§ SECOND READING.—[Sixth Day's Debate.]
§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [30th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Walter Long.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question." Debate resumed.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The Government are leaving a good deal to the Opposition. At election time they looked to the Opposition to announce the measures which I they omit from their election addresses, and when one of these measures, such as this Bill, obviously of great novelty and grave consequence, is introduced they look once more to the Opposition to supply the alternative solution for difficulties, the intangible character of which, one would have supposed, might have dawned upon them in the interval between electioneering and drafting. When we, acting well within our rights, respectfully declined that invitation, and acting within our rights, ply the Government for a little more information upon the novel, and, as we think, incongruous features of the new Constitution they ask us to accept, how 420 are we met? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) put five categorical questions the other night. How was he met? The Foreign Secretary, if I may use a colloquial, phrase, "asked him another." He asked, "Is there any parallel in history for the British Empire?" That suggestion that the variety and incongruity of the British Empire is an excuse for the features of this Bill is an absurd suggestion. Incongruities which have grown up with the ages, and tested by experience, are tolerable even though they be indefensible, but the incongruities of this Bill, the incongruous features in a new Constitution devised in secret and flung at the head of the House of Commons, are quite intolerable unless they are capable of explanation and defence on the part of their authors.
We heard on Monday from the Attorney-General and yesterday from the Postmaster-General some explanation and some defence of the more curious items in the new Constitution, but, in the main, what have we had from the Treasury Bench? Ministers have arisen one after another and have asked us in dulcet tones to let bygones be bygones, and to view this new model of a Constitution with the cool consideration of "the modern eye." I think the First Lord of the Admiralty must have meant the futurist eye, because, except in this Bill and in a recent exhibition of that school of painting, I have never seen such a confusion of contour and such an absence of perspective. We are ready to accord to the Government cool consideration, in the light of reason, which they ask, but we do not think they deserve it. This is not the beginning of the new Constitution. This is Chapter II of the new written Constitution which is to be substituted for the Constitution1 under which we lived hitherto, and if we 421 but examine it we cannot forget that Chapter I. of the new Constitution received last Session the imprimatur of force. We are graciously invited to plead against this measure if it does not find favour with us. We know that the verdict has been settled out of Court. The Government's contention is that the views of the electorate have been modified by recent events since the electorate last pronounced against Home Rule in 1893. Then, if that is their contention, why deny the electorate an opportunity of expressing the new view with which you credit them? That denial has introduced an air of unreality into this Debate, but with that air of unreality there is a strain, I might almost say, of grim reality. That denial by you of the opportunity to the electorate of this country to consider and decide upon the new Constitution, in our judgment, justifies the attitude of Ulster. I go further. I say that it enjoins sympathy and support towards the attitude of Ulster on the part of all people who care for the reasonable use of representative institutions and of all those who will not tolerate tyrannical short-cuts, and think that those who attempt them ought to receive political punishment in order to deter others from following their example.
But for all that our quarrel on that score is not with hon. Members who belong to the Nationalist party. True, they have, during the last three strange years, voted against the views of our constituents, although we thought they shared them. Still, they always wanted Home Rule and they found it more easy to compel the Government than to persuade the electorate. I, for one, feel it would be hypercritical to blame them for that. Our quarrel is with the Government who indulge their passion for Home Rule only when they are dependent upon the Irish vote, and who, when they are called upon to produce the Home Rule Bill, come down to the House with this strange story of inaugurating a system of Federal Government for the whole of the United Kingdom. I am quite ready to consider this new model of the federal system. It is not very easy to do so, because if I except—and I will come to him—the Postmaster-General, we have had very little defence of the features of this Bill from the point of view which the Government invite us to treat it as a first step towards a Federal Constitution. We have to rely, after eight or nine days of Debate, upon first impressions. First impressions sometimes have a lasting value. 422 This is indeed a strange Bill to support a federal union for the United Kingdom. There were three most startling features in it which struck most of us at the first blush, In the first place, there is the nominated Senate. We have to examine what we are being let in for. We have been denied any opportunity of discussing a remodelled Second Chamber, but now we are being asked to commit ourselves to a model for Second Chambers, although we have had no opportunity of discussing the bearing it may, and indeed must, have on the constitutional problem. Where did the modern eye get the nominated Senate from? From Canada, the oldest example of the type of government which His Majesty's present advisers say they wish to imitate for the Mother-country. What was the next most startling feature from the point of view that this is the first step towards a federal union? On that point of view every Englishman, Scotchman, and Welshman has as good a right to speak as any Nationalist or Ulsterman. What was the second most startling feature? That within the federal union we were to have a Customs barrier and a separate Post Office. The Postmaster-General dealt with that point yesterday, and I confess that until I heard his speech, in common with my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), I thought they must have taken that tip from places whose inhabitants are not considered accountable for their actions.
So far as the Post Office is concerned, the Postmaster-General found a precedent in the modern eye, and he quoted the Sovereign State of Würtemberg and Bavaria, which is reigned over by one of the oldest reigning families in Europe. But the right hon. Gentleman gave a still more modern and up-to-date reason. He quoted from the Report of the Primrose Committee, and said during recent years the cost of the Post Office in Ireland had increased owing to greater postal facilities which had been given to Ireland. Look at that from the point of view of a new federal Constitution! What will Scotland say if the postal facilities and the telegraphic facilities of the fishing fleets are to be measured on the new theory of cutting the loss in order to set up a federal system? As for the Customs barrier, the Postmaster-General, in what I think was an ingenious portion of his speech, tried to prove that there was to be no Customs Duty. I think that point may well be reserved for our discussions 423 in Committee. He admitted, however, that there must be a Customs House, and if that is so, can the Irish Government alter the rates of duty? If they cannot alter the rates of duty, what on earth is this Bill for? If they do alter the rates, and it is the only financial liberty you give them, then there is to be a Customs barrier in this first instalment of the new model federal Constitution. But what we find it difficult to reconcile with any conception of a federal union is the forcible exclusion of Ulster from the federal unit to which she clings and the forcible inclusion of Ulster in the federal union which she repudiates. Where did you get that from? When the South African Constitution was being debated, if Natal had refused to come in, would you have forced her to enter into the Union of South Africa? If you would not have forced Natal to enter the Union of South Africa, why should you force Ulster out of the Union of the United Kingdom? The Postmaster-General gave us no guidance on that point. He said of us:—They have, however, little knowledge of the temper of the Liberal party in this country if they think that party would long support a Government which declared its readiness to rule Ireland except upon Liberal principles.Is it a Liberal principle to support a federal union by putting one homogeneous part of the population in a State it does not want to enter and forcing it out of the State in which it wishes to remain? We must look at this aspect of the Government proposal from the point of view of the whole United Kingdom. I do believe that in the United Kingdom there is at this moment a huge majority against any one of those three proposals, if we really have seriously to suppose they are going to be included in the new federal conception of the United Kingdom. The Government have shown very little regard for what are supposed to be the wishes of the majority, and they have taken very great care that if the majority exists it shall not express its view at the poll. They are trifling with the gravity of this occasion, and they are trifling with the House and with a most responsible duty when they devise a new Constitution, in which they propose a nominated Senate and a Customs barrier, and the forcible exclusion of Ulster, proposals which, in my opinion, are against the wishes of a great majority of their fellow compatriots. They cannot proceed with the federal argument and retain those features. They have to choose 424 in this matter. If they persist in asking us to view this as a federal measure they must withdraw those three features, and if they insist upon retaining them let us hear no more about the federal argument. I think it has gone. I think the Government have killed the idea of a federal union by making it ridiculous.
But is that so? I am bound to examine their measure from the point of view they advocate. If that is so, what are we discussing? I think anybody who has listened to the Debate must come to the conclusion that this is either a Home Rule Bill or a bad joke. All the arguments, whether by Unionists or Nationalists, have subsided into the old channel of the Irish question. This Bill, like its two pedecessors, which the country rejected when it was consulted, sets out to do this: On the one hand, to satisfy the demand of Ireland's national aspirations, and, on the other hand, to satisfy that demand without dislocating the United Kingdom, and without weakening the power, military and diplomatic, of the United Kingdom amongst the great Empires of the world, and without prejudice to the rights of minorities in Ireland. The question before this House is not whether we can now sketch out a new federal union for the United Kingdom, but whether this Bill achieves the first object, and avoids the dilemmas with which that object is beset. I think we have already shown a readiness to consider this Bill in an unprejudiced way, and to consider it in the light of recent events. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, I think so, but hon. Members opposite differ from me. May I say that we do not, at all events, shrink from that test.
I believe that all who have taken part—and I had to do so years ago—in the Debate of what is the Irish question have set out to achieve three objects. In the first place, they have set out to maintain the military power of this country; secondly, they set out to increase the material prosperity of Ireland; and thirdly, they have set out to give political satisfaction, not only to Ireland, but to what is important, satisfaction to England also. Let us look at these objects in the light of recent events. Will anyone deny that nothing has happened since 1893 which makes this object more important? May we not urge that everything which has happened in our opinion, at any rate, creates the presumption that our policy of one Parliament and one Exchequer for the United Kingdom is perhaps the best, and perhaps 425 the only way of achieving those three objects with which all agree. Let me test that. I need not dwell on the first point because it has been effectively dealt with by previous speakers. No one would accept this Bill if it injured the military or diplomatic power of the United Kingdom. Have not recent events increased the importance of that? Since 1893 two things have happened. There has been an enormous extension of our Imperial responsibility, which in Africa and elsewhere has brought us in diplomatic tension with many of the great European Powers of the world, and has brought us close up to a new great armed Oriental Power. The other thing which has happened is that the armaments of all those who are our rivals, and may be our antagonists, have been piled up beyond the bounds of any previous expectations. Do not recent events also show that our plan may be, and, as we believe is, the best plan for preserving our country against the menace of those new events.
I know it is not considered advisable to illustrate an argument by a comparison with other countries, but I think I could make my argument stronger if I had no regard to that consideration. I think, however, I may say without any possibility of offence that if Italy had in recent years relaxed the political and fiscal ties which bind her to Sicily, that her position in the eyes of Europe would not now be as good as it is. If that be so, if we relax the fiscal ties between Ireland and Great Britain shall we in the eyes of Europe—and remember prestige counts for much in these matters—occupy as good a position as we do now in the face of all that has happened since 1893. The First Lord of the Admiralty referred us to other great federations, and he pointed to the United States of America and the great German Empire. But he did not prove that throughout the United States and the German Empire, with the exceptions with which I will deal, there is one great national spirit. If anyone doubts it let him read a book called "The Frontiers of the Heart," which shows that the uniform national spirit throughout the separate sovereign States of Germany was the great factor before the Franco-German War. That is not the case here, and we regret it.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman interrupts me, but I cannot believe the Nationalist Members for Ireland 426 would be the first to say that the national spirit will continue and thrive whatever happens, and I do not deny that. What I deny is that it would find expression in a political measure of this kind. When the First Lord of the Admiralty refers us to the German Empire there is one exception there from the general prevalence of a homogeneous national spirit throughout the whole Fatherland. There is the part of Poland. How does Germany treat Poland? Germany insists upon binding Poland as tightly as she can to the fabric of the Empire by political and fiscal ties. And why? Out of military prudence. I will not develop that part of my argument further, but I do urge that recent experience shows that it is wiser on that score to make the best of the Union rather than to reverse the process which has been followed by all the other great military Powers in the world. From the military point of view it is less admissible now than it was in 1893 to relax the bonds that unite these two islands. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that all the great military Powers of the world are now living in what may be called a suppressed state of siege. But all those who inherit it must be prepared under those circumstances to accept as cheerfully as they can the amount of discipline which that state of affairs demands.
I am going to pass on, and, if I may, review in the light of recent events the second object, the material prosperity of Ireland, which turns upon the financial relations between Ireland and England. Surely no one will deny that matters more now than it did in 1893. I address this, argument, if I may say so, only to hon. Members who sit for British seats, because hon. Members belonging to the Nationalist party of Ireland do not listen to this argument. I make no complaint of that. In many classic phrases they say they prefer self-government to good government and rags and poverty to the surrender of national spirit. We do not complain of that. You often complain that Ulster will not listen to your argument. We have too much cause to complain that Ireland will not listen to our argument founded on prosperity under the Union; but we may, addressing ourselves in this respect solely to British Members, say that the prosperity, which has increased since 1893, does vindicate the Union against the charge that it necessarily inflicts poverty upon Ireland, and does vindicate the Union against the further charge that under it we can take no account of the fact that Ireland is, in 427 the main, an agricultural country linked up with Great Britain, in the main an industrial country. Much has been done to vindicate these charges preferred in 1886 and 1893. I am the last person in the world to wish to make another speech to the House on land purchase, but, having mentioned the well-known fact that Ireland is, in the main, an agricultural country, I must, to make good my argument, point out that in 1893 very little progress had been made with land purchase. The Land Purchase Act of my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) was scarcely on its legs. It was only passed at the end of the Session of 1891. Very well, you proposed Home Rule before land purchase had any start in Ireland. The results of that Act were very great. Taken with its predecessors it meant the creation of over 70,000 peasant proprietors in Ireland. But after a few years that Act was on its last legs and new legislation was required.
