§ "This Part of this Act, in its application to Ireland, shall be subject to the following modifications:—
§ (1) The reference to the Lord Chancellor shall be construed as a reference to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
- The reference to the Lord Chief Justice shall, as respects disputes or questions arising between the Insurance Commissioners and any approved society having its head office or principal place of business in Ireland, be construed as a reference to the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.
- References to the Local Government Board shall be construed as references to the Local Government Board for Ireland, and the reference to the Local Taxation Account shall be construed as a reference to the Local Taxation (Ireland) Account.
§ (2) A reference to the Housing of the Working Classes (Ireland) Acts, 1890 to 1908, shall be substituted for the reference to the Housing of the Working Classes Acts. 1890 to 1909, and a reference to the Public Heath (Ireland) Acts, 1878 to 1907, shall be substituted for the reference to the Public Health Acts.
§ (3) Where the number of members of any society being insured persons exceeds five thousand, the society may receive the approval of the Insurance Commissioners nothwithstanding that the number of such members is less than ten thousand, 209 and in the provisions of this Part of this Act with respect to the approval of societies "five thousand" shall be substituted for "ten thousand" accordingly.
- (a) If it appears to any county council that, having regard to the number of employed contributors resident in the county who are not members of any society approved under the foregoing provisions of this Act it is desirable that steps should be taken by the council for the establishment of an approved society for the county under the council (in this Section referred to as a county society), the council may at any time before the expiration of one year from the commencement of this Act submit to the Insurance Commissioners a scheme for the establishment of a county society;
- (b) The scheme may provide for—
- (i.) the representation of the council on the committee of management of the society;
- (ii.) the appointment of officers and district and other committees by the council;
- (iii.) the delegation of powers to committees;
- (iv.) the giving of security by means of a charge upon the county fund or otherwise;
- (v.) the restriction of membership to insured persons resident in the county not being members of any other approved society;
- (vi.) the reduction of benefits below the minimum rates fixed by this Part of this Act; and
- (vii.) such other matters as may appear necessary and in particular such further modifications of the provisions of this Part of this Act with respect to approved societies as may be required for the purpose of adapting those provisions to the case of a county society;
- (c) The scheme may be approved notwithstanding that the number of members or prospective members of of the society is less than five thousand;
- (d) Where such a scheme has been approved by the Insurance Commissioners, the provisions of the scheme shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Part
210 of this Act; and, subject to those provisions, the county society shall be an approved society for all the purposes of this Part of this Act;
- (e) A county council desirous of submitting a scheme under this Section may at any time after the passing of this Act take such steps as appear necessary with a view to ascertaining what insured persons resident in the county are eligible and willing to become members of the proposed county society, and generally for the formation of the society;
§ (5) The local health committee of a county shall consist of such number of members as may be determined by the Insurance Commissioners, and of that number not more than one-fourth shall be persons appointed by the Insurance Commissioners, and the remainder shall be appointed by the county council.
§ (6) Subject to the provisions of this Section the rules of a local health committee of a county may provide for the performance of duties by officers of local authorities in connection with the administration of benefits administered by the committee, and those officers shall perform the duties so assigned to them, and shall in respect thereof be entitled to the remuneration fixed by the rules.
§ (7) The following provisions shall have effect with respect to the administration of medical benefit by a local health committee of a county in the case of deposit contributors resident in the county:—
- (a) It shall be the duty of the medical officer of health of each dispensary district in the county, without the production of any medical relief ticket, to attend and treat every deposit contributor resident in his district and requiring medical attendance or treatment, and at the expense of the guardians to supply proper and sufficient drugs and medicine to the contributor;
- (b) There shall be paid to the medical officer in respect of his services under the last preceding paragraph such yearly sum as may be prescribed in respect of each deposit contributor resident in his district;
- (c) There shall be paid to the guardians of the Poor Law union in respect of medicine and drugs supplied to deposit contributors resident in the union, or the part of the union within the county as the case may be, a sum calculated at such rate as may be prescribed;
- (d) Any sums so payable to a medical officer or board of guardians shall be paid in the prescribed manner and at the prescribed time by the local health committee out of the amount paid or credited to the committee on account of sums payable in respect of deposit contributors resident in the county for the purposes of the cost of medical benefit.
§ (8) If a grant is made to a county council or county borough council out of any sum made available under any other Act of the present Session for the purposes of the provision of sanatoria and other institutions for the treatment of tuberculosis or such other diseases as the Local Government Board may with the approval of the Treasury appoint, the council may, subject to the sanction of the Local Government Board, exercise for all or any of those purposes the powers given to them by Part II. of the Tuberculosis Prevention (Ireland) Act, 1908, in like manner as if those purposes were purposes authorised by that Part of that Act, and any expenses of the council so far as not defrayed out of the grant shall be defrayed in manner provided by that Part of that Act.
§ (9) If on a representation made toy an approved society the Insurance Commissioners are satisfied that the society is unable to make arrangements upon reasonable terms for the administration of medical benefit in the case of members resident in any specified locality, the Commissioners may authorise the society in the case of members resident in that locality to suspend medical benefit and out of the moneys otherwise payable for the cost of that benefit to distribute any one or more additional benefits among those members in accordance with a scheme approved by the Commissioners.
§ (10) For the purposes of proceedings in Ireland under the provisions of this Part of this Act relative to disputes 212 regulations of the Insurance Commissioners may apply all or any of the provisions of the Common Law Procedure (Ireland) Act, 1856, with respect to arbitration."
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment standing in the name of hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien) is not in order. The first part of it is a negative of the Clause, and the second part introduces new matter outside the scope of the Bill. That ruling applies to the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. Horner). The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Ellis Davies) I gave my ruling upon yesterday. The first Amendment in order is the second one in the name of the hon. Member for Cork City.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I beg to move, after the word "shall" ["This Part of this Act, in its application to Ireland, shall"], to insert the words "come into operation on the first of May, nineteen hundred and fourteen, and shall."
The object of the Amendment which you, Sir, have ruled to be in order is to prevent this Bill, which is irredeemably unsuitable to Ireland, even with the suggested Amendments, from being forced upon Ireland until, at all events, the year 1914, when we may have reasonable hope that the Home Rule question shall have received a satisfactory solution. With reference to the first Amendment you have ruled to be out of order, perhaps you will permit me to say that it was only put down in answer to an observation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was intended to preserve Ireland's right to a proportionate amount out of the State subsidy provided for the purposes of this Bill, and to earmark that State subsidy for the benefit of the Irish working classes. I may be allowed, in passing, to make this one observation, that at a time when the case of Ireland for Home Rule is made to depend upon her being treated as a separate entity, it does seem amazing, and not very logical, that the majority of Ireland's own representatives, or, at all events, their directors, should insist that Ireland, with one or two exceptions, with which I will deal presently—should be included in one and the same Bill with England in accordance with the favourite Unionist theory that Corkshire and Yorkshire are one country. If one was searching for the example of how completely 213 dissimilar and irreconcilable the circumstances of the two countries are, you could not find a better example than this Bill, and the impossible barrier between the circumstances of England and Scotland. You might just as well apply the coalmining laws of England to Ireland. As to the Scottish Amendments, I hazard the suspicion that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not have had any trouble about them only that they really arose out of the entanglements connected with the Irish Amendments, the history of which is rather peculiar.
The almost universal outcry against this Bill, when it was first heard that it was intended to apply it to Ireland, has been for four months past silenced and smothered by the most extravagant assurances of the transformation that would be made in Clause 59 by the Amendments of the party who sit behind me. Many months ago a Special Committee was appointed to draft these magic Amendments. The Irish people were told that two of the ablest members of the party had been dispatched across to England to bring their financial genius to bear upon the Treasury, and the Leader of the party, the hon. and learned Member for Water-ford (Mr. John Redmond), was so confident of the result that a couple of weeks ago he gave this House to understand that he would introduce Amendments which he took it for granted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept. While these negotiations were going on, every effort of ours to get these Irish Amendments produced on the Paper in time for full consideration and discussion in Ireland was baffled week after week until the remainder of the Bill was safe, and when at last, one might almost say at the point of the bayonet—at all events, only a few days before the fate of Ireland in this matter is to be decided, and at a time when there is no possibility of these Amendments being fully considered or understood—when the Amendments at last appeared on the Paper, last Wednesday or Thursday, what was the amazing result of the long period of gestation, the long time during which the mountain had been in labour? Up to this hour the only Amendment in the name of the Leader of the party behind me is an Amendment for the creation of a new corps of Dublin Castle officials.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I understand the hon. Member's argument to be that the operation of the Bill in Ireland should be suspended until two years after it comes into operation in England, in order that it may be further considered in Ireland, and he raises the question whether or not it is applicable to Ireland in its present form. Within those limits the hon. Member is quite entitled to speak.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member (Mr. Booth) is quite entitled to raise a point of Order. It may not be possible to develop the argument which I understand the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien) is now opening without referring in some way to Amendments on the Paper. I can assure the hon. Member (Mr. Booth) that it is my endeavour to prevent the discussion getting too wide and yet to give all reasonable liberty.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
You have correctly anticipated my intention, which is to prove the necessity for the postponement of the application of the Clause to Ireland until we have first considered how even the Amendments now suggested make it not one whit more applicable to Ireland than it was before. I am not surprised that the hon. Gentleman opposite is rather anxious, on the one day on which the fate of Ireland is to be discussed in this House, to shut us out from discussing the very ABC of whether or not the Bill is applicable to Ireland. I was pointing out—possibly an awkward topic—that one Amendment of the many which were promised us creates a number of new officials, and that at a time when the Irish Parliament is expected to make most extensive economies in local government charges, which already amount to £9,000,000 a year. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) was perfectly right in anticipating that that Amendment was one that the Chancellor would take into account. The right hon. Gentleman has not only accepted it, but has promised us not only two Irish Insurance Commissioners, but a whole corps of officers, referees, and 215 servants of the Insurance Commissioners, not only in the central office in Dublin, but all through the country—certainly a most appetising prospect for the place hunters. But the only other transformation of any importance to us that the Chancellor's Amendments suggest is that he proposes to reduce the employed rate in Ireland by 1½d. without costing the Treasury a single farthing, and by the simple expedient of giving away the medical benefit altogether and pauperising the medical relief in Ireland, with the net result that instead of offering us 9d. for 4d. he is offering us practically nothing at all for 3d. This Bill was heralded as a sort of heaven-sent scheme of social regeneration and revolution to Ireland. What does the revolution amount to? The relations between employer and employed in many poor and struggling industries will be turned topsyturvy, for two substantial reasons only as far as I can ascertain. The first is, as I have said, to add another regiment to the noble army of Dublin Castle officials under the patronage of the Board of Erin; and, secondly, it is to turn Part I. of the Bill into absolute nonsense, because it proposes to insure against illness, and the way the right hon. Gentleman proposes to effect that object in Ireland is to strike away the medical benefit altogether and leave the whole of the working classes of Ireland, as if they were men of an inferior race, branded with the taint of pauper I relief when they apply for medical relief. I think that explains a telegram which I received to-day from the Cork Trade and Labour Council, who are, of all my Constituents, the body who quite naturally would jump at this Bill if it was at all acceptable. They telegraphed:—Medical benefits most be included, otherwise Insurance Bill will not be acceptable.4.0 P.M.
It is quite true under Part (2) of I Schedule (4) there is a reservation of certain medical benefits among the additional benefits, but that reservation only applies to employed contributors who are members of an approved society, and that means, in plain English, that it only applies to men who are members of the Board of Erin Hibernians. The vast mass of the working-class population in Ireland have no great trade societies or friendly societies, such as you have in England, therefore the sum and substance of these Amendments is that this Bill will be passed by the Board of Erin for the benefit of the Board of Erin, and all who are not members of it will be 216 cast into outer darkness as paupers and as outcasts and Post Office contributors. I do not blame the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is dealing with gentlemen who take it for granted that whatever they propose ha must accept. If rumour is not very much astray, though he has gone as far to meet them as by the utmost stretch of conciliation he might be expected to go, they are not satisfied even yet, or, rather, I think they are beginning to know that Ireland is not satisfied at figuring not as the Cinderella of the Empire, but as the pauper of the Empire in this Clause. The results of all these mysterious conversations in the dark is that, instead of Ireland being treated better in this Bill than England, she is to be treated very much worse than England, because the brand of pauperism is to be placed upon every Irish working man who applies for the dispensary red tickets, and the Irish ratepayers are still to be charged with the expense—which is £190,000 a year—of supplying that pauper relief, while the more favoured English employed contributor can choose his own doctor and need be no more ashamed of accepting a great system of national insurance than any Member of the House is ashamed of accepting his salary. I have not the least shame on the subject so long as I can put the money to Irish uses. One of the most urgent of Irish questions, owing to recent legislation, is the reform of the Irish Poor Law, which costs the Irish ratepayers at present £1,300,000 a year. What does this Bill do to reform the Irish Poor Law? In order to enable the Treasury to reduce the employed rate by 1½d. without costing a stiver to the Treasury the right hon. Gentleman actually proposes that a new National system of State Insurance against illness, apart from the Poor Law, is to be deliberately introduced in Ireland in order to stereotype and perpetuate this workhouse pauper relief system, and the ratepayers of Ireland are still to be charged the £190,000 a year which that poor relief system costs them. The outcome of the situation is, I am afraid, that this transformation of the medical benefit from a great State institution into a system for the perpetuation of pauperism is not the invention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the result of the statesmanship of Ireland's own representatives, and it is one of those Amendments which the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) took it for granted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept. 217 The fact is that neither this Clause, nor any of those Amendments, would, in my humble judgment, hold its ground for an hour in any Irish assembly, except upon one rather, as I will show, illusory proposal that is offered in the revised Fourth Schedule, which may lead a great number of the Irish labouring population to imagine that they are going to gain some tremendous benefit by the payment of ½d. a week. There is in the revised Schedule one category of employed contributors who receive less than 1s. 6d. per day, and who -will contribute nothing. That class is, I am glad to say, a non-existent one in Ireland, with the exception of a certain number of loafers and wasters, and young boys and girls who are employed on small jobs. But as to the enormous mass of the labouring population of Ireland, they will have to pay the full 3d. I am referring to the labouring class in cities and towns, and also to the very numerous class known in Ireland as "farmers' boys" who are living with the farmers, are supported in the farmers' houses, and are engaged by the year; and perhaps I should include still more the numerous class of female servants and dairymaids. I think there is a secondary category in the revised Schedule where the contribution is only to be ½d. by the labourers, and undoubtedly they will include the very large number of the Irish labouring class. But the poor farmer who requires them is very often almost as poor as the labourer, and he will have to pay a contribution of 4d.
Let me point out to the Committee what exactly will be the tremendous benefit which the Irish agricultural labourer who comes under this category will get from the Bill. I have no doubt there are a certain number of them who will get sick pay larger than is at present received either in the shape of out-door relief, or as the food pay which most respectable employers are in the habit of paying men during temporary illness. But remember an advantage such as this can only arise at all in the case of serious illness, and that is a phenomenon which, I am glad to say, may only happen once or twice in the life of an Irish labourer. We all know that the Irish labourer is one of the healthiest men alive, and whatever genuine illness there is is among the members of his family, and they will receive no benefit at all under this Bill unless, indeed, there may be maternity benefit. Remember also that even the class who will benefit by this Bill are not members of approved societies. They have no 218 benefit organisations of their own such as you have in England, and they will have either to choose to be Post Office depositors and be fed, as it were, with their own tail as long as the subscriptions last, or they will have to become secret society men, joining the Board of Erin, for it is that board who run the whole machine, as they are practically running the whole government of Ireland at the present moment. That is the whole secret why this Bill is being forced upon Ireland, as I believe it is being forced. I do not really wish to say anything which would be unnecessarily offensive, but I must say I cannot see in what way anyone who is not a Board of Erin member can gain anything considerable by this Bill. In the first place, the whole of the respectable lower middle-class people with incomes under £160 a year disappear altogether, for none of them would ever dream of applying for help.
There are four or five particular trades in Belfast and Dublin, and to some extent in Cork, who will receive sick pay, and will even be insured in the event of unemployment, but apart from these, I venture to say that the enormous majority of Irish tradesmen have already learned the lessons of thrift for themselves. They have already provided for themselves pretty substantially, and for their families against illness by their own trade societies and through the genuine benefit societies, such as the Foresters and the Oddfellows. They have their own doctor, and they have never applied in their lives for Poor Law-relief and never will. On the contrary, in the matter of unemployment, which is a very vital question for them indeed, this Bill does not insure more than one in every fifty of them. I refer to tradesmen proper in the Irish cities. It is more or less the unskilled labourers in the Irish cities and towns who most require State assistance, and they are absolutely left out, and to my mind the form of assistance they require is not State assistance in this way. It is not so much a matter of medical benefit. This Bill asks them to pay their 3d. a week, and they are left still dependent on Poor Law relief which they will get even if the Bill never passes. They are entitled also, I am glad to say—well, "entitled" is perhaps too strong a word to use—but they are accustomed to receive free treatment in the case of illness in the voluntary hospitals, with which, I am glad to say, our Irish cities and great towns are very generously provided, and which are managed in the most humane and businesslike way. I 219 wish to point out as to these voluntary hospitals which are the standby of the poor men in their days of illness, that instead of their being liberally subsidised, as they should be under this Bill, there is nothing more certain than that they will be rather losers by the Bill, because the more generous of their contributors are generally the large employers who will naturally conclude that their contributions under this Bill dispense them from other benefactions.
To my mind the form of State assistance, above all others, which that class of dwellers in Irish cities and towns require is State assistance in the shape of healthy cottages at 1s. a week, such as, I am proud to say, have been provided for 40,000 agricultural labourers with the aid of the rates. If you want to remedy disease, and if you want to prevent it, among these poor people living in one-room dwellings in Irish cities and towns, the remedy is not to be found in sanatoria, admirable as they are within their own sphere, but it is to be found in cheap and healthy cottages, and also in one good square meal a day for the children attending the schools. As to this problem, and every other problem, of Irish legislation you will always find that the value of Irish legislation will have to be judged by its effect on agriculture, and on the agricultural population. They number at least 75 per cent. of the whole population, and they include besides a great proportion of the inhabitants of cities and towns. I repeat that, as to the vast mass of the labouring population in Ireland this Bill will do absolutely nothing for them, but rather refuse them the relief they can have without it, though it will give them some slightly increased sick pay, not very much greater than they can receive in the shape of out-door relief, or grants from sick poor societies, or from the innumerable benevolent societies that, are to be found in the cities and towns for the relief of the poor.
Let me urge one more consideration upon the Chancellor. He or, rather, I am afraid his advisers seem to have forgotten that first of all Irish interests for the Irish labouring man is to be employed. This Bill I am sorry to say, instead of insuring him against unemployment, goes a great way to make even his present field of employment more narrow. There is no more pleasing incident of the progress of Ireland in recent years than the increase, very slight though it is, in 220 tillage farming as compared with grazing. That seems to be the chief hope of Irish agriculture. But what does this Bill do to encourage the increase of tillage? It imposes 3d. or 4d. a week upon every substantial farmer who employs a labourer for every labourer that he employs. And remember this, that the Irish ratepayer is already paying his poor rates to an average of 5s. 11d. in the pound. More than that, he pays, what I do not think you really pay in England at all, a poor rate of 6d. or 8d., and in some cases a 1s. in the pound in a number of the southern unions, to provide the labouring population with cheap cottages and gardens. In addition to all that you propose to lay this penalty of 3d. or 4d. a week upon every farmer for every labourer he employs, and you thereby put a direct premium as I hold, though goodness knows there are temptations enough already, on the farmer to abandon tillage farming altogether, the profits of which are narrow enough, and to turn grazier. The result will be that Irish agricultural labourers would be simply driven out of the country altogether, and their subscriptions will be confiscated by the State.
I have only mentioned a few of the Irish questions that are affected by this Bill, but I hope I have mentioned enough to make the Chancellor to some extent realise how much astray he was in attempting to combine these two separate entities in one Bill, and in trying to combine Ireland and England in a Bill which may be—I do not pretend to say—a very good Bill for England, but which, as far as Ireland is concerned, will have no effect except to give a little additional advantage to classes who do not very particularly want any assistance, and shut the poorest of the poor out in the cold as paupers and as Post Office contributors, or else to drive them to become members of the Board of Erin; while instead of insuring them against other employment, I am sorry to say, I am afraid you are doing a great deal to lessen their chances of unemployment, in addition to taxing them, as they are already being taxed upon their tea and tobacco and half-glass of grog, while the Englishman's beer has escaped. The case is not improved, but is, as I hold, worsened by the Chancellor's Amendment agreeing to the appointment of those new Irish officials. He stated last night that the financial success of this Bill would depend upon its administration. I entirely agree with him, but it is for that very reason that until he can give us here, not 221 merely the names of the two Insurance Commissioners, but of the whole corps of officers, referees, servants, subordinates, and all the rest, he must excuse us if we know pretty well who will be the real nominators of those officials; and if we know how they will exercise their despotic powers in the interest of a secret society, which I do not hesitate to call an intolerant society. Instead of this Bill being, in my judgment, a national gain to Ireland, it is very much the other way. It places Ireland at a most disadvantage and under a very cruel stigma of pauperism, and more than that it imposes a heavy burden upon a future Irish Parliament and upon its sympathy with the working classes, or, at all events, upon the resources that are likely to be placed at its disposal.
I do not think that anyone in England who heard the Chancellor's speeches last night could have much doubt as to what his real opinion is about those Scottish and those Irish Amendments. Even with all his herculean capacity for work, it is quite clear he has not been able to give, them anything like adequate attention. I have a sort of suspicion that the right hon. Gentleman would be glad enough to drop this Clause if he were not under the whip of certain powers behind. I go further and make perhaps a still more hazardous suggestion, that a majority, or a large number, at least, of the hon. Gentlemen behind would be glad enough to drop this Clause as well, only that they are under the whip of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin). He may well take it as a compliment. It does him the utmost credit as an infant phenomenon, but in my judgment he and his advisers are the only people, practically speaking, who want to force this Bill upon Ireland in defiance of the Bishops, who were unanimous, of the county council, as far as I know, of the chambers of commerce, and, I go further and say, of his own colleagues. And the amazing thing is that he is going to have his way in defiance of them all. One very good reason, as he announced at a meeting in London the other night, is that it is the Irish vote that is going to carry this Insurance Bill, the implication being that the Irish vote might prevent the carriage of it. At the present moment there is no use disguising the fact the Irish vote is the hon. Member for West Belfast. It is only people who are ignorant of the state of things in Ireland who are likely to dispute that proposition. I, for one, have no hesitation in saying that if the Chancellor and the hon. Members behind 222 me will only emancipate themselves from this particular control nine out of every ten men in Ireland would be more obliged to the Chancellor if he dropped this Clause and reserved the Irish portion of the fund for better use hereafter, than they have had any reason whatever to be obliged to him for anything that has come from this House since the great Purchase Act of 1903.
§ Mr. CLANCY
The speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Cork reminded me as I listened to it of a celebrated character in Dickens named Mr. Dick. That gentleman was in the habit of sending petitions every now and then to the King, and into every petition, somehow or other, there came King Charles's head. Apparently the hon. Member for Cork cannot make a speech on any subject and cannot refer to any provision in this Bill without being troubled by a dream of the Board of Erin. He is so dominated apparently by Molly Maguires and their occult practices and mystic rites and their supposed secret codes that I do not really think he has been able to give this Bill the consideration which it deserves, and I think that that fact accounts in a large degree for the obscurities and the inaccuracies, to use no harsher word, which have rather disfigured the vehement oration to which we have just listened. The hon. Gentleman has moved an Amendment postponing the operation of this Bill for a period of two years, but I think everybody will see that the speech which he has just delivered shows that what he really would like would be that it should never apply.
§ Mr. CLANCY
What he has said really means that and nothing more or less. I am surprised that, he has not had the courage of his convictions by boldly proposing to exclude Ireland from the Bill altogether.
§ Mr. CLANCY
His real mind I think is better expressed in the Amendment which he first put down, but which he has not been allowed to move, or in that of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. Horner), which still stands upon the Paper for the admiration of his countrymen and of this Parliament. But whichever of 223 these proposals he prefers, it seems to me to be equally ridiculous from the point of view of Ireland and equally strange from any champion of the financial interests of Ireland. To exclude Ireland from the Bill without doing more would be to tax Ireland for the benefit of Great Britain; for in that case Ireland would be paying its share of the State Grant for England and Scotland without getting anything in return. To propose to exclude Ireland and to hang up some sum founded on an estimate of the Treasury on which the hon. Gentleman and his Friends have usually thrown absolute ridicule, and on the distribution of which in Ireland, at some time in the future, some indefinite time in the future, Parliament is to pronounce, would be to indulge in a wild gamble, which might easily lead to the taxation of Ireland for no Irish purpose whatever. To postpone the operation of the Act for two years would be, for these two years at least, and probably for three years, to make Ireland pay for the insurance of English and Scottish workmen, while Ireland itself would have nothing whatever for the purposes of insurance. In that case Ireland would be robbed. The Irish party, for whom I speak, decline to allow her to be so robbed, in whatever form the proposal is couched, or however vehement the rhetoric by which it is supported.
