; but if this was the way in which the rights of Institutions were to be treated in Ireland by the Chief Secretary, they could easily imagine how those rights would be treated by the Irish Parliament. He could not conceive anything which was calculated to give a greater shock to the English people than the treatment accorded to Freemasons by the Prime Minister.
MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord has failed show, as he could not help failing to show, that I have treated Freemasons in any objectionable way whatever. Though not a Freemason myself, a great many of my friends belong to that Body. I know, by accident, a great deal about Freemasons both in England and in Ireland, and I go entirely with the noble Lord, as also with the Mover of the Amendment Inst night, in the praise—and all the praise—bestowed upon that Body. I am well aware of the good and charitable works which Freemasons perform. There may be features connected with the Body which do not impress me with admiration; but as to the 1821 substantial worth of the Body, I entirely agree with what the noble Lord and what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Mr. D. R. Plunket) have said. But I must deny that my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) has spoken of Freemasons in language of obloquy. The noble Lord was not here—
MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord read it. Yes; but everybody who listened to the language of my right hon. Friend, without desiring to import a hostile meaning into it, must admit that he said nothing about Freemasons which was calculated to wound the feelings of anybody. The Prime Minister's argument against the Amendment was that it was too wide, and that it would cover an enormous number of Associations with which no rational man would deny that the Irish Legislature ought to be competent to deal. That was the foundation of the resistance which the Government offered to the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I would just like to say that so closely did the Chairman of Committees think the Amendment connected with the Freemasons that he disallowed a subsequent Amendment mentioning the Freemasons by name, clearly showing that the first Amendment had reference to Freemasons alone.
MR. J. MORLEY
It is quite true that Freemasons were not included in the scope of the Amendment by words; but the speech of the Mover was entirely devoted to Freemasons and works of the Association. But there was nothing said to show that while in the existing state of things there is a hostile feeling in the mind of the Roman Catholic hierarchy against Freemasons, there was nothing to show that the Irish Legislature would be animated by the same feeling. I may be right or I may be wrong in this argument, but I wish to disclaim the imputation cast upon me of thinking or doing anything which would indicate hostility—hostility which I do not feel, and which it is impossible I should feel, towards a Body with respect to whom I entertain nothing but sympathy, and, in many respects, admiration.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he did not know how English and Scotch Radicals—who had declared that the question of Church Establishment and Endowment must be left to be settled by the separate peoples who made up the United Kingdom —were going to deny this very right to the Irish people as they did in that clause. It was perfectly well understood that the Scottish Establishment would not endure any longer than Scottish opinion permitted it. This applied also to Wales; and he supposed the English might claim to settle the matter for themselves also. Would the Radicals not grant the same right to the Irish people as to the others? why did they not do so? He knew the reason. If they had told the English people at the last Election that the Irish Parliament was to be at liberty to endow Roman Catholicism, the present Government would not have been in Office. He might be told that the Irish Members consented to this. They knew what Dr. Doyle, Bishop of Kildare, said before a Committee of this House in 1829—that the Church Establishment in Ireland would never be touched. Dr. Doyle could not bind his successors. Neither could the Irish Members of to-day. He had always held that religion could be endowed, not directly, but indirectly through education. Let them take the case of primary education. There was no such thing as a denominational system of education in Ireland. There were some thousands of mixed schools which were undenominational in attendance, and the whole theory of the National system of education was not denominational; it was non-sectarian, and the Irish Legislature, by the vote of English and Scotch Radicals, was to have the power of turning this non-sectarian system into a sectarian system. That was exactly the power that was being given. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. R. Wallace) told them he would let the Irish Legislature do as it liked. Was that what his constituents understood at the General Election? They were handing over this power of turning a non-sectarian into a sectarian system: and, so far as they (the Liberal Party) handed it over, they would be responsible for the result. See bow it could be worked. What had been the desire of hon. Members below 1823 the Gangway opposite all along? Had they given one ray of hope during the years they had sat there that in dealing with this education question they would not be guided by the Roman Catholic Bishops? What was the claim of the Roman Catholic Bishops? Why, that they were supreme in the region of faith and of morals, and whatever else might be in that region education clearly was, and, therefore, he maintained that the gentlemen who would compose the Irish Legislature, so far as education was concerned, would be absolutely under the control of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. They could not escape from their own convictions and principles, and to do them credit they had never shown the slightest desire to oppose their Bishops in any way. What would be easier than this: Suppose the Irish Legislature desired, in obedience to the Bishops, to hand over to the Christian Brothers and the other Religious Orders in Ireland the education of the people, the Roman Catholic lay teachers would have to be got rid of; but that would be easy, because they might be dismissed by the parish priests. ["No!"]