In the year 1903 new legislation was introduced and was passed. By far the most important fact attaching to that new legislation is the basis on which it was founded, far more important than the results to which it led. That Act of 1903 was founded on a basis of general consent. The year before at the Land Conference those who spoke for both parties put forward terms and said, "If the Parliament of Westminster will make those terms possible, we will be bound by them." Because of that, in this House, with practical unanimity, all parties gave the sanction of Westminster to that great treaty between rival agrarian interests in Ireland, and between Ireland and England. That was much the most important factor in the Land Legislation of 1903, although its results were not inconsiderable. Altogether, I suppose nearly 250,000 men have become, or are in the way of becoming, the owners of the farms which they occupy. Those results are important, but the basis was more important. I do not want to pick a quarrel with the Chief Secretary, but I must just state in passing that he knows I hold the opinion that the Act of 1909 arrested land purchase in Ireland, and he must allow me to say it arrested it in part because of the new financial provisions, but much more, because it broke up the basis on which the Act of 1903 was founded. The whole purport of the Act of 1903, a purport to which all parties interested gave 428 their allegiance, was that all the dilatory and litigious methods of rent fixing were to be ended as soon as possible, and its place was to be taken in Ireland by smooth and rapid land purchase undertaken by unanimous consent. That was the basis of the whole thing. You arrested that in 1909. You will destroy it if this Bill becomes law. I will not go into the details of the provisions of this Bill affecting land purchase; we shall have to examine them almost with a miscroscope when we come to Committee. In Clause 2, Sub-section (2), paragraph (a), this is reserved:—The general subject matter of the Acts relating to land purchase in Ireland.I have often wondered what that means. I have never read such an expression in any Act of Parliament. What is quite clear is that the Rent Fixing Acts are not reserved, so it is certain that the Parliament in Dublin is going to legislate for rent fixing, and may alter the period for the review of rents, say from fifteen to ten or to five years, and the Parliament at Westminster is to go on legislating to put land purchase back where it was before the Act of 1909. It is ludicrous. I do not know, indeed none of us know yet—perhaps the Chief Secretary will enlighten us—what may be the case in respect of the executive powers of the Parliament to be instituted at Dublin. The legislative powers are to be split with land purchase at Westminster and rent fixing at Dublin, but how are the executive powers to be divided? I am still left in doubt as to whether the Congested Districts Board which now operates over nearly a third of Ireland is to be under the control of Westminster or under the control of Dublin. [An HON. MEMBER: "Both."] Well, probably both. What is the prospect if this Bill passes? It will be far harder to raise money in the London markets for land purchase in Ireland; it will become impossible if rent fixing is run against land purchase in Ireland; and it will become insane if the Congested Districts Board, operating over a third of Ireland, are to run compulsory provisions and cash prices against voluntary purchase and depreciated stock. I wish to restrain my language, and I address this argument to British Members only. I say if they vote for this Bill they will smash the one practical thing which has been done to make the Government of Ireland tolerable under any theory of Union, of Home Rule, or of federation.
429 May I, before leaving this question of the material prosperity of Ireland and of its dependence upon the financial relations between the two countries, address an argument to the whole House, including the Nationalist Members from Ireland. Perhaps I may, because I, in common with all Chief Secretaries, I say all Chief Secretaries, have done what I could in my day to secure fair finance for Ireland. Now look at it. There is this transferred sum. That transferred sum, the only stable income of the new Parliament at Dublin, is, I understand, under Clause 18 to be hypothecated in the first place for all the loss which may accrue from land purchase. In the past we have had many eager Debates about the unfairness of this or that loss for any reason falling upon the rates. Is it not a serious matter for a Government setting up for the first time to bear all the loss from land purchase upon the only income on which they are to rely for carrying on their Government? In the second place, that transferred sum is hypothecated for any purpose now charged to the Irish Church Fund. That for many years has been a matter of book-keeping. It depends upon who keeps the books, and these books are now to be kept, not at Dublin, but at Whitehall, and I wonder whether this slender income of the Dublin Government will stand that second load of hypothecation, seeing it is the only sum on which they can rely for carrying on the government of Ireland. It is a matter of common knowledge that we have not only to think of agriculture in Ireland. Mr. Parnell, between the Bill of 1886 and that of 1893, said, speaking at Nottingham at the end of 1899:—The movement aims more especially at the industrial regeneration of the country.This Bill destroys British credit for land purposes, and it leaves the Irish credit nonexistent for any other purposes which have been contemplated in Ireland. All the brain work in this Bill, and it reveals a good deal of fundamental cerebration, seems to have been concentrated upon having a Customs barrier in order to please the Nationalist aspirations of Ireland, and at the same time, to having no Customs Duty in order to foster the interests of Ireland, which have been held up in Ireland ever since I can remember as the main inducement for having a Home Rule Bill. The finance of this Bill destroys the federal theory which is held out to England, and it destroys the 430 Home Rule theory which is held out to Ireland. All the ingenuity of its authors has been concentrated with the enlightened vision of the modern eye upon safeguarding the principles of Mr. Cobden. For that they have cared, and for nothing else. Now recent events, whether we look at Irish agriculture or at the prospect of Irish industrial regeneration, or at the prospect of Ireland sharing in further measures of social reform, show that this question of the material prosperity of Ireland is more important now than it was in 1893; and I think they show, or, at any rate, they convince us, that the policy of one Exchequer and one credit or the policy of fiscal autonomy are the only two possible policies if you are to avoid friction between the two countries. You have got to choose between them. We choose one of the two possible policies; you reject them both. Upon that aspect, I say this in conclusion. You refuse to submit this very novel finance to the electorate of the country, and you have done nothing in this Bill to abate the financial friction between Great Britain and Ireland.
We must examine this Bill from the point of view of whether it will give political satisfaction to all who are concerned. Recent events show that is more important. Since 1893 we have seen Norway separated from Sweden, and we have seen in the example which the Government are never tired of quoting, the example of South Africa, that Union is a better model than Federation in order to give political satisfaction, where it is very hard to get it. If hon. Members belonging to the Nationalist party say, "From the point of view of political rights and political satisfaction, we are content with this Bill, what have you to say?" I admit that is an argument we have to meet as far as they are concerned. I will not meet it. I deliberately refrain from trying to meet it by referring to a case when a plan with which the accredited leaders of the Nationalist party stated themselves to be satisfied but which was afterwards found not to satisfy their followers. I refrain from urging that argument. But I do urge this. The Government, in these Debates, are never tired of asking us to look at South Africa. What do they mean? Do the new leaders of the National party not suppose that they meant what they said? They have constantly asked us to look at South Africa. Then the status of a sister State was the 431 ultimate destination they held out to Ireland. I think the leaders of the future Nationalist party will convict the Government of having deceived them. They will claim that the Government meant what they said, and nobody will blame them if they use the minor rights given them to acquire the political and complete status of an independent sister State. But in this connection we cannot be guided only by recent events. We must look to the experience of past history. The Postmaster-General recited various quotations from the past in support of his theory.
Are we altogether to ignore the fact that this Bill, in its political aspect, is not a new plan? It is, in all essentials, a reversal to a plan which was tried in Ireland a century ago, and which has been repudiated by Irishmen ever since. From the Sixth of George I., certainly from George II., till 1782, you had a political plan applied to the two countries which, in all its essential features, is the plan you now ask us to revert to. You have a plan under which the Parliament at Westminster claims that it has, or ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes with sufficient powers, limited by the people of Ireland, and you are putting them back in this Bill. With that no Irishman was content during the fifty or sixty years which preceded Grattan's Parliament. And when, towards the end of the eigthteenth century a new policy had to be invented, it was found that the legislative liberties accorded under Grattan's Parliament were incompatible with Imperial authority. I do not believe one Irishman can be found who did not denounce the idea of returning to legislative subordination in terms of repudiation and scorn. Grattan and Sheridan said that whatever else was tried that must not be tried, and Pitt said reversion to any such plan would be—unworthy of the liberality of England and injurious to the interests of Ireland.He said that then—I believe it now. I say, and I am entitled to say, not because I wish to throw any discredit on the sincerity of the present leaders of the Irish party, but I am entitled to say that the leaders of the Nationalist party in the past repudiated the plan which the leaders of the Nationalist party to-day are prepared to accept. The Irish Nationalist party cannot, in respect of political rights, claim to speak for Ulster. Would the Government, when they framed the South 432 African Constitution, of which they are so proud, have compelled Natal to join the Union? Or, if they proceed with their federal plan, would they force Wales to join in with the Birmingham area? No-body can speak for Ulster except those who sit for Ulster constituencies, and they decline the position of political subordination which you allot them.
May not something be said for England from the federal point of view. I pass no criticism on the retention of forty-two Irish Members here at Westminster. We have been driven to the Home Rule point of view pure and simple, and from that point of view the inclusion of forty-two Irish Members at Westminster for Home Rule was described to me only yesterday by a very ardent Home Ruler as idiotic. So I think it is. If the Irish Nationalist Members, speaking as they are quite entitled to, for Irish Nationalists, prefer, instead of an equal union with this country a morganatic alliance, with the chance of saving something out of the pin - money, that is their affair. But why, if that be so, should Members who sit for British seats be asked to be politically satisfied with a limited but statutory right on the part of Ireland to-nag and interfere in our separate domicile? To all these arguments, I put them as briefly as I can, we only have two answers. The first is a retort rather than an answer. We are charged with inconsistency. But there is nothing inconsistent in saying that this Bill does not give enough to satisfy the national aspirations of Ireland, although it gives too much to ensure the cohesion of the United Kingdom. Whether we look at defence, finance, or political equality, there is nothing in this Bill which is not absurd from a federal point of view and dangerous from a Home Rule point of view.
The only other answer is we think that these dangers are illusory and far-fetched, and that there is supremacy retained by the Parliament at Westminster. I think the safeguards have been rather roughly handled during the Debate on this point. I will only submit one general consideration. In these days of democracy the power of any assembly or any organ of government depends on its popularity in every sense of that word. Will the Parliament at Westminster be popular in the colloquial sense over all Ireland if it stands only for the policeman and the tax-gatherer? Will it be popular in the North-East of Ireland if it stands for a guardian who has excluded his wards from 433 a trust under which they are beneficiaries? If I turn to the constitutional sense of the word, will the Parliament at Westminster be popular anywhere in Ireland if the Irish Nationalists and Unionists have less in that Parliament than the representation to which they are entitled? I cannot conceive why the Government brought in this Bill with the idea of inaugurating a federal system, nor why the Irish Nationalist party accepted from the point of view of "Ireland a nation." That is their affair. They may say it is no business of mine. I agree. But our duty is to form such a judgment as we can of what the practical result of such a measure will be. We owe that to ourselves; we owe it to our country; its past and its future, and we believe that such a Bill as this will revive in Ireland animosities—racial, religious, and agrarian—which were dying down under the Union.