So far for the effect of the hon. Member's proposal on Ireland, but what about the class immediately affected, namely, the workers of Ireland? If his Amendment were adopted, of what would it deprive the workers of Ireland, for at least two years, and probably a little longer? Not merely of medical benefit, as the hon. Member would almost seem to imply, but of sickness benefit of 10s. a week, or its equivalent in money and additional benefits; of disablement benefit to the amount of 5s. a week as long as disablement lasts, and maternity benefit of 7s. 6d. a week for four weeks, and if the woman is insured, of 5s. additional sickness benefit for the same period; of the provision for consumption, and of as many as nine other additional benefits, including the increase of old age pensions, or the shortening of the period by five years at which old age pensions become payable, as the surplus funds of the societies will allow in respect of additional benefits. Of all these benefits, the hon. Member for Cork would deprive the Irish workers in town and country, while their English and Scotch brethren 224 would be in full enjoyment of them. We, on these benches, emphatically object to anything of the kind. If these benefits are to come at all, we think they ought to come concurrently with their arrival in England and Scotland. The hon. Gentleman's speech contained a passage to the effect that this would promote emigration. In my opinion, the proposal of the hon. Member to prevent Irish workmen receiving these benefits at the same time as they are given in England, would prove a direct stimulus to emigration. I regard the enjoyment of these benefits by Irish workers, at the same time as they are enjoyed by English workers, as a check upon emigration instead of being a stimulus to it.
When I think of the condition of some of these poor people, of those poor sweated women in Dublin and Belfast and other large centres, and in Cork, also, I am told, I say it would be cruelty, and nothing short of cruelty, to postpone the operation of this Bill in Ireland for a week, or even for a day. But it is said that the cost of working this scheme will be an intolerable tax on Ireland. In the first place, I would beg to say that to speak of a tax at all in this connection seems to me to be indulging in an abuse of language. It is certainly not a tax in the ordinary sense, and if a tax it be, one thing at least is to be said in favour of it. It is a tax every penny of which will be spent in Ireland, for an object which, every humane man must approve, namely, the preventing and relieving of human suffering and misery. But another answer is to be found in the Amendments which the Irish party have secured. I may be excused if I briefly refer to them, because I think that if hon. Members have no other information than that which has been given by the hon. Member for Cork they would hardly understand what they are told. We have secured a separate Irish Commission, and a separate Irish Insurance fund. I declare that, of all the amazing statements in the speech of the hon. Member, the most amazing statement seems to me that this is a bad proposal, and that it is disapproved of by the Irish people. Why, it is the one proposal that has been unanimously demanded by the Irish people. Whatever they may have differed upon, whatever points there may be on which they have differences of opinion, they have none on this. I think that fact has been made pretty plain by the newspapers during the last three months. I venture to say that not a single voice in Ireland has been raised, either among the followers of the 225 hon. Member for Cork, or by anybody else against this separate Commission and separate fund for Ireland.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I did not understand that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Armagh was a follower of the hon. Member for Cork. Statements have been made in Ireland to the effect that, because under the Bill as introduced there was one national fund for the three kingdoms into which all the contributions were to be paid, labourers in Ireland would be paying for operatives in Lancashire That could not have occurred even under the Bill as unamended, because Clause 40 provides that every approved society in every part of the three kingdoms was to be credited with all its own moneys on which it would draw as it needed, including the State Grant. But if any doubt existed, on that point, it has been removed by this first Amendment, which is now condemned, apparently, by the hon. Member for Cork, because, it will be absolutely impossible, if it was ever possible before, under this Amendment, that any money belonging to Ireland, shall go to any fund but an Irish fund. This Amendment, we think, will also secure the influence of Irish opinion in the framing of regulations to be made by the Commissioners. The hon. Member for Cork has referred to the opportunities for jobbery, the creating of places, which this Commission would permit. I do not know that place hunters are confined to persons opposed to the hon. Member for Cork, nor do I think that even the hon. Member for North Armagh, and the hon. Member for South Tyrone lead a party which does not want places; at any rate, that party has hitherto furnished a good many place men. It was specially complained by representatives of the farming class, that this Bill would be extremely burdensome upon them and also needless, as it compelled them to contribute to the insurance of their own children and other dependents for whom it was notorious that they habitually make ample provision voluntarily. My colleagues strongly shared this objection, and pressed it upon the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has met us handsomely, and here the advantage we have gained is common to the United Kingdom.
In the first place, children under sixteen years of age have been absolutely excluded; and, secondly, every son or daughter, or other dependent, who works 226 for a farmer in the country, or for a shopkeeper in the town, and to whom no wages are paid, are also absolutely excluded, no matter what the value of the holding may be, or what the size of the house. I believe that this concession will favourably affect 90 per cent. of the farmers of Ireland, and I believe also, that it will relieve very many farmers in Ireland from all contributions. We have relieved the farmers and others also still further—and here again, we have obtained a concession which has been, or rather is to be extended to England and Scotland—in the case of domestic servants and agricultural labourers. The proposal is that in each case in which the employer of any such person enters into a contract to pay sickness wages to his servant or labourer for six weeks of sickness, if it continues so long, his contribution will be reduced by a penny, and a penny also will come off the contribution of the employé, while the State Grant will not be reduced at all; that is to say, the benefit is divided between the employer and the workman. This is not all. The medical benefit is a subject on which more will be heard from these benches before the Debate closes. I should, however, like to say one word upon it. The whole speech of the hon. Member for Cork rested upon the assumption that, if this benefit were excluded and eliminated from the Bill, the pauper taint would disappear from the relief extended to the whole of Ireland. If that is the objection to it, surely it is the most ridiculous objection that can be made. The only person who will be relieved will be the husband or employed person, whilst his wife and children will still be subject to the pauper taint; yet the hon. Member for Cork does not care whether or not the wife and children are exposed to that taint, if the father of the family is free. We do not take that view.
Now, owing to the elimination of medical benefit a reduced scale of contributions has been secured not only for every employer but for every worker who will pay anything at all, for workers who earn less than 9s. a week will pay nothing, while the State Grant will still be 2d. Englishmen and Scotchmen cannot, and, I am sure, will not object to this concession, because if it were not made Ireland would be taxed for a purpose in Great Britain which is non-existent, and would be non-existent, in Ireland. What is the combined effect of those financial changes? I take the rates of contributions paid by employers for men workers. Those 227 who pay their agricultural labourers and domestic servants over 15s. a week will pay 2½d., and if they agree to guarantee full wages during sickness for six weeks they will only pay 1½d. per week. That provision, of course, will not operate in most Irish counties, because the average wages are much lower than 15s. a week. But I will be pardoned if I say that it will operate in several Irish counties, and amongst them there is one in which I am glad to think it will have a very considerable effect—the county which I myself represent. Those who pay wages varying from 12s. to 15s. a week will pay 3½d., and if they give a guarantee as to payment of wages during sickness they will only pay 2½d. a week. If they pay wages varying from 9s. to 12s. a week they will only pay 4d., instead of, as originally proposed, 6d.; and if they give the sickness guarantee they will only pay 3d. I say it is ridiculous to think that these figures indicate a crushing burden on Irish industry, or that they represent the difference, as has been sometimes said, between prosperity and ruin.
These are things to which the hon. Member for Cork did not refer. The migratory labourers who go from Ireland to Great Britain are mostly small farmers themselves who are not employed by others while they are at home. They are, therefore, not insured persons while at home. But while they are here in England working they are insured persons, and the contributions have to be paid in respect of them just as if they always lived in England. As the Bill stands without Amendment, all these contributions, including the contribution of the State, would go to swell the English insurance fund if separate funds were not established for England, Ireland, and Scotland. That would be grossly unjust, because the money would not be English money, but the money of the Irish labourers themselves. Here the Government have again met us, I think, handsomely. They propose that when the Irish migratory labourer, after his work in England, returns to his native land, his money shall follow him there. I think that is a most important as well as a most just concession. We have also secured two or three other Amendments, which are called for by the special needs of Ireland; but I forbear from dwelling upon thorn just now. This is the Bill as it will be amended for Ireland. It includes all, and more than all, the Amendments asked for by the Bishops, whose pronouncement 228 on the measure has been so extensively quoted against our action. It includes most of the Amendments asked for by any public bodies in Ireland—county council, rural council, trades council, benefit society—which have suggested any Amendments. This Bill, so amended, we on these benches will most certainly support, and we are ready to justify our action to our constituencies. Some of us have done so already, without any disastrous results to ourselves. I have gone to a farmers' meeting, and I have gone to a trade unionist meeting, and I have not been asked by either body to reject this Bill. It is said that public feeling in Ireland, generally speaking, is against it. I deny that statement altogether.
Some public bodies undoubtedly have expressed an adverse opinion, but that was several months ago. I, for my part, am persuaded, and have no hesitation whatever in saying that most of them were misled by the exaggerations and misrepresentations and inaccuracies of capitalist newspapers. On the other hand, I have here a list of nearly fifty public bodies—county councils, urban councils, boards of guardians, rural councils, chambers of commerce, and trade societies, not one of which has asked us to reject this Bill, but all of which have accepted the principle of the Bill and all of which, with one or two exceptions, have approved of the the Amendments we have secured. Last week a remarkable deputation came to London to see my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford. It represented the Chambers of Commerce of the six county boroughs of Ireland—in fact, I think, all the Chambers of Commerce in Ireland. That deputation did not ask for the rejection of the Bill. They expressed approval of its principle; they also expressed approval of our Amendments, and only regretted that we had not gone a little further on one or two other points. Such an expression of opinion does not spell hostility to the Bill as now amended. The fact is that the time has come for this reform. Most Members of this House, and certainly most Irish Members, have all their lives been expressing sympathy with the workers, and promising to do what they could at the first opportunity to improve their lot. Such an opportunity is offered now. Personally, I should be ashamed not to take advantage of it, especially when I know that one of the certain consequences of the passing of this Bill and of its operation will be that the part 229 of the cost of this scheme borne by employers in Ireland will be inevitably more than repaid by the gradual abolition of the workhouse system, with its cost and attendant abominations.
§ Mr. HORNER
I do think that instead of attempting to generate heat our endeavour should be to secure for Ireland the very best Bill that we possibly can get. [Interruption.] I am only speaking for myself. I am just as fully in sympathy with the objects of this Bill as the hon. Members who have interrupted me, or as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. All that I want is that we should have time to consider the Bill. [Some laughter.] Yes, since Thursday last is not ample time to consider a Bill that is going to affect vitally the life and well-being of every human being in Ireland. Now the calculations upon which the actuary has based all his figures upon the original Bill were calculations on figures and facts that applied solely to the United Kingdom. It was then felt, as it has been since felt, by Irishmen, that having regard to the economic and the peculiar industrial problem in Ireland the payments by the employer and by the contributors were too high. Almost 60 per cent. of those engaged in industrial pursuits in Ireland are engaged in agriculture. My Friends do not deny that. Well, it is notorious that among those who are engaged in agriculture there is a low rate of sickness in comparison with, say, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Then, again, we have a dispensary system under which every poor man in Ireland, his wife, relatives, and children, are attended free and have their medicines free. Then, again, we have the farming community and the small struggling industrial community in Ireland which have been fostered by Government Grants from time to time during the last quarter of a century. Under these circumstances, I say every public body of importance in Ireland objected to the Bill. Here is the resolution of the Executive Committee of the Irish County Council's General Council passed on 22nd May:—The application of the Bill in its present form to Ireland would create more hardship and suffering than it could possibly relieve.I turn again to the resolution passed on 31st May by the Council of Agriculture, the most representative council we have in Ireland. I challenge contradiction of that.
§ Mr. HORNER
I am glad the hon. Member does so. The resolution is as follows:—That this council, whilst approving of the principles of the measure, is of opinion that the National Insurance Bill at present before Parliament is not suited to the conditions that obtain in rural districts in Ireland, and that the application of the Bill in its present form would cause most serious injury to the agricultural interests.5.0 P.M.
There are also resolutions by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, the Cork Chamber of Commerce, and the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce to the same effect. My Friend the hon. Member for North Dublin says he went to his Constituents. So did I. I addressed several meetings of my Constituents of all shades of politics, and of all creeds, and I have not yet got a letter from any human being in my Constituency taking exception to the position I have taken up upon this Bill, namely, that in its present form, and even with the Amendments which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised, it is not suited to the agricultural conditions in Ireland. On Thursday last we had a set of Amendments tabled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer virtually making a new Bill. I ask the right hon. Gentleman and my Friends below the Gangway, has any human being had time to consider the bearing of those Amendments on the application of the Bill to Ireland? Has any representative public body had time to consider the application of those Amendments to the present industrial conditions in Ireland? Under the original scheme the actuaries stated that they had no data whatever upon which to go in reference to Ireland. They state in their report:—In the Irish Census Returns no information is given as to the number of employers, or of those working on their own account. It has only been possible, therefore, to make a very rough estimate as to their numbers, ages, and distribution, by a comparison of the Irish with the English and Scotch Returns.As far back as July last I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he could state the numbers separately for England, Scotland, and Ireland of the men and women estimated by the actuaries as liable to compulsory contributions on the initiation of this scheme of national insurance, either as members of approved societies or as deposit contributors. I also asked whether he could state approximately the total amount of the contributions under Clause 3 estimated to come for the year from insured persons and from employers in England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively, and the approximate total 231 contributions of the Treasury to England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively. What answer did I get? That the actuaries' calculations were not worked out separately for the three kingdoms. If no separate actuarial calculations were worked out in May, are there any worked out now? Upon what basis has the Chancellor of the Exchequer founded these Amendments? The position I take up is that we are financially taking a leap in the dark. I challenge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us, even approximately, the number of people in any one single industry in Ireland—agriculture, spinning, shirt-making, or whatever it may be—and to give us the basis upon which the actuaries have calculated the Amendments which on Thursday last were flung at our heads. The right hon. Gentleman said that the scheme is a part only of a great social reform. I understand from the Chief Secretary that he has a Bill actually drafted dealing with Poor Law Reform in Ireland, founded, I presume, on the Reports of the Viceregal Commission of 1906 and of the Royal Commission of a few years ago. No Bill is more greatly needed. There you have a great and crying social reform waiting year after year. All I ask is that, if this scheme is part of a great social reform, we should have time to consider these two measures together; or that Poor Law reform should be put first, and then we could see where we were in regard to State insurance. I am not opposed to this Bill on principle. Let there be no mistake on that point. All I ask is that we should have time to consider where we are in Ireland. Therefore I shall support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork.
§ Mr. SHEEHAN
I desire to support the Amendment on the ground that this is not a considered measure, and that no serious attempt has been made by the Amendments on the Paper to adjust the radical differences which exist between the working conditions of the people in Ireland and those in Great Britain. Unquestionably the vast majority of the working people of Ireland belong to the industrial population. Close upon a million workers are concerned in one capacity or another in agriculture, and I hold that these will not be benefited to any serious extent by the principles of the Bill as it at present stands. As has been stated, illness is practically unknown amongst the rural labourers of Ireland. If any insurance 232 were needed, it is not so much against sick as against unemployment. I was rather astonished at the statement by the hon. Member for North Dublin that the Amendments introduced by his party in conjunction with the Chancellor of the Exchequer relieved the farmers of Ireland from nearly all contributions. If that be the case, where do the million agricultural labourers come in? Who is going to pay the employers' contributions in respect of those labourers if the farmers are relieved? No more nonsensical statement was ever made or one showing so little knowledge of rural life in Ireland. My own experience is that the average farmer who works his farm on dairy and tillage lines requires at least three persons to do the work. His contributions in respect of those persons at 4d. a week amounts to something like £2 11s. a year. That roughly represents almost as much as the farmer has secured in the way of reductions under the Land Purchase Act of 1903. Yet we are told it is no serious burden on the fanning population of the country—and that, too, at a time when they are struggling back to some moderate degree of prosperity.
We are told that the Amendments meet all the demands put forward in the resolution of the Irish hierarchy. I would rather have the opinion of the Irish hierarchy on that point than the mere dictum of the hon. Member for North Dublin. It is said that the Bill would tend to reduce emigration from Ireland. I do not take that view at all. Its immediate effect must be to diminish the demand for agricultural labour, and to send agricultural labourers out of the country. A farmer who has been employing three or four workpeople will, when he is taxed 4d. a week in respect of them, have an inducement to employ less labour, and consequently labour must go out of the country. Whilst I would be strongly in favour of the principle of a well-considered insurance scheme which had special regard to the aspects of working life in Ireland, I am not in favour of the present Bill, because it is founded on conditions which obtain in Great Britain, but which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be said to obtain in Ireland. The contributions of both employers and employés in Ireland are far more onerous proportionately than the corresponding contributions in Great Britain. In this country the workers are largely the industrial population in great towns and cities. In Ireland three-fourths of the workers are 233 connected with agriculture. Consequently I strongly protest against the Bill being forced upon the Irish people without opportunity for drastic amendment. The hon. Member for North Dublin gave as one of the reasons why the Bill should recommend itself the fact that if an employer entered into a contract with his servants to pay six weeks' wages in case of sickness, his contribution would be reduced by a penny or so. What employer would be so absolutely foolish as to enter into a contract of that kind, when in return he would get only a reduction of 4s. 4d. a year? A more ridiculous concession I have never known put forward.
To my mind the real test of whether the Bill should apply to Ireland is the question: if we were legislating for our own needs and interests, would we bring forward such a measure? I hold emphatically that we would not. It takes no account of the peculiar conditions of Irish life. For instance, domestic servants employed, boarded and lodged by a farmer have to pay on the full scale; whereas the labourer, who is paid a weekly wage and gets his board from the farmer, comes on a modified scale. What value does the Chancellor of the Exchequer put upon the mere lodging? Why does he differentiate to this great extent between the person who is boarded and lodged and the person who is boarded only? The ordinary agricultural labourer who lives in his cottage is paid so much a week and partially boarded by the farmer. We do not know, in the scale put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to what degree any special benefits accrue in this respect. We have heard very little in the speech of the hon. Member for North Dublin about the size of the problem. It is a serious matter. The most serious tax that you can impose in Ireland is, to my mind, a tax upon tillage. Moreover, the tax on the workers in town and country must come to between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000. We have asked for the actuarial calculations, but have not been able to get them. Roughly, as far as we can calculate, these contributions will impose a tax of at least £2,000,000 upon our struggling population; because, to my mind, the average working farmer in Ireland who employs his two or three servants is quite as much a workman as the labourer he employs. I offer these reasons for the fact that I am supporting the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork. It is because this does not meet the actual necessities of Irish life that I strongly support this Amendment. I hold, as I 234 said before, that the one test to be applied is this: If we were legislating in an Irish Parliament, is this the Bill we would introduce, and is this the shape it would take?
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I was only waiting to hear an expression of opinion from the various sections representing Irish opinion before I got up to speak. I think the speech of the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. J. Clancy) was a very able and powerful one, and the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) was also exceedingly interesting. In many respects, however, the most interesting speech was that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. Horner). I was under the impression that he was going to propose the exclusion altogether of Ireland from the Bill. On the contrary, the phrase which he repeated oftenest, I think, in the course of his speech was the phrase in which he wanted to emphasise the fact that he was by no means hostile to what he called "the principle of the Bill." He attached much importance to that for reasons which I am certain have something to do with his constituency. He did not use the phrase merely in order to reassure me. I think it was intended for consumption in the neighbourhood of Tyrone.
Once, twice, three times he said, "I am in favour of the principle of this Bill; I am not opposed to this Bill," and once he went so far as to say, "Let there be no mistake about that." Here is a Daniel come to judgment! Every part of his speech was a strong support, not merely the principle of the Bill, but also of the desirability of a measure of that kind in Ireland. His own language was a complete answer to the cases he quoted. When I heard the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork say that not merely was Ireland opposed to the Bill, not merely did she not want it, but that there was a universal outcry against it from every hole and corner—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Yes, a universal outcry against the Irish part. In view of all this universal outcry throughout Ireland—which includes Tyrone—I rather expected the hon. Member to take his courage in both hands and head this revolt from the north against the Insurance Bill. 235 But he said, "Let there be no mistake, I am not opposed to this Bill whatever my Constituents think about it."
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think the hon. Member should have explained to us what he meant by the principle of the Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Now I understand that the only lingering doubt in the mind of the hon. Member is that he does not know what the principle of the Bill really is! If I explain it to him I do hope that he will not even support this dilatory Amendment, and will urge that this Bill should not only apply to Ireland sometime or other, but at once, and that so far from wanting to postpone it for two years he will desire to anticipate its operation by two or three months. The principle of the Bill is the principle of National Insurance against sickness and unemployment upon the basis of contributions by those who benefit—a contribution by the employer and a contribution by the State. The hon. Gentleman says he accepts that principle. Very well; the only other question is whether there are any modifications which he would like to see introduced which would make that principle adaptable to the conditions of Ireland. I say that the Amendments that are put down on the Paper will carry out the hon. Gentleman's desire. In a part of his speech the hon. Gentleman started to quote the opinions of various bodies in Ireland against the Bill.
Not a single resolution was passed by any one of these bodies to which he referred condemning the Bill. On the contrary, my own recollection is that these bodies approved of the principle of the Bill, and said that "in its present form it was not applicable to Ireland"—the "present form" being its form in May. That was a fortnight or three weeks after the Bill was introduced, and I venture to say before these bodies had had time to consider the Bill. Since then there has been a change of mind on the subject. Still more important, these bodies since then have sent forward all kinds of suggestions. That is not peculiar to Ireland, for the same process has been going on in this country. People accept the principle of the Bill and wish for Amendments. They have been sending to the Government, through their Members, all sorts of 236 representations as to the Amendments which they wish to see introduced. My own recollection of these resolutions is that substantially the demands put forward by these bodies have been met by the Amendments which appear on the Paper. The only resolutions—and there are a number of them—which we have received from bodies and which we have not met by our resolutions are those that desire to see medical benefit introduced into the Bill. Those, of course, we have not made. On the contrary, we have cut out, by two or three of our Amendments, medical benefits from the Bill.
I come to the next of these Amendments. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork wants to postpone the Bill for two years. I wonder why? If it is a good Bill why defer its benefits? If it is a good thing to have insurance for the purpose of providing for consumption, maternity benefit, 10s. a week for the sick labourer, in order that he should maintain his household during the time he is unable to work, why should it be deferred for another two or three years? If, on the other hand, it is a thoroughly bad Bill, why should it be better in 1915 than in 1912? That is what the hon. Gentleman proposes. I cannot quite see the reason why.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Now I under stand what it is the hon. Gentleman objects to. It is not so much National Insurance but that the Imperial Parliament should pay for it. He wants a Home Rule Parliament to pay for it. In this Bill—I am just quoting from memory—something like five—
§ Mr. O'BRIEN
Allow me to point out that in my Amendment I am most distinctly providing that for Ireland a proportional share of the State subsidy should be ear-marked, to be disposed of hereafter, to benefit the Irish working classes, either by this Parliament or an Irish Parliament if we had one.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If what the hon. Member proposes is that we should just take some £500,000 and put it into the savings bank, or some other place of national deposit, and that it should roll up for a purpose that is not defined; if he wants more money and he does not know what for; if that is really the proposal of the Amendment, I can hardly imagine the 237 Imperial Parliament proposing anything of that kind—to put by money for two or three years for no conceivable purpose. One of the arguments in favour of this Amendment is this: the hon. Gentleman said, "You state that in England you are getting 9d. for 4d.; in Ireland you are taking 3d. and you are giving nothing." Is that so? Or is it one of those picturesque presentations of the case? The hon. Gentleman should leave that behind him when he comes to the realm of British finance. He cannot mean that. He cannot possibly have read the scheme if he does. If he does mean it then it shows he has said it without the slightest investigation into the scheme; if he has read the scheme and says it, it is still worse. What does he call it? Ten shillings a week added to a man's earnings when he is sick and can earn nothing is worth a great sacrifice!
There are four and a-half million people in this country who make that great sacrifice in order to ensure that benefit. When we come to the Irish labourer, who is earning his 11s., 12s., or perhaps 13s. a week, to say that the giving of 10s. a week for six months—and this Government Amendment says that—during the time of sickness—and if he breaks down an Irish labourer needs it as much as any other person—if he is doubled up with disease, consumption, or rheumatism, 5s. for the rest of his days to keep his family from starvation—to say that that is nothing is something that the hon. Member has no right to say. Is it nothing to the poor woman of the home to get this relief? Is it nothing to the Irish workman that his child can be taken to a sanatorium and can get the best attention that science can provide for him, and that everything will be done to save his life? Is it nothing to save that Irish labourer's child? The hon. Member the other day wanted a portion of the money which had been spent—one and a-half millions—towards meeting the expenditure which has already been incurred, and which is still a burden upon the rates. I do not lack sympathy for that proposal, but still he must know how much has been done. We propose these benefits should extend, not merely to the labourer and the workman, but to their wives and children; and there is no part of the United Kingdom which stands in greater need of it than Ireland. Why does the hon. Gentleman say what he does here? Because he knows it will be repeated in Ireland. I have not the faintest doubt whatever that what he says here is doubled in Ireland.
238 Why does the hon. Member say, either here or in Ireland, that it is 3d. for nothing? I ask him does he mean it, and if he does not he really has no right to mislead these poor people. Five hundred thousand pounds or £600,000 a year is to be paid out of Imperial taxation towards lifting these poor people out of the mire. A burden is undoubtedly put upon the employers of labour, who in the vast majority of cases can afford it, but a small contribution comes from the labourer himself. Why does the hon. Gentleman say this contribution is paid for nothing? Has he really no better answer than that? If so, it shows he has not taken the slightest trouble to examine the measure, which he has simply denounced for no other reason that I can see except that the present Government proposes it and that hon. Members from Ireland support it. Does he know what the burden of the poor rate is in Ireland? Has he ever inquired what effect this will have upon the poor rate? This Bill and old age pensions between them will be the greatest relief to the poor rate that has ever been made. Up till now, all this burden was cast upon the poor rate. What happens to the labourer now when he breaks down? What happens to his family? The hon. Gentleman talks about thrift! There is not very much thrift possible among the labourers in Ireland on 10s. or 11s. a week, and I am not sure that it is possible to force upon them that thrift at the expense of the comfort of their children. How much thrift can you initiate upon that basis? What happens in Ireland now? Anyone who looks upon the burden of the poor rate will see for himself. Why should that burden be 5s. in Ireland now? Simply because when the labourer in Ireland breaks down there is nothing between him and starvation except the workhouse and the Poor Law, because there are no great friendly societies to come to his aid.