§ An hon. Member: There is an appeal.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
An appeal from the parish priest to a Convocation of priests, forsooth! Suppose the Irish Legislature did this, what would happen? These Religious Orders could not hold property—
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The individual Brother could not hold property. So far as the Order was concerned, they were Christian Socialists. The maintenance of a Christian Brother cost a very small sum. He would get, £100 or £120 a year as a first-class teacher, and the difference between his salary and the cost of his maintenance would be banded over to the Church. What was that but endowment? It was a most effective form of endowment. If this Legislature was ever set up that was exactly what would 1824 take place in Ireland. Again, as regarded higher education, what would have happened if in 1886 the Prime Minister had gone to the country with the declaration that as part of the Home Rule policy he proposed to give the Irish Legislature power to set up a sectarian University in Ireland. Hon. Members on the other side know my views on that point. At any rate, the hon. Member for North Kerry knows them. Sectarian education—a Roman Catholic University set up under the auspices and direction of the Imperial Parliament was one thing, but such a University set up by the Irish Legislature and dominated by the Roman Catholic hierarchy was an entirely different thing; and what the Government were doing—and let there be no mistake about it—was sectarianising the educational system of Ireland from the bottom to the top. This Debate would be read by Nonconformists in England and by Presbyterians in Scotland. Home Rule in the abstract was one thing, but Home Rule in the concrete was another. The electors of Linlithgow gave evidence of that the other day.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The electors had not the slightest idea of what the vague phrase "Home Rule" meant. The Government had refused to tell them what it meant; but now the Bill was before them the Government would see the result in due time. The electors of the country when they voted for Home Rule, had not the slightest idea that it meant giving the Irish Legislature power to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and to throw Ulstermen in gaol by the hundred without trial, and to vary contracts. Then, as to Freemasons. He himself was not a Freemason and did not belong to any secret society, but the Freemasons left to the tender mercies of an Irish Parliament would be in a very bad way indeed. Why did he say that? Because they had been denounced as well as every other secret society by the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church. Did anyone mean to tell him that the Irish Bishops and priests, who practically controlled elections in Ireland, were not, going to carry out their convictions on these matters as citizens? Why, they would 1825 not be the men they were if they did not. They would carry out their convictions in this Legislature, and the result would be that pains and penalties would be imposed by the Irish Legislature on all such secret societies. Here was a point which would touch hon. Members below the Gangway, who were interested in the temperance movement. Twenty years ago the Order of Good Templars, of which he was not a member, had been introduced into Ireland, and more than 500 Roman Catholic working men in the City of Dublin joined that Order. Three months after they joined, the late Cardinal Cullen issued a Pastoral denouncing the Order and everyone belonging to it, and these men bail to make their choice between leaving it or being excommunicated from the Church. That was the kind of spirit to which the Government promised to hand over the Presbyterians and Methodists of Ireland. It would be absolutely impossible, even if they were willing, for such men as the hon. Member for North Monaghan (Mr. Diamond), who had announced himself an Ultramontane and Papist first, above everything else, to control this spirit. This clause showed what Home Rule really meant. They had it now unmasked, and the constituencies would know how to deal with it and the Government at the next General Election. [Cries of "Closure!"]
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
We have no desire to prevent the Government having this clause to-day. We are prepared to pass this clause to-day. We part with it, knowing that it is so bungled that new words have had to be introduced, and that constructed as it is it does not even carry out the intentions of the Government. We find that the safeguards which we expected are not within its four corners, and subjects such as the prevention of bounties which we wished to put in have been refused by the Government. We have dealt with great rapidity with this clause. Such subjects as the habeas corpus, liberty of the Press, and other matters, that would have been discussed for days if they had come up as substantive questions, we have allowed the Government to have with a rapidity for which we may almost reproach ourselves. After all this, what do we find? If we had really known what was in the 1826 clause we might have taken a great deal more time. But what, I say, do we find now? That, contrary to our general impression, this clause contains powers I for the new Parliament which, if they had been put as substantive proposals before the House, would at least have taken a week—proposals worse from one point of view than those which practically wrecked the Government in 1873. These proposals go infinitely beyond those of 1873. And we have not known that they were in the clause. Why did we not know it? Why did not the Government candidly tell the Committee at an earlier date what was in the clause?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
No, the Government refused to tell us until to-day that it gives power to endow a Roman Catholic University. And oven as regards primary education no single Member of the Committee, unless perhaps it was some Irish Member—and I do not know that even they saw the paper which has been read out—knew the exact scope of the Government proposal. This information has been concealed from the Members of the Committee, and no Minister has got up to excuse the fact I hat the Committee has been kept in the dark during the whole of the Debate. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham in a powerful speech denounced the conduct of the Government, but the Chief Secretary, who could and time to get up and speak as to the Freemasons, did not reply to the right hon. Gentleman. And why? Because he had no answer, and because he did not wish to bring this question before the country. Well, it will be our business to bring it before the constituencies. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite will do the same. I wonder what story they will tell on the platforms —whether they will say that the safeguards in the Bill are drawn so obscurely that nobody can tell what they mean, and what they authorise the Irish Legislature to do. After several attempts had been made during the course of these Debates to elicit the real intentions of the Government, it was found that either they did not themselves realise their intentions as to a Roman Catholic University, or that they did not agree with the hash Members or with the 1827 Irish episcopacy. It was evident that time had to be taken, and it was necessary to put off the discussion until the end of the clause, when it is no longer in the power of the Committee to amend it in the direction which I believe the country would have it amended in. That is the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, and we now know that there is to be a Roman Catholic University endowed out of the general taxation of Ireland.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Well, College. At present the University has not been settled; that must be kept perhaps for the Report stage. [Cries of "Divide!"] We have been deceived—and I call it deception if it was in the mind of the Government. That is the dilemma they are in. Either they knew what they intended, and they ought have told the House, or they had no policy, and have only adopted one at the last moment. I rather suspect the latter alternative. At any rate, their conduct this evening will remain as a monument of as much mismanagement as has ever been crowded into a week necessary for the discussion of the subject.
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday next.