We believe such a Bill as this will check material prosperity which was returning to Ireland, and that its financial provisions must preclude Ireland from sharing in further efforts which must be made by both parties to level up the conditions of life for the less fortunate of our fellow-countrymen. We believe that this Bill, by its financial and political provisions, will tend to nothing but friction, and will embitter the relations between Great Britain and Ireland which have shown such a marked tendency to improve. It will also weaken the power of the United Kingdom amongst the great and growing military Powers of the world. We ask this House to pause before it abandons the tried policy of the Union for such a chaos of incompatible expedients. I admit, and every Chief Secretary will admit, that to govern Ireland under the Union is not unattended with difficulties and disappointments to Unionists as well as Nationalists. Under the Union sometimes the cold shadow of wasted energy falls on the life of men who work for the Union or against it. But to any man of sane or healthy mind there is nothing in the history of Great Britain or Ireland for the last twenty-five years which would excuse melancholy and still less despair. By following the course of the Union we have made no little way towards the haven we all desire of a happier Ireland and better feeling between the two countries. It is my profound conviction that we shall retard our progress if we now embark on a more hazardous voyage towards a more 434 doubtful destination. In the words of an old writer:—We shall never proceed if we be ever beginning, nor arrive at any certain port sailing with all winds that blow.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
The right hon. Gentleman has, within most becoming limits of time, made an exceedingly able and interesting speech, and has presented some points of view which have not hitherto been put forward in the Debate. It was, indeed, impossible for him to make otherwise than a profoundly interesting speech on the affairs of a country with which he was at one time most closely connected, and where his memory will long be cherished, and where he will have the good fortune to have his name associated perhaps for the next hundred years, with a great and most beneficent remedial measure. I know there are some people who speak of the right hon. Gentleman's connection with Ireland as if there were something a little unfortunate in it. I confess I have never been able to see that. I regard him as an exceedingly lucky man. He came along at a very happy moment of time, when land purchase on a large scale had been bitterly opposed by all former Members of his party. I am old enough to remember the chorus of condemnation which faced Mr. Gladstone's Land Purchase Bill—
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I do not want to go into that, except to say that that Land Purchase Bill pledged British credit to the extent of £150,000,000 in order to buy out Irish landlords, and I am a little bit chagrined, although perhaps I ought not to be, at the calm confidence and assurance with which hon. Gentlemen opposite take to themselves credit for the whole policy of land purchase on a great scale, as if it had been entirely their invention. They put entirely on one side Mr. Gladstone's proposal. I have here one quotation—it is the only quotation I shall give to the House during my speech, which I hope will be as short, though I am afraid not so interesting or so eloquent as the speech to which we have just listened. The speech to which I refer was the famous manifesto to the great Tory party given by its former leader, Lord Salisbury, one of the clearest thinking and plain speakers who ever lived. He had his alternative policy to Mr. Parnell's policy 435 for the government of Ireland. His policy was twenty years of resolute Government. He went on to say:—If I am asked for a further alternative policy, I will only say that if the Prime Minister is right in thinking that the electors of this country have screwed themselves up to that heroic pitch that they are prepared to spend £150,000,000 of money upon the pacification of Ireland, I think I can point out to them a better way of spending the money than in buying the landlords out. I do not say I recommend it, because I am not at all convinced that the electors of England ought to bear such a tremendous burden, but assuming that the Government is right in thinking that they are willing to bear it, I would point out to them that if they could only emigrate another million of the Irish people, they might do it for a great deal less than that sum. They could set them up in a distant colony, under conditions under which they would be certain to prosper. They could give them, in place of the present misery and agitation, a bright future of industry and prosperity, and they could be certain of recovering from them in due time the money that had been advanced—Even in the distant Colony they were not going to get it for nothing—with far more certainty than if they recovered it from the tenants when they had made them proprietors.A few days later he said to the Primrose League:—Buy out landlords for the purpose of evading the duty of protecting them! That, indeed, would be a cowardly shirking of our responsibility.Stick to the landlords and let the people go! That was the further alternative policy put forward by the late Lord Salisbury, instead of the far nobler and better policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover when he said, "Stick to the people and let the landlords go!" That is why I call the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover a lucky man. He was fortunate enough to be able by arts and crafts personal to himself—upon which I congratulate him—to hypnotise a Chancellor of the Exchequer "He wove a circle round him thrice." He cast upon him a holy spell such as reduced that unfortunate man to absolute silence all through the discussion of the Land Bill. The only remark he made—I do not say internally to himself, nor do I know, of course, what he said in private to the right hon. Gentleman—but the only observation he made all through all those Debates was an interlocutory observation, but it was a very valuable one, because he said:—If money could not be raised at 2¾ per cent. the Bill would not work.Never mind that. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman. I am not speaking with any innuendo or reservation when I congratulate him upon having been able to secure the passage through Parliament 436 of that Bill. He was a lucky man. I am the unlucky person because—oh, cursed spite!—the finance under it came to utter grief and to a complete end at the time I first assumed office, for a purpose I have already explained, and for a purpose which I am happy to say has been fulfilled. Then you say I arrested land purchase, but the truer thing would be to say, if you like, that I was not able wholly to revive it, that I was not able to find an equally corresponding good cash basis or stock basis, nor was I able to obtain the full renewal of that bonus which undoubtedly had a great deal to do with the success of the measure. But I do not want to go into that. I have far too much to say. The right hon. Gentleman was very kind. He did not pursue the subject against me very far. It is a long story and it is the only accusation against me in the matter of my government of Ireland, which I feel very acutely. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman will pardon me if on this occasion—I hope we may have others—I must bid him for the moment—I hope to come back to it if I have time—an affectionate farewell. I am bound to deal with some rather heavy arrears in this matter.
The right hon. Gentleman himself, in common with all other speakers on his side, has greatly complained—and I am sure their tones were so sincere that I do not doubt they really felt it—of the character and nature of the speeches made from this Front Bench by Ministers. You have said, and in ordinary circumstances I could not but feel the force of your criticism, that it was the duty of Ministers to stand at this table, with the printed measure before them, and to expound it exegetically, homiletically, Clause by Clause, to an attentive, and I am sure a patient, a willing, and an anxious-to-listen House of Commons. That, of course, is true enough in a way, but will you not admit that after a Bill has been introduced by the Prime Minister, and after it has been put into print, that the nature and character of the speeches that we have to deliver in defence of it are largely, and must be, fashioned, determined and shaped by the character of the Opposition and by the character of the speeches that are made. Looking at it fairly from first to last, what have been the general nature and character of the speeches that have been made by hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman made some suggestion about the novelty of this measure. He has known, 437 we have all known, through long years of wearisome political life, that whenever the Liberal party introduced a Home Rule Bill it would be found to carry on its very forefront a provision for an Irish Parliament, and what, in my judgment, is at all events, of equal importance, a provision for an Irish Executive, composed of Irish Ministers of the Crown, of Irish Privy Councillors, and of Irish heads of Irish Departments, who would exercise just as much executive authority as corresponds to the legislative authority imposed upon that Parliament, and who would be responsible as a Ministry to the Parliament of the day. That is my conception of Home Rule. Unless you create this Irish Executive, I say for myself that my interest in Home Rule disappears for ever. It is the pulse of the machine. If Home Rule has any curative effect, there is the medicine. It lies in that and in that alone.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite, with the instinct of true warriors, saw that, and have flung themselves helter-skelter, pell-mell, man and boy, with all the force they possess, and it is great—not argumentative force merely, but moral force, sometimes almost physical force—they have flung themselves upon that which they object to most, which they conceive to be the worst possible thing in this Bill. They have said, or others might be supposed to say, "Provincial assemblies if you like; Private Bill legislation if you choose; but never a Parliament, and never an Irish Executive," and on that point they have conducted their attack. They have wound up their speeches for the most part, almost all of them—I do not blame them, I do not wonder at it—by very eloquent, grave, and solemn references as to what is the feeling in Ulster, and what Ulster will do—Ancestral voices prophesying war.And having by these means—perfectly fair and honest means—raised the feelings of their own supporters to the highest pitch of excitement, they sit down amid salvoes of applause, and then expect the Minister to get up and in dulcet tones—I am afraid mine are not very dulcet; I am using the expression of the right hon. Gentleman—invite the House to consider quite quietly, centimes additionelles, the provisions made for the Civil servants and other persons under this Bill. I really do not think that that is quite a fair way of expecting us to deal with the House, when you have confined yourselves all through, and I do not blame you, on the Second Reading of the 438 Bill, to the great fact that in our view and conception Home Rule means a Home Rule Parliament, means a Parliament, and means an Irish Executive. Of course, I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that wary warriors like himself, ancient Parliamentary hands like himself, and like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour), the former Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), and other persons have, perhaps more skilfully than some of their supporters, introduced between the parentheses of their philippics, a certain amount of perfectly legitimate criticism. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long) asked what was most becoming in one who formerly occupied the same office I hold. He was legitimately anxious about the provisions for the retirement of the Royal Irish Constabulary. He spoke as all Chief Secretaries must do, from the bottom of his heart, and I am sure I join with him, in admiration of that force. I do not think anybody can accuse me of having done anything but stand by them to the utmost of my ability, and so I shall always continue to do so long as I hold my office. The right hon. Gentleman says that the provisions of the Bill are not quite satisfactory with regard to their retirement.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Yes, I know. I have noted others. There are no provisions in this Bill to which I have devoted more personal attention than the Clauses relating to the Civil Service, the Royal Irish Constabulary, and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, because, if this Bill becomes law, there will be nothing more disagreeable to me than that there should be any incidents such as those already referred to in the course of the Debate connected with the painful subject of retrenchment. If I have not fully succeeded—I have had conferences with the persons concerned, or, at any rate, with their leaders—I think, on the whole, my Clauses are very good. But I have no doubt they are capable of amendment. The right hon. Gentleman's next question was, what Minister in this House was going to reply for the reserved services, and for the general outside relations of Ireland with this country? He was fortunate enough to discover some flippancy in my reply. It is very creditable to him to find it. I said that some 439 Minister would undoubtedly have to be appointed to reply. He thought that was flippant because it might be a very humble sort of Minister—if there is such an individual. That was not my intention at all. I quite agree that the Minister who responds for Ireland for the reserved services, and for anything else connected with the new Constitution, must be an important Minister. I do not say a self-important Minister, but an important Minister, and his salary, I am sure, will be commensurate with his duties. He ought to be, and I am quite sure he will be, so far as I can see, a Cabinet Minister. But I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will expect to find in the Bill the provisions arranging for these matters.
Then he referred to the dual control of the police. He thought that was a subject matter of grave difficulty. He said, "Here are the police, this fine force, well drilled and disciplined. How can they take their orders sometimes from the Irish Executive and sometimes from the Lord Lieutenant as representing the Imperial Government?" Other people took it up or I would not refer to it, but a great deal of criticism has been directed to the great difficulties there will be in handling and dealing with the police. He has forgotten, and the other gentleman did not know, that already the Irish Constabulary serve a great many masters. Under the Local Government Act of 1898, all the county authorities are able by a Resolution which most, I think all, have passed, to call upon the police to discharge most important duties. For example, they can enforce the by-laws which the Dublin County Council has passed, and for the enforcement of which the police are responsible. That is to say, the police may prosecute themselves in all such cases, or the county council may appoint persons to prosecute. Placing lights on vehicles, violent or indecent behaviour, throwing missiles, interference with public notices, carrying dangerous substances, interference with public lamps, unnecessary obstruction of vehicles, all these things already this great and useful, though highly disciplined, force discharges. They are lowly duties if you like, but we cannot always be living in the throes of bloody revolution. These are useful duties, and the ordinary duties of the police, as we ordinarily in England understand the term, and they are discharged by the Irish Constabulary at the bidding and by the authority of these local 440 bodies. Then, of course, there is the Sheriff. If he has need of a force greater than his own, he can command men to-carry out the orders of the law. He deals at once with the police; he calls upon them, and they come and obey his call. The suggestion has been made in debate that we were making the position impossible, intolerable, and novel, and something which had never been heard of before, because we are creating an Executive who would have, after a certain lapse of time, the right to call upon the Royal Irish Constabulary.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
If you want to know exactly what I said, it was this. It was not that different people have a call upon the police, for they have the same thing in London as in Ireland. My argument was, and the right hon. Gentleman, has not disposed of it, that so far as I understand the Bill the Irish Executive have a right to order the police to do certain things, not to call upon them, and the Imperial Government also have the right to order them. Who would be the adviser to whom the police are to look for the advice given to the Lord Lieutenant as to the discharge of these duties?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
It is an addition to their masters, an addition to their authorities. The Executive would be perfectly entitled to call upon the police to come to their assistance or to obey their orders and send them wheresoever they choose to send them. The Lord Lieutenant, as representing His Majesty and the Imperial side of Ireland, would also have the right to call upon them and would be entitled to order them. The case put by the right hon. Gentleman is that the Irish Executive would use the police to go to a particular place in order to put down some disturbance or trouble, and the Lord Lieutenant would think the disturbance or trouble ought not to be put down.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Well, then, put it the other way round. I say the police exists for the purpose of putting down disturbance and enforcing the authority of the law. The Lord Lieutenant commands them so to do and they will do so, and he will receive in the future, as in the past, their obedience, and unless you mean to say there is a likelihood of the Irish Executive wishing the police not to be employed when the Imperial representative thinks it is necessary, I really cannot 441 imagine what difficulty you can suppose there is. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) mentioned the administration of the Post Office. I will not repeat what was said by the Postmaster-General in regard to that matter. If it is supposed by this House that handing over the Post Office to the Irish Government is a shocking violation of the true principles of federalism, I daresay that point, like many others, is quite open to consideration. Then the right hon. Gentleman found a great novelty in Clause 26. He had forgotten, and small blame, to him, a Clause in the Bill of 1886 which was very similar in its character—Clause 39—which provided for the appearance—the mysterious appearance if you like—the sudden appearance upon the floor of the House of representatives from Ireland in certain proportion. The only thing is that they were there for much more general purposes than are contemplated in Clause 26, where it is entirely limited to the one object of revising finance. I do not want to labour points of this kind when what you really object to in the measure, on the threshold of it, is the fact that it sets up this Parliament. It is not because the Senate is nominated that the right hon. Gentleman was inspired to deliver the admirable speech he has just made. If that had been the only issue, whether that was democratic or not, I do not think he would have worried himself very much about that nor about the 164 representatives in the Irish Parliament. It is because we propose to set up an Irish Parliament and an Irish Executive that there is all this trouble. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Finlay) almost groaned with alarm over this Executive, and he said aloud to those near him, "Had Grattan's Parliament an Executive?" It was just because Grattan's Parliament had not an Executive that we have all this trouble upon us. The fifth chapter of Lecky's "History of Ireland during the Eighteenth Century" describes the whole Constitution of 1782, and Mr. Lecky says, in so many words, that in Grattan's Parliament there was no Ministry responsible to Parliament, and he goes on to say that was the main blot in the Constitution of 1782.
We have been accused of lack of fervour by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), and he says we do not throw accents of conviction in our speeches. I cannot conceive of any human being being more absolutely convinced than I am that the real source of the weak- 442 ness, the whole of your troubles in Ireland before and after the Union, was that you never have had in that country a strong Executive. You never had it, and I will tell you why. You never had a strong Executive, because such Executive as there has been has been divorced, as it always has been, from the people, and has never been popular, and being hampered at the same time by a sham system of representation, to which no attention is paid when it makes Irish demands, it has been condemned from the beginning to feebleness. I am rather susceptible to the charge of not caring about a thing of this sort, because I do care most intensely. I have been now for five years—I dare say I have discharged my duties very badly, but nevertheless I have had the responsibility of what is called the government of Ireland. I have had it upon my hands, and, if you like, upon my conscience, for five years, and I therefore say I am entitled at all events to make the observation that in my judgment the pulse of the whole machine, the only chance of curing these Irish grievances and that un-happiness to which the right hon. Gentleman made a very honest reference, is by the setting up, if it can be done, of a strong Executive in Ireland.