Ireland stands more in need of a measure of this kind than almost any part of the United Kingdom, because there is less provision in Ireland. Instead of the workman having the taint of pauperism, which hon. Members want to remove, he will, in future, under this Bill, go to his society and say, "I am ill and cannot work, and I ask my 10s. a week." Let the hon. Gentleman go to a man who is receiving 10s. a week in Cork, in these circumstances—a man who would be in the workhouse but for this Bill—and say to him, "You have been paying 3d. for nothing." As a 239 matter of fact, there is going to be a great relief not merely for the labouring classes alone under this Bill; it is going to be an indirect relief also to the farmer, who is paying such heavy burdens in rates just now.
Has the hon. Gentleman thought for a moment what would happen to the Irish workmen passing between Belfast and Glasgow? The Irish workman would come to Glasgow, where he would find the whole of the men engaged in the same trade as himself insured. He comes from Ireland, where there is no provision of the kind. If he settles in Glasgow he will have to pay the rate proper to his age. The Irish workman in Glasgow will find himself paying perhaps 6d. at the same time as his fellow workmen are paying 4d. Why? Because he was not insured in Ireland when he started; he did not take advantage of this great provision that rejuvenated other men, and which started other men as if they were sixteen. He will then have to thank the hon. Member for Cork City for the extra 2d. and 3d. he will have to pay to his fund—a very substantial reminder of the service which the hon. Gentleman would have rendered him. Are we to have the same class of workmen who are provided for in this country absolutely without provision in Ireland?
The hon. Gentleman said there is nothing provided in Ireland. Let me answer that proposition. There is not a 1d. paid by the Irish labourer or the Irish employer under this Bill, not a 1d. paid by the State under this Bill, that the Irish labourer will not get the full benefit of to the last 6d. Not a 1d. of that will cross the Channel. It may be raised in Ireland, but it will be spent in Ireland, every 1d. of it, and if the hon. Gentleman says he can get larger benefits for this money let him apply his great power and see the Act is so administered that it can pay greater benefit.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Imperial Exchequer. The hon. Gentleman is pleased with that, of course, naturally. He has not the same confidence in the method of administration by Irish boards in his own country as I naturally would have. The whole cost of that administration—I mean the Commissioners and officials—will not be borne by Ireland, but 240 will be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. The cost of administering the money in Ireland by the societies and county councils will, of course, be borne by the people themselves exactly the same as here. I quite see why the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork City has gone wrong here. He has a perfect obsession about something he calls "the Board of Erin"; it completely blinds his vision; he really cannot see straight; the Board of Erin is always somewhere in the offing. This is purely and simply because of some society called the Hibernian Society—I think he exaggerates their numbers—I do not know how many they are.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is hardly sufficient to form an approved society, unless you allow quality to make up for numbers; but really, after all, the hon. Gentleman can form his own society. There is nothing to prevent him enrolling the whole of his followers in Ireland into a society, and then they will have sound administration. It will be removed from the taint of "Molly Maguirism." It need not be administered by the Board of Erin. He can have his own board and the nine hon. Gentlemen who sit with him at the head of it if he desires. There is nothing to prevent him. He seems to imagine this is a sort of an endowment of a society which has got amongst its members tens of thousands of people in Ireland. The difficulty with regard to Ireland is that up to the present, as a matter of fact, in Ireland there are no, or at any rate only a few, friendly societies. The more people we get into societies the better it will please those who are responsible for this Act. I am inviting the hon. Gentleman to form an approved society, and I mean it, because it would be infinitely better you should get as many societies as possible—rival societies, so long as they do not spend their money on their rivalry, because I would hardly call that benefits under the Act. It might come under the Compensation Act. The more societies we get the better.
I have received deputations as hon. Gentlemen know, and I have not received a single deputation that wanted Ireland to be excluded. I have received deputations of Irish doctors, and they started by asking for 9s. or 10s. I said the only question is, "Would you like not to come in at all." They said it would be a monstrous injustice if the doctors of Ireland should not 241 come in, and one of them said, "It was a great Act, a humane Act, and the doctors were behind it, and the only question was the quid pro quo." I hope the hon. Gentleman will see that there is no doubt at all that the labourers of Ireland will receive great benefits. I am perfectly convinced of that. I met the trade unions of Ireland, which included among their members Unionists, strong Orangemen, and Nationalists, and I am sure some friends of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork City. They never had any doubt about the desire of the labourers and workmen in Ireland to come into this Bill. Does the hon. Gentleman assume that it would be better to cut Ireland out of it altogether. If Ireland and Irish workmen want it, we could not possibly resist it.
The only complaint the hon. Gentleman has made against me is that I have somehow or other listened to the dictation of Irish Members and Irish Nationalists. The hon. Gentleman should be the last man to taunt a Minister of the Crown with that. He has been a Member, and a very distinguished Member of this House for many years, and he has been fighting for the recognition of Irish opinion in these matters. I heard him from the gallery before I ever became a Member of this House, denouncing Ministers because they refused to defer to Irish opinion. I never thought I should live to see the day that I, as a Minister of the Crown, should be denounced by the hon. Gentleman because I deferred to Irish opinion. It is because not merely Irish opinion demands it, but because I honestly believe that it is in the highest and best interests of the poorest of the population in Ireland that I am going to defend this Bill, and to defend it right to the end.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made a very powerful and eloquent speech. I have listened to him as I invariably listen to him, with delight and with instruction. In some respects, I hope he will not be offended by my saying so, I sometimes regard him as almost my own boy. Therefore he will not in the least quarrel with any observations which I venture to address to the House. The first observation I would make is, if this Bill has all the extraordinary virtues which the right hon. Gentleman has paraded before us, is it not a very remarkable thing that you have kept them all such a profound secret from the Irish people until last Thursday. I should have supposed that with regard 242 to a Bill which, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is flowing with milk and honey for the poor people of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman would have hung his banners on the outer walls and said: "Come here and see at Westminster all that England is prepared to lavish upon you." Strange to say, we have had to put down motions; we had to come here with fixed bayonets, and we had to threaten to move adjournments until at last the congested district behind me consented to allow the right hon. Gentleman to open his magic box and lotus see what it was we were going to receive. If you say the Irish bishops were against it, and the trade councils, the Irish council, and the county councils general council for Ireland; if you say that capitalist newspaper, the "Freeman's Journal," was against it—and I believe to some extent it is largely a Liberal capitalist, newspaper—then the answer is: "Oh, but that was last May; all that happened last May. Wait until you see all the beautiful Amendments that we are putting down on Thursday, and then you will be all huzzahing and passing resolutions and declaring that this is a most admirable Bill." What did my hon. Friend the Member for Cork propose? He simply suggested that we should get a chance of examining these Amendments. The hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) criticised my hon. Friend for proposing the postponement of this measure to an Irish Parliament. "Oh, no," said the hon. Member for North Dublin; "the English Parliament is much superior, because it is the real brand, and we could not think of parting company with the rays of light and the illumination shed upon us from Wales and Scotland." That is a pretty tribute to an Irish Parliament.
Let us examine the statements that are made and the charges put forward against my hon. Friend the Member for Cork. It is said that we want to delay a measure which is instantly required. If my hon. Friend sins in this respect he sins in very good company, because when the hon. and learned Member for Dublin states that this Bill, as amended, meets all the requirements of the Irish party, is it not a great wonder that the resolution of the Irish bishops was not quoted? The Amendments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are two columns long, but the proposal of the Irish bishops can be read in a quarter of a minute. I ask the House, having regard to the character of the proposals of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, to say 243 which of the Amendments meets the case of the bishops. Here is their proposal:—That we request the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to extend the Bill to Ireland.[Laughter.] You may laugh at the bishops if you like, but I am arguing that the hon. and learned Member for North Dublin is not right in saying that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendments meet the views of the party. You can laugh at that as much as you like. Will the hon. Member tell me which of these Amendments meets the view of the bishops? So that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork should be ashamed to tell taradiddles in this House and outside of it, what are we to say of the hon. Member for North Dublin?
§ Mr. CLANCY
In justice to myself, may I point out that the hon. and learned Member has only quoted the last sentence of the manifesto of the bishops. The answer to the question put to me is to be found in the part of the manifesto that precedes that.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I have not done reading yet. If the hon. and learned Gentleman can point out any portion of the resolution of the hierarchy which he can boast has been met by the Amendment, why did he not triumphantly read it out, for nobody would have stopped him. I was most anxious to hear what the hon. Member had to say. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) sent the hon. and learned Member for North Dublin over to the Treasury as the ablest Member in his ranks, according to himself, and really a spurious paternity is claimed for the Treasury for these Amendments, for I believe that really they are the product of the hon. and learned Member for North Dublin himself. I quite agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have done anything the majority of the Irish Members wished him to do. I do not blame him for it; on the contrary, I commend him. I wish to say for myself that I believe if I had any suggestion to make I could go with confidence to the right hon. Gentleman, and I should 244 be just as well treated as any other hon. Member. I am arguing the point of the hon. and learned Member behind me, who said that all the requirements of all those uproarous bodies who have protested against this Bill have been met by the Government, and that the hon. Member for Cork has failed to recognise that fact. The manifesto goes on:—Therefore we request the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to extend the Bill to Ireland and to set aside the State's contribution necessary for financing this scheme to the credit of Ireland either for an insurance scheme specially devised for the needs of this country or for some other purpose that may be deemed more beneficial to the general welfare of our population, and we ask the Irish party to urge this policy in Parliament.My colleagues behind me are quite entitled to say they will not, but let them not be hypocrites. Let them say boldly, "We decline to accept the views of the bishops; we are wiser men than they are; we know what is better for the needs of the people than the bishops, and, accordingly, we will trample on and tear up this document." That is a reasonable and courageous position to take up, but it is a mean and contemptible position to say, "We have met the views of the bishops. On Thursday last we put down Amendments, and everyone of them was a salve to the consciences of the hierarchy and met the views that they expressed." I challenge any hon. Gentleman behind me to say that there is one Amendment placed on the Paper either by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or by any member of the Nationalist party which carries out the view which the Irish bishops have expressed. You cannot have it both ways. You may take up a bold anti-clerical attitude, and that is intelligible; you may take a bold anti-episcopal attitude, and that is intelligible; you may take up the position that you are wiser than the four archbishops of Ireland, for that is a reasonable position; but you are not entitled to come, here with bated breath and whispering humbleness, pretending that you have met the views of the bishops when, in reality, you have only met the views of the hon. Member for West Belfast.
For my part I do not blame the hon. Member for West Belfast for supporting the Bill. In all probability this is a Bill suitable to West Belfast. I can see very little distinction between the necessities of a great industrial city like Belfast and the necessities of a great industrial city in England or Scotland, and I should be very sorry to oppose a Bill of this kind either 245 for England or Scotland. I verily believe that for great industrial communities this Bill is an excellent measure, and if I could give a vote I should be in favour of applying it to districts like Belfast and some of those other great industrial communities. That is our position. We say you are sacrificing the interests of the great body of the people in the rest of the country to the interests of one great city which is powerfully represented in this House. That is our only contention, and if that is a sin, then we must bear it. What is the case with regard to the rest of the community? The late Mr. Biggar said a great many true things in his life, and probably in his day he was as wise a man as any of those who came to this House. I heard him say:—Farming is a bare business; it is the poorest and the hardest trade that is going and the most disappointing, dependent upon the rain and sunshine, markets rigged abroad, and a number of other conditions of that kind.6.0.P.M.
The labourers and farmers of Ireland are pretty much in the same position; and what is our apprehension? It may be an entirely wrong apprehension, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be entirely right. I am not posing as infallible, but when I find a great body of unselfish opinion, such as the clergy of the country represented by their heads, stating that in their opinion this Bill is unsuitable to the agricultural conditions of Ireland, I am not ashamed to say that I prefer their opinion to the opinion of the hon. Member for West Belfast. That is all the sin and crime I have committed. Nobody pretends the Bill will not do some good, but you may buy gold too dear. Is it visionary to may this Bill will have a mischievous effect in many cases? I profoundly believe it will. It is all very good for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to dangle his wares before the House—I was almost dazzled with them myself—but take the man with a small rental on a poor farm who is employing perhaps for nine months in the year a single labourer. What will he do the moment this Bill is passed? He will dismiss him. My hon. Friends are so generous to their own labourers that no doubt they have the very highest opinion of all other employers. Remember this: Tillage has gone out to an enormous extent. The proposals hitherto with regard to tillage—it was the proposal of the late Mr. Matt Harris, and I thought it reasonable at the time—have been that as regards taxation there should be a differentiation in favour of the tillage man as against the grazier. 246 That is a reasonable proposal, because the tillage farmer gives employment. What are you going to do? Remember, in a humid climate, where sweet grass grows naturally and where you have the cows and horses to graze it, nothing is simpler and easier in the world than to let your farm go from tillage into grass and thereby dispense with all labourers.
What is it which to a large extent strikes the labour rate of the poorest parts of Ireland? The wages of New York and Chicago. Let us take a small matter. Why is bacon high for the English working man at the present time? It is high because to a large extent in Ireland the girl who was to be had easily before to feed the pigs and to do menial service of that kind is attracted to America and will not remain at hard and laborious work in Ireland. It is the Chicago and Minnesota labour markets we have to compete against in Ireland. Even 4d. and 3d. is a considerable sum to a poor man when he never gets any benefit out of it. I have seen figures, and they are not disputed, showing that men for years and years have never had to pay in the case of sickness or in the case of unemployment, but you will be making these men pay in year after year, and they will get nothing for it. What will they get for it? No doubt one man in a thousand may get something, or it may be a matter of hundreds. I do not know the figures, because there is one thing the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been: he is certainly very lavish with language, but he is very costive with figures. All these grand visions he has placed before us; we are not able to reduce them in the alembic of arithmetic. We are not able to test them, so I say let us take, say, a dozen men in a parish. I say it is not good enough for the whole parish to pay 4d. per week, and 2d. or 3d. from the labourer, on the chance that there may be in the course of the twelve months a few men whom the ordinary charities of Christianity would relieve in any event.
How has the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the problem of migration? It is the young man who is leaving the country. Most emigrants are men between twenty-five and thirty years of age. What benefit will they get from paying into this Bill from the time they are eighteen years of age? Will he recoup them when they go to the United States? He contrasted the man who went from Belfast to Glasgow—he knows the Belfast conditions, having no doubt been very well instructed—but 247 take any other part of the country. Take the labourer who goes from Queenstown to New York, and who has been paying into the State benefit for eight or ten years, or take the servant girl who goes to New York. What becomes of her money? The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the one great beauty of this Bill is that it is Irish money, which will all go to an Irish purpose. Take the labourer who has been paying his 2d. or 3d. per week for ten years, and who books his passage and goes from Queenstown to Boston. Will his money meet him on the other side? No, of course it will not. What is the good, then, of arguing the case and saying, "You Irish, what fools you are; every 1d. you pay into this Bill you will get back again." The answer is, "You will not." The young of these agricultural communities are almost brought up to emigrate to America, I am sorry to have to say. Thirty thousand marriageable people—30,000 young men and women—went last year, and 40,000 went the year before. All the contributions of all these people are to be provided by the farmer and the labourer himself, and when the labourer has raised his passage money and goes to America, then who gets the money? I do not know. I do not say the right hon. Gentleman gets it. I do not say the British Government gels it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Not a penny comes across the Channel. It will simply be merged in the Irish fund for the benefit of those who remain in Ireland.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I have no doubt that Munster, Leinster, and Connaught will find their contributions absorbed by Belfast. That is extremely likely. This Bill practically means that the country districts of Ireland are to bear the burden of the industrial towns. That is really what the Bill is. I say the hon. Member for West Belfast is therefore quite right in urging this Bill upon his country. He has the best of all reasons, because I verily believe Belfast will largely gain by the passing of this measure. No other part of Ireland will in my opinion. Have you ever contemplated when you leave agriculture out how slender is the margin of profit to a number of the industries of Ireland? I had a letter yesterday from the head of large spinning works in Dublin. It was a pathetic letter. He said:—We have been carrying on this business for a great many years, but we have not made any profit. We have carried it on just because we are able to make the expenses.248 That place is in competition with England, with Scotland, and with other parts of the country. It is a splendid thing, no doubt, to be able to say "make the employer pay." It sounds very reasonable, but there is such a thing as bankruptcy, and, while in England where you have coal and iron cheap, I believe it is quite right that a Bill of this kind should be passed. I do think that with the disabilities we have with all our coal and iron imported and without that tenacious labouring population which exists in this country so far as the skilled artisans are concerned, you are placing a handicap upon the industries in Ireland. I am not, however, concerned to do more than glance at that side of the case. My position is this: This is a Bill passed for an agricultural community, which community is unable to bear the burden. Lastly, I should like to show how the gentlemen of society, at the head of which is the hon. Member for West Belfast, who are so active with regard to this Bill regard the paying of pennies themselves every week. They say, "Oh, what is a penny a week? Look at the enormous benefits you get out of it." I have here a series of extracts taken, not from a newspaper connected with the hon. Member for Cork, but from the "Armagh Guardian," the "Newry Reporter," and the "Impartial Reporter." I believe the "Impartial Reporter" is a Conservative organ, but nobody will deny—I do not think the hon. Member for West Belfast will deny—the accuracy of what I am going to read:—That we pledge ourselves to discontinue paying money for parochial purposes, except the usual copper collection, until a parish committee is appointed. That the custom of paying offerings at funerals is unseemly and unnecessary in the parish, and we pledge ourselves to discontinue this custom in future,These were the resolutions passed on 6th August by the Cullyhana Ancient Order of Hibernians, and I ask, if the Cullyhana Hibernians are so economical, even in regard to matters of funerals and paying dues, is it surprising that we, having regard to the much more shadowy benefits which the general population of Ireland would get from this Bill, should take up the attitude: "Our country is taxed enough, give us our own Parliament." My final observation is this: I believe the reason this Bill is urged forward by the party behind me, for they are its real momentum, is that they know that the scheme of taxation and finance that they are going to get in the Bill of next year will be a fraud. They know further that the 249 Government are going to deny them taxing powers, either through the Customs or Excise, and they want to use the passage of this Bill in order to say, "Look at the tremendous gain we are going to get in the mixed system of finance which is being established viâ Old Age Pensions and viâ Insurance; therefore, we are perfectly right to assent to a measure that withholds from us any just or proper system of taxation in our own Parliament."
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I should have imagined that the hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. colleague in the representation of the City of Cork would have been tired of prophesying. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has prophesied that the Home Rule Bill introduced next Session will be a "fraud." I am afraid that, in his case, the wish is father to the thought. If you prophesy for five years that a Government which is pledged to do justice to Ireland is only throwing dust in your eyes and that they do not intend to do anything of the kind; if you prophesy that they are merely using you as a pawn in the game, and that they will not introduce an Home Rule Bill even when they have a chance to do it; if you prophesy further that if they do it it will be a fraud, naturally you are anxious to fulfil your own prophecies. While I am on the subject of phophecies may I quote a few of them to the House. The hon. and senior Member for the City of Cork, writing a letter on 31st January, 1910, made this prophecy. He said:—Either Mr. Asquith must reconstruct the Irish part of the Budget from top to bottom or his obsequious followers the Dillon-cum-Devlin party will only have the choice between following us into the Lobby against the Budget with the consequent expulsion of the Government, or on the other hand, supporting the Budget and thus sealing their own fate at the polls at the General Election.We voted for the Budget. We went to the polls, and we came back again.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I do not want to be offensive, but I could be if I liked. I think it would be better for the "uncongested district" to keep quiet. Let me come to another prophecy:—But what is perfectly certain is that if these men of the Irish party had the power to carry North-East Cork they would support the Budget in the interests of a formal Veto Bill, but these men know in their lying hearts that they have no more power of passing the Bill into law than I have of picking up the Galtee Mountains and casting them into the sea.I have not seen the hon. Gentleman wrestling with the Galtee mountains. 250 The hon. Gentleman has entered into the realm of controversy. He told us about the appalling results that will accrue from the passing of this Bill. Both himself and his hon. Friend went out of their way to mention my name particularly in connection with this Bill. Let me frankly say I am in favour of this Bill. I preached the policy of insurance against unemployment, sickness, and invalidity three years ago when the voices of the masses of Protestant Ulster were rendered inarticulate by religious prejudice and racial strife, when all great social causes were chloroformed by party conflict. I preached this policy on Belfast platforms before I knew what was the character of the right hon. Gentleman's measure. I am here in fulfilment of that promise, not only because it is a great and beneficent measure for Ireland, but because I believe it will be equally efficacious for the vast body of the Irish people themselves.
Before I deal with one or two other points, may I remark that the hon. and learned Gentleman stated that you had at the last moment smuggled your Amendments through the House, that you had only put them down a day or two ago, and that he has been in a state of abyssmal ignorance as to what the propositions of the Irish party were until he saw them placed on the Paper. But on the 1st June last there was reported in the public Press a meeting of the Irish Parliamentary party at which every recommendation which the party in its judgment, after gathering the opinion of the country, thought it desirable to put forward. Every one of these recommendations were published in last June, and the preamble to these publication of these recommendations distinctly stated that we believed this Bill is a good one, it ought to apply to Ireland, and that, in our judgment, we should bring pressure to bear upon the Government to apply it to that country. From that moment until now there has not been a single word of protest from any of those representative bodies or distinguished men whose names have been quoted here to-night. There have been references to the bishops, but, in the main, the recommendations of the bishops have been carried out. Let me frankly say I am the representative of my own Constituency, and no man, be he bishop or layman, has my conscience in his pocket. What I conceive to be good for my country and for the people I represent I will vote for and I will speak for it, and, although I do happen to be one of the 251 Molly Maguires, let me say to this House that on no other principle would I represent an Irish or any other constituency. The bishops of Ireland made recommendations, and they were entitled to be heard with all the respect due to such high authorities. The Irish party considered their recommendations while these gentlemen were engaged in prophesying. We were sitting, day after day, in Dublin at great inconvenience to ourselves, because that is one of the difficulties in dealing with questions of this character. We prepared our recommendations to the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has never denied that, when the Irish representatives met and placed recommendations before him expressing the will of the overwhelming mass of the people he would be willing to accept them. I, for my part, am willing to support any Amendment that comes from hon. Members from Ulster, if those Amendments are for the good of their constituents and for the general advantage of the country. Therefore I say when the hon. and learned Member comes here and states to the House that he did not know anything about what was being done, and that it was done behind the back of Ireland, that it was a carefully and secretly arranged plan to prevent the nation knowing what was being done, I reply that our recommendations appeared on 1st June, that they were in the public Press, that they were discussed at a public meeting, and that from that day until now there has not been a single authoritative declaration of hostility to this Bill.
The House was not very full at the time my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Dublin was speaking, and they did not hear consequently that declaration in favour of the Bill had come from practically all the county councils in Ireland, everyone of the chambers of commerce, the urban councils, the rural councils, the Town Commissioners, the Poor Law associations, employers' meetings, trade societies in Belfast, Dublin, Cork and various parts of rural Ireland, and the benefit societies. One would have imagined that the only benefit society in favour of the Insurance Bill is the Ancient Order of Hibernians, whereas my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan is President of the Irish National Foresters, a great friendly benefit and patriotic organisation that has done 252 much for the thrifty classes of our population. Every friendly society in Ireland practically has spoken in favour of this Bill, as also have the apothecaries, nurses, professional bodies and others, and farmers' and labourers' associations. Last of all, Mr. Herdman, the opponent of the hon. Member for North Tyrone, a large employer of labour, has been one of the most eloquent defenders of this Bill, and one of those who have spoken in the most enthusiastic manner as to its terms. Employers are not against the Bill in Ireland. Why has not Lord Pirie protested? Why has not Lord Iveagh protested? It seems to me that the people who want this Bill are the people who work and want, and the people who do not want it are the people who neither work nor want. It is all very good for newspapers in Dublin to write denouncing a measure of this character. What do they know of the lives of the people. Those who have lived in large towns and have travelled over the rural parts of Ireland know something of the sufferings in the towns and of the squalor in country places. This Bill is a veritable blessing to them, and we rejoice to get it. Only the other day, in a northern town, I met a leading merchant who told me he knew of a case where a woman—one of the best women in the whole town—was working in one of the factories. She had two little brothers and a sister dependent upon her. She was attacked by cancer. They wanted her to go into the local poorhouse hospital, but she would not because she said it would be a degradation. She toiled on and did her best, and a local religious charitable association gave her 3s. a week. When they wanted her to go into the workhouse, she said, "Let me go to the Belfast workhouse, where my neighbours will know nothing about it." She went to the Belfast workhouse, and so the poor little family was scattered. That is the tragedy which takes place in Ireland. The children went to the home and the woman went to the hospital. I do not know whether they will ever meet again, but if this Bill had been in operation, she would have received 7s. or 10s. a week, and held that little family together, or she would have been sent to the sanatorium, and would have been able to build up her own constitution, and to build up her own home, instead of having it destroyed. That was a Protestant woman in a Protestant town in the North of Ireland.