Now let me come to another point. I heard the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) with amazement compares disparagingly the powers for usefulness which Irish Members enjoy now in this House with the powers of usefulness which they would enjoy in their new Parliament when they get it. No one can pay compliments one-half so well as the right hon. Gentleman. He conveys them so pleasantly that you are convinced of their sincerity, and are immensely gratified by being their recipient. He turned to the Irish Members and gave them to understand that now and here they had such full scope for their brilliant wit, their moving eloquence, their great Parliamentary gifts, that he was amazed that they should be willing to exchange this noble arena, this splendid theatre for their wit and their eloquence, for a miserable Parliament in Dublin to which nobody but men of the slenderest intellectual calibre, quite unlike existing Irish Members, would ever dream of going. That was a most extraordinary statement. Were I to go out of my way to pay compliments to the Irish Members, I should not select for special commendation either their wit or their eloquence, I 443 should prefer to dwell, if I felt myself at liberty to do so, upon their unbroken good faith, upon their strict adherence on all occasions, great and small, to their word, to their splendid self-abnegation of place and of profit, and their whole-hearted devotion—sometimes, I think, carried too far—to what they conceive to be the interests of their poorer fellow countrymen. I believe in Ireland there are tens of thousands of persons every whit as good as they are, and just as capable of rising to the heavy responsibility which Clauses 1 and 4 of this Bill impose upon them. I therefore express my belief upon that point as fervently as I can.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to give us an instance of what these noble beings can do in this House. He mentioned education. He must have forgotten, and I do not wonder—he has been a Prime Minister since—how education is managed in Ireland. To hear him speak you would have thought that the Chief Secretary for Ireland was the Minister of Education. He is nothing of the kind. So far as primary and secondary education are concerned, he is a mere grama-phone. He is asked questions about a Board of which he is not a member and to which he cannot even go. The National Board of Education absolutely controls the primary education of that country, and every question that is put to me I answer—the House must be sick to death of hearing it—"I am informed by the Commissioners of National Education." As for intermediate education, that is even worse. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will you abolish the Board?"] Certainly, I hope so. It lives like a gentleman on its private fortunes, and the only way we can get a discussion on it is by putting down by consent a token Vote. This Board of National Education is composed of certain members, and is equally divided as between Catholics and Protestants. The members occasionally retire or die, and the Irish Government appoints their successors. There is as regards the appointments an obligation of honour which if departed from would create great trouble. It is about the only thing a Chief Secretary can create in Ireland, and unless he is anxious to create trouble, he must look about when a Catholic retires to get a Catholic successor, and when a Protestant retires he must go to the ignominy of ascertaining what kind of Dissenter he is. If a Presbyterian, he must have a 444 Presbyterian successor; and if a Wesleyan, he must have a Wesleyan successor. There are both Presbyterians and Wesleyans on the Board. By common agreement Catholics and Protestants have to be equally divided on the Board, and the only authority the Irish Government has over the Board is as regards the appointment of members.
You say these matters can be discussed in Committee of Supply. You have so far as primary education is concerned a Vote, I agree. It does come into a Vote by this House. There is nothing more distasteful to me than to speak disrespectfully in any way of this great House of Commons, to which I hope we are all proud to belong, but to talk about discussions in Supply as a means of successfully governing the country or getting at the bottom of the matters discussed is ludicrous. You are expected to do it. I remember well being in the House when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) cut down supply to twenty days. Although twenty days are not enough, for the discussion of Votes, at the same time it is quite enough considering how it is done. Ireland gets two and a half days, and the subjects are chosen by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and by Conservative Members from another part of Ireland. They decide between them through what are called the "accustomed channels" what they will talk about. One day they will talk about old age pensions, and another day they will talk about education. But it is a perfunctory discussion. How it is really done both of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite must remember. Take the National Board of Education. Every year it presents through the Treasury demands for more money, and it is perfectly justified in making the demands. It puts them under eighteen or nineteen ancient heads—very ancient, some of them almost hoary. The only person to whom they are a novelty is the Chief Secretary who, as a rule, does not last more than two years and therefore comes fresh to them almost every time. He selects as best he can those that appeal most to his own idiosyncrasy or appeal to the idiosyncrasy of the guardian of the public purse, his right hon. Friend and colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He decides where he will be most likely to win. It does not necessarily follow that he selects what Ireland most wants or what the Education Board think will best meet the national demands. He 445 selects what he thinks has the best chance of getting through. That is the way it is done. It is not done by discussion or by pressure brought to bear on the Government. It is done by the work and the sense of activity and conscience of the Chief Secretary operating upon a more or less willing or reluctant Treasury, sometimes the one and sometimes the other, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has colleagues paying visits to the Treasury and stating cases of equal urgency, and it all depends on that.
I have not been so very unsuccessful in obtaining from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the moneys required. I obtained the £114,000 Grant for teachers—the Grant which bears my name. In addition I had also been very much moved by seeing the condition of a very large number of schools in the country. I put great pressure on the Treasury, and after a long time I obtained the Grant for what is called the heating and lighting of schools. But that is not the way in which the education of the country, where education is of so much importance, and where the people are so deeply attached to it as they are in Ireland, should be managed. That is not a satisfactory mode of conducting the affairs of a nation. Nobody ought to be satisfied with it, and nobody is satisfied with it. Hon. Members from Ulster are at the bottom of their hearts as dissatisfied with the present mode as hon. Members from other parts of Ireland. It is a little better perhaps when the Conservatives are in office, though I do not know that they got quite so much out of them for education as they have got out of me. I agree that I have been a little longer in office than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Long). But they are all agreed upon the badness of the system, and if it were not for the fact of what is called the religious difficulty, or the political difficulty, everybody on the benches opposite knows very well that if Ireland were homogeneous, and if their were not two camps, two religions, and two nationalities, as they are sometimes called, Home Rule, on lines very like this, would have been passed probably long ago, and certainly it would be passed now without very much discussion.
I must say a word about the safeguards. Nothing is easier than to ridicule safeguards. The only way in which you can honestly say whether a safeguard is worth having or not is to assume that you want the Bill to go through, or feel that it must 446 go through, and that, therefore, you must accept the measure either reluctantly or with enthusiasm. You have to consider what safeguards may fairly and properly be put in. If you think the Bill is a mischievous and ridiculous affair, if you think that I am here advocating Bedlam, I agree it is not much use talking. It is quite easy for any hon. Member opposite who has any elocutionary power to get up and read one of the safeguards with a particular intonation, and secure an expression of the righteous indignation of the people who are sitting behind him. Suppose for a moment that in considering this Bill on what I call its merits, you were convinced that the Bill were going to become law in the ordinary way this Session, why, then, what safeguards would you consider necessary supposing you were an Imperial Minister representing all parts of England, Ireland, and Scotland? We are asked, "Why put in the supremacy of Parliament? Does not every lawyer know that whether you put it in or not it does not make the Bill any better?" But does not the right hon. Gentleman who suggests that question know it is a good thing, when effecting a treaty between two different bodies of people, or when you are setting up a Constitution, that you should place it on record in black and white, out of what lawyers call "abundant caution." Why! Legal documents would be a tenth of the length they are now if only the things were put in that are absolutely needed.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
You put in every kind of provision, not because you think it is likely to happen, but because you think it desirable to put it in. A man in making a will may put in clauses and provisions to provide for children who may go to the bad, but it does not follow that he expects them to do so. Hon. Members opposite refer to the safeguards as if they were absurd. Take what was said by the hon. and learned Member for the Universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrews (Sir-R. Finlay). He said that all the safeguards are bad except those which were in the last Home Rule Bill, and which we have left out of this Bill. I must say that cut me to the very quick. It was my fate to go through the whole of the Debates which took place on the two previous Home Rule Bills and to make a précis of the safeguards they contained. I have preserved in this 447 Bill the safeguards against which least was said by Members of the Opposition, and I excluded the safeguards which on these occasions were most riddled by the Opposition. Nobody took a more active part than the hon. and learned Member for these Universities in the discussion of the former Bills. The hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster) said that the safeguards we had left out were the only safeguards worth having, and that those we have put in are not worth the paper they are written on. All I can say is that if hon. Members opposite move the insertion of the safeguards we have left out I shall make no objection. The only objection I shall make to them will be to read to hon. Members their own speeches. There is another argument I want to refer to, because it is a serious matter in relation to the safeguards. It has been said that they will be got rid of by circumvention in the same way as it was alleged Cardinal Logue, and the Roman Catholic Church, had circumvented the undenominational Clauses which were inserted in the Irish University Act. The hon. and learned Member for Trinity College (Mr. J. H. Campbell) said:—That the genius of the Church of Rome had circumvented …
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
Quite wrong. I said the genius of the Irish people. You got that from the hon. Member for North Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell).
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am quoting the hon. and learned Member's own words. At all events, the allegation was based upon some observations of Cardinal Logue that the genius of the Irish race, in which the hon. and learned Member participates, had circumvented certain things. Now, that can only mean that by some method of chicane or fraud the Catholics have deliberately set themselves to get round by some legal hocus-pocus and destroy the undenominational Clauses which are in the Act. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Stephen Gwynn) got up and asked if the right hon. Gentleman could give a single interfere with the undenominational tempt, either successful or unsuccessful, to interfere with the undenominational Clauses. Assuming the OFFICIAL REPORT to be correct, the hon. and learned Gentleman used these words:—Three months ago the Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh was able to declare that the genius of the Roman Catholic race448 —that leaves the right honourable and learned Member no genius at all—had circumvented the machinations of the English Nonocnformists, and to-day he was glad to see and to know that this university was practically exclusively Catholic.Cardinal Logue said no more than I myself said in effect during the passage of the Bill both through this House and in Committee upstairs, and no Nonconformist was under any delusion on the subject. I said we were establishing a university which by its charter, and by its forms and laws, would be as undenominational as, and even more undenominational than, Trinity College, Dublin, is at present, and that it was being established for the express purpose of providing the Roman Catholics of Ireland with that higher education from which, in their opinion, they had hitherto been excluded, and I went on to say that probably none but Roman Catholics, or a very large number of Roman Catholics, will go there, and that the consequence is that the graduates will be overwhelmingly Catholic, with the further consequence that the governing body of the university will be Roman Catholic. I remember saying that if you came back fifty years hence you might find that this undenominational university is just as much, but no more, a Catholic institution than Trinity College, Dublin, is at this moment a Protestant institution, and I do not think it was quite fair for the right hon. Gentleman to say what he did. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Kingston Division (Mr. Cave) also seemed to think that Cardinal Logue had set himself by circumvention to make my Nonconformist friends who supported me in carrying that Bill look foolish. I assure you he did nothing of the sort. All he said was that it would be a Roman Catholic university in the same sense as a boys' school is a school of boys. If everybody in a university is of one way of thinking, can you prevent the atmosphere and feeling of that university corresponding to their religious faith? But no alteration can be made by the genius of the Roman Catholic race in any one of the provisions of the Act. The University will remain undenominational, and open to everybody irrespective of religion or creed.
I bring that in because in all your references to safeguards what you assume is, that the people who are going to exercise legislative power in Ireland and have the 449 control of the Executive really will be a set of rogues and vagabonds. We say, that if they purport to pass a law which is ultra vires it is no law, and this Bill says that it will be void ab initio. If anybody passes such a law nobody can put it in force. Any officer who seeks to put it in force will have no protection. He will be liable to an action, and will be called to account. What is your answer? "Who is going to appoint the judges? What sort of judges will they be? Perhaps they will not ever be barristers of seven years' standing. They will be ignorant, illiterate, dishonest men, who will pay no attention to our Constitution, and no attention to points of law, who will not listen to the arguments of counsel—perhaps people will not be able to have any counsel. The United Irish League will exercise an intimidatory effect, and no counsel will be able to take a brief on the unpopular side." All these things are based on the deep-rooted distrust and disbelief of the right hon. Gentleman in the capacity of the Irish representatives. The right hon. Gentleman in speaking as an Irishman to his brother Irishmen is quite complimentary. He reserves all his little acidulities for me. He described the hon. and learned Member for Water-ford as the most tolerant man he thought he over knew, and he paid the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) a well-deserved compliment which I certainly am quite ready to second. But then, it is said, that these gentlemen may die or may disappear, and who will take their place? Quite a different race of men. Ignorant, dishonest ruffians will take their places, and will bring the whole machinery down about our ears. Well, if that is so, then of course, it is a very serious state of affairs, and the only thing we can do would be to do what poor Frankenstein was not able to do, slay the monster we ourselves have created. But I do not believe that anything of the sort can possibly happen.
I have exceeded my time, but we have had criticisms about the reserved services, old age pensions, and the Land Purchase Acts. We are told sometimes that it is a slur on the Irish people to reserve these services. Does any hon. Gentleman opposite suggest for a single moment that we should not have reserved the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts, including the Act of 1903 and the Act of 1909? Were 450 we not bound to reserve them? We were bound to do so as guardians of the public purse and of British credit. Then why seek to gain support from the Irish below the Gangway, which you will not do, by trying to stir up their indignation because this matter has been reserved which was bound to be reserved? I am very sorry that these great, expensive services exist. If they did not the fiscal situation would be enormously easier. But they do exist. These great obligations, which put too great a tax upon the financial capacity of the Irish race at the present moment, have necessitated the reservation of those services. All roads lead to Rome—not the Holy See, but the city. Therefore I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Member is going to repeat—we have not had it yet—as one of the catchwords against Home Rule that it means Rome Rule. I thought that that had been completely and absolutely given up, or else I would not have made up the innocent observation which I have made. The laughter which it excited makes me feel a little uneasy. Perhaps after all, your fear is that under this new Constitution the religion of the great majority of the people may have a better chance and a fairer chance than it has had before. I do not know how that would be, but almost all opposition speakers ended by eloquent references to Ulster. Now about Ulster, I have never doubted for a single moment that the feeling in Ulster is very strong.
I have often been asked about it by my Friends behind me, who do not know Ireland even as well as I do. They have reminded me of the language employed by the men of Ulster about the disestablishment of the Church, and they have said, "Is not it true that men who were of as much light and leading, of as high character, and of as great culture as any of the present leaders of the Protestant party in Ulster, used language about the pending disestablishment of the Church almost as violent—indeed, just as violent—as anything that has ever been employed with reference to the possible passing of this Bill?" And they have said to me, "Were they talking insincerely?" I answered, "No." I am perfectly sure that Lord Rathmore, or my lamented friend the late Recorder of Dublin, in the speeches which they made, were only saying what they absolutely believed. But the fact is that they were very angry, and they worked them- 451 selves up to the belief that that very slender, mysterious thing called the connection between Church and State really was a barrier, and a dyke between them and the Church of Rome, and that they would be submerged by the Church of Rome if this mysterious and slender tie were sundered. They really thought that this disestablishment of this Church would be the removal of this great dyke. They discovered when the time came that it was nothing of the sort. They were honest when they said that they were going to do such dreadful things, but there was no occasion for their misgivings. That is what I suggest now to the people of Ulster. Just as their predecessors of a generation or two ago thought, that the conection between Church and State was a barrier and a protection for their religious liberties, so perhaps, though they may say that this present Government of Ireland by this Parliament is the sole protection for their civil liberties, yet if this Bill passes they will rind that they are mistaken now, even as they were mistaken before. At all events, I can never bring myself to believe, and I never will, because I know it to be untrue, that it is impossible for Roman Catholics and Protestants to work together for the common good of their common country.
§ Sir JOSEPH LARMOR
If I venture to intervene in this important Debate it is because I am an Irishman, born and bred among the yeomen of Ulster, and that I have spent five pleasant years of my life on the staff of the University College in the West of Ireland, in the city of Galway. That is the explanation of why on a matter which profoundly affects the future of my native land I do not wish to record a silent vote. The exigencies of Debate have made it necessary that I should assume a place of prominence, which I did not at all intend, in following so important a speaker as the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but I confess that the expectations have not been fulfilled which the Chief Secretary held out that he would do something to elucidate the very serious criticisms of this Bill which were brought forward in the five questions still unanswered of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, by the important considerations by which the hon. Member for Kingston absolutely riddled the safeguards mentioned in the Bill, and by the observations of the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire yesterday which were 452 partially answered by the Postmaster-General. I think the Chief Secretary's statement that he was going to make up for arrears which were due to the Opposition in this matter has not been carried out. Let me try to make a précis of the points of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He informed us that Lord Salisbury on some occasion talked of the possibility of emigrating a million Irishmen as a palliative for the troubles of Ireland. So far as I can understand, the Government are now straight on the way to produce the emigration of half a million Ulster men.
We asked, how are the affairs of Ireland to be represented in this House? We were dissatisfied with the information that a Minister would be responsible. The Chief Secretary has gone one better, and with a great flourish has told us that a Cabinet Minister will be responsible. We have asked the Chief Secretary which authority, in England or Ireland, will have the control of the Royal Irish Constabulary, that semi-armed force, on the control of which more than anything else the liberties of the Unionist party will depend. The Chief Secretary has told us that any county council can have control of the Irish Constabulary within its borders to suppress crime, and he says, "Whatmore do you want?" When we ask whether the British Government or the Irish Government is to control the armed forces of the Crown, we are told that any county council can direct the small number of these forces within its borders to obey its orders in the suppression of crime. We have put it to the Government, "How it is that, with a Post Office in Ireland separated from the Imperial Post Office and under the control of a Department in Dublin, the commercial interests of the North of Ireland are to be protected in the all-important matter of Postal facilities?" We are told that that matter is open to reconsideration. Let me reinforce that point a little further. The Postmaster-General's reason for not making the Post Office a reserved matter was that during the last fifteen years expenditure on the Irish Post Office had gone up by 70 per cent.
It is not in the industrial communities of the North of Ireland that this increase has arisen. The industrial communities of the North of Ireland do their business in the same manner as the industrial communities of the North of England, and so have achieved success. This increased expenditure of 453 the Post Office has arisen in the South and West of Ireland. They have been able to bring pressure on the Government for their purposes. Does the Postmaster-General tell this House that in the Irish Parliament they will be able to retrench one penny on the salaries that are paid to postmasters and postmistresses in the South and West of Ireland, in order to reduce the burden of taxation? Not one penny. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Bal-four) put the point that a large number of Members would come to the floor of this House from Ireland to reconsider finance as between Great Britain and Ireland—Members who are not elected to this House by any constituency. The right hon. Gentleman had no answer, so far as I heard, to that innovation in the Constitution. The point was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) that the Parliament which we are setting up in Ireland will inevitably agitate, as did the Parliament in Ireland before 1782, for complete independence of British control. In 1782, largely on the initiative of an agitation from Ulster, the Irish Parliament took advantage of Great Britain in time of emergency, during foreign wars, to secure what they called the independence of the Irish Parliament. What is there to prevent the same thing from occurring again? On the other hand, the Chief Secretary's point about Grattan's Parliament was quite the opposite one; it was not sufficiently independent because it had not an Executive of its own independent of England.
Then we came to a subject on which I can perhaps speak with some authority in regard to the conditions both in England and in Ireland—the important subject of education. The Chief Secretary told us that nobody ought to be satisfied with the present condition of Irish education. Has the present Government taken any steps towards the amelioration of the blots to which the Chief Secretary referred either in regard to primary or to intermediate education, or, what is more important in the present conditions of Ireland, in regard to technical education, which is under the Board presided over by the right hon. Gentleman opposite—technical education which, I hope, is to be one of the means for regenerating the industries of Ireland. At one time I knew something about the proceedings of that Board. I had the honour of the acquaintance of Sir Horace Plunkett, and I knew 454 something of the way in which experts were approached for advice when they were making educational appointments to the higher Departments of that Board in Ireland. I know something about the kind of appointments that are being made now. I venture to say that no specialists on scientific subjects are now asked to give advice as to those appointments.
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland)
The hon. Gentleman is entirely wrong. No appointment has been made to the Royal College of Science or to any high office under the Technical Education Board where a specialist has not been consulted.
§ Sir J. LARMOR
All I can say is that I have heard a great deal about some of the recent appointments, and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to give me the names of the specialists on some of those occasions. The future prosperity of Ireland depends largely on the higher branches of industrial and technical education. Immense sums of money have been spent in putting up palatial buildings for the headquarters of the Board in Dublin, and I ask whether the same amount of pains is taken to secure that the best men, from whatever sources they come, shall be available for what, after all, is the only object for which those buildings have been erected. The Chief Secretary went on to speak about the Bill and about the safeguards. I could not follow his arguments, and all that I could make out was that the first question was whether you want to have Home Rule or not. If you do not want to have Home Rule, then the question of safeguards is of no account. If you want Home Rule, then first take the Bill, and when you have done that, then it is time to consider what sort of safeguards you will put in. To take the Bill first and to put in the safeguards afterwards is no great indication of statesmanship? The Chief Secretary came to a subject in regard to which I have been struck during the Debates in this House—the question between Cardinal Logue and the hon. Member for the city of Galway. Cardinal Logue, I understand, said:—Whatever the machinations of the Nonconformist conscience, the genius of the Irish people would take care that the National University in Dublin should be a Catholic institution.This statement of Cardinal Logue has not been impugned in any quarter of this House, and I should say that it is time the 455 Nonconformists should "look foolish" with regard to the safeguards which they thought they had inserted in the Act. If these safeguards which the Nonconformists thought were of validity have turned out to be of no validity at all, what is to be said of the safeguards on which we are to depend in this Bill, which have been riddled with criticisms in regard to which no word of justification has yet been offered? The right hon. Gentleman told us that if "a majority of Catholics go to the National University of Ireland, why it would be a Catholic institution, and that is the end of it," Yes, the Nationalist bodies in Ireland will take very good care that the National University of Ireland shall be properly fed to make it the institution of the kind they want. The county councils of Ireland can provide scholarships for higher education, and in the great majority of cases those scholarships are only tenable in the National University of Ireland. It is certainly the case that the Catholic people of Ireland could, by sending the proper people to the National University, and paying for them with the taxpayers' money, make that university the kind of institution which they desire. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the usefulness of the present Nationalist party in this House when they go over to Dublin—of the high career that is before them in the local Parliament, and of the vigorous Debates that will be carried on. I am not quite certain whether the hon. Gentleman who has achieved such a distinguished position in this House, the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Sir. T. P. O'Connor), and others of his colleagues, will be very keen to go over to the Irish Parliament in Dublin; but what I am clear about is that representatives of the Ulster commercial centres would have to go to the Irish Parliament in Dublin, and they would have to spend their time there, whether they liked it or not, in fighting hard for commercial legislation, in regard to which they will be at the mercy of this Parliament in Dublin for the prosperity of their manufactures. I say that the city of Liverpool is more Nationalist than the city of Belfast, and the case is still stronger as regards the city of Glasgow. How would the commercial men of those cities look if, for the commercial legislation on which they depend to carry on their commerce, they had to go to an institution recruited from the agrarian parts of Ireland—where men are still partially educated and 456 entirely devoid of any commercial knowledge or instincts—in order to carry legislation on which the life-blood of their commerce depends?
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the education question in a manner of entire irresponsibility which I confess shocked me, and I think shocked most Members of this House who believe in the urgency and the importance of education if this country is to maintain its position in the world. He said he was merely a go-between, and that things in Ireland were settled by Boards on which half were Protestants and half were Catholics, and they fought questions out between them which he reported over here. If things are so bad in Ireland in regard to education as the right hon. Gentleman said—and they are very bad—why is it that the Government have not moved a finger in order to do something? In answer to a question to-day the right hon. Gentleman stated that under this Bill the Irish Parliament will have power to discuss the endowments of the new University in Ulster, Queen's University in Belfast, and, I presume, also the National University in Dublin. Everyone acquainted with the North of Ireland knows that a keen controversy has arisen in Belfast as to the denominationalising of the new University in Ulster; he knows the struggle that is still going on as to whether they should have an unsectarian institution or an institution in which the philosophy and dogma of the Roman Catholic Church shall be represented by professors. How is the Irish Parliament in Dublin, with any degree of fairness, to debate the grants to an institution which is in the throes of a controversy as to whether it is to follow the course of the National University in Dublin or to remain under the conditions under which, I think I may say, it was intended to be constituted by this House? Yesterday I took close notice of the reply of the Postmaster-General on the matter of the Government's Financial Committee. I also noted the statement of the Chief Secretary, which came in an interruption and therefore is the more emphatic, that the Government's Financial Committee were called in to advise on the hypothesis that Home Rule was to come as to what were to be the finances between the two Kingdoms. His statement was that the Committee were asked to advise on the footing of Home Rule. The Committee advised and sent in their report to the Government, on the footing of Home Rule. The Government rejected the 457 report of the Committee. The inference I draw from that is that on the footing of Home Rule the financial relations between the two islands cannot be drafted in a satisfactory manner. That is on the report of the Committee; I can draw no other conclusion than that. It appears that a Committee of the Cabinet then took the matter in hand, including the Postmaster-General; and they produced a new scheme of financial relations whose complexity has been the cause of most of all this trouble. A large number of the questions which have been put and the objections which have been raised on this side of the House, and which have never been answered, are with regard to the intricacies of this finance. I take it that the House must have come to the view on all sides that the Government's plan of finance between the two parts of the United Kingdom is an impossible one; and their own Committee, who were asked what should be the relations, gave a verdict which the Government said was also an impossible one.