Let me take the case of the mill workers and of the laundry workers in Dublin and 253 in Cork. In the mills in Belfast some of these people go to work when they are nine years old—little children who are old before they ever know what it is to be young. They work as half-timers until they are twelve years of age. They go on working in these mills. It is stated that the average life of the mill worker is thirty-nine. Very few of these women earn more than 9s. a week. Under your scheme they will pay nothing at all; but, on the contrary, when these women go, as they do, to the doctor, and say to him that they feel very ill, and he tells them that they must go home and must not work, their answer is, "What must we do? We have to stay at homo to maintain the children, or a widowed mother, or, perhaps, a crippled father," then there is nothing for it but to break up the home. There is the workhouse for the old people, the homes for the children, and the hospital for the woman. That is the second tragedy in the life of Ireland. Under this scheme the woman would have to pay nothing at all, and she would have from 7s. 6d. to 10s. a week, with the benefits of the sanatorium, and she would be able to leave the 7s. 6d. or 10s. a week in the home to keep the family together.
Yet this is the Bill we are told to reject. We are told to earmark the funds. I am surprised that anyone who has any experience of Irish finance should suggest the earmarking of funds. There was a fund once earmarked for Irish purposes, for educational and industrial development and for the material advancement of the country. What happened? The landlords got it. I tell you this, I will take good care, and so will my colleagues, that they will not get hold of this money. The money which was devoted to education, when education was almost starved and neglected, was given to the landlords, who are the only gentlemen who get commiseration at the hands of the hon. Members below me. Now they want £500,000 a year, which you propose to give to the most helpless of the community. They want to get hold of this £500,000 in order that they may be able to show what splendid statesmen they are after having a long record of being fighting agitators. The last resort of the unsuccessful agitator is to become an unsuccessful statesman. The hon. Gentleman told us that what we wanted in Ireland was not solace for the broken, or comfort for the sick and diseased, but cottages for the labourers. We on these benches fought for, and succeeded in securing, a great Labourers Act for 254 Ireland, which gave to the labourers of Ireland—40,000 of them—cottages housing nearly a quarter of a million of the population.
The hon. Gentleman traded on his devotion to the cause of the labourers. He was not in the House at all when the Labourers Bill was passed. We know what good these labourers' cottages have done. We want this Bill to be a corollary to the cottages. When you go through the South of Ireland and see the operation of that great measure which was passed by this Government, which is so often denounced from these benches, we see the fruits of that Bill in the thrift and sobriety of the fathers, the brightness of the faces of the mothers, and the laughing, dancing eyes and faces of the little children. We expect to see exactly the same results in another branch of society from the great social measure you are introducing here, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated will be a far greater advantage to the people of Ireland than it will be to the people of England. I was amused by that portion of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. Healy) in which he referred to how the Bill would promote emigration. Give a man 7s. 6d. a week when he is sick who had 11s. when he was well, and he will leave the country! Tell that to a labourer in Ireland when he is crippled with rheumatism, when he is broken in health, and engaged in the most laborious of all occupations; and tell him that when he is no longer able to pursue his avocation, the State will give him 5s. a week so long as he lives—and that is a great deal to an Irish labourer—then he will run away to America! Hon. Members are getting as mixed in their logic as they are in their finance. The whole thing from beginning to end, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated, is to be accounted for by the fact that everything you do is wrong, and that everything we ask you to do is wrong. The merits of the case do not make any difference; simply have a fling at the Government, and attack the Members of this party, who are doing their best to support the Government in all those things which can make for the happier conditions and brighter lives for England, and greater freedom and peace for Ireland.
The hon. Member has also stated that this Bill proposed to put £4,000,000 of taxes upon Ireland. You only put on £2,000,000 in connection with the Budget, but you are putting on £4,000,000 in 255 connection with this Bill. They also say, "Are you healthy, Irish workers, you labourers in the rural parts of Ireland, are you going to vote for this Bill, which will send your hard-earned money over to maintain the crippled and broken workers in Lancashire?" When they are face to face, the Chancellor of the Exchequer meets the hon. Member on that argument and doubles him in two. Then he comes along and says, "While we healthy people in Leinster, Munster, and Connaught will not have to pay for the ne'er-do-wells, the lazy ones, and the broken and diseased in Lancashire, we shall have to do it for the same class of population in Belfast." There is not a word of truth in it. The surplus of these societies, as I understand it, will be divided among the members of their own societies, and the subscriptions of the labourers in the rural parts of Ireland will go towards the purposes of their own fund and of their own society. The hon. Member also made another point. He said that some of the Molly Maguires—the worst of Molly Maguires—is that they transfer a congested district to the South of Ireland—would not have to pay a penny to this or that or to the other things, and therefore they will have to be prepared to pay a penny for this. I know hundreds of thousands of poor men and women earning 15s. a week and having to maintain families who pay 2d. a week into their burial society. What do they get for that? Eight or ten pounds on the death of a father or the mother of a family for the purpose of giving the deceased a decent funeral. If people make such marvellous sacrifices in order to preserve decency in death, surely it is only natural that they should be anxious and willing to co-operate with the State and the employers in preparing for that rainy day which comes to the healthiest and the best of us, and which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given us an opportunity of joining in under this Bill.
The agricultural labourers want the Bill. Anybody who heard the speeches from the benches below me would imagine that I had used occult signs and passwords, and had performed other operations in order to chloroform the intellect of my colleagues in the Irish party, and force them to accept this Bill. I venture to say there is no man in the Irish party who has stated his views more seldom than I have in connection with the Bill. I have never, in private even, asked any Member to support this Bill. I have 256 fought for the Bill on broad national grounds, because it is a good Bill. I should have been quite willing if my colleagues had proposed it to support an Amendment that this Bill should only operate in our towns and cities, but my colleagues, every one of them in the Irish party, who were dragooned and driven into this position, state that from what they know of the people's wants, one of the greatest advantages of this Bill would be that it was wanted for the agricultural labourers. Would the Committee believe that in rural Ireland the great mass of the agricultural labourers do not get 9s. a week at all, so that they will be exempted from any payment under this Bill. The average wage of the Irish agricultural labourer, indeed, of all labourers in Ireland, is 11s. 3d. That covers all the towns where many of the labourers get from 15s. to 21s. The vast bulk of the Irish agricultural labourers get from 8s. to 9s., and very seldom over 9s. They will not have a single farthing to pay. What a boon that will be to them.
With regard to the societies, I trust we shall have an opportunity of discussing that matter later on. I have looked forward to the opportunity of discussing the Ancient Order of Hibernians in this House. There is nothing we should be more delighted at than to have an opportunity of meeting our assailants face to face, and to hear what they have to say against this organisation. I will prove the character of the organisation later on. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, the Ancient Order of Hibernians does its work in its own way; it helps its members, promotes thrift and advances temperance. Why does not the All-for-Ireland League do the same thing? The worst of the All-for-Ireland League is that they have put nothing in and they will take everything out. Could not the right hon. Gentleman, after his varied experiences and excursions in the realms of finance in connection with this Bill, introduce a measure which would be acceptable to them on these lines? If he does there are some in Ireland who will think that at last a heaven-sent statesman has arrived. As far as we are concerned we are entirely in favour of the Bill. I am glad the same misunderstanding has not arisen in this connection which arose over the Budget. If we remain silent on these benches we shall probably be told, as we have been told, that we are not in favour of the Insurance Bill, and are supporting it because we have a bargain over Home Rule. It is no part of our bargain. Our 257 support is our contribution to the cause of humanity, and that is why we are supporting it.
§ Mr. CREAN
I intervene in consequence of the remark which has been made that we are not in favour of the Bill. There is not a particle of truth in that statement. We are not against the Bill, but we are against it in its application under present conditions and in the absence of an opportunity of framing it in accordance with Irish needs. The hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien) informed the Committee that he had in his possession a wire from the Trades Council of Cork. That body to my knowledge, and I have known it for forty years, represents all organised labour in the South of Ireland. So far as Munster is concerned it is the principal labour body there. It represents about forty societies in the city of Cork alone, and when they wired they told their representative in this House that they were opposed to its application on account of its turning the industrial labourers in Cork into paupers by means of the Bill. He spoke for all these men. Other hon. Members who have taken part in the discussion have spoken here as they would speak on the Court House steps of Belfast. They are used to that sort of thing there, and so long as they use enough adjectives to abuse each other and draw blood, as far as the tongue can draw blood, they are satisfied with their work, but they have no right to speak for Irish labour so far as Cork is concerned, either the county or the city, and we represent a ninth of the whole country. I am speaking as a working man who for eight long years presided over that body in Cork, and anything coming from them does not come without consideration, and should be received here with respect. We have had labour bodies from the city of Cork quoted as in favour of the Bill. Would it surprise Members who represent Labour in this House to know that the men who composed it are half a dozen who seceded from the genuine labour organisation? They dare not speak for the labour bodies in Cork county or Cork city. They have no authority to speak for them. I do, and so does the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien.) It is an outrage on this House to impose on it such statements as these, and whilst we are strongly in favour of the Bill as a whole, if we had a proper opportunity of discussing or amending it, we are not in favour of applying it until such time as we have in our own hands the opportunity of framing a Bill to meet 258 the necessities of our people. We never said anything behind the backs of these Gentlemen that we are not prepared to say here. We have in Cork county a system of getting into the minds of the people the facts of the situation as we know it, and as it is known through the whole county, that they have not in any other county of Ireland, and if they had they would make short work of the seventy Mollies who are behind us. How is it done? Subsidised papers convey untruths and unsubstantial figures to prove, to them that they are going to make a new paradise of our country if they only get their way. Whenever the people knew the facts they were denounced and driven out of their homes. What did they do in the county of Cork, the only county which really understood the Budget and knew what the effect of it would be?
§ Mr. CREAN
I only wish to say that the statement that they went to the country and came back triumphant is fooling this House. They did not come back triumphant. We knocked three of their men out of the county of Cork because the county knew what they were doing. We never left them in doubt what they were doing. The hon. Member referred to the Labourers Act. Who gave you the lead? Who gave you the assistance? Who enabled you to realise what the Labourers Act meant to Ireland? We did when we started large organisations under the auspices of the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien). We outlined what the labourers of Ireland wanted—the industrial labourers in the country districts—and you translated that into the actual Act of Parliament, and not a single Member of the so-called majority of the Irish Party ever attended any of those meetings. But the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) denounced the labour association as one that would cripple the United Irish League if it was encouraged. The hon. Member referred to the Land Act, and said that if the money was given to the landlords of Ireland, the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien) and his party would receive the author of the Bill with open arms and praise him as the greatest statesman who ever stood in the House. It is the Gentlemen who sit above the gangway who appropriated the money, and if we acquiesced in the distribution of a fund which had the approval of all Ireland, 259 including all the representatives with one exception, we stick to our words, and do not say one thing here and deny it in Ireland. Everything they say can be contradicted from both benches. If we got the British Government to spend £100,000 of Irish money—for it was Irish money—to clear out the landlords from Ireland we have half the land of Ireland purchased with the money, and they bless us, and do not bless these men for succeeding in that. If we have anything to thank these gentlemen for it is for the killing of the Act of 1903, that had the blessing of the party.
We will be no party to the killing of this Bill. We should be in favour of the application of this Bill to Ireland if we had the framing of it so that it would meet the necessities of the country. Do we stand alone? Have we not educated public opinion in Ireland to support us? We have the bishops of Ireland, whom they cannot contradict though they misquote their statements in favour of the Bill, a Bill which should be in the hands of the Irish people to outline themselves. That is not killing the Bill. We are in favour of the Bill. The English representatives are strongly in favour of it as amended. They would like to have it amended better still, because it does not go far enough for the ordinary labourer. So far as the Bill is concerned they need assistance where assistance is most needed, that is when death is in the family, and if you take from them the little residue that they at present pay in, a penny or twopence a week for death, if you compel them to pay that into the Insurance Bill for illness or sickness, you take from them the money they would really have when they most need it, that is when a member of their family should die, without the assistance coming from one of these friendly societies to bridge them over the worst portion of their grief. I would not have spoken on the Bill to-night were it not for the statements made by the hon. Members (Mr. Clancy, Mr. T. M. Healy, and Mr. Devlin), who, in their usual florid style, endeavoured to amuse the Committee at the expense of the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien). He can well afford to treat with contempt any of the scurrilities which may be poured on him by that eloquent tongue. He is amongst his own people, who know him best. Knowing as we do that in its present form it will bring as much misery to us as it will comfort, we will certainly support the Bill, but will vote in favour of 260 this Motion to suspend its operations, while retaining its funds for our native land.
§ Mr. LARDNER
The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) said we cannot have it both ways. I reciprocate that argument with regard to himself and with regard to the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien). He desires to postpone the operation of the Bill, so far as Ireland is concerned, for two years. The real gravamen of our sin is that we exclude Ireland from the operation of the medical benefits, and he says, so far as the working men of Ireland are concerned, you leave them branded with the pauper taint, you mark them as men of an inferior race, and you perpetuate the system of pauperism. Let us examine the facts, and see if this charge is right. He says a British workman gets his doctor and his treatment under the Bill; why should not the Irishman get the same? There is no analogy between the two cases whatever, because you have no similar system of relief under the Medical Charities Act in Ireland as you have in England. The Irish dispensary patient is one of the men for whom money is paid to the doctor for attendance under the Medical Charities Act. Is that doctor to be paid the same capitation grant for attending him that is to be paid to the private practitioner who attends an ordinary insured person? The Bill itself recognised that, because the original proposition of the Bill is that the dispensary patients will, under the National Insurance scheme, be treated by the dispensary doctor, and still continue a dispensary patient, and, instead of perpetuating the taint of pauperism and branding these people as paupers we have done our best to take a step towards preventing it, and giving Ireland a form of Poor Law which shall absolutely remove outside the system of dispensary doctors in Ireland persons under any medical benefit scheme.
Of course, from the standpoint of the hon. Member for Cork city, you remove the taint of pauperism if you bring the insured person under the Bill, though he appears to think it does not matter about the wives and children who are left out. They are not covered by it. The hon. Member says, in reference to sickness benefit, that it is not wanted because serious illness is not prevalent among Irish labourers. He further says that when there are genuine cases of sickness people are able to get grants 261 from religious organisations and sick-poor societies. I say that the greater portion of the people who get out-door relief, whether from the union or from religious organisations and sick-poor societies, are people who are near the end of the journey of life, who are broken-down, and who have no hope. I have had considerable experience among the poor of Ireland, and I have known no case of a working man who would look for outdoor relief or grants from religious funds. I do not think the hon. Member for Cork city was quite serious when he said that that is the reason for his not wanting the Bill at all. Personally, I should have liked to see medical benefit kept in for the towns, and in saying so I think I express the opinion of every one in this part of the House who has given consideration to this question in reference to Ireland. But the proposition which we had to face was one we could not get away from. We would have had to graft the Insurance Bill system on the dispensary system. We want to abolish the dispensary system and the system under the Medical Charities Act, and we were driven to the conclusion that it was better to leave the question of medical benefit over until such time as a reform of the Poor Law was undertaken by this House or in another place. Then medical benefit could be given to these people at that time.
I would remind the hon. Member for Cork—and I am fortified in this by the resolution of a body he professes to regard with great respect—that the insured person can only receive free medical attendance and free medicine of the same character as they receive under the existing dispensary system. So far as the great industrial centres are concerned, there is no doubt whatever that the immediate disadvantage of abolishing medical benefit could be got over by societies starting a system of medical benefit, and I am not at all sure that they would not make a better bargain if they did so. The hon. Member for Cork City spoke as if there was only one society doing this friendly society work. I am a member of a society which was founded in 1877, and which has paid out £500,000 during that period. It has a very large membership, not confined to the cities and towns, but including people in the rural districts. I refer to the Irish National Foresters. I do not think that anyone will deny that that organisation has done splendid work in Ireland. Its work is spreading.
262 I do not think anyone will deny that the spread of that organisation has tended to build up thrift, and to advance the well-being of its members. What is to prevent medical benefit of the same kind being obtained by men in the cities in future? They will get better benefit. In this Bill an insured person is entitled to free medical attendance and free medicine, the contribution for which is 6s. 6d. per annum from employer and workman. In the Irish National Foresters from one end of Ireland to another the average cost of medical attendance and medicine is 5s.; in some cases it runs up to 6s. 6d.; and in one special and exceptional case it runs up to 8s. What do we get for that? We get free medical attendance and free medicine, not only for the member, but for his wife and family, and when he is not married he gets similar benefits for his dependents, if he has any. We are told that by supporting this Bill we are perpetuating pauperism. I cannot accept that view. You cannot pay the doctor twice for attending the same person. When the doctor attends a patient he would be able to say, "You are no use to me. I only get 4s. for you, but I get for your neighbour 8s." I say that the inclusion of medical benefit under the existing system and under the scheme as it is now in the Bill would be a perpetuation of the pauper system, and a maintenance of the brand of pauperism of our working classes. Our people are not inferior to others, and we want to get them away from the system of medical attendance under the Medical Charities Act.
Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
I would like to say a few words on the subject now under consideration, because I represent a very large agricultural constituency, and it may be of interest to the Committee to know how this measure is regarded there as far as I can ascertain. It has been said that the feeling of the agricultural districts in Ireland is entirely against this Bill. The people in the agricultural districts of Ireland, as far as I am aware, are never backward in stating what their opinions are in regard to great measures brought before Parliament, and it is surely a strange thing, if it be true that the agricultural population is entirely against this Bill, that I have not received from the Constituency I represent a single protest against the Bill. The county council has not in any way condemned the Bill. On the contrary, the general feeling, as far as I can gather it, is that the Bill is 263 most desirable in principle, and ought to be applied to Ireland if altered in certain respects. It cannot be said that this measure is desired merely by the city of Belfast or any other city in Ireland. It is a Bill which meets with the approval of the vast majority of the people at large. I must say I was rather astonished to hear some of the observations made by the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy). He certainly endeavoured to lead the House to believe that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church were entirely opposed to the Bill. One might gather from his speech that a measure of this kind, having for its object the relieving of distress in the poorest and in many cases most useful of the population, was not approved by the hierarchy, a body which naturally always shows itself anxious to do everything to safeguard the interests of the poorest of the population. I may be entirely wrong in my view of the case, but it is a view which I honestly hold, and it is the general view of the Irish representatives. It is that no body of men in the whole of Ireland could possibly be more in favour of measures being taken to alleviate the distress of the poor in times of sickness and trial than the Catholic Bishops of Ireland.
We take the view, and I think it is the right view, that what they wanted was that the Bill should be amended so as to be brought within the peculiar circumstances of the case of Ireland. We claim that that has been done by these Amendments. We may be entirely wrong, but, on the contrary, we do hold that we have carried out the purport of the declaration made by the hierarchy of Ireland. At any rate, we may say this much, that we have had no declaration from the hierarchy of Ireland that with the Amendments proposed by the Irish party long ago the Bill should still be rejected, and I ask the hon. Member for North-East Cork to say whether, in making the statements he made to the Committee when the benches were very full, he was speaking with the authority or on behalf of the hierarchy of Ireland?
Mr. W. REDMOND
I was simply asking the hon. and learned Member, who was 264 so emphatic in his speech, whether in the statements he made with regard to these Amendments he was voicing their opinions with authority. It appears he was not. Well, that being so, I think we are perfectly legitimately entitled to hold the view that the Amendments which have been put on the Paper meet, as far as we know, the objections of the hierarchy. If that is not so, I have not the slightest doubt that any opinion of theirs would be expressed in the ordinary way, and I do not think they would consider it the ordinary way that we should have their opinions conveyed in a speech of an embittered character only calculated to arouse feeling on the part of the Irish representatives. What was the case of the hierarchy of Ireland? As far as we can interpret their declaration, they took the view of everybody in Ireland, which was that this Bill was a splendid and nobly conceived attempt to meet a real want, and to provide for people in times of sickness and distress, and they desired that the Bill should be amended. We have endeavoured to have the Bill amended, as far as we can, on proper lines, and we believe that these are lines which commend themselves to the members of the hierarchy of Ireland. The hon. Member for North-East Cork also said that because a man may pay certain contributions under the scheme and receive none of his money back, therefore it is all in vain, and that the man has been penalised. I understand that the underlying principle of every scheme of this kind, whether national or otherwise, is that a large number of people by insuring themselves enable those on whom misfortune does come to be protected. No insurance scheme of this kind, whether of a company or a friendly society, or one set up by a government, contemplates that every subscriber should receive benefit. The people in the majority subscribe in order that the more unfortunate of their number may be protected.
No man knows when he may be overtaken by sickness or inability to work, but all are willing to contribute that those who are unfortunately overtaken may have the benefit of protection. That is a thing which cannot be called taxation. A man who in those circumstances pays a small sum every week, no matter how small his wages may be, cannot be said to have wasted his money. He has protected himself, and if he is fortunate enough never to need financial aid, he has 265 the consolation and the good feeling that at any rate he has helped his brother man and has done something for the community. In those circumstances, nobody can refer to this insurance in any way as being a measure imposing taxation, and I am certain that no young Irishman who is obliged ultimately to emigrate to America, if he has been contributing his few pence per week under this scheme, will ever regret that he has done so. If he goes to America and has never any need to come under the protection of this scheme, so far from regretting that he has contributed, or feeling that he has been robbed, I am perfectly certain that in America, under better conditions, he will feel heartily thankful that he has contributed to some extent to the protection of those of his fellow countrymen and women who remain at home in Ireland.
I do think most sincerely that it is a matter of great regret that this great measure should not be discussed by all sections of the House with a spirit of calmness and a recognition of the fact that what we all want is to do the best. I remember when the Bill was introduced the way in which it was received was remarkable. I have been many years in this House and I never remember a measure which was so well supported and so well received as this Bill. It was received with a chorus of approval from the front Opposition Bench and from every quarter of the House. There were some few criticisms. It was said that it might be improved in certain respects, but beyond a few natural criticisms there was nothing but generous warm approval of the idea at the bottom of this proposal. The idea of protecting the masses of the people in times of distress. Even those who oppose this Amendment say they are not against the Bill. That being so, I do say it is a pity that attacks should be made upon Members of the Irish party, who, in this matter, are convinced that they are representing the opinion of the people who elected them to this House. However men may speak of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and jeer at him, I consider that he is acting in this matter the part of a great statesman. It is said that he is setting class against class and creating revolution. In my opinion he is doing more than any statesman ever did to avert anything like real revolution or confusion, or class war in this country, because he is taking time by the forelock. He has recognised what 266 every thoughtful man must recognise, that, as things are to-day, something must be done.
At no time in the history of the world were things exactly as they are now. On the one hand you have wealth of the most extravagant kind, you have ostentatious display and luxury, such as the world never dreamed of probably at any period in its history, all on the one side. And on the other side in this country, and to a lesser extent in Ireland, but particularly here, you have poverty, squalor, wretchedness, and misery of the most indescribable kind. That is a state of things which cannot possibly go on. You can do nothing if you like, but sooner or later an end will have to come to it, and I say that the statesman who endeavours to arrange matters and to show that there is some protection and consideration for the poor and miserable and for the masses of the people, and who asks those who are well endowed with the good things of this world to give a little out of their bounty for the protection of the less favourable community, the statesman who tries to do that in measures such as the Chancellor has introduced, is doing more for the stability and order of the State than any Conservative Government could ever do by being inactive in this matter. I believe that this Bill is on a sound principle; I believe it will give satisfaction in any civilised country. We have tried to amend it for Ireland and make it as far as we could suitable to the needs of the people. It is, therefore, not right that we should be credited with evil designs.
One word as to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which has been severely criticised. I myself am an honorary member of that society. I am an honorary member also of another great society, the Foresters Society in Ireland. I have seen these societies in every part of the English-speaking world and everywhere I have gone, in America, Australia, and other countries, the Irish Hibernians and the Irish Foresters have been doing immense good. I have found them everywhere respected. I have found them most notable for the sobriety and respectability in every way of their members. In Australia and America, gentlemen who are entirely unconnected with Ireland, either by being Catholics or by ties of blood, have told me that they were compelled to admire these societies because their members who live in the public eye were respectable, sober 267 men, who set a good example to the general population. Why should not these societies be allowed to participate, as the great friendly societies in England are, in the work and benefits of this Bill? It has been said, I do not know with what amount of true conviction, that the Hibernian Society in Ireland is a secret sectarian society, that has for its object the meting out of injustice to Irishmen or residents in the country who do not belong to the Catholic Church. It is perfectly true I believe that the members of the Hibernian Society are Catholics—
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I remind the hon. Member that there is an Amendment a little later on dealing with this subject. I cannot allow discussion twice over.
Mr. W. REDMOND
This is the only time I propose to intervene, and, therefore, perhaps you will allow me one sentence to complete what I was about to say. I say to hon. Members opposite who may be influenced by statements to a contrary effect, that, with a wide knowledge of this society in Ireland and in other countries, I know many high ecclesiastics, and even members of the hierarchy, who have been quoted this evening, who regard this society with respect, and I pledge my honour as a man that I know of nothing in connection with the Hibernian Society either secret or dishonourable. Did I believe that anything of the kind was the case I would undoubtedly not belong to it. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to dismiss all these wild and loose statements from their minds as being without foundation, and I ask them to believe that in this respect the Irish National party are doing nothing which will not be criticised and scrutinised by men of all classes and all religions in this country. We are only trying to do for our poor people in Ireland what you are nobly trying to do for your poor people here.