The main point always raised in favour of Home Rule is that the agitation for Home Rule has been a permanent one in Ireland for forty years. On the other hand, the agitation and the firm determination to reject Home Rule on the part of the northern province of Ulster has been equally permanent, and has increased in intensity on each occasion. It is not hard to see what the cause of the persistence of the demand for Home Rule is. The Irish are an isolated people; they are far away out of touch with the rest of the world, and that very aloofness is intensified by religious differences which are greater than exist between people and their neighbours in any other part of the north of Europe. The very phrase "Home Rule" is naturally a spell which binds them to the eloquent Gentlemen who go down and tell them about the great advantages which they will derive from it. During those forty years it has been of vague and shifting import except as a phrase on which to hang separatist aspirations more or less pronounced. I am gratified to find in the speech of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M. Healy) yesterday a confirmation of my view which I had not expected, that it is the vagueness and indefiniteness of the promise of Home Rule, as put before the rural Irish, that makes its chief attraction. The hon. Member's unexpected corroboration I desire to repeat again. He told the House that Home Rulers by telling the Irish people 458 that Home Rule was good for Ireland had inevitably raised exaggerated expectations, and that the average Irishman, as the result of a long course of oratory of a somewhat flamboyant character, had begun to believe that if Home Rule were granted, Ireland would be a sort of Heaven. That is the reason why the agitation for Home Rule has persisted.
That it has been of vague and shifting import is fully proved by the three Bills which have been introduced in order to bring it into effect, Bills of totally different characters among one another, but they have all been accepted, at first provisionally more or less, as solutions of the problem. This time the Government, driven by their fate hard up against this thorny question, have, to do them justice, tried hard to make a complete scheme; but one bristling with restrictions and safeguards, so much so that on the speech of the Prime Minister on the First Reading, one really began to wonder what it was that the Irish Nationalist representatives saw worth taking in the Bill. The whole question hinges upon the safeguards. If the safeguards are good, why there is nothing in it; and if the safeguards can be made whatever the Irish Nationalist party want, then there is all. We have heard a great deal about the moderation of the Irish Nationalist representatives; I have no doubt that the same was heard in 1886 and in 1893. On each of those occasions the harvest of vituperation of England and British institutions had apparently been ended, and there was apparently to be no more. I am afraid if this measure comes to a mishap, we shall hear more. There is no security here, even if the present Nationalist Members were in a Dublin Parliament, that they are able to act up to their promises. It is well known in Ireland what is the ladder by which they have risen to power and influence. If they become the most moderate people in the world there are plenty of others to stimulate the same expectations on a greater scale and to rise and supplant them and take their places. What Unionist Ireland fears is to be placed as a minority along with a population not yet ripe in education and in experience of the outer world, to use its predominant power responsibly and intelligently. Calculated tyranny we may admit need not be anticipated, but the effect of politics on an isolated and excitable people, as yet untrained in affairs, and therefore inclined to support extremes, is not the less to be feared. The examples 459 of civic administration in centres in America and elsewhere in which Irish influence is predominant does nothing to remove those fears.
The First Lord of the Admiralty pleaded very eloquently that Ulster was a small section of the Irish nation, and that it ought to show confidence and fall into line with the rest of the community. To the view of Ulstermen that plea rests on the ignoring of history. It is the part that Ulster has played in history for three centuries, and in the history not only of the United Kingdom, where its action was at one time decisive, but in the history of America, where the tone of the American Constitution has been partly moulded by Ulstermen, and to which the Ulster emigration in the eighteenth century has already contributed five Presidents of the United States—it is that part that Ulster has played in history that gives her the right to be treated not as a minority, but as a community, and to refuse, as she has always done, the destiny of being merged and obliterated like the Normans in Con-naught and the Cromwellians in Tipperary. In Ulster, where I was born, the language one heard, the local dialect, was the language of Shakespeare, preserved by the settlers as they brought it in the time of James I. That is still more the case in the county of Derry, which was settled by the great companies of the City of London. The only other place where the language of Shakespeare, the Elizabethan dialect, is still the common language, is in New England, in the United States. The British settlers brought to Ulster the same firm and unchangeable religious convictions which the Pilgrims of the "Mayflower" took to New England. There they have preserved them for three hundred years, and they are not inclined to fall in with any scheme that would jeopardise their inheritance. I have nothing to say, I should be the last person to say anything, against my fellow countrymen in the South and West. During five years I made many friendships in Galway, some of which I am glad to find, as I did the other day, are still remembered. In the most futile university that the differences of Ireland ever allowed English statesmen to impose upon her, the Royal University of Ireland, I was a colleague in the mixed boards in which half were Protestants and half were Catholics. We transcended the political conditions, and many of the people whose respect and friendship I have valued most in my life 460 were my Catholic colleagues on those boards. If opportunity were given, as opportunity has not been given, in universities and by higher education, to allow the different creeds and parties in Ireland to come together, and to know each other, there would be some chance of North and South uniting together, but the method of treating Ulster in these matters, when the will of Nationalist Ireland is predominant, has been invariably not to give Ulster what she wanted. When a university, or any other organisation, has been obtained, Ulster must have some compensation. They do not allow Ulster to choose what compensation she may have, but some dole, some university of the kind she does not want, is thrown to her in order to redress the scale. That is the form of tyranny that is most objectionable to any independent people.
I have spoken of the imminent danger that the industries and manufactures of Belfast will run under a Dublin Parliament. It has been difficult enough to establish the commercial success of Belfast. The only result of this policy, in the face of the opposition of practically the whole of the commercial community of Ireland, will be to place a premium on the retransfer to the other side of the Channel, of the industries of Ulster, which have taken root slowly and with difficulty, and on the emigration of the labour connected therewith. An attempt has been made to belittle the position of the operatives in Belfast and to talk about the slum property in that city. I remember when there was a great deal of slum property in Belfast, as there has been in other Irish towns, and as there still is in the only other large Irish city; but in no city in the United Kingdom that I know has a greater change been made in that respect than in Belfast. If there is any slum property remaining, it is very largely in the Nationalist quarter, and is in rapid process of disappearing. One of the Nationalist Members talked of the intolerance, of Belfast, and he referred to the treatment which Lord and Lady Pirrie received recently at Larne. I regret that occurrence very much. But I wish to make this point in connection with it. It has been said that manufacturing Ireland is not solid against Home Rule, and that gentleman, of no doubt supreme financial ability, has been quoted as an illustration. It is easy for a financial magnate to declare himself in favour of Home Rule, and then to go and live outside the country. I am told that 461 Lord Pirrie is now making a large settlement in Surrey. It is easy to be a Home Ruler and to live in another country. But the people who made the shipbuilding pre-eminence of Belfast, Sir Edward Harland and his companions, who were Members of this House, stuck to that city in which their industry flourished. If Home Rulers who wish to impose this measure upon Ireland are to be the first to leave the country, what hope can there be of its continued prosperity?
I had intended to speak of Irish University history, but I refrain. I desired also to refer to the sentiments expressed by the Under-Secretary of State for War with regard to the misdeeds of the English in Ireland in the past. When he spoke of the horrors of the evictions in Connemara, which everybody knows were terrible enough, and of which we all ought to be ashamed, the overwrought description which he gave, and of which I should like to know the evidence, produced nothing in my mind more than a reminiscence of the descriptions which appeared in the foreign Press during the Boer war of the concentration camps in South Africa. They were couched in much the same style. It is time that the history of these misdeeds, which nobody can palliate, was rewritten in the light of recent research. I gather that Mr. Lecky wrote his history chiefly in the light of the public records in Dublin, which had just been thrown open. There must be other sources. The verdict of history is always open to revision. Although the facts are bad enough, I do not believe they are as bad as they are represented to be. It is the same in connection with the commercial injustice of England to Ireland. I am sure that is bad enough, but I do not believe it is all intentional or selfish. I was surprised the other day to come across a statement on this point by one of the most tolerant men who ever lived, one of the glories of England, who was made head of the Board of Commerce at the time when the relations between Ireland and England in the matter of manufactures were reconstructed. I refer to John Locke. No one would accuse him of intolerance or of destroying the industries of any nation; but the principle that he laid down was that each country should have its own staple manufacture, that the linen trade should be encouraged in Ireland both North and South, while the woollen trade was to belong to England. That is all wrong in economics according to our present 462 ideas, but it is not based on the selfishness of England or the desire to destroy the commerce of Ireland, although that element may have come in to some extent later on. I am convinced that there again the verdict of history needs revision.
I shall, no doubt, be asked what is my remedy if Home Rule is not good. I say, wait ten years for the ameliorative legislation and improved industrial education to bear fruit. Give quiet economic forces a chance as against political agitation. Take to heart Lord Morley's statement, made recently in another place, when excusing the character of recent appointments to the Irish Bench of magistrates.
§ Sir J. LARMOR
Lord Morley said:—If the social conditions had given the Government material for choice the results would have been different.I say, accept that statement and wait for the rapidly-improving time. If you say that the younger generation in Ulster are coming round to Home Rule—wait, and do not precipitate an unnecessary conflict. The demand for Home Rule has been a blind demand, with no definiteness and therefore no finality. The Nationalist party are now, as always, ready to take what they can get, to be used as an argument to get more. A month ago they knew little or nothing about the present Bill; now a Convention in Dublin has accepted it without a word of criticism, or rather without a word of criticism that can reach the ears of the British public. But we have heard from hon. Members who represent what used to glory in the name of "Rebel Cork" their criticisms of the financial provisions of the Bill. Only practical remedial measures can promote finality, not complicated paper constitutions. Industrial well-being is the true source of political content. Ireland has only to steady herself, and concentrate on her present educational, agrarian, and industrial opportunities, in order to obtain careers for her sons at home and within the Empire far beyond any which they have hitherto attained abroad. It has not been in the crowded areas of New York or Chicago that the real successes of the Irish race have been achieved. It is where Irishmen are thoroughly intermixed with English and Scotch at home, and with other races abroad that the proper environment is obtained in which their special gifts can assert themselves. It is in the public and political life of Great Britain, 463 in the Imperial service of India, in the numerous Colonial Dominions in which Irishmen have everywhere risen to the very high positions of Government, that we find the true record of their race. This Irish Parliament in Dublin must be in contrast to such careers a mere parochial assembly, too pretentious for the functions assigned to it by this Bill, in which the abilities and the eloquence that can achieve such conspicuous positions in world-wide fields will dissipate themselves in the barren friction of local debate.
§ Mr. JEREMIAH MacVEAGH
I desire at the outset to congratulate the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Larmor) upon the maiden speech which he has just delivered. I do not agree with any of the premises upon which he based that speech, or with any of the deductions which I understood him to draw; but I congratulate him, and all the more earnestly because he is a fellow Irishman, and it is always a satisfaction to find an Irishman, one of the most brilliant scholars of his time, taking his rightful place in this House. But the hon. and learned Member will forgive me for saying that he is not so distinguished in the political as in the scholastic world, and it is to that fact I attribute the weakness which his speech displayed in political knowledge. I congratulate him upon a further point, namely, that, notwithstanding his Belfast upbringing, he has scorned to descend to use the weapons that other Members have employed in this controversy. He has not suggested the possibility of religious intolerance being exercised by his fellow-countrymen in the event of this Bill passing into law. The same remark applies to the right hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) who, throughout his speech, carefully refrained from descending to that depth. No Unionist who has ever held the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland has used that argument, and I think they are to be congratulated upon that fact. But when the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University talks about the danger of the national university in Ireland, founded by this Parliament and maintained out of public funds, becoming Catholic in tone and spirit, may I respectfully suggest that he should turn his energies to the reform of the institution at which he was educated at Belfast? He will find abundant room there for all the energies of which he is possessed in abolishing the sectarian 464 spirit. In the total salary list of £18,870 in the institution in which he was educated there are only two Catholic officials, and between them they share the magnificent total of £300. Yet the hon. and learned Gentleman comes here to talk about the danger of a national university in Ireland becoming sectarian! The National University, with an overwhelming Catholic majority on the Senate, at any rate has not hesitated to appoint Protestant professors and Protestant officials, from the highest down to the lowest posts. They have set an example which Queen's University, Belfast, might well follow. I also congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Dover on the tone and temper of his speech. Even if the tone had been otherwise, we upon these benches should have endeavoured to restrain the expression of any resentment, because we remember, and remember gratefully, that when the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Secretary he did his best to serve Ireland according to his lights. If he failed he failed because the Orange tail was wagging the Tory dog at a time when he was Chief Secretary.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
And though he may turn now with a smile to one of those hon. Gentlemen who tried to hunt him out of the Chief Secretaryship, both of them, know it is absolutely true. They know also that the Orange tail is wagging the Tory dog again to-day. But the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, if he will forgive me for saying so, was much more remarkable for its omissions than for what it contained. Why, for example, when he gets up to deliver a speech on the Home Rule Bill, has he nothing to tell us about the old mysterious negotiations which were carried on between Dublin Castle and Lord Dunraven on the Devolution scheme—negotiations which resulted in his being compelled to resign the Chief Secretaryship for Ireland? Why has he not unearthed those wonderful cypher telegrams which passed between himself and the present Member for the City of London, who was then Prime Minister, reiterating all the negotiations that were going on, and the arrangements for the publication of the Devolution scheme? I think the right hon. Gentleman would have found himself the centre of a most interested House if he had only gone into a little detail of the secret history of that period!