§ Mr. MAURICE HEALY
In view of the ruling which you have given on the point of Order I will not follow the hon. Member in the latter part of his speech, but will confine what I have to say to a general consideration of the Amendment. This is really a Second Reading Debate on this Bill so far as it relates to Ireland, and I rise with more diffidence than ever I felt in engaging in any Debate in this House because, whether this Bill be good or bad, everybody must recognise that it is well 268 intended and to become unnecessarily a critic of a Bill which has that intention is not a pleasant task. It raises very large questions affecting a very helpless portion of the population, and I think it would be the desire of myself and my hon. Friend if we felt able to do so in view of the special interests of Ireland, which we consider to be in our charge to rise not as critics of the Bill but as eulogists of it. Furthermore, I am diffident in speaking of this Bill, because I feel that, whereas on other branches of legislation anyone rising in this House with some legal knowledge may claim to have some capacity for discussing most legislative measures in a degree which non-legal Members will not possess. That is not a claim which can be made on the subject of this Bill. I do not feel that my knowledge of it as a lawyer gives me the smallest measure of skill or understanding for the expressing of an opinion upon it. The man in the street, provided he is fairly well informed, has on the whole as much capacity for reading this Bill, grasping its principles, and mastering its details as those who are most learned of the law. Accordingly, in giving expression to my opinions, I do not claim to speak with any degree of special knowledge, but I do feel that the want of skill and knowledge to which I freely confess on my own behalf only represents the general state of mind towards this Bill of the masses of the Irish people.
There is no portion of the United Kingdom less cognisant of the nature of the problem which this Bill raises for discussion than the country from which we come. It may be said as regards England that this Bill merely gives sanction in a legislative form to a great work of social beneficence which the masses of the English people have worked out for themselves in the shape of friendly societies. We are sometimes told that the English Constitution is the envy of mankind, and we have heard of the power and capacity of the English people for self-government. I will say, in addition to those phrases, that there is no one matter in which the English people have shown more skill and wisdom and more governing capacity than is proved by the statistics of the English friendly societies, which, in the past, have done so much for England and the English working classes. That is a state of things which, I am sorry to say, is not in any way represented in Ireland. The point I make is that a country like England, conversant with the work of friendly societies, honeycombed 269 with them, having hundreds of them with enormous numbers of members, and accustomed to the daily work of those societies, necessarily brings to the discussion of the problems which are raised a degree of knowledge and skill and confidence which we cannot at all claim to possess in Ireland.
I do, therefore, say that if there is one portion of the United Kingdom more than another on which it is not fair to spring a Bill of this kind, that portion of the country is Ireland, for which we on these benches speak. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us to-night that it was matter for great regret, so far as Ireland is concerned, that she has such a miserably small number of friendly societies. It may be said that our population is hardly touched by the friendly societies. I should suppose that there is not one man in 100 of the population who is a member of one of those societies, or who is at all conversant with their work. To expect a population of that kind, unfamiliar with the work of the societies, unfamiliar with these insurance problems, to be able to grasp in the course of a week or a month of a Parliamentary Session the enormous complexity of this Bill, is to expect a vain thing. Therefore, I submit, that we are in a reasonable position when we say, however fair this Bill may look, however sound its principles may seem, we are not taking up an unwise or unfair position when we say that Ireland, as a whole, has had no opportunity of considering its merits or understanding its principles. That being so, what do we find? We find that this Bill, sprung as it was upon a population not very conversant with the matters with which it dealt, was met in Ireland by a universal chorus of dissent. I think that anybody who has studied the manner in which this Bill was discussed and dealt with by the Irish newspapers, by Irish public men, by Irish public bodies, and by Irish friendly societies, for a couple of months after it was introduced, would have some difficulty in finding even one unqualified expression of approval of its provisions.
Reference has already been made to the attitude of the Catholic hierarchy, and from some expression of opinion on the other side, it would seem to be supposed that we took the line here that the Irish hierarchy having spoken, that concludes the matter. That is not at all our view. We have referred to the declaration of the Irish hierarchy because we felt that 270 the Irish hierarchy in speaking on the matter simply crystallised, in the form of words, the unanimous opinion of the Irish people upon it. That body is not at all in the habit of plunging recklessly into hot political discussions, or even into disturbed or tangled social questions. It spoke as it did, without reserve or qualification, because it was perfectly plain to everybody what was the opinion of Ireland as a whole on this Bill, and on the form in which it was submitted. Granted that state of things, granted that that was the practically unanimous view of the Irish people upon the subject of this Bill, I ask what has happened since it was introduced to lead Irishmen generally to change the attitude which they took with respect to it? We have been told that the Government Amendments, which have been referred to more in detail, have absolutely changed the situation, and that they have radically transformed the Bill so far as Ireland is concerned; that they have converted all the critics who had spoken so hotly against it when it was introduced into eager partisans of it. I cannot take that view. The Amendments—I do not say for the present whether they are good Amendments or bad Amendments—whether they are good or bad, are compared with the magnitude of the Bill as a whole, trivial Amendments. There are practically only two of them. There is the first which gives us Insurance Commissioners in Ireland and an Irish fund. Does any one contend that it makes any serious difference in this Bill? I think even the Chancellor of the Exchequer will admit that, so far as regards the Amendment substituting an English for an Irish administration, the merits of the Bill as a whole are not in the least affected by it. I agree that it would be a good thing to have Irish administration, provided we get proper administrators, which is a very important qualification. It is probable that, with an Irish administration, the Bill would work more smoothly and more rapidly than it would under an English administration, but that does not affect the principle of the Bill.
Then, as regards the separate fund for Ireland. We all know that the Amendment does not affect finance; it only affects administration; we all know that the finance would remain self-contained as before the Amendment, and, so far as the finance of the Bill is concerned, that Amendment does not make an atom of difference. The 271 real effect of the Amendment is to create a false impression in Ireland. It has been said here on these benches that I and my hon. Friends have represented, before this Amendment was proposed, that Irish moneys would come over to England. No such statement was ever made, or could have been made, by any responsible person, as the most cursory perusal of the Bill must show. This Amendment has been represented in Ireland as being one which would work a tremendous revolution. The view was put forward in Ireland that Irish moneys were coming to England to fall into her coffers, and that the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members behind me rescued Ireland from that condition off things by setting this separate system for that country. I therefore say, as regards the one Amendment, the principal Amendment, which has been supposed to revolutionise Irish opinion upon this Bill, that it is essentially a trivial Amendment, that its effect upon the working of the Bill in Ireland, while a benefit to some extent, on the whole will be insignificant, and not such as in any way to affect a man's general attitude towards this Bill, and not at all of a character to convert a person who was hostile to the Bill into a supporter of it.
The second Amendment is that which deals with medical benefit. As regards that one also, so far as it is not a trivial Amendment, I am not sure that it is not a bad Amendment. I speak, of course, as regards that Amendment, particularly for the community which I myself represent. In the city of Cork and the urban area a society has been existing as long as I can remember, practically of very much the same kind as exist in any English city. In Cork, at present, the ordinary artisan, for the purpose of getting medical benefit, is a member of the society by virtue of his subscription, and he has both for himself and his family the advantage of medical benefit. This has been held to be a measure which will displace to a very large extent existing societies, and if it does not to a very large extent displace those societies, the Bill is a useless one, because you cannot expect the ordinary artisan to subscribe to both societies. It will be necessary under the new scheme for the average worker in Cork, Dublin, or Belfast, if this Bill is passed, to continue his subscription to his own benefit society, as before practically, 272 and I am not sure that it will be very much, if at all, diminished in amount.
I quite concede that in the rural districts and even in the cities the labouring classes get what advantage this Bill would give in the way of medical benefit from the existing system, but that argument has no force whatever when you come to deal with the artisan in the towns, and therefore I was not at all surprised to receive a telegram from the Cork Trades Council—and their action was an imitation of the Dublin Trades Council—declaring that the elimination of medical benefits from this Bill was a very serious inroad on such advantages as it confers. But let me take it for argument's sake that the elimination of this benefit is an advantage. What does it all amount to? What is this great and mighty change which, at a flash, has reconciled the masses of the Irish people to it, they having been hitherto hostile? Is it not part of the Chancellor's case that he has only reduced the contribution to the extent that he has reduced the benefits? Does he pretend that he has gien us anything? He is much too honest, much too skilful, to make any such false representations to the House. He has, on the one hand, cut down the contribution, and he has on the other eliminated the medical benefit. And, forsooth, these are the two changes, it is suggested, which at once modified the hostility against the Bill and converted the opponents of it into warm supporters. I cannot take that view. I quite admit that the Bill as it stands at present is a great deal better than the Bill as introduced by the Chancellor.
The hon. Member for North Dublin adopted an argument we were familiar with on the Budget as to the wonderful things he and his party have accomplished for Ireland. I quite agree that the Bill as a whole has been improved since it was introduced, but the question is, has its aspects as an Irish measure, has its application to Ireland, been so radically changed that the outburst and outpouring of criticism and condemnation with which it was met should be at once converted into an attitude of blessing and benefit? We have heard to-night, both from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and from this side of the House, arguments about the pitiful state of the widow who is deprived of her bread-winner, of the poor children who are affected with tuberculosis, and of the labourer who gets sick. Of course that is a class of argument which cannot be denied. No one contends that this Bill will 273 not confer a benefit upon somebody. No one is contending that the Chancellor is levying large sums of money upon the labourers, the artisans, and the employers of the country for no earthly purpose. We all know that the widows will benefit and that the labourers and sick people will benefit. Of course they will, but the question is, is it worth the cost? Not whether they are pitiful cases of distress which this Bill will relieve. Of course they are; we are sorry for them, and are glad that they will get relief. The question is, is not the process of relief this Bill sets up a costly and expensive process imposing upon our country a burden which it cannot bear? If this Bill is really the blessing it has been pointed out it is, why are not I and my hon. Friends torn to pieces? How is it we will dare to go back and face our constituents? We are told, forsooth, that hon. Members have got resolutions in its favour.
I receive a fair share of correspondence; I have got hundreds of communications upon this Bill, not all from Ireland, but a very large number from Ireland. I did not get one unqualified resolution of approval of this Bill. Every one of them was a criticism on some fault which it was supposed to contain and a demand for its amendment. Why if our people in Ireland are so profoundly convinced that the Bill has been so transformed as we hear from these benches, why is not there a universal demand for it, and a universal outcry against the opposition? What is the fact? Take the two Nationalist newspapers in Dublin. They have never said one word in honest praise of the Bill, although both are supporters of the Irish party, and both, to a large extent, supporters of the Government. I suppose we will be told that the "Freeman's Journal" is not a supporter of the Government. Not one word of unqualified praise has the
§ "Freeman's Journal" spoken of this Bill. I have read a dozen articles in its columns calling upon the Irish representatives in the very same sense as the resolution of the hierarchy. Is not that an extraordinary attitude of mind for a people which this Bill is supposed to profoundly benefit?
§ While fully appreciating the spirit in which this Bill was introduced, and the very great benefits it confers upon the working men in England and Scotland, our attitude in Ireland towards it is necessarily an attitude of reserve. We want information, and we have not got it. We want figures and they have not been supplied. On the contrary, we have been told that Ireland has been specially considered. Will any man get up in this House and say that if this Bill was being introduced as an Irish Bill it would take anything like its present form? No one will venture to make such a proposition. Everyone knows that a Bill introduced for Ireland, and applying to Ireland only, would be drawn up on completely different lines and would be a wholly different measure from that which we have been discussing. Accordingly, while therefore not cursing this Bill, banning it, or pronouncing it to be entirely evil, and while certainly recognising as warmly as anybody the spirit which inspired it and the principles on which it is founded, we say as regards Ireland it wants more consideration than it has got, more knowledge, more investigation, more discussion, and, until it has got that, I am certainly not prepared to vote for its-application to Ireland.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 47; Noes, 242.275
|Division No. 386.]||AYES.||[8.0 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Barnston, Harry||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hills, John Waller||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Bird, Alfred||Horner, Andrew Long||Stanier, Beville|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Stewart, Gershom|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cave, George||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Kean, John||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Malcolm, Ian||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||O'Brien, William (Cork)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Perkins, Walter Frank||Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Gilhooly.|
|Guiney, Patrick||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Malley, William|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Hayden, John Patrick||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Hayward, Evan||O'Shee, James John|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Henry, Sir Charles S.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Benn, W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Higham, John Sharp||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Bentham, George J.||Hinds, John||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Hodge, John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Holt, Richard Durning||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Boland, John Pius||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pointer, Joseph|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hudson, Walter||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Brace, William||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hunter, W (Govan)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brunner, John F. L.||John, Edward Thomas||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Johnson, William||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Radford, G. H.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jones H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Reddy, Michael|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Carr Gomm, H. W.||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Joyce Michael||Richards, Thomas|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Keating, Matthew||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Kelly, Edward||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Chambers, James||Kemp, Sir George||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Robinson, Sidney|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Kilbride, Denis||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Clough, William||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Law, Hugh A (Donegal, W.)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Levy, Sir Maurice||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lundon, T.||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Sheehy, David|
|Crumley, Patrick||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Shortt, Edward|
|Cullinan, John||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||MacGhee, Richard||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|De Forest, Baron||Macpherson, James Ian||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)|
|Delany, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||M'Callum, John M.||Sutton, John E.|
|Devlin, Joseph||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Swift, Rigby|
|Dillon, John||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Tennant, Harold John|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Doris, William||M'Mordie, Robert||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Duffy, William J.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Tobin, Alfred Aspinal|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Meagher, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Millar, James Duncan||Verney, Sir H.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Molloy, Michael||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Mond, Sir Alfred||Wardle, G. J.|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Mooney, John J.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Morgan, George Hay||Webb, H.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Field, William||Muldoon, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Munro, Robert||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Forster, Henry William||Neilson, Francis||Wiles, Thomas|
|Furness, Stephen||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Gardner, Ernest||Nolan, Joseph||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Norman, Sir Henry||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Norton, Captain Cecil William||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Nuttall, Harry||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Doherty, Philip||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Hackett, John||O'Donnell, Thomas||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||O'Dowd, John|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Ogden, Fred||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hancock, John George||O'Grady, James||Mr. Illingworth and Captain Guest.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
§ Amendment proposed: After the words "shall be subject to the following modifications," to insert,
§ "(1) For the purpose of carrying this Part of this Act into effect in Ireland there shall be constituted, as soon as may be after the passing of this Act, Commissioners for Ireland (to be called the Irish Insurance Commissioners) with a central office in Dublin, and with such branch offices in Ireland as the Treasury may think fit, and the Irish Insurance Commissioners shall be appointed by the Treasury, and may appoint such officers, inspectors, referees, and servants for the purposes aforesaid as the Irish Insurance Commissioners, subject to the approval of the. Treasury, may determine, and the provisions of this Part of this Act with respect to the payment of the salaries and remuneration of the Insurance Commissioners and the officers, inspectors, referees, and servants appointed by them, and with respect to the payment of the expenses incurred by the Treasury or the Insurance Commissioners in carrying this Part of this Act into effect shall, with the necessary modifications, apply to the payment of the salaries and remuneration of the Irish Insurance Commissioners and the officers, inspectors, referees, and servants appointed by them and to the payment of expenses incurred by the Treasury or the Irish Insurance Commissioners in carrying this Part of this Act into effect in Ireland, and for the purpose aforesaid the Irish Insurance Commissioners and the officers, inspectors, referees, and servants appointed by them shall respectively have all the like powers and duties as are by the foregoing provisions of this Act conferred and imposed on the Insurance Commissioners and the officers, inspectors, referees, and servants appointed by them, and references in those provisions to the Insurance Commissioners shall be construed as references to the Irish Insurance Commissioners.
§ (2) All sums received in respect of contributions in Ireland under this Part of this Act, and all sums paid out of moneys provided by Parliament in respect of benefits under this Part of this Act which are administered in Ireland, and the expenses of administration of such benefits shall be paid into a fund to be called the Irish National Health Insurance Fund under the control and management of the Irish Insurance Commissioners, and the sums required to meet expenditure properly incurred by approved societies and local health committees for the 278 purposes of the benefits administered by them in Ireland, and the administration of such benefits shall be paid out of that fund, and the foregoing provisions of this Act with respect to the National Health Insurance Fund shall with the necessary modifications apply to the Irish National Health Insurance Fund accordingly.
§ (3) Joint regulations to be made by the Insurance Commissioners and the Irish Insurance Commissioners with the approval of the Treasury shall provide for the preparation on a uniform basis of the tables to be prepared by the respective Commissioners, and for the making of all necessary adjustments and settlements of accounts in cases of insured persons removing from Great Britain to Ireland, or from Ireland to Great Britain, both as between the National Insurance Fund and the Irish National Insurance Fund, and as between approved societies and branches and otherwise in respect of such cases, and for the transfer of sums from one fund or account to another.
§ (4) The provisions of this Part of this Act conferring a right to exemption shall extend to any person employed in harvesting or other agricultural work who proves—
- (a) that he is an Irish migratory labourer, that is to say, a person who, having a permanent home at some place in Ireland, has temporarily removed to some other place in Ireland or to Great Britain for the purpose of obtaining such employment; and
- (b) that he ordinarily resides at such permanent home for not less than twenty-six weeks in the year and is not employed within the meaning of this Part of this Act whilst so resident:
§ (5) Employment in Ireland as an out worker in a class of work specified in any special order made under Part VI. of the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901, where the wages or other remuneration derived from the employment are not the principal means of livelihood of the person employed, shall be deemed to be included 279 amongst the excepted employments specified in Part II. of the First Schedule to this Act."—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Mr. FORSTER
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment in Sub-section (1), after the word "determine," to insert the words "provided that all such officers, inspectors, and referees hold Civil Service certificates issued under the Order in Council of 10th January, 1910."
I daresay many Members of the Committee will think that this necessarily involves a written examination, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer will remember that under the terms of the Order in Council in cases such where you have necessarily in the interests of the Department to appoint men who are no longer young, whom you could not expect to pass a written examination, the heads of a Department may, with the consent of the Treasury, tell the Civil Service Commissioners what they want to do; and the Civil Service Commissioners in that case dispense with a written examination, merely satisfying themselves that the persons whom the Department wishes to appoint have the qualifications, experience, knowledge, and ability adequately to fulfil their functions. The matter is dealt with in paragraph (7) of the Order in Council, which appeared in the "London Gazette" of 11th January, 1910. The paragraph is as follows:—In case the head of the Department to which the situation belongs and the Treasury consider that the qualifications in respect of knowledge and ability requisite to such situation are wholly or in part professional or otherwise peculiar—That would cover the case of persons versed in insurance matters:—and not ordinarily to be acquired in the Civil Service, and the head of the Department proposes to appoint thereto a person who has acquired such qualifications in other pursuits, or in case the head of the Department and the Treasury consider it would be for the public interest that the prescribed examination and the rules in regard to age should be wholly or partially dispensed with, the Commissioners may, if they think fit, dispense with such examination wholly or partially and such rules in regard to age, and may grant their certificate of qualifications on evidence satisfactory to them that the said person is fully qualified in respect of age, health, character, knowledge and ability.Nobody in Ireland will deny that there exists in the minds of a considerable number of people some apprehension that the appointments to be made under the large powers given to the Insurance Commissioners threaten danger to the interests of some persons in Ireland. Not to put too fine a point upon it, they are apprehensive that many of these appointments will be made for political reasons rather than 280 from the actual qualifications possessed by the candidates. I think there is probably a good deal of solid foundation for some of the fears entertained. I should like to make it quite plain to Gentlemen representing Irish constituencies that, if I had had the chance I should have moved exactly the same Amendment with reference to appointments made by the English Commissioners; and if I had not been unfortunately called out of the House last night when the psychological moment arrived I should have made precisely the same Motion with regard to Scottish appointments. I think that all these officers, referees, inspectors, and so forth, who are to be entrusted with such wide powers under this Bill, should be first of all subjected to the Civil Service test.
§ Mr. FORSTER
The Tory Government; is not concerned with this Bill. It is only in relation to this Bill that I am arguing the question, and I am endeavouring to argue it in a purely non-party spirit. The action of the guillotine prevented our having the slightest opportunity of discussing the English Commission, or its powers, or the appointment of its inspectors and officers. I think the Committee will agree that the point is important, when they remember the very wide powers which these officials will have under the provisions of the Bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will remember very well the great powers that are given to the Insurance Commissioners and to their officers under the Clause that relates to excessive sickness. I presume that the provision will apply to Ireland just as it applies to England, Scotland and Wales. The powers that the Insurance Commissioners will devolve upon their officers and inspectors will, in my judgment, as I said when the Clause was under discussion, lead to great friction between the elected authorities and the appointed authorities under the Bill. I do not think any of those powers ought to be exercised by anyone who is not absolutely free from all suspicion as to politics, ability, and so forth. I think I have said enough to show that there is nothing in the Order-in-Council to prevent the Insurance Commissioners from getting the men whom they wish to appoint, provided the men are properly qualified to fill the post. I do not think that there is anything there that will retard or hinder the smooth and proper working of the Act. I am certain it will 281 be in conformity with the general feeling outside the House, if not within it, that this Amendment should be made.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If this Amendment is to be made it would have to be inserted in the Bill on Report and made applicable to the other parts of the United Kingdom. I would gladly accept it if I thought it were practicable; but what does it involve? The hon. Gentleman has very fairly stated that the Civil Service Commissioners can, under certain conditions, dispense with examination if they are satisfied that the person who is appointed is suitable, but I do not know that they will be really the best judges of the men whom you want to start a scheme of this kind. What do you want in men who start a scheme of this kind? As far as possible you require men who have had some experience—in fact, the more personal experience you get the better. That is not a question for the Civil Service Commissioners or for a particular test; it is not their function. They can put men through a sort of examination, and they can arrange them in order of merit according to their replies to certain questions, but I do not think they will be better judges than the Insurance Commissioners as to the men wanted. In fact, I am perfectly certain that they will not be equally good judges as the Insurance Commissioners would be as to whether a man will or will not be an efficient administrator for the purpose of this insurance. The hon. Gentleman referred to Clause 46, that relating to excessive sickness. He said: "The official appointed there must be a man competent for the post." Perfectly true. They are very important duties he has got to discharge. But supposing my right hon. Friend were to say: "I shall choose a King's Counsel of standing, for the matters that will come before him will involve the listening to a good deal of evidence, judging upon it, and coming to a conclusion in reference to the evidence brought before him?" Could you go to a leading King's Counsel, and tell him that he has to appear before the Civil Service Commissioners and apply for a certificate of exemption in virtue of the fact that he is a fit and proper person by his knowledge and experience, knowledge of law, and knowledge specially of sanitary law. That is an impossible position to put any man of that sort in. Clause 46 allows a wide latitude, which will apply equally to the other parts of the kingdom. The Commissioners can choose any person under the Act they think fit to report to them. 282 I really forget whether the inspectors of the Local Government Board have to pass a Civil Service examination or not now—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
They probably appoint some of them because they are medical men. Why should a medical man be brought before the Civil Service Commissioners as suggested? He may be a man of considerable distinction in his profession. Why should he be brought before the Commissioners as if he were a second division clerk? That is not the way to appoint inspectors; if it were you would not get the best inspectors. You cannot put men of that class in the humiliating position that is suggested. The same thing applies to trade union administration, or friendly society or insurance administration. It is really not a question the Civil Service Commissioners can adjudicate upon. If it were a question of ensuring that the clerks in the Insurance Commissioners' offices should be brought into line with the clerks in the Civil Service, and that for that purpose there should be an examination, it would be possible to do something. But when you are starting an organisation of this kind you cannot do that sort of thing.
I am sure if the hon. Gentleman were in my position he would not dream of imposing upon himself the limitations which are involved in any sort of application to the Civil Service Commissioners for certificates of exemption. I am prepared to consider on Report stage, if that will satisfy the hon. Gentleman, whether it may be desirable in the future that the ordinary staff of the Insurance Commissioners should be put in the same category as any Government office, but I certainly would not extend that to the inspectors. There must be a free choice of inspectors apart altogether from that. The same thing applies to referees. It may be an actuarial question. The referee will require to be an actuary. Does anyone suppose that Mr. Watson or Mr. Wyatt would go before the Civil Service Commissioners and apply for a certificate of exemption after proof that they were competent persons? It may be a question of law, and the same observations apply as applies to the other inspectors appointed by my right hon. Friend. The services of an eminent lawyer may be required. You cannot invite men of that sort before the Civil Service Commissioners to ask for exemption. I trust that the hon. Gentleman will, at any rate, not press his Amendment 283 in this form at the present stage. Just allow us to consider whether something can be done to bring the ordinary staff into line with the rest of the Civil Service in the future, so that the clerk should not be appointed by the patronage of the Insurance Commissioners or the Treasury or a Minister. There I am in sympathy with the hon. Gentleman. I do not think it is desirable you should widen the area of patronage. It is a great nuisance, a nuisance not merely to Ministers but to every individual Member, for every Member feels bound to approve the claim of a constituent or a friend. If the hon. Gentleman is satisfied with what I have said, I am in sympathy with him, but I hope he will not press for the inclusion of the more important inspectors.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has not given us some indication of the class of persons who will be appointed. I quite agree with what he said about the nuisance of being applied to to exercise patronage. I think it was Louis XIV. who, when he gave a job for which he had been asked, said, "I have made one ingrate and ninety-nine enemies." I am quite satisfied the right hon. Gentleman does not desire to have this great burden thrown upon himself, but we did expect that at some stage he would give us some indication of the kind of check that would be placed upon the appointment of individuals. As regards the three gentlemen who are to be appointed Commissioners in Ireland, we have some suspicion of who they are. Jobs in Ireland are being given away with a pound of tea; they are given in large quantities, in shoals, and we desire to have some assurance of the principle he will use for his guidance in these appointments. He said he will have the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster), for whose intervention I feel some gratitude, considered. What check will there be. It is all very fine to say that the suspicions as to patronage in connection with this Bill is nonexistent and without foundation. But there must be some foundation for all these suspicions entertained, and for the fears with which we undoubtedly entertain as to the way in which this Bill will be worked. Are we to get no guarantee such as would be given under an ordinary Bill which created new Civil servants? I venture to think that this Bill, whether good or bad, will have a very far-reaching 284 effect. I believe it will change the whole warp and woof of the society in three Kingdoms so far as the working classes are concerned.
The right hon. Gentleman by this Bill is creating a revolution. This is Christianity by statute; that is to say it is his form of Christianity, Nonconformist Christianity. Are we not entitled when he is creating this tremendous endowment to have some guarantee? He is disendowing the Church in Wales, and endowing other churches of a different kind in other parts of the country. Are we not to ask what form of guarantee we shall have as to the class of persons who are to work this Bill? I quite agree there should be no invidious distinction between England, Scotland and Ireland, and that one rule should prevail for the three Kingdoms, but we feel that our country is worse off than others because of a rule that is not our own, and we feel that we are entitled to guard and to protect ourselves. One of the ways would be that the right hon. Gentleman should give a guarantee as to who the Commissioners should be. I am sure they would appoint a useful and capable staff, but we feel that the momentum behind this Bill is a momentum of a particular kind, and generally those who have had to do with particular organisations. Two of them spoke here to-night. I am not blaming them; they have their satellites. Wherever you go in Ireland you will find every word uttered in favour of this Bill is by a member of a particular organisation or by those expecting jobs. It is natural those persons should blow the trumpet, but what arouses our suspicion is this interested advocacy.
It is all very well to talk of a woman who loses her husband or persons suffering from cancer or other diseases; that is a kind of twaddle that can be indulged in by everyone. If you launch this great measure let us have some guarantee of its disinterested administration. What is the guarantee? I have been waiting for the right hon. Gentleman to give us some such guarantee in the making of these appointments. I remember Mr. John Morley, when he was Secretary for Ireland, once made a remark that was almost as good as that made by Louis XIV. He said, "I would almost as soon hear of a bad murder as of a new job." That is the feeling people have; they are pestered in regard to these matters. The right hon. Gentleman will not suppose for a moment we are blaming him, but he will only take, as regards Ireland, the line of least resistance. 285 He will go to the Chief Secretary, and the Chief Secretary will go to somebody else, and then it will be like a long recurring decimal until you get to the real villain of the piece fourteen removes from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore I say we have a right to get some further statement, and some further guarantees from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman has invited me to give some guarantee as to the character of the Commissioners. He will quite realise it is impossible for me to give the names of the Commissioners. I had to wait for this Amendment. I could not anticipate it by having taken any steps to find the men. Therefore if there are rumours in Ireland that anyone has been appointed or approached, my hon. and learned Friend will be entitled to give an official contradiction and not an official contradiction in the ordinary sense of the word. For the moment I do not know their names. I agree he is entitled to a guarantee that the appointments shall not be mere jobs. First and foremost, it is always of importance that to carry on an institution you should get the best men, but when establishing an institution for the first time, it is infinitely more important you should secure that the men appointed are appointed purely for their capacity to administer the new organisation. I venture confidently to submit that when we announce the names for England, everyone will realise we have done our best to secure men on the ground of merit and capacity, and not on the ground of political prejudice or of the positions they hold. I will do the same thing in regard to Ireland. I realise the difficulty, and in a sense I will consider any names that come from Irish Members, upon their merit. But my invitation to Irish Members is that they should really try and give me the names of the best men, and not try, to put it quite frankly, to palm off anybody. I really want men of capacity and initiative for a great scheme of this kind, because the interests of Ireland are involved in it, and of course incidentally the success of the scheme. If the administration is inefficient the scheme would be a failure either in Ireland or elsewhere. It will be very difficult to secure the names before the Bill leaves the House, but I shall do my best to do so. I have no doubt I shall receive a good many applications from Ireland and elsewhere, and I have no doubt the testimonials would be of the highest character. I can assure my 286 hon. and learned Friend that the intention of the Government is to secure a perfectly impartial Commission of the best men available for that purpose.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
I am afraid I cannot readily accept the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that nothing in the nature of a job will characterise the appointment of these Commissioners, because already certain men in Ireland have been marked off for these appointments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who are they1?"] In these circumstances assurances of this kind are of very little value indeed. I must express my disappointment at the reception which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given to the Amendment before the House. The right hon. Gentleman cannot be unaware of the fact that a large number of well-paid appointments have been given to those outside the Civil Service. It is a matter of wide public knowledge that Civil servants of high standing and long service have been passed over in favour of others who have been appointed obviously for political services only. For these reasons I express my disappointment at the reception which has been given to this reasonable Amendment, and if it is pressed to a Division I shall consider it my duty to support it.
§ Mr. FORSTER
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that we cannot expect the referees, who may be persons like King's Counsel, or doctors—
§ Mr. FORSTER
Or persons of very considerable distinction. We cannot expect them to undergo the ordeal of any kind of examination at the hands of the Civil Service Commission. That is not the sort of person I had in mind. I quite see, framing the Amendment as I did, that I might spread my net too widely. This is the first time we have had an opportunity of ascertaining what sort of persons these officers, inspectors, and referees were going to be, and therefore if I have spread my net too widely I have done it through inexperience. I am glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer met us to a certain extent by promising to consider whether or not the staff of the insurance office shall be put on a similar basis to that of the rest of the Civil Service. I have to throw myself upon the indulgence of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite because I do not know how far, because of my inexperience in these things, you can carry the Civil 287 Service examination. I am anxious, as this Bill has been brought into the House of Commons as a non-party measure, and as it has been treated as a non-party Bill, that we should take every step in our power to prevent any political colouring being given to any action taken under it, whether in Scotland or in Ireland. I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to look into this question and see how far he can extend the principle of the test to persons who are other than the merely clerical staff of the insurance office. I do not want to press this matter to a Division. What I am far more anxious to do in all the Amendments with which I am concerned is to make improvements and make suggestions, and not to take Division unnecessarily. I am satisfied with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's promise that he will look into the matter, and when the Report stage comes, I hope he may have some good news for us. I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I beg to move, in Subsection (4), of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "harvesting or other."
I move this Amendment in no hostile spirit. I agree with the statement which has been made that this is a humane measure making for the amelioration of a large section of our community. What I wish to submit is that under the proposed Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman he is doing an injustice to the class whose claim I do not think has been mentioned in the speeches which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made this afternoon and evening. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be under the impression that a large class of agricultural labourers in Ireland will come under the minimum wage set out by him. I desire to speak on behalf of a class who receive no concessions under this Amendment—a class, I am happy to think I represent, a large number of whom are in the enjoyment of wages from 15s. up to 18s. or 19s. per week. I have no doubt that the claims of this class have been presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I can assure him that in the North of Ireland expert agriculturists are only in receipt of wages coming well within the figures I have mentioned, including all allowances. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made no effort to meet the 288 claims of that class in Ireland. Under this Bill, if passed into law, the agricultural labourer, whose wages and allowances average 15s. weekly, is called upon to pay the same contribution to the fund as the mechanic who is earning 40s. a week. That involves, relatively, a very much larger demand upon this class than the claim which is made upon the skilled mechanic or the other large classes who are not agriculturists and who may be earning from 25s. upwards. I think it is only reasonable that the right hon. Gentleman should be asked now, on the Report stage of this Bill, to consider the strong and equitable claims of agriculturists earning between 15s. and 20s. a week to have their contributions somewhat lessened.
There is another point I wish to raise. In revising the terms of the Bill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has removed the limitation that kept outside the scope of the Bill the small farmer of under £20 valuation. Under the revised schedule the farmer, however small, will be called upon for his contribution. The small farmer pays his 4d. or 4½d. per week, and the labourer pays 1d. per week. I venture to think it would have been very much better and would have conduced to the greater success of the Bill if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had adhered to his own acknowledgment of the comparative poverty of the very small farmer and had not removed that limitation. There are something like 300,000 farmers in Ireland whose acreage does not exceed fifteen acres. This new taxation on that class is going to fall very heavily. It is in no spirit of hostility I move this Amendment. I move it in order that we may have a statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a promise to consider the two matters to which I have referred. With regard to the out-workers, my special anxiety has reference to a class of outworkers to whom during the last year or two we have been giving instructions in our technical school. These young people in the course of six months' training are able to earn 3s., 4s., and possibly 5s. per week, and I am advised—and I speak as chairman of one of the county technical committees—if this Clause stands the technical committee will be considered employers of these young people and will become responsible for payments as employers. I hope, in considering this matter, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will bear that in mind. I am anxious that 289 all out-workers of that class should be excluded from the Bill. If we do not exclude them, there will be a very considerable obstacle in the way of the work the county technical education committees are doing, and I am sure that is the last thing the Chancellor has in his mind.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think I am correct in stating that the effect of the Amendment would be to exclude all agricultural labourers in Ireland from the operations of the Bill. I certainly would not like to take part in that operation. There is no part of the population which stands more in need of some of the benefits of the Bill than the agricultural labouring class in Ireland. In this country the agricultural labourers form a very large proportion of the members of the friendly societies. I am not sure you have not a larger proportion of labourers in the friendly societies than any other class in the country.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am only putting that in order to illustrate the fact the agricultural labourer realises that although he is engaged in a healthy occupation he does run great risks, more particularly from rheumatism, of being deprived of his earning power and having nothing to fall back upon except parochial relief. I shall certainly take no part in cutting the agricultural labourer out of the benefits of the Bill. The agricultural labourer in Ireland when earning 9s. per week will pay nothing.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman has got exactly the same class as we have in our part. I understand they receive about 15s. per week, and that is roughly what they receive in our part of the world. I am perfectly sure what happened in Germany would happen in Ireland. They cut the agricultural labourer out there where the wages are very low, but now there is a Bill being introduced in the German Parliament—I am not sure it has not gone through—to include the agricultural labourer. They had to put him in because the agrarian pressure was so strong. Both the farmers and the labourers clamoured for him to be put in. I think it would be far better to take advantage of the experience of Germany in that respect and anticipate the 290 demand which would come ten years hence, a demand which would be accompanied by a grievance associated with the name of the hon. Member opposite. Someone then would be sure to say, "That much-abused Chancellor of the Exchequer if he had had his way would have included the agricultural labourer, who would now be in receipt of the benefits of the Bill, but the hon. Member for North Derry (Mr. Barrie) actually persuaded him to cut the agricultural labourer out." For the sake of the reputation of the hon. Member, I suggest he should withdraw his Amendment. I will consider the other point about the outworkers.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
I beg to move, at the end of the proposed Amendment, to add the words,
"The conditions in Section 18 of this Act for approval of approved societies shall not apply in Ireland to any society whose rites of initiation or rules confine membership thereof to persons of a particular religion, and whose meetings, signs, and passwords are of a secret character."
Neither the pleasantries of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, nor the somewhat familiar savageries from other quarters of the House, are going to tempt me to indulge in any unnecessary personal criticisms.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
The view of the Chair with regard to this Amendment is that there has been considerable reference to it in the course of the Debate to-day, and it is hoped the discussion of it will be kept within as narrow limits as possible.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
Only two sentences of reference to it were made to-day by me, and the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) referred to the subject and expressed his rejoicing that at last we were to have a full discussion of the matter of the society of which he is the Grand Master in Ireland. It would be utterly impossible for me, and I should prefer to give up the attempt, to deal with the subject if the discussion were to be broken up. I rejoice, like the hon. Member for West Belfast, in the opportunity of having the facts fully out once and for all, and I hope you will see no reason to restrict the very fullest freedom of discussion in regard to this exceedingly 291 important matter. It is a matter that excites the keenest and most bitter controversy. It certainly would be my desire to treat it apart from personalities as a grave question of public policy. Under the provisions of this Bill, funds for dealing with unemployment in Ireland are to be handed over, in the greater part of that country, to a secret society which is exclusively sectarian in its character, and which, in a clandestine way, is really a dominating factor in the public life of Ireland. I think I can prove both those propositions. This Amendment will not strike at the ordinary genuine friendly societies, such as the National Foresters or the Oddfellows, but it would undoubtedly disqualify the Orange Society, which is also exclusively sectarian and political in its character, and employs very much the same signs and passwords as a secret society. The Orange Society is confined to a few counties in the northeast of Ulster, but it will never again have the slightest pretension to establish its ascendency over the public life of Ireland in the same way as the other society to which I am referring.
This is a very serious matter indeed. It is a society which is extending rapidly in different parts of Ireland, and we in the South of Ireland know that it has, as a matter of fact, absolutely superseded an open public organisation, called the United Irish League, which, however, is still kept in existence in public for show purposes, although its officers and organisers are, in almost every instance, the chief officers and organisers of the secret organisation. I wish it to be perfectly clearly understood that this society is not to be confounded with the genuine and Ancient Order of Hibernians in Ireland, which is a purely benevolent friendly society of enormous extent, that has unquestionably contributed out of its funds in a magnificent manner for various benevolent objects. It has contributed, for instance, at least £20,000 to establish an Irish chair in a Catholic University in America. But this society to which I am particularly referring to-night is a seceding body from the Ancient Order of Hibernians. It is officially called the Board of Erin, and it is popularly known as the Molly Maguires. Hon. Members smile, but I do not say that with any offensive object. It is the title by which the members them-selves claim to be known in Ireland, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been in that country 292 during a General Election he would have known that the cry of "Up with the Mollies" was the cry that was heard at every election in the South of Ireland, and from every platform. It is a cry that pursued us even to the doors of our places of worship, and, I am sorry to say, in some instances, as in the case of Macroon, it has been preached from the very steps of the altar.
To show that I am not unfairly endeavouring to fix this cognomen on this society, let me quote the words of the most influential member it has obtained in the South of Ireland. Mr. G. Crosby, the owner of the "Cork Examiner," who has in the last year or so gone over to their side under the impression that he is going on the side of the big battalions, said in his own paper that he was a Molly Maguire, and he had never made the slightest concealment of the fact. There was nothing to be ashamed of in it, and the only feeeling he had about it was that he was not good enough to be a member of that grand organisation. Thus, he not only went out of his way to describe himself as a member, but, in his modesty, declared himself unfit to bear that sacrosanct title. Another gentleman, a Catholic clergyman of the Carmelite Order in Ireland, said he "was not a Cork man, thank God." We thank him for the compliment which he thus pays to 400,000 or 500,000 of the truest Irishmen. He, too, said he was a Molly Maguire. Again, in the Middleton Union, which is one of the districts in which the majority was against us at the last election, two O'Brien candidates went to the poll. One of them, a lady, was induced to stand aside by a vote of the majority of the board, and two Molly Maguires were elected in their places to the same cry of "Up with the Mollies" raised by the district councillors themselves in the very board room. I think I have shown that I am only accepting their own designation in describing them by the shorter title of Molly Maguires.
When we come to consider what is the real business of the Molly Maguires in Ireland, I do not think there will be any difficulty in showing it. The pretext that they are in any sense a genuine friendly society or dividing society is a legend of extremely recent invention, and it was only invented when it was beginning to be feared by them that the real sectarian and anti-national spirit of this organisation was beginning to be realised, and especially when this Bill promised to provide 293 a splendid endowment for them. I am told that the password in the society for the past quarter has been "Will the times be good?" the answer being "Yes, when we are insured." [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] It is true business, and no amount of intimidation in this House will prevent me from saying it. I have lived long enough in this House to have been howled down in turn by men of every party in this House, and time proved the howlers-down were wrong, and that we were right, and time will prove it again. I venture to say, that the true business of this Board of Erin, in the public life of Ireland, is to capture the position of the public life of the country and all the public organisation and all its funds, in the interests of its secret leaders, and to keep its followers in a good humour by promising them, exclusively as Catholics, the loaves and fishes which have already to some extent come into their possession in connection with the patronage of Dublin Castle, and by promising them further the advantages which will accrue from the vast sum that this Bill will place at their disposal as an approved society.
I do not think it will be denied that the organic rule of the Board of Erin is that nobody shall be initiated as a member who is not a Catholic. There are other rules obliging the members to attend a Catholic place of worship in a body on certain parade days. Of course, if this society were a genuine religious society, any more than a genuine benefit society, nobody would dream for a moment of objecting to its action as an ordinary religious body, but the fact is, and it enormously aggravates the sectarian character of the society and its danger from the point of view of public policy, that on the one side its character as a religious society is just as strongly denounced by some of the highest Catholics in Ireland as its character as a bogus benefit society, and that, on the other hand, the grip that it has undoubtedly gained over the leaders and over the organisation of the public United Irish League in the country is becoming a very great public danger in Ireland, and is a very serious obstacle to the reconciliation of the Protestants in Ireland to Home Rule. This society was for some years under interdict by the bishops in Scotland in consequence of certain practices which took place in its lodges. That interdict was removed after some time, and a decree, not of approval, but of toleration, was obtained from Rome when the promise was made to drop what was regarded as a 294 blasphemous ceremony of initiation, when the newly initiated member was required to place his hand upon a crucifix—
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I think this is really going beyond the subject of the Amendment. The Amendment which the hon. Member has placed on the Paper deals with the conditions of recognition of approved societies, and I think it is my duty to ask him to really keep strictly to the question that he has set down in the. Amendment which, I understand, he is about to move. We have nothing to do with the matters he has so far referred to. The only question before us is whether an additional condition in the case of Ireland should be added to those of Clause 18 with regard to an approved society.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
My Amendment is one objecting to the admission as an approved society of a society of a secret character and of an exclusively sectarian character. How am I to justify that Amendment if I am to be tripped up when I attempt to make it clear that this is a sectarian society, but one denounced by the Catholic bishops of Ireland and of Scotland? I think it is strictly relevant to the Amendment that I should prove, as I mean to prove, unless the last remnants of liberty are taken from an Irishman in this House—
§ The CHAIRMAN
What I wished to deprecate was the entering into general political questions. Of course, so far as he deals with the subject of his Amendment, the hon. Member will be in order. He seemed to me to be entering into general political questions quite apart from the Insurance Bill.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
It was not a political question I was discussing when I was interrupted. I was proceeding to show that even after this interdict by Rome on this society was removed, and that even after the period of observation and of trial that was accorded by Rome, that the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland—Cardinal Logue—felt himself bound to criticise this society. Cardinal Logue said:—It saddened him to find, as often happened in good Catholic parishes, the Devil had introduced a scheme to draw the people away from their religion. The instrument employed in that parish was the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, whatever they might be in other parishes, had in that parish and in some other parishes become a pest, a cruel tyranny, and an organised system of blackguardism. … In Carrickmore and in some other parishes, the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, not content with being Hibernians themselves, endeavoured to compel others to join the order by means of 295 boycotting, threatening, interfering with persons buying and selling and with tradesmen carrying on their trade, and still more by waylaying and beating persons who did not join their society. This state of things he could not tolerate, but would be obliged to take sterner measures, and if the remedy which he was now about to apply did not bring these practices to an end, he would, in the discharge of his duties as Bishop, excommunicate the Hibernians throughout his diocese.I could quote declarations by some of the chief ecclesiastical authorities in the North of Ireland, where the Board of Erin is principally known, showing that that body is regarded by nearly all the greatest ecclesiastics in Ireland as a serious menace to the religious interests as well as to the general interests of the community. On the other hand, no doubt in one particular diocese in the North of Ireland, a most influential gentleman, who is also the principal supporter in the Irish hierarchy of the party which sits behind me, has taken the Board of Erin under his patronage and appointed a grand chaplain to them, and it is also a fact that one bishop in the South of Ireland, the Bishop of Cork, has also appointed a special chaplain, who, on a recent occasion, when the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin) and the hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) visited Cork, was authorised to extend a special dispensation for abstinence from fresh meat on a Friday. It has to be remembered that no public information is vouchsafed as to the real object of this body, that their meetings are held in secret, and their membership is guarded by an elaborate system of signs and passwords, and, as far as I know, their accounts have never been given to the Irish public. But sometimes an indiscreet official does blurt out what the real object of the society is, and one of these principal officials, who is the head of the principal Hibernian lodge, let the cat out of the bag in the following terms. He said:—We are Molly Maguires in Cork. I happen to be the President of the Branch of the Society which is known as the A.O.H., and I am not ashamed to proclaim it. Have we not a right to bind ourselves together as well as the Freemasons? Are we to be condemned for it? We do not proclaim the policy that, because a man is a Protestant, we will not support him, but we are not going to have our people hewers of wood and drawers of water for all time.The true object of this society is very clear indeed. It is Catholic freemasonry, and a purely sectarian freemasonry, and the object quite clearly is to grab everything that is going in the way of power or of office or of business, and keep it as a monopoly for a caste, which are specially set apart, consisting of persons of a 296 particular religion and of a particular ring in politics. That would be objectionable enough in a country which is divided by so many religious barriers already, but it becomes a great deal more serious danger to the public, because when it becomes known that the chief personages of this secret society are also the chief person ages in the open organisation of the United Irish League, and in that way are able to control the whole of the machinery and the whole of the funds of the United Irish League. That was proved on oath in a public court after the disgraceful proceedings, when a handful of us who tried to warn the country against the destruction of land purchase, which has since taken place, were prevented by brute force from obtaining a hearing by men armed with batons and revolvers. It was admitted on cross-examination by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) that all the arrangements for that convention, for manufacturing batons and paying the baton men and bringing up special trains of cattle-drivers, were in the hands of two gentlemen who are the principal officials of the Board of Erin in Ireland. It was proved, moreover, at that trial that the majority of the members of the standing committee of the league were members of the Board of Erin, and were in control of the whole of the funds and organising power and machinery. It was found that the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin), who was Grand Master or National President of the Board, is also the secretary of the League, and by far its most important official. It was proved that Mr. Nugent, who was Grand Secretary of the Board of Erin, is also a member of the standing committee of the League, and is in the running, I understand, for the new Irish Insurance Commissionership. It was proved that the Grand Chaplain of the Board of Erin is also a member of the standing committee, and is one of the secretaries of the Molly Maguire convention. It was further proved that the following members of the standing commit tee were also Board of Erin Hibernians: Mr. Johnson, assistant secretary of the League—
§ Mr. DEVLIN
May I state that Mr. Johnson was not a Hibernian at all. Perhaps the hon. Member will tell the House where all this was proved. Every word of it was disproved.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must reserve his reply until the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien) has finished.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
In reference to the interruption, every fact that I state in the presence of a number of friends of mine who were present, was proved on oath in that trial. As to the rest of his observation, I am afraid he will not gain very much by it, for he stated that my hon. Friend was fined by a Molly Maguire magistrate, who was promoted to be chief magistrate of Dublin a short time afterwards through their influence. The other gentlemen were Mr. Kettle, now a professor in Dublin University; Mr. McHugh, who was member for Sligo; the Member for East Clare (Mr. W. Redmond), the gentleman who was Lord Mayor of Dublin at the time, as well as the gentleman who is at present Lord Mayor of Dublin. All these acted in the double capacity of leading men in the Board of Erin and leading men in the governing body of the league, whose organisation and funds were consequently under their absolute power, and which had the absolute power of selecting Parliamentary candidates. I venture to say that is not a power for a secret sectarian body of that kind to possess. They already possess the power absolutely of making Members of Parliament, and more than that, they possess considerable control already over the business of this House as well, for nothing is more certain, if this Bill passes, than it will be the Molly Maguires who will pass it. In addition to all that power now under this Bill, it is proposed to hand over to this body vast unnamed and undefined sums of State money to be used by them, and by the Commissioners who will be their nominees, for the preferential treatment of members of the Board of Erin, and for throwing everybody else into the position of Post Office contributors.