All the hon. Members who have taken part in this Debate have felt called upon 465 to say something about Ulster, and the less they knew about it the longer were their speeches. I happen to be an Ulster man, and an Ulster Member. Not only that, but I have the honour to represent a constituency which is in the very corner of that Ulster which certain hon. Members claim to have all to themselves. But when they talk about Ulster, they do not mean Ulster; they mean North-East Ulster, or to drop into the language of the mariner, that part of Ulster which lies north by north-east. They claim to speak for only four counties of the province of Ulster, because admittedly in five counties we have an overwhelming majority; and even in the remaining four counties which they claim to be their private property we have got a loyal minority of very substantial proportions. It is on behalf of that loyal minority in the north by northeast corner that I venture to address the House to-night. In the county of Antrim, for instance, including the city of Belfast, even if there were no Liberal Protestants in the county at all, we have, according to the last Census returned, 26 per cent. of the population. In the county of Down we have got 27 per cent. of the population. In the county of Derry we have 46 per cent. of the population. In Armagh we have 45 per cent. of the population, and that is in the corner of Ulster that they say is all their own.
Though I am proud of my native city of Belfast, and proud of my native province of Ulster, I am still prouder of my native country, and I am not prepared to praise my native province at the expense of the land that gave me birth. I have never done it, and do not intend to do it. I leave that to other Ulster Members. But I may remind the House that thousands of foreigners land on these shores every year from Germany, Spain, France, and Italy, and even from China and Japan. Did anybody ever hear of one of these foreigners getting upon a platform in England to traduce and defame the country which gave him birth? ["No, no!"] That work, so far as I understand, is left to a number of Members from the province of Ulster. I have not the slightest desire to emulate their example. These hon. Gentlemen claim, that in the province of Ulster they have one-half of the wealth, two-thirds of the intelligence, at least three-fourths of the education, and an absolute monopoly of the honesty of the country. As a matter of fact, all their claims are based on the most shadowy 466 foundations. In relation to their wealth, if you take the rateable valuation of the-four provinces, Leinster is richer than Ulster, and Ulster very much richer than the province of Munster. So far as prosperity is concerned, people do not fly away from it, yet the emigration from the province of Ulster in the last fifty years has been greater than from any other province of Ireland. An hon. Member interjects that that is from the Nationalist parts of Ulster. Nothing of the kind. The greatest emigration from all Ireland1 has been from the so-called loyal counties of Antrim and Down. So far as education is concerned, that, too, will not bear the test of investigation, because the number of people who can read and write—and that is a fairly conclusive test of education—is less in Ulster than in Leinster.
The junior Member for Trinity College is in the habit, in the stock speech which he has delivered all over Great Britain, of holding up as one of the gravest and most serious arguments against Home Rule that if the Irish people get self-government they will proceed immediately to indulge in oppressive taxation against the loyal minority in the North-East of Ireland. What hon. Gentleman of this frame of mind would like to say is that we, the Irish Members in this House, are eighth-two embryo Lloyd Georges who are bursting to wipe everybody off the face of the earth with taxation. [An HON. MEMBER: "Lloyd Georges"?] I say that is what hon. Members above the Gangway would like to say. But I think that the two right hon. Gentlemen who represent Trinity College may at least lay this flattering unction to their souls, that however predatory the Irish Parliament, may be it cannot get at them. They have left Ireland. They have come over here and joined the English Bar. They have shaken the dust of an ungrateful country off their feet. They have left no property behind them which we could tax. They have not even left an address in the country to which we could send Form IV., or any other form. Fleeing from the wrath to come in the shape of oppressive taxation, they have voluntarily sought sanctuary within the financial jurisdiction of the rapparee from Wales! They have come over here to England where their political friends never whine about oppressive taxation, where they have no Socialistic Budget, no land taxes, no death duties, no stamps to be licked; where they 467 have none of these terrible things that an Irish Parliament will be bursting to impose on the loyal minority in the northeast corner of the land! If they think that a native Parliament would want to harry any native industry, they must have proceeded upon two assumptions. They must assume in the first place that all Irishmen are possessed of a double dose of original sin. They must also assume that the Dublin Parliament will be a Parliament of fools. You will have to take both of these assumptions to be accurate before you credit the Irish Parliament with any intention of proceeding to interfere with any Irish industry.
So far as the safeguards are concerned, I have heard one hon. Member after another get up and say that they are not the slightest protection, or of any service to them. I think the safeguards are very effective. Take, for example, the safeguard in respect to oppressive taxation. In the matter of direct taxation we cannot increase the taxes more than 10 per cent. Say there is a tenpenny Income Tax in England and we decide in Ireland that we will make it 11d. I do not think that that will drive any Ulster manufacturer into bankruptcy. So far as indirect taxation is concerned, the more we increase that, the more we are hitting, not at the rich man, but at the poor man. But I agree with hon. Members when they say that they attach no importance to these safeguards. Neither do I. The reason I do not attach any importance to them is because I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division that no importance whatever need be attached to the fears which hon. Members express as to the possibility of religious intolerance in Ireland under Home Rule. Believing their fears to be unnecessary and unfounded, I believe the safeguards to be equally unnecessary. The best safeguard, as a matter of fact, which can be given to the minority in any country is the common sense of the community amongst whom they dwell. It is the only safeguard which is possessed by the Catholic minority here in England. It is the only safeguard which is possessed by the Catholic minority in Scotland. We have found it adequate and satisfactory. If the Chief Secretary wants a suggestion from me as to a safeguard that will satisfy hon. Members from the north-east corner of Ulster I will tell him. It is that he should put 468 into the Home Rule Bill a Clause providing that under Home Rule nobody but a Tory shall get a job in Ireland. That is really the beginning and end of the present opposition. The hon. Baronet the Member for Mid-Armagh, in the course of his speech the other night, said that it was not the legislation of the Irish Parliament he was afraid of, but the administration.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
The hon. and learned Member for North Armagh, I am glad to say, agrees. Administration means patronage, and patronage is a euphemism for jobs. "Patronage" is a nicer way of putting it. When you boil down the phrase it means jobs. These gentlemen have always had the loaves and fishes in Ireland, and they desire to continue in the exercise of that ascendancy which they have enjoyed so long. They are not satisfied with the safeguard of the Senate. It is not democratic enough for them. The Government have laid their cards upon the table. If they can trump them let them play. It is "up to" them to state how they desire the Senate to be constituted. If they will only suggest their Amendments I think they will find upon our part, and I am sure upon the part of the Government, an absolutely honest desire to go so far as we can go to meet their views, to enable them to accept this Bill, and to come to terms on peace with honour.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
It is not that we are afraid of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, with all his bluster about civil war. No, we know him, and he knows us! We know the exact value to attach to his bluster. We have heard it too often to be frightened by it. It is not his opposition in the field we are afraid of. But we do not desire the passing of the Home Rule Bill to be a victory or a defeat for any section of our countrymen. We honestly desire that this should be attained with peace between all classes of the community in Ireland. Does anybody imagine, for example, that we want to lose the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore)? Does anybody think we want in an Irish Parliament to lose the hon. and gallant Member the Member for East Down (Captain Craig), my political neighbour, who represents the same county as myself? Not a bit of 469 it. We want to lose none of these Gentlemen. They have done us no harm here. Quite the contrary. They have been the most valuable asset the national cause has in this House; they have been far more valuable than any Nationalist Member in the promotion of the cause of Home Rule. We would not injure a hair on one of their heads, and I do not believe they would injure a hair on the head of any Nationalist Member. I think some of them, especially two of them, would fit the description of Mr. Whalley when he spoke about Jesuits in disguise. So far as the hon. and gallant Member for East Down is concerned, he would be the Sir Frederick Banbury of an Irish Parliament, and if he only enjoys the same popularity in a Dublin Parliament that the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London enjoys in this House, I think he should be perfectly satisfied with his happy lot. The only thing is that in this Parliament I would prefer to have the hon. and gallant Gentleman against me and in a Dublin Parliament I would rather have him with me. We are ready and anxious to proclaim a blessed oblivion for the past and bury the hatchet for ever. Hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway from Ulster appeal to the electors of this country and say, "Do not hand us over to the rule of John Redmond," and the English Tories take up the same cry.
I was down at a by-election in Nottingham. [HON. MEMBEBS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, where we reduced the Tory majority in spite of the lavish distribution of a millionaire's wealth. There I saw huge placards, at least twice the size of myself, bearing the simple legend, "Why rob John Bull to pay John Redmond?" This Bill does not do that. I am sorry it does not. I think if it did my hon. and learned friend the Member for Waterford might be even more enamoured of the Bill than he is at present. All that nonsense does not deceive anybody, not even the hon. Gentlemen who utter it. My hon. Friend may be at present a bogey man to Tory emissaries in the country, but there is not a man in this House who would not endorse the statement made the other day by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Mr. J. H. Campbell) when he said that he holds the hon. and learned Member for Waterford in the highest respect, and places implicit faith in everything he says.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Well, words to that effect. He certainly paid a very high and a very remarkable tribute to my hon. and learned friend the Member for Waterford, and that is the view taken by every Tory Member in this House, and when they come to hold him up as a "bogey man" they are not likely to impress anybody. The fact of the matter is that the Ulster Unionist Members would be a much more powerful party in an Irish Parliament than ever they can be in a British Parliament. I do not know that that is saying very much, but it is saying something. They know perfectly well that in an Irish Parliament all the old political landmarks would be swept away; that the old parties would disappear; that the old shibboleths would lose their magic. They know that in an Irish Parliament Protestants would be divided into different camps, and Catholics would be divided into different camps, and that new parties and new issues would arise. What the dividing lines may be it is impossible for any man to say, but this we can predict with absolute certainty, that in an Irish Parliament there will be no time for squabbling about the battle of the Boyne or the Thirty-Nine Articles. We shall have better work to do—the work of elevating our nation and restoring prosperity to her, and in that work we shall welcome the co-operation of every Irishman who is willing to give a helping hand. I should like to appeal to English Tory Members, and to ask them whether they really believe that in the attitude they are now adopting towards Home Rule they are pursuing a consistent policy? It is not long since the Tory party in this country was running Conservative Home Rule candidates in Ireland, and paying their expenses. The hon. Member for Mid-Armagh scoffs at that.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Then I shall answer the hon. Baronet with a letter from one of those gentlemen. I never speak without authority. Sir Henry Bellingham, who sat in this House as a Conservative Member, and who went down to Tory constituencies in England and supported Conservative candidates, and who always voted in the Tory Lobbies and received the Tory Whips, wrote—
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Yes, he voted for Home Rule resolutions and he was returned as a Conservative Home Ruler. The hon. Member for Croydon rushes in where wiser men fear to tread. But I can assure him he will not catch us in this way. Sir Henry Bellingham, who is one of His Majesty's Lord Lieutenants, wrote this:—The present leader of the Conservative party and also I regret to say other Conservatives in high positions have recently endeavoured, not only to identify the whole party with the extreme Ulster section, but to let it be thought that as a party they never had anything to do with Home Rule. Will you allow me therefore to remind your readers that Home Rule was started by a Conservative and that for many years Conservatives sat as Home Rulers.Does the hon. Member for York deny that?
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
The innocence of the hon. and learned Member for York is too overwhelming for me altogether. It only shows that he is lost in the House of Commons, and that he ought to be back again in the University. Sir Henry goes on to say:—When I stood as an avowed Home Ruler for the county of Louth I received the support both of the Carlton Club and of the Conservative Whips.The hon. and learned Member for York knows what the support of the Carlton Club is.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
More innocence. Sir Henry Bellingham continues:—Further, during the time I was in Parliament I was regularly summoned to the meetings of the Conservative party, and I have letters in my possession from some of the Conservative leaders which are complete evidence of complicity with Home Rule.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
The hon. Gentleman corrected me just now, but there is nothing in the letter which he read which shows that Sir Henry Bellingham ever voted for Home Rule. He was not in the '86 Parliament I think, and he never voted for Home Rule.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
I never said he was here in 1886, but I will tell you what he did. He voted for Home Rule resolutions in this House and the Tory Whips were never withdrawn from him and he was never expelled from the Tory party. Really the surprise of these hon. Gentlemen overwhelms me. One would think from their horror at the reading of this letter of 472 Sir Henry Bellingham's that none of them were living in 1885 when Lord Salisbury, as Prime Minister, and Lord Carnarvon, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, entered into negotiations with Irish Members for the introduction of a Tory Home Rule Bill. One would think they never heard of the historic meeting between Mr. Parnell and Lord Carnarvon in an empty house in London for the discussion of the details of a Home Rule Bill. Have they never heard of Sir Howard Vincent and others sent over by the Tory party to march from one end of Ireland to the other canvassing Irish Nationalists as to the details of the Bill the Tory party were prepared to introduce? [Laughter.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool was very innocent of politics at that time, and his loud laugh now only bespeaks the mind that does not possess much knowledge of the facts of that time. The fact remains that as a result of the negotiations that went on between the Tory party and the Nationalists, the Tories got the Irish vote at that election, and you were very glad to get it and Tory candidates expressed their indebtedness to Irish electors for having supported them in 1885. But you did not stop at 1885. You again flirted with the Irish Nationalist in 1902, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover was Chief Secretary for Ireland. What about the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore)? I wonder, does he agree with me about that? Was not he the watchdog that was let loose and hunted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover from office because he flirted with Home Rule. The hon. and learned Member cannot deny that. Again, in 1910, the whole Tory party wakened up one fine morning, and, picking up their Tory newspapers, they rubbed their eyes with amazement and wondered whether it was a vision they saw. They wondered what was happening, because in the good old Tory papers, which they had been reading all their lives, they found the first leading article supporting Home Rule.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
The whole of them. All the Tory papers in Great Britain, from the "Times" down to the "Daily Mail," became infected with the Home Rule microbe at the same moment. I wonder where the inspiration came from.
473 Would any Member on the Front Opposition Bench tell us? Would they tell us who passed the word to the Tory newspapers that they were to preach Home Rule?
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
I do not know. I am not on the Front Bench. Here is one of the Noble triplets asking me questions. He wants me to substantiate this statement. Is it not enough when I tell him that all the Tory papers of the country started it. Can the Noble Lord deny it?
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Will the Noble Lord tell me some of the papers that did not do it? I can give the extracts, I have them here, and I could read from dozens of Tory papers. I will give him a few of them, as I see he is so anxious about the matter. Here, for example, is what appeared in the "Observer" on November 13th, 1910, after the failure of the negotiations:—In the due hour we are convinced the method and the policy of conference will be revived, when the eyes of all men are finally opened by the issue of another struggle: and as the favourable hour returns—though no man now knows when—we shall raise again the voice of reason.The "Observer" further stated:—Unionism is doomed if it waltzes to war under the device of 'Death or Dublin Castle.'I said I would be willing to supply the hon. Member for Croydon with a choice collection of arguments of this kind from Tory newspapers, but if the hon. Member for Croydon will not believe me, will he believe the "Evening Standard," which only last month said:—Home Rule pure and simple may be undesirable, but call it Federalism, call it Devolution, call it Self-government, and is there not a great deal to be said for it in that form?The "Evening Standard" goes on to say:—And there is that awkward fact that a good deal was said for it only a year ago by various influential exponents of Unionist opinion, who, so far from being Die Hards then, were quite inclined for a square deal with Mr. Redmond.I have quoted from the "Observer," which is edited by Mr. Garvin, who is a brilliant and distinguished journalist. He is an Irishman, and though I deplore his recreancy from the cause of Ireland respect his ability, and I extract consolation even from his recreancy in the reflection that when the Tory party wanted a man to lead them out of the morass in which they are floundering they had to go to 474 Ireland. I rejoice that it is given to an Irishman, with the help of American dollars, to lead the Tory party to destruction. Therefore Mr. Garvin deserves attention, and I shall ask the House to permit me to refer to him, because at present he is the conscience keeper of the Tory party and the policy provider to two Houses of Parliament. Now he is raising not the voice of reason, but the voice of passion. Mr. Garvin was the British correspondent for some years for "United Ireland," which had a brilliant but chequered career, but during all the time he was the correspondent for "United Ireland" week after week he supported the most advanced views of Irish Nationalism. For example, when the Irish Local Government Bill of 1892 was introduced by Mr. Balfour, Mr. Garvin wrote:—Benevolent Gladstonian Codlins may pose very effectively beside these hopeless Tory Shorts. … No Liberal Ministry would ever have risen to propose such a measure as Mr. Balfour's Bill, with the old but perfectly characteristic exhibition of the brutality of Tory prejudices, and the grotesque clumsiness of the devices by which the fears and resentments of the more stupid party are sought to be soothed.At that time we were all Whigs on these benches to Mr. Garvin, who could not be trusted to work the movement to a successful issue; simpletons who were not equipped by nature with the capacity to deal with the sharks of the British Treasury, and he did not hesitate to tell us what he thought. In the course of his observations, he had something to say about the use of dynamite. At one time there were a large number of dynamite prisoners in penal servitude, and a demand had been made for their release, and the Tory party did release them, although the Liberal party declined to do so. On that occasion Mr. Garvin wrote in "United Ireland":—One point that should be emphasised is that, whether the prisoners be guilty or not, the pacification of Ireland demands their release. If they be dynamiters, they are what misery and misrule have made them. Dynamiter is not one whit more deadly to society than jury-packing, not one whit a worse outrage on a people. The dynamiter is a no more of an appalling excrescence upon the body of society than the partisan judge, the jury-packer, the agent provocateur, and the other figures of the sinister hierarchy.I shall now pass from the writing of Mr. Garvin, in order that we may consider Mr. Garvin as a politician and a public man. There are two Mr. Garvins. Mr. Garvin attended a banquet to commemorate the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and he was again in evidence as one of the speakers, and declared that the system of government in Ireland was such that compared with it the horrors of Armenia and Cuba paled their 475 ineffectual fires. I have here what I call my Garvin dossier. It is the minute-book of an association with which Mr. Garvin was connected, and one of its functions was to give a reception to Mr. John Daly on his release from penal servitude. Another occasion was to give a welcome to O'Donovan Rossa, and I have a letter here in which Mr. Garvin says, he has left nothing undone, and will leave nothing undone, to promote the reception to O'Donovan Rossa. O'Donovan Rossa spent a large part of his life in penal servitude, and he was considered such an extremist that you were not permitted to mention his name in polite Tory society. I notice, from the "Newcastle Leader" of 2nd May, 1892, Mr. Garvin moved a Home Rule resolution in the following terms:—It is a matter of life and death that Home Rule should come quickly. We were not fighting for any Local Government Board, but a Parliament that will be supreme in the country, that will have control of the land in which the people live, and whose acts will be subject to no veto except that of the Crown on the advice of the Irish Ministry.You would almost think Mr. Garvin had seen a forecast of this Bill when he moved that resolution. The speech goes on to say:—If we do not get that, we will go back to Westminster to begin the same old round of opposition again. We must have the ideal, the whole ideal, and nothing but the ideal.That quotation is in the choicest Garvinese, but here is a pronouncement equally "Garvinesque":—The business of Irishmen is simply to watch for the whites of their enemy's eyes and blaze away. Ireland's grievances were really none the more acute because they were represented by eighty-six votes, but the desperate beggars had attention called to their distress when they happened to get hold of loaded pistols. As lung as the issue of the struggle is in the slightest degree uncertain the first duty of an Irishman is to fight, his second duty is to right, and his third duty is still to tight.Mr. Garvin might have put that word for word in one of his "Die-Hard" articles. That was in a speech delivered by Mr. Garvin in Newcastle-on-Tyne in support of Home Rule. This is the gentleman who every Sunday in the "Observer" and every week-day in the "Pall Mall Gazette" assails, with all the epithets in the English language and all the adjectives in the dictionary, the Irish party for no other crime than that they have been true to the cause which he has abandoned. Mr. Garvin and hon. Members above the Gangway now say that if we pass this Home Rule Bill it means the end of the Empire. The Tories always invoke the Empire when anything is proposed which is not 476 exactly to their liking. They pose as patron saints of the Army, the Navy, the Union Jack, the Royal Family, and the Empire; but, after all, the Empire has survived twenty-eight Parliaments up to the present, and I think we may reasonably assume that it will survive the twenty-ninth. Hon. Members talk about separation, but can they tell me of any sane Irishman who ever wanted separation. I notice the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry shakes his head, but if he can tell us of a sane Irishman who wants separation I should be very glad to hear of him.
We have played a large part in the building up of this Empire, and we are not going to give up our claim to a share in our heritage. Supposing we were fools and wanted separation: How could we get it? After all, the English people are 40,000,000 in number, and we in Ireland number only 4,000,000. You have an Army and Navy on which you spend over £70,000,000 a year, but we have got no Army or Navy, and we have no "Dreadnoughts." We have no money to build "Dreadnoughts," and if we had money I do not think we should be such fools as to spend it in that way. We have no military resources. Even with the help of the Unionists in Ireland we could not raise a pop gun in the whole country, and yet the English people are gravely asked to be afraid of what would happen under Home Rule. I wonder if any grown-up man in the House believes that. Hon. Members go down to their constituencies and they say terrible things will happen: That sometime or other when all the English are sleeping in their beds absolutely unconscious of the danger that is hanging over them, 4,000,000 Irishmen will steal across the sea under cover of darkness, and 40,000,000 in this country will be murdered before they know anything about it. That is very flattering to our courage, but it does not say much for the courage of the Tory party if they are really afraid that the Irish people would attempt to do anything of that kind when Home Rule has been passed. Dean Swift once said that twelve men fully armed ought to be equal to one man in his nightshirt anyhow. Even if we attempt the task of separation, I think they might make their minds quite easy upon that. The First Lord of the Admiralty dealt with the Imperial aspect of the Home Rule problem a few days ago, and a great many hon. Members thought he was beating the air, but that was not so. An hon.
477 Member above the Gangway came down to his constituency and made the most reckless charges against Nationalists. The hon. Member for the Woodbridge Division of Sussex (Major Peel) went down to Aldeburgh on 31st January last, and this is what he said:—When some Power wants to come here across the North Sea it may find it convenient ground to jump off from Ireland. I believe that Nationalists have lately sent an offer to that country of assistance. I have not got the papers by me to-night, or I should be very pleased to read out what they did offer.I wonder if the hon. and gallant Member has got the papers with him to-night. His suggestion in that speech was that the Nationalist leaders were engaged in a treasonable conspiracy. If he believed that why did he not indict them by getting up in this House, and bringing this charge against the Nationalist Members instead of addressing a hole and corner meeting in Aldeburgh and bringing these charges forward in that way. I may say that that statement was an absolute falsehood on the face of it, and if the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not apologise for it, I can only leave him to his own conscience, and the judgment of every honest man inside and outside this House.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has chosen to make an accusation against me of a very baseless character. I certainly went to Aldeburgh, and I certainly made a speech there with regard to the question of Home Rule for Ireland, but I never for one moment accused Nationalist Members of having made any offer to Germany. I think anyone who knows me would be perfectly well aware that, although I am very much opposed to Home Rule, I would never make an accusation of that sort. I am entitled to say further that I was accused in a letter written to a newspaper of having made the same accusation. I immediately wrote to the editor of that paper to deny having made any accusation against hon. Members below the Gangway, and I am very much surprised indeed—in the face of my denial not only in that paper, but at a subsequent meeting at Aldeburgh—that the hon. Gentleman should make such a charge when he is talking about the olive branch, and should try to bring bitterness into these Debates. If he would like to know the authority for what I spoke about, it is a leaflet issued by the Unionist Association of Ireland. I am not responsible for the statements in that leaflet, and there was nothing in it which in any way impugned the Nationalist Members.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not entitled to make a speech. I thought he rose to make an explanation.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
I at once and unreservedly accept the repudiation of the hon. Gentleman. I never heard of his contradiction before. I read the report in the "Aldeburgh Post," and I am delighted to hear he promptly repudiated the report published in a paper in his own Constituency. I shall not pursue the matter further than to say it is typical of the slanders and calumnies circulated in England with regard to the Nationalist party. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law) told the House the other day he could not find words to describe the enthusiasm and the magnificence of the meeting he addressed in the City of Belfast. Happily a poet has rushed in where the right hon. Gentleman feared to tread. This poet has contributed a great poem to a Belfast newspaper. He signs his initials "E. C," which I hope do not indicate the fleeting figure which I see disappearing on the front Opposition Bench. This "E.C." is another Rudyard Kipling, and he has given a description of this great meeting. He says:—The angel visitant—That is the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law).The angel visitant surveyedThe ranks of marchers who had comeFrom the four Provinces, who madeTheir Ulster protest for their homes.It appears the morning started with rain, but the weather cleared up as the day advanced.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Oh, it was the other way about. Then the poet proceeds:—The law-giver of Israel's race,Though absent in His mortal form,Was present, and by fitting graceDisclosed His wisdom, for the stormThat threatened, passed in gentle showerAs when it swept o'er Gallilee.And sunshine gladdened by its powerThe hearts of Ireland's peasantry;And substitute for Israel's aweWas found in—honest Bonar Law.I rejoice to think that by the genius of "E. C." we have been saved from having no permanent record as to the magnificence of this meeting. I hope "E. C." does not disclose or conceal the identity of any Member on the Front Opposition Bench. I should like, in conclusion, to 479 ask hon. Members above the Gangway whether they will, before this Debate closes, tell us what is their real alternative to the Home Rule policy of the Government. They cannot subsist on a policy of mere negation. I know what the Ulster Tories would say. I hear the voice already of the hon. Baronet the Member for Mid-Armagh (Sir John Lonsdale): "Leave things exactly as they are; we are perfectly satisfied." But I was appealing to the statesmen above the Gangway. I want them to tell us, "Is that their last word about the Irish question?" We have heard various unauthorised schemes propounded. The titular chief of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law) at the present time has advanced Tariff Reform as a solution. The right hon. Gentleman the Member, for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) went down to his constituency and said, "Devolution is today, and always has been, the Tory alternative to Home Rule." Whilst Mr. Garvin says, "Let us all say 'Federalism' together." I do not mind what they say if they would only say something in one voice; but this I can tell them: Tariff Reform will not prove the solvent of the Irish problem and will not work the oracle in Ireland. You cannot satisfy the soul of a nation by promising its people an extra meal a day. You cannot get rid of the sentiment of nationality by promising a people that Tariff Reform will give them an extra suit of clothes in a year. The impulse of nationality comes from higher than earthly powers and is indestructible. We know the real alternative of the Tory party, the only authorised policy that has ever been