I was not here when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his promise about submitting the names of the Insurance Commissioners and the officers, but the position is not one bit bettered by the promised transfer of the administration of this fund to the new Insurance Commissioners and their subordinates in Ireland. I am sorry to say that we know enough of the actual working of things in Ireland at the present moment to know that it will simply be an additional Dublin Castle department. Unless this Amendment is accepted, I know no way whatever of preventing this scandal from growing and giving practically omnipotent power in I the country to a secret society whose objects are not straightforward and are 298 not openly stated, a society which is a constant source of dissension, of bad blood, and of trouble among Catholics themselves, and which, I profoundely believe, is the principal obstacle to Catholics and Protestants working together in harmony for the benefit of our common country. This Amendment does not raise any religious question between Catholics and Protestants. Quite the contrary. I think I have shown that this society is as strongly reprobated by some of the highest Catholic ecclesiasts as by Protestants, and I think there are tens and hundreds of thousands of Irish Nationalists who will never be parties to the establishment of the ascendancy of this society. It is a matter of great repulsiveness to me to be obliged to discuss this matter at all in this House, but the Bill leaves us absolutely no alternative, unless we are to submit silently to this sectarian, and consequently anti-Nationalist, organisation getting the upper hand in the country, and establishing a new and still more odious ascendancy. It is for that reason that I would ask the Committee to think very seriously indeed before rejecting this Amendment, and to consider that this is a matter of very deep importance indeed to the future peace of Ireland.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
It would not be easy for the Committee to take this Amendment very seriously. At the same time I am anxious to say a few words on the subject for two or three different reasons. I am not a member of the Hibernian Society any more than the hon. Gentleman who has just moved the Amendment. Therefore I am not able to speak, as he was not able to speak, with authority about this organisation. At the same time I desire to make it plain that when attacks are made on my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin), for his connection with this organisation, all his colleagues in this House are prepared to stand behind him, and I am anxious to show for myself, at any rate, that my experience of this organisation is entirely different from that pictured to the House by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. O'Brien). The hon. Member has truly said that this organisation is not the same as the great organisation in America. It is not the same, but it is a kindred organisation. There are great ancient Order of Hibernian organisations wherever Irishmen are to be found throughout the world. The Hibernian organisation in America is, I believe, the 299 largest organisation of Irishmen in that great Republic. It comprises among its members people of the highest standing, both lay and clerical. If you go to Australia, you will find there a great Hibernian organisation, at the head of which was the late Cardinal Moran. It is true that they are not the same in the sense of being affiliated one to another, but their objects are the same, their rules are very largely the same, and they are kindred organisations. In Ireland there have been two Hibernian organisations. One was a very small body of men: I forget the exact title of their organisation, but they were the Ancient Order of Hibernians with some sub-title. The other and much larger body is called the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Board of Erin That is the organisation we are dealing with to-night. They are distinct bodies in point of organisation, but in their avowed objects and machinery they are largely the same. They are, it is true, sectarian organisations. I want to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that this Amendment means that any organisation is to be kept out of the working of this Bill if it is a sectarian organisation.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
I will deal with that in a moment. I am dealing now with the sectarian question. On the face of it that proposal is absurd. You cannot pick out one sectarian organisation and say that all the others shall remain in. Are you going to exclude from the machinery of this Bill church organisations, either of the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, or the Presbyterian Church, or any other church?
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
They are all over the country. That is a most ignorant observation. My hon. Friend is a lawyer, and he has good hearing, and he heard what I said and therefore understood what I said. I am speaking of sectarian organisations, and I say that it would be absolutely futile and ridiculous to exclude an organisation because it was sectarian, and that you cannot pick out one organisation as sectarian and exclude it and admit the others. These organisations of Hibernians, wherever they are in existence, have their friendly societies' section, every one of 300 them. I have made some inquiries and have received some figures. I cannot vouch for them. I can only give them as having been given to me. I am told that the hon. Member for the city of Cork has rather underestimated the numbers and importance of this organisation. I am told that there are 600 divisions of this organisation in Ireland, numbering 80,000 members, and that of these 150 divisions, with 20,000 members, are in the friendly societies' section of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. They are registered under the Friendly Societies Acts. Their rules have been registered for some time. They were recently revised, not since this Bill was proposed. It is a delusion to think that this organisation has revised its rules with a view to this Bill. Nobody knew about this Bill until this Session. The existing rules were revised in the year 1909, and they were registered under the Friendly Societies Acts. I have the rules. They make rather a bulky volume, and I cannot read them all, but I will read the first:—The object of the society is to provide funds for the relief of members and their wives und children during sickness or other infirmity: for insurance money to be paid on the death of a member, or for the funeral expenses of the wife of a member, also for the relief of a member in any distressed circumstances.I come to the next point. It is said that this is a secret society. Every man listening to me knows that the Catholic Church has always condemned secret societies. Men of all creeds in this House are aware of that. The Catholic Church has repeatedly condemned societies which were popular in Ireland, and very national in their instinct and purpose, because they were secret societies. The Church has always condemned secret societies, yet here is an organisation which has been sanctioned by the authorities of the Catholic Church. What happened in Scotland with reference to this society is interesting. A Scotch bishop condemned the society, and, unless I am mistaken, suspended a Catholic priest because he was associated with it. The Catholic priest appealed to Rome. His appeal was granted, and Rome reinstated him and issued an edict saying that this society was not to be condemned. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork quoted Cardinal Logue. Cardinal Logue did not condemn this society as a society. He condemned the action of certain branches which he said were guilty of improper conduct, and I dare say he was right in doing so, and I am sure that his admonition has had the effect of preventing a 301 repetition of the conduct he condemned. But he never condemned the society. Let me emphasise that point by reading for you one or two letters that have been addressed to me on this question from high dignitaries of the Church. One is from the Bishop of Raphoe, a man well known to Members of this House and well known to the Chief Secretary, who sits on the Congested Districts Board with him. On 2nd November he writes:—Dear Mr. Redmond,—With us in the County Donegal, the Ancient Order of Hibernians hold a county demonstration every year. I have seen their displays more than once, and for good order, peacefulness and sobriety, they left nothing to be desired. These vast gatherings separated in the evening without a trace of drink anywhere to be detected. Temperance is the order of the day on these occasions, and it is a pleasure for me to add that the Hibernians in this diocese are earnestly supporting the temperance movement. In the districts which I know best, they are a self-respecting well-conducted body, who would not tolerate in their ranks any member who injured his neighbour of any creed, and who is known to lead a life unworthy of a Christain. I write this because you may like to have the result of my observation, in view of references made from time to time to the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the House of Commons.To go from north to south, one of the chief dignitaries in the diocese of Cork—Canon Shinkwin, Dean of Cork, writes to me from St. Patrick's, Cork:—Dear Mr. Redmond,—I see that Mr. O' Brien has given notice of an addition to Clause 59 of the Insurance Bill which is everywhere interpreted as inspired simply and solely by the desire to exclude if possible the Hibernian Society from participating in the benefits of the Bill. For a considerable time he has been denouncing this society in all moods and tenses, representing it as a vile association and condemned by the Catholic Church. Vituperation of that sort with regard to this society as we find it here in Ireland is absolutely unmerited. It is untrue to say that those men who in this country bear the name of Hibernians are under the censure of the Catholic Church in any way. They are men who propose to themselves to live in strict conformity with the practices of the religion to which they belong, but at the same time are quite resolved duly and loyally to discharge their duty towards the State also. Church and State they really wish to serve. Comparatively few indeed are they who believe that the members of the association in question would have been in the least unfavourably regarded by Mr. O'Brien had they continued to adopt his political views. But having differed from him they must now pay the penalty of their convictions and of the course which their convictions dictated to them and which they honestly chose to take. Happily, however for them, Mr. O'Brien's diatribes have not done them the smallest harm. An undeniable fact is that they have enormously helped to establish the reputation of the society day by day, to impart to it new strength and vitality, and to encircle it with a halo of glory and make it an abiding and singularly potent influence in the land.There is another part of the county of Cork from which the Rev. Canon Murphy writes, and who says:—An attack has been made on the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the House of Commons. Will you allow me, who knows something of the members of this body, and of their rule—[Interruption.] I hope Members on both sides will let me say one serious word. We 302 are at a very grave juncture in the history of our country, and however bitter our feelings may be in a controversy of this kind, do not let us attack one another unnecessarily and add to the strength of any bitterness which may be felt. Surely in this House we can discuss this matter, and I do not think I have said a word that can be said to be of an offensive character. I certainly will restrain myself from doing anything of the kind. I do appeal to my hon. Friends around me not to do or say anything which will add to excitement or bitterness. I need not repeat the whole of the letter, but the writer is undoubtedly acquainted with the working of this society, and he gives his testimony to the fact, first, that it is not in any way condemned by the Church; secondly, that it is approved by him; and, thirdly, as far as his observation goes, the members of the society are decent, respectable and honest Irishmen. I quote this as an answer to the charge that this is a secret society. If it were a secret society, as I have already told this House, it could not be supported by the dignitaries of the Catholic Church. But it is said that this is a secret society, with signs and passwords. I am not a member of this society. I do not know whether the Chief Secretary is a member and is acquainted with the signs and passwords.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
I did not think it could be quite true, and honestly I would have been much surprised. But the organisation has received, and I am sure deserves the encomiums of the very distinguished Irishmen, to whom I have referred. I have quoted their letters to show that it is not a secret society. But as to the signs and passwords, what are they? I am myself a member of a very widespread and very rich and powerful Catholic organisation in America, called "The Knights of Columbus." "The Knights of Columbus" have cardinals, archbishops, and bishops and priests, all patronising it and members of it. There are signs and passwords, but I confess I never knew any of them, although I am a member of the society. Let me point out that signs and passwords exist in a number of the recognised friendly societies. I have a list here of such societies. There is the British United Order of Oddfellows, the Independent Order of Oddfellows, and other Orders. Indeed, all the Oddfellows seem 303 to have got signs and passwords, and it could not be said that societies which have these signs and passwords ought to be excluded from the working of the Insurance Bill. If you were to exclude such a society as this you would have to exclude a score or more of friendly societies which are in existence in England at this moment. Just one other matter. The hon. Member for Cork has argued that this is a very serious affair, because the sectarian secret society has got control of the open organisation. Of course, he is only guessing at the truth in the matter; he is not a member of the organisation himself.
But I have received the most positive information, and I give it to the House, that of the standing committee of the United Irish League, which is the governing body, out of twenty members there are only four who are members of the Hibernian Society, and of the four treasurers of that organisation, who are well-known and esteemed Irishmen, I am told that not a single one of them is a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. When the hon. Member for Cork said that my hon. Friend who sits near us was fined £150 at the police-court in Dublin, in reference to this Hibernian question, because the magistrate was a Molly Maguire magistrate, I could not believe my ears. The magistrate in question is Mr. Swift, an old crusted Tory. He proved it on that occasion. He is an, extremely able man, an extremely honourable man, and a well-known and consistent Tory, and how any Irishman at all acquainted with Dublin can get up and say that that decision was given because the magistrate was a Molly Maguire magistrate passes my understanding. This Amendment is to exclude this society on the two grounds that it is sectarian and secret. I say that no case whatever has been made out for that. It would reduce the proceedings in this House to a perfect pass if an Amendment of this kind were carried, and although, as I said at the commencement, I am not a member of this organisation, and cannot speak from personal and inside knowledge regarding it, yet as a public man., viewing it in a public capacity, I say that it is an honourable and a useful and patriotic organisation, and that all my colleagues are prepared to stand behind me in its support.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
As an Irishman I feel interested in the controversy which has 304 been raised by this Debate, and although I revere the hon. Member for Cork, who has done so very much for Ireland, I regret the attitude which he has taken on this question. He tried to prove three points: The first was that this society of Hibernians was a secret society. In all friendly societies I would point out there are signs and passwords, and even trade unions in Ireland and Great Britain have their secret signs. The organisation of which the hon. Member for Cork speaks is only following the custom of friendly societies and trade unions, and it does seem to me from that point of view that these societies cannot be taken out of the scope of this Bill. With regard to the sectarian aspect of this organisation, I would point out that there are numbers of sectarian organisations which will become approved societies under the Bill. The Rechabites are sectarian in a sense, and if the hon. Member is right that society would be shut out altogether.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
That is beside the point. Further, I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that this is a bogus friendly society organisation. I venture to put this to the hon. Member for Cork that during the whole course of his speech that point was never touched. May I point out also that friendly societies that come within the purview of this Bill if they want to become approved societies they have to submit to certain investigations; and, above all, they have to prove their bonâ fide character. From what I know of my own countrymen in this organisation on the other side of the water and on this side, particularly in Scotland, I know what an enormous advantage it has been to them. It has been an encouragement to Irishmen to be prepared for days of sickness. I can safely say there is no other organisation—Odd-fellows, Foresters, or Shepherds—the members of which have paid the liabilities for benefits so punctually to its members as the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I regret the controversy should have taken such a character as that introduced by the hon. Member for Cork. It is not a question of religion at all; it is not a question even of Nationalism; it is a question of whether this organisation can prove itself to be an approved society under the Bill, and if it can I do not see that anybody can have-anything to say.
§ Mr. MOORE
I think that the last words that the hon. Member has just said are really the test of the whole position. I think if this society can prove itself to come within the conditions of an approved society nobody will say a word. That is why my hon. Friends and I here, and I also understand from what I have heard, the hon. Member for Cork, are most anxious to know who the tribunal is going to be before which the society is going to declare itself. The Insurance Commissioners are appointed by the Government; their names are concealed, and they will either be nominated by the Chief Secretary from the "Freeman's Journal" office or by the hon. Member for North Belfast from the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I imagine there is no difficulty whatever in either contingency of the Ancient Order of Hibernians absolutely clearing itself. I would be perfectly content if we could only have some assurance that it will be an impartial body. We have had great Bills in this House affecting social life in Ireland before. We have had Land Acts, and in every Land Act the names of the Commissioners were inserted in the provisions of the Bill. If all that is said about this measure is true, that it is going to be as big a social revolution as any Land Act, why should that precedent not be followed? If that was done here I would be quite willing to stand by the decision of the tribunal as to whether or not the Hibernians are a bonâ fide friendly society.
I need hardly tell the Committee I am not a Hibernian, but I have known a great deal from coming in contact with them, and, upon my soul, they are the last people in the world I would call a friendly society. I get on very well with them. I employ some of them at home, and the last time they paid me a visit after a Hibernian dance was to come and steal my Union Jack off my flagstaff. I do not object to this as a sectarian society at all. I admire the gallant fight the Member for Cork makes. As a Protestant I do not care twopence whether the Hibernians exclude every Protestant in the country from their performances. Therefore, when the hon. Member for Cork gets up to say that it is a great injustice to Protestants to be shut out from the Hibernians I do not think he is speaking for the Protestants. I cannot imagine any sum of money that would tempt me to offer myself as a candidate for any Hibernian lodge. Again, I quite agree with what 306 the hon. Member for Waterford said as to there being really no objection because it is a secret society, if a secret society merely means a society the members of which meet openly but recognise a password. I suppose there is no more philanthropic society than the great Society of Masons, which, of course, is anathema to hon. Members opposite, because the Roman Catholic Church has condemned it. That is not a secret society, although it has its secret passwords and signs. I would not prevent any genuine philanthropic society, merely because of its passwords or anything else, from becoming an approved society under the Bill. I think very often the friendship that exists in these societies is the best means of securing good administration.
My objection to the Hibernian Society or any political society is that it is not really a friendly society in the real sense. I would like to see the result of any actuarial examination into the money schemes of the Ancient Order of Hibernians or any other political society. As a matter of fact, this society was founded as a political society, and has existed through centuries in Ireland, although it happens to be masquerading now under the modern name of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. But it has come down from the days when it was founded by Rory O'More. The point is this: Here in England you have the Odd-fellows and you have Buffaloes. These are genuine friendly societies, the members of which join irrespective of politics and irrespective of religion. The sole object of these societies in England—and I was surprised at the hon. Member for Waterford putting them on a parallel with the Ancient Order of Hibernians—is to benefit their members, irrespective of opinions on politics, religion, or anything else. Now the-Ancient Order of Hibernians is not in its inception or history, but only recently, by what I might call a sort of excrescence, a friendly society. I wonder what its funds are. Its real history is that it is a political society. What I ask the Government is: Are they going to allow any political society, with all the force of political tyranny, to become the administrators of State funds, contributed by persons of all shades of opinion in the United Kingdom, and to capture those funds as far as Ireland is concerned, with the result that the funds and benefits will be employed solely for the advancement of their own particular political interests? You may disguise it by calling it a friendly society, but I say that you are endowing 307 a political force, and that is not fair to any part of the community who will be living in the country where this association boasts that it is to be the biggest political force in the land. I want to read to the Committee three extracts, and Members will probably understand how little we Protestants care about this society. The first extract is from a speech by the Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who approved my statement that this society was founded by the rebel O'More, who was very properly hanged at a later stage.Speaking at a meeting on 17th March, 1905, Mr. John Dillon, National Vice-President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said:—In the dark days of Ireland the Hibernians were known as the ribbon-men. Who was it but the ribbon-men who gave any measure of protection to their gallant priests when offering up their holy sacrifices?
§ Mr. MOORE
I will tell you the paper in which the speech is reported. It is given in a very excellent book. The newspaper is the "Irish News," published in Belfast on 18th March, 1905. I only make that quotation—the hon. Member can deny it—to give him as the authority that the ribbon-men of earlier days are the Hibernians of the present.
§ Mr. DILLON
Does the hon. Member say that the person who said that was an officer of the Hibernian Association?
§ Mr. MOORE
Yes, but I have got the bit that suits me. The examination of this witness took place in the presence of an Irishman who I am sorry is now gone, namely, Mr. Michael Davitt. The witness was asked on oath what the Ribbon oath was. The hon. Member for Waterford read out the benefit part of the rules of the Hibernians, but he did not read anything about the political part. I do not say that it is in his book; I have never seen it. He did not state what is the political object of the Hibernian Society throughout Ireland. From the financial rules regarding benefits one would think it was no better than the Manchester Unity. Here is the oath of the ribbon-men, who were the predecessors of the present Hibernian Society, as proved on oath before the Parnell Commission. And this is the political society that you are going 309 to endow with State money! The quotation is from Volume III., page 153:—About this oath, you could not remember the terms of it?—No. not now.Was there anything like this; I want you to listen to me: 'In the presence of Almighty God and this my brother, I do swear that I will suffer my right hand to be cut from my body and laid at the jail door before I waylay or betray my brother; I will persevere and not spare from the cradle to the crutch, and from the crutch to the cradle; I will not hear the moans or groans of infancy or old age; I will wade knee-deep in Orangemen's blood.'" (Laughter.)I do not expect Members of the Committee here will join the Ancient Order of Hibernians on those terms. But it is different with ignorant peasantry, who are brought up in hatred of their Protestant fellow countrymen.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it would be more convenient to let the hon. Member proceed on his own lines. May I ask the hon. Member to address himself to the Chair and not to other Members of the Committee.
§ Mr. MOORE
The quotation continues:Did you ever hear that oath?—No I never did.Will you swear you never heard anything like it?—I could not say that.What oath is this?Mr. Davitt: The Ribbon Society.The Attorney-General: That is the Ribbon oath.Mr. Davitt: That is the oath of the Ribbon Society.
§ Mr. MOORE
I have only one more quotation to give to the Committee, because I think that everyone in Ireland knows that this is a purely political society, composed of Roman Catholics—I make no complaint of that—directed for political purposes only against these 310 fellow subjects of theirs in Ireland who do not see eye to eye with them in politics or religion. I want to show you by a most reasoned statement what are the political objects of this society. There is a Mr. Owen Kiernan who held high office in the Order as a national delegate. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is dead."] Well, he made a speech which is reported in the "Irish News," on 5th July, 1905. He also gave an address to the Wallsend-on-Tyne Division in August, 1905. These were his words as reported:—He told his hearers that to give his best to the destruction of alien rule in Ireland was, next to faithfulness to Mother Church the primary duty of every Hibernian. Speaking for himself, he had very little love for any Hibernian who was not also a practical Irish Nationalist, and to be that was, in his judgment, to be a member of the United Irish League.Can any hon. Gentleman in this Committee imagine the Grand Lodge of Good Templars, or the Rechabites—[An HON. MEMBER: "Or the Orangemen?"]—I did not say the Orangemen were not a political society. I have been perfectly straight about it. I am talking about friendly societies in England being compared by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford with the Hibernian Society. Could hon. Gentlemen in this Committee say of such a friendly society in England that it was not political. Such a society would not last for ten minutes! The same Mr. Kiernan, at another meeting of the Order, said:—The man who joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians was expected to be a member of the United Irish League. For his part, he would admit no one a member of the Hibernians who was not a member of the League. … In the first place it was a most valuable force behind the national organisation the wide world over.That is the first place, and this is a society we are told now is a mere harmless friendly society and in no way political.
§ Mr. MOORE
The last quotation was in connection with the presentation—no doubt he earned it—of an address to the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast. He was presented with this at the Belfast and County Antrim Branch of the Order. This was reported in the "Irish News" of March 5th, 1906. In his reply the hon. Member stated:—The Order to-day is a powerful auxiliary in helping on the work of politically emancipating our land—
§ Mr. MOORE
Perfectly fair that it should be; but it is not fair to come masquerading to this Committee as a mere 311 friendly society. Speaking at the Australian Ancient Order of Hibernians the same hon. Gentleman (Mr. Devlin) responding to the gift of that Order, which had guaranteed £1,000 to be paid towards the expenses of the General Election—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is the name of the book you are quoting from?"] "The Unknown Power." But in it every quotation is taken from a Nationalist newspaper. It costs a shilling, and it is accurate.
§ Mr. MOORE
Yes, there is a preface by Lord Ashtown. But the references are accurate, no matter who the author is. Really, Mr. Whitley, I have spoken under great interruption. I wish to say nothing offensive, but I do not agree with the whitewashing that is going on below the Gangway. This is an organisation of which apparently the object is—they say it themselves—the destruction of alien rule, that is of British rule, in Ireland. This is an organisation which has already made its power felt, and which permeates every public board in Ireland. No one can be nominated or elected for any position where it has a majority unless he is a member of this order. And now they come here with a sleek, innocent appearance, and say, "We are only a mere harmless, innocent friendly society." As soon as you put that society in the possession of State funds and of these State benefits, what will be the result? It means no one outside that society will get fair play or benefit from the funds you are setting up in Ireland. I regret nothing so much as the fact that there is to be a separate Irish fund set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My hon. Friends and I desired we should have an Irish representative on the Board for the whole United Kingdom, or two representatives, if necessary, because then when questions came up they would be dealt with by what I may call a national board, independent of party politics or anything else. The whole position has changed since you are setting up a separate Irish fund and a separate Irish Board, of which the Commissioners will be either subservient to or nominated by this great political society. If you want peace in Ireland and the country to enjoy the benefits of this Bill, which you say are so great, it would be only right to keep out all political societies, and to prevent all political societies, not on the 312 ground they are sectarian, there must be always sectarian societies, not on the ground of secrecy, but on the ground of their great malignant political force, which will not give their opponents fair play for obtaining State benefits. If the Government take any other course they will take it with their eyes open to this system. If you want fair dealing the speech of the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien) will be listened to, and if his Amendment is carried either now or on Report stage, the Government will secure fair play for all Irish citizens.
§ Mr. DILLON
I would advise the hon. Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore) to verify his quotations in future, because he was not very happy in his extract from the book from which he read. He quoted me on the authority of that book.
§ Mr. DILLON
I accept that as a very great compliment, but I think the hon. Gentleman must have kissed the Blarney-stone, for anyone who resides in Ireland must know the name is an extremely common one, and at all events I would advise him to be really more cautious, and before he comes to this House or goes on public platforms to verify his quotations. Let me say a word or two with regard to this organisation. You have had an extremely lurid picture from the hon. Member for Cork City as to the hideous tryanny this organisation is exercising over the South of Ireland, which he says is spreading like a up as tree over the Irish community. I have been associated with the hon. Member for Cork City for a long time, and only ten short years ago the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien), on his own Motion, insisted upon the representatives of this particular association being invited to the meetings of the National Convention in Ireland, the association then being entirely confined to the Province of Ulster.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
The occasion the hon. Member refers to was one upon which Mr. Michael Davitt wished that this body should receive representation on the directorate as well as almost every other body of a friendly or literary character throughout the country. I knew nothing of the existence of this body until I heard it from Mr. Davitt, and he told me that it related to the county of Donegal. In obedience to his desire we had everybody in Ireland represented, and I accepted his 313 suggestion without having the remotest notion that we should ever come to a time when that body would be the dominant factor in the country.
§ Mr. DILLON
The hon. Member for Cork City does not deny that he was the original man who brought this society into existence. I was strongly opposed to it at the time, but the hon. Member for Cork City insisted upon having these men. I have since known the value of these men, and although I have never been a member of the Order, I admire it because I think it has been a great advantage to the Irish people. The hon. Member for Cork City ten years ago first introduced these men into our councils in Ireland. There is another point which is rather interesting which I think the House ought to know, as this association has been brought so much before the public. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, up to nine or ten years ago, was absolutely confined to the province of Ulster, and it was unknown in the South and West of Ireland. It was a strong organisation in Ulster, strong because of the pressure and persecution of the Orange Society. It was in fact the answer to the Orange Society, and the only defence Catholics had against them. The hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Moore) read out to-night what he described as the Ribbon oath. I would like to know whether he would wish me to read out the old Orange oath, which consigned every Catholic to hell, and it was that which gave strength to the Ancient Order in the North of Ireland. The organisation which has been attacked to-night was the sole defence of the Catholics of Ulster against the most infernal system of persecution.
§ Mr. DILLON
What was the first thing they did? They went through the county of Armagh and hunted 6,000 Irish families out of their homes. That was the birth of the Orange Society.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have said before we are getting far away from the question before the Committee. I recommend all hon. Members to keep strictly to the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
May I ask you whether I should be in order in asking the hon. Member what the Roman Catholics had done?
§ The CHAIRMAN
No, certainly not. The hon. Member would be contravening the ruling I have just given.
§ Sir J. LONSDALE
On a point of Order. Should I be in order in asking you to ask the hon. Member for East Mayo to confine his remarks to the Ancient Order of Hibernians?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I intervened to bring the discussion back to the point, and I hope all hon. Members will assist me in that task. I am sure the hon. Member for East Mayo, in spite of the fact that the Debate has wandered some considerable length, will assist me in coming back to the point.
§ Mr. DILLON
I shall come back to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, from which I had not far strayed. The Ancient Order which has been described to-night as a menace to the whole of the Government of Ireland was practically unknown throughout the South of Ireland until five or six years ago. It was unknown until the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) embarked on such a crusade of villification of the Order that his own constituency came to the conclusion it must be a very desirable body to have. That is a fact and no joke. The truth is the most efficient organiser and spreader and promoter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Ireland is not the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin), but the hon. Member for Cork himself. There are, I suppose, probably 15,000 members in the county of Cork to-day, and I do not believe there would have been one if it was not for the exertions of the hon. Member for Cork. That is the absolute truth. A charge has been made against the majority of the Irish Members which, I think hon. Members will admit, is one of the most remarkable, most original, and most extraordinary ever heard in the House of Commons. We are charged with defending and it was said just now we are all members of a sectarian society that would admit no Protestant to its ranks, and that was a menace to the Protestants of Ireland. Observe the extraordinary character and inconsistency of the charges made. We are charged with supporting this sectarian society, and in the very same breath we are charged with supporting a society which is condemned by the bishops of our 315 Church. We are sectarian Catholics, so sectarian that we are condemned by the bishops of our Church. Was there ever such an absurd contradiction? We heard just now in the Debate on the previous Amendment that we were, as it were, defying the authority of the bishops of Ireland. That is a new charge to be made against Irish Members on this side of the House. I thought the charge generally made by hon. Members above the Gangway was that we were too subservient. Strike high or strike low, it is impossible to please them. We are charged with maintaining this sectarian order. We are told it is condemned by the Church. Let me frankly say it is a sectarian society, and I myself would rather see it a sectarian society. That is a matter of individual opinion. Where is the country in which you have no such society? Would hon. Members above the Gangway exclude Church of England or Unitarian societies from the benefits of this Bill? This is, I admit, a sectarian society, but the Protestants of Ireland ought to be the last people in the world to complain of a sectarian society like this being admitted to the benefits of the Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "But it is political."] I am not sure you have not the same political societies in this country. Trade unions are political societies. Any society engaged in returning representatives to this House is a political society. But let me examine the charges against this society. It is said that it is a menace to the Protestants of Ireland, and that it would be a still greater danger if their powers were increased. There is absolutely no foundation for that. It is opposed not because it is a menace to the Protestants of Ireland, but because it would not support the hon. Member for Cork. At one time he was a champion of the society, and it was not until the majority refused to support his peculiar views that he opposed it.
§ Mr. DILLON
I deny that this society, is a menace to Protestanism, and I say this with all deliberation that this society's record in Ireland bears honourable comparison, from the point of view of toleration, with the record of any sectarian society in any country in the world. It is sectarian in the sense that its members are bound by certain rules: they have to observe the sacraments of their Church, to 316 attend mass, and to obey other rules. That is what makes them sectarian.
But if you examine the recent history of Irish politics you will find that in many constituencies in Ireland which return Protestants to this House the Ancient Order of Hibernians are strong. Is there a single constituency in Ireland dominated by the Orange Society that returns a Catholic to this House?
§ Mr. DILLON
Yes, thanks to the interruption of the hon. Member. I was endeavouring to prove that the charge against the society on which this Amendment is mainly based—the charge that it is a sectarian and intolerant society—is not true, and I think the one proof to the contrary is that constituencies in which the society is strong have frequently returned Protestants to this House, and that occurred long before it had entered the mind of anyone that the constitution of this most ancient order would ever be discussed in this House. I give another instance that occurred only the other day—I take this as one instance, because it occurred last week—of a case in which it could not for a moment be maintained that the Ancient Order had the object in view of oppressing public opinion. That has been alleged frequently in the course of this Debate, wherever this society prevails or has much influence, or even where the Catholics are in a great majority over Protestants. What occurred in the town of Cavan last week? There was an election for a town surveyor. There were two candidates, one a Protestant, the other a Catholic, and the Protestant candidate was proposed by the county master of the Hibernians and carried by a large majority.
§ Mr. DILLON
Was there ever so inept and poor an interruption? That only adds to the merits of the Hibernians, who had the courage to elect a Protestant. What on earth is the good of saying there was an indignation meeting afterwards? The truth is that the Hibernian Society elected the Protestant, and the Protestant has been elected, whether there was an indignation 317 meeting or not. The hon. Member for Cork City referred, in awe-struck tones, to a letter from Cardinal Logue. The hon. Member has become such an admirer of Cardinal Logue. I remember the time when he had very little good to say about the Cardinal. His Eminence Cardinal Logue may have had some fault to find with some of these branches. That ought to recommend the branches to the kindly consideration of the hon. Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore). Be that as it may, Cardinal Logue is not the whole church of Ireland, and the large portion of the Irish church approve of this society on the ground that it is a society which promotes temperance, religious observance, and decent living. One of its rules strictly requires that any man who leads an intemperate or dissolute life is to be expelled from the ranks of the society. The consequence is that the society is a most powerful influence for respectable and decent living and the observance of religion among the people. The hon. Member for Cork City spoke of the society as being banned by the highest authorities in the church. In the Cathedral Church of Dublin I have seen the whole church packed to the doors with thousands of Hibernians, wearing all their insignia, which are alleged to have been condemned, with their own Chaplain, having been invited to attend the service by the Archbishop of Dublin. It is preposterous to set up any contention that this society is either secret, in the evil sense the hon. Member attributes to it, or is in any way discreditable. It is not true that their meetings and proceedings are held in secret. Everyone knows where they meet and everyone who chooses to take the trouble can know when they meet. Of course, they do not admit strangers to their ordinary private meetings. What society does? They do not admit the Press. They are a society which cultivates lecturers. I have never been a member of the society, but I have more than once lectured to them. They hold public meetings, and occasionally have lectures and addresses from public men, Catholic and Protestant. I never was invited to speak in an Orange lodge, but I have known Protestants frequently invited to speak in Hibernian halls. This society has done a great work for Ireland. It is no menace to any section of the population. It has been spread through the South of Ireland through the industry and eloquence of the hon. Member (Mr. W. O'Brien), and if it 318 inconveniences him in that part of Ireland he has his own exertions to thank for it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think I ought to point out exactly what would happen if the Amendment is carried. I do not propose to enter into all the details with regard to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and it is absolutely irrelevant to this Amendment. We have had a very interesting Debate. I had no idea how much explosive material there was in an innocent, nonparty measure. The question is this: Are we going to exclude sectarian societies or are they to be included? An Amendment of this sort cannot be introduced with the mere result of excluding the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and if you introduce it into the Irish section you must introduce it into the British section. What does that mean? My hon. Friend (Mr. Dillon) has put the point. There are in this country scores, if not hundreds, of little sectarian societies. They are doing excellent work. They are mainly Church of England and Wesleyan, though there are Congregationalist, and other societies, and I believe the Catholics have them as well. If you are going to lay down the rule that no society which, either by its rites of initiation or by its rules, confines its membership to persons of a particular religion, shall be treated as an approved society you are at once ruling out societies which have got hundreds of thousands of members in this country, and which are doing excellent work.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Does the hon. Member really mean to say you could have rules of this kind applying to Ireland alone? Why should you? On what principle can you introduce an Amendment of this kind in Ireland and not extend it to this country? The principle is exactly the same. That is the first thing to consider. We had a Debate on it some time ago, and the general feeling was that these societies could not be excluded from the category of approved societies. The hon. Member (Mr. Moore) seemed to think that this very potent society could by some kind of manipulation not merely secure the management and administration of its own funds, but could somehow or other get hold of funds belonging to persons outside the body. If he knew anything about the Bill he would know that that is absolutely impossible.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That part of the hon. Member's speech I did not hear. If he tells me that what I said was not the meaning of his speech, then of course I accept the statement.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It may or may not be true, but it is quite irrelevant to the Amendment. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Moore) can defend himself.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then perhaps the hon. Gentleman will leave him alone to do it. If the hon. Gentleman tells me that he did not say so, then I have nothing further to add. But the whole Committee were under the impression that what he meant to imply was that those persons would be so popular that they would be able to manipulate the funds in such a way that they would be able to give some preference to the members of the organisation. [An HON. MEMBER: "You did not hear his speech."] I am referring to the part of his speech I did hear, and it is very important that the impression should be taken away from the mind of the Committee, because one thing is perfectly clear about this Bill, and that is that these societies cannot manipulate any money except the money of their own members and the two-ninths benefit paid in by the Government in respect of the contributions of their own members. What possible hardship can it mean to allow a sectarian society to occupy that position, unless you lay down the rule that no sectarian society is to come in? The same thing applies to trade unions. Trade unions are not started for the purpose of giving benefits. They are started for the purpose of trade protection, but a good many of them have supplemented their protectionist propaganda 320 by introducing benefit. But no part of the money paid to trade unions can be used under this Bill for the purpose of their trade union work. It must be confined to the benefits under the Bill. The same thing applies to the Ancient Order of Hibernians or any other society. The only point the Committee will decide now is, not whether they want the Ancient Order of Hibernians in or not, but whether they are in favour of saying that every society, whether sectarian or not, should be allowed to come in. There are Holloway societies in Gloucestershire. They are working on a very good system. Some are Liberal and some are Conservative. If this Amendment is adopted, it must be applied all round, and that is the question on which the Committee are now to vote.
§ Mr. FORSTER
If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had heard the whole of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Moore), he would have heard him say that provided he had confidence in the Insurance Commissioners he had nothing further to say with reference to the inclusion of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I think my hon. Friends who represent Unionist constituencies in Ireland take very much the same view. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us it was impossible for him to announce the names of the Irish Commissioners, because he could not say whether the Committee was going to accept the Amendments. I do not think very much of that argument. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows perfectly well that with the aid of hon. Members who sit below the Gangway and the solid phalanx of Members who support him through thick and thin he is able to carry any proposal he makes in connection with this Bill. He cannot say that he has come to the consideration of these Amendments without ample opportunity of weighing their merits, because the Amendments suggested by the hon. Members below the Gangway were made public since the early days of June, and anyone who compares the two will see that the right hon. Gentleman has carried out the whole series of Amendments which were proposed on behalf of the Nationalist party almost word for word. The Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot tell us in fairness that he has had no opportunity of considering these matters, and I think it would have eased the passage of the Bill if he had been able to announce the names of the Commissioners.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
It is right that those of us who support this Amendment should state the ground on which we do so. It is not that this is a sectarian society. It is that they are a sham benefit; they are wolves in sheep's clothing.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That has nothing whatever to do with the Amendment, which would exclude not only the Hibernians, but also all these other societies, which are perfectly bonâ fide.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. gentleman has taken a narrow view. The Amendment is more than that. It excludes sectarian societies where the association is of a secret character and whose meetings, signs, and passwords are of a secret character. To any genuine secret society of a benefit character, founded with that object, we have no objection. We object to the Orange Society as a benefit society under this Bill equally, and we object to a society which was not started with, and was never intended to be of a benefit character suddenly availing of new legislation proposed by the Government, it having a totally different object—namely, an object of boycotting and waylaying. This is the endowment of boycotting, and not the boycotting of the old political kind. In the old days I quite agree that there was some necessity for an organisation such as this was. It was necessary in the north of Ireland as a counterblast to the Orange body. What is the raison d'être of it? For centuries Protestants and Catholics in the South of Ireland lived in peace, and no such society as this was ever heard of. But always in some form the organisation existed in the North of Ireland. Why? Because on the opposite side of politics there was the Orange Order, which was of a most aggressive character, and therefore the Hibernian Society was formed. The Orange Order was condemned by Resolution of this House because it was engaged in a plot against Queen Anne to prevent her coming to the Throne. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]
I do not speak without book. The records that have been found are the records of a Select Committee of this House. I know quite as much as I need to know about the Orange Order. Do not let us go into that. It was an organisation which having been condemned by the State and condemned by Resolution of this House, was reformed. There always had 322 existed in Scotland where the unfortunate Irish were driven out, some form of secret society. I firmly believe that it was a necessity of the time. When I was in the North of England some thirty years ago, a protective society of that kind was necessary among these poor unfortunate Irishmen. But what will be the effect of this Bill to-day? As I understand, this Hibernian organisation has no object that anybody can find out except the boycotting of people who do not belong to it. It has been actually created by the Local Government Board Act, which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary I think said was a rash experiment. Since the passing of the Local Government Act the organisation comes out not as a benefit society, but as a society for grabbing the loaves and fishes. A little secret body have got together, having the mask and pretence of religion, though I do not believe there is in it any person of a better religious character than his neighbour, and their principal object is the grabbing of salaries. In connection with the jury panels, it has become necessary to find out whether a juror belongs to this or that organisation, because those who defend know very well that it is necessary to be very watchful over the jury. Well, now I want to know why has this organisation been started at this moment, on the eve of Home Rule? Why has it been spread from the province where I admit it has some ground for existence, into a province where there was no necessity for it?
Furthermore, if it be propounded that this is a benefit society, where are its books? I would not have the least hesitation myself in belonging to the American Order of Hibernians, neither would I have any objection to belong to the Australian Order of Hibernians. They are genuine friendly benefit societies, formed naturally with the growth and with the necessity of the Irish race in these distant countries. They have a raison d'être for providing their members with benefits. The most respected Catholics and Irishmen in America and Australia belong to them. But this business in Ireland is a sham copy of these organisations, started for a political object. Does anybody suppose from what they have seen of the hon. Member for West Belfast—a most vigilant Nationalist—that he belongs to the Society of the Hibernians for his health? What happens is this. I only know it in the county of Louth. If men in a particular parish did not belong 323 to this particular society they were waylaid and they were beaten. And it has pursued its way from one county to another largely by the aid of the bludgeon and the shillelagh. I see the Under-Secretary for Ireland under the Gallery.
I would like to have some of the Chief Secretary's reports as to the proceedings of this organisation in certain parts of the country. He has remained discreetly silent, and certainly it is a remarkable fact that in a Bill dealing with Ireland the Chief Secretary, who is responsible for Ireland, has not one word to say upon it. Nor have we had from the Irish Office, as we had last night from the Scottish Office, one single word of guidance or of direction. I return, then, to the point with regard to this Order. The Rechabites and other organisations have been mentioned. Do they exist for a political object? Were they started by means of an assaulting battery? Were they promulgated by blackguardism—for I do not hesitate to say that this society has been disseminated from one end of the country to the other solely by the means either of intimidation on the one hand, or the hope of preferment or jobbery on the other. What did they do the other day? We hear talk about the poor. One of the principal objects of the society is to seize upon the contracts under the Local Government Act. There were three contracts for milk put in in the "North" or "South Dublin News." Two of them were for milk at 9d. One was for milk at 8d. The nine-penny men were Hibernians, and they got the contract. But when the guardians were threatened with a writ the Ancient Order gentlemen surrendered the contract. In the same way to-day, if you want to get a contract in the Dublin Corportaion learn the password, that will be supplied you for 3d. a quarter by the Member for West Belfast. It may interest friends of the House of Lords to know that the present password is "Veto." Probably the answer is, "All right. We will soon be insured." Our objection to this society is not as a society which has a religious character, because it has none. Our objection is that you are about to endow, under the pretence of its being a benefit society, a political boycotting organisation.
As for the statement of the hon. Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore) about the ribbon oath, so far as these modern days are concerned, I do not believe a word 324 of it. No doubt the Ribbonmen had an oath of a lurid kind. But so had the Orangemen. From what I know of the Ancient Order to-day, all the Catholic lawyers in Dublin have joined it. There is not a man belonging to it who ever risked his little finger for Ireland. Therefore this pretence that it is the descendant of Rory O'More and of Sarsfield, and of all the other humbugs in this book which I hold, is all nonsense. What is it to-day in the North of Ireland? It is largely a pig-blocking association. If you are taking cattle to a fair or pigs to market, either you cannot sell them or you must sell them to a parish master at a lower price. That is the organisation which has got hold of the national organisation, which national organisation has got hold of the British Government. The Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) said with great truth and unction—and it is not always when he is most unctuous that he is most accurate—that it was quite unfounded for the hon. Member for Cork to state that this Molly Maguire society had got hold of the Standing Committee of the United Irish League. For the moment the hon. Member is quite accurate. But what happened? It was exposed publicly two years, ago that the vast majority of the Standing Committee were Molly Maguires. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
The Standing Committee consisted of the same body. Of twenty men, I do not think there is one different at the present time, unless there may have been one vacancy through death.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I am only going on the sworn testimony of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I would rather not follow the inaccuracies of the hon. Gentleman, but as a matter of fact I was never examined at all.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I would advise the hon. Gentleman not to jump till he comes to the stile. If this Debate goes over till to-morrow, the record of evidence in the Cork Election Petition can be found in the Blue Book of this House. In that the hon. Gentleman handed in the names of this society.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Again, Mr. Whitley, in the Cork case I was never asked by anybody to give the names of any members 325 of the Hibernian Society. I gave the names of the Standing Committee of the United Irish League. That has been precisely the same body, with the exception of a vacancy caused by death, that has governed the organisation since the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork was Past Grand Master.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The hon. Member does not improve his position. First he was not examined at all. Then I stated that that examination could be found in the Blue Book, and instead of apologising to me for his interruption in the first in stance he now thinks he does a very splendid thing to draw a cheer from the House by stating the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Cork was Grand Master of this society. Well, I return to where I was before I was four times in correctly interrupted. I reiterate that the majority of this Standing Committee were within the last two or three years, at the time of the passing of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland—the Bill which wrecked the Wyndham Act, after the Member for Waterford had got all the benefit he could out of it—
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
In training for an Irish Parliament! I say that at the time of the passing of that measure the majority of the Standing Committee were Members of that body. I repeat that since that time that which the French call épuration has taken place. And now for the sake of decency a number of them have been removed. It was said they were removed by death. I am glad to think however the Rev. Father Cannon is well; he was one of those sworn to as a member of that Standing Committee at that time. He was Chaplain to the Order in Donegal. Why was he removed? [HON. MEMBERS: "He is on the Standing Committee still."] Fortunately this matter can be checked, in spite of the interruptions, by the Blue Book presented to Parliament; but, without further bandying corrections with these Gentlemen, what we want to know is this, can anybody assert that the Rechabites, the Oddfellows or the Manchester Unity are under the control of the Labour party, the Liberal party, or the Tory party? Can anybody say that a particular secret society is under the control of the Carlton Club? [HON. 326 MEMBERS: "The confederates—the Diehards."] I am glad to know the "Diehards" are a secret body. However, the point I am making is that this body is a distinctive political body, and accordingly I put this case. We are now supposed to be entering on a new era of peace and conciliation in the country.
I read the speeches of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), and he has almost made me a convert, and I ask why is it that this is the moment selected to take this new organisation out of Ulster, where it has been known, celebrated, and famous in the past only for its conflict with another opposing organisation, the Orange Society, and transfer it bodily, for political objects, to the South and West of Ireland, under the guise of religion, under the mask of hypocrisy, after it has trodden its way through the mire of turbulence from Ulster to Munster? Are we wrong in saying that whatever may be the advantages of this Bill, it has this great and profound disadvantage, that it perpetuates, establishes, and endows two apposing, conflicting elements of the Orange and Hibernian societies in Ireland.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I must apologise to the Committee for having to intervene again in the discussion, and I should have preferred to have allowed the Committee to take a vote on this Motion but for the speech just delivered by the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork. These hon. Gentlemen complain that they have had no opportunity of examining these Amendments or discussing them, and that this was denied them by the arrangements which were made. They have had a whole day to discuss the Irish part of this Bill, and how it affects Ireland as a great insurance measure, and how to improve it for Irish national purposes. Instead of taking advantage of that opportunity they have occupied a whole sitting without, so far as I know, making a solitary suggestion as to the improvement of the Bill, and they have engaged in a reckless denunciation of the Hibernian organisation in Ireland without attempting by a single fact or figure to bolster up their case. I have the honour to be the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
It is true that many years ago it was an organisation largely composed of an undisciplined and chaotic body of men. We were invited to take advantage 327 of what I regard as the finest democratic material in Ireland, and fashion it to make it of great public utility to the country. We did so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I do not think public utility appeals to the fiscal party and the Tariff Reformers, and I can understand that sneer. It would perhaps be a tribute to their intelligence if they would allow us to settle this matter. This organisation was a mere political organisation dragged at the tails of the hon. Member for Cork City. In face of the opposition of myself and the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) the hon. Member for Cork City proposed to give political sanction and authority to this organisation by giving them the right to representation at the Conventions to select Members of Parliament. I opposed it, but it was useless in those days to oppose anything proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, for he was complete lord and master of Ireland and of the souls, bodies, and political convictions of the people. Ten years have brought to Ireland political enlightenment, and the people now see that instead of, as the hon. Member says, being under the tyranny of an organisation, they were under the tyranny of an individual who has transformed himself from a democratic politician to an autocratic statesman. The two hon. Members who have made this attack have not endeavoured to justify a single allegation they have made against this organisation.
The hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork challenged the Chief Secretary of Ireland to produce the police reports of the conduct of the Hibernians in Ireland. I know it is a favourite method of those who wish to attack local government in Ireland to hit the Hibernians, and no doubt the Dublin Castle reports, about which the hon. and learned Member seems to know a good deal, are not favourable to the Hibernians, but I challenge the Chief Secretary to produce all the reports he has of the personal conduct of the Hibernians, place them upon the Table of this House, print and publish them, and hand them round to every hon. Member, and on that publication alone I am prepared to take the judgment of the House on the issue. I do not believe that this controversy has been raised for the purpose of freeing Ireland from the tyranny of the Hibernians or of preventing it becoming an approved society. It has been 328 raised to damage Home Rule. It is the old game. What is the alliance we see to-night on this vote. It is an alliance of the representative of Cardinal Logue with the hon. Member for North Armagh in the denunciation of a great organisation. Let me quote to the Committee the opinion expressed by the senior Member for Cork as to the conduct of his colleague, who owes his seat in North-East Cork to the influence and power of the hon. Member. Here is what the hon. Member said on the 4th of September, 1905. He said:—All the world knows that Healy ruined Home Rule at the most critical period of the election by circulating against his own colleagues what he knew to be as vile a falsehood as ever crossed the lips of man,
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member may reply to certain personal allusions of the speaker who preceded him, but really he is launching out into entirely new ground. We have had a good deal of what is irrelevant this afternoon, and I really think I may ask him to make his reply to the hon. Member who preceded him on the point which touches him personally, but not to broaden the subject of the argument.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I bow at once to your decision, but I think I am entitled if they assail us to examine their credentials.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would remind the hon. Member we are now discussing an Amendment to an Amendment which raises a comparatively narrow point, and I hope he will now observe my ruling and confine himself to that point.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Then I have only to say I trust to offer this humble contribution to the House on another occasion.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added to the proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 62; Noes, 220.331
|Division No. 387.]||AYES.||[11.35 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Goldsmith, Frank||Moore, William|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Mount, William Arthur|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
|Barnston, Harry||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Benn, Ion H. (Greenwich)||Gulney, Patrick||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bird, Alfred||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col Dennis Fortescue||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East)||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Butcher, John George||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Campion, W. R.||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hills, John Waller||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Cassel, Felix||Horner, A. L.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Cave, George||Houston, Robert Paterson||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Chambers, James||Hunt, Rowland||Stewart, Gershom|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hunter, Sir Charles R. (Bath)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Crean, Eugene||Larmor, Sir J.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Fell, Arthur||M'Mordie, Robert J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Malcolm, Ian||Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Gilhooly.|
|Forster, Henry William||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Adamson, William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Essex, Richard Walter||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Falconer, James||Lundon, Thomas|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Farrell, James Patrick||Lynch, A. A.|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Armitage, Robert||Ffrench, Peter||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Field, William||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Fitzgibbon, John||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Furness, Stephen||M'Callum, John M.|
|Barnes, George N.||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||McGhee, Richard|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Benn, W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Bentham, George J.||Gill, Alfred Henry||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Martin, Joseph|
|Boland, John Pius||Goldstone, Frank||Meagher, Michael|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)|
|Brace, William||Hackett, John||Millar, James Duncan|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Molloy, Michael|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Mond, Sir Alfred|
|Bryce, John Annan||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Mooney, John J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Muldoon, John|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Munro, Robert|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hayden, John Patrick||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Hayward, Evan||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Nolan, Joseph|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||Norton, Captain Cecil William|
|Clough, William||Hinds, John||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hodge, John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Cullinan, John||Hudson, Walter||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||O'Dowd, John|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Ogden, Fred|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||John, Edward Thomas||O'Grady, James|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Johnson, William||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Delany, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Malley, William|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Shee, James John|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Jones, W. S. Glyn (Stepney)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Dillon, John||Jowett, Frederick William||Parker, James Halifax|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Joyce, Michael||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Doris, William||Keating, Matthew||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Duffy, William J.||Kelly, Edward||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Kilbride, Denis||Pointer, Joseph|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Radford, George Heynes||Scanlan, Thomas||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Webb, H.|
|Reddy, Michael||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sheehy, David||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Redmond, William (Clare)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Richards, Thomas||Shortt, Edward||Wiles, Thomas|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Robinson, Sidney||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Summers, James Woolley||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Toulmin, Sir George||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Rose, Sir Charles Day||Verney, Sir H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wadsworth, John|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I should like to make a few observations in reference to the merits of this proposal. We have not yet touched upon the merits. At this late hour it would be quite useless and putting too great a strain on the endurance of the Committee to do so, and all I can hope is to find some opportunity to-morrow of discussing the merits of the proposal.
§ Original Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment proposed: In Subsection (1), after the word "Ireland" ["be construed as a reference to the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland"], to insert the words, "The reference to the Local Government Board as regards the making of regulations with respect to payments out of the local taxation account shall be construed as a reference to the Lord Lieutenant and other."—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am told that it is the Irish Local Government Board, but that technically it has to be in this form.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
That used to be the form, but I thought it was changed. I will not press the matter.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: Leave out Sub-section (3).—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Amendment proposed: In Sub-section (4) to leave out paragraph (c).—[Mr. Lloyd George.]
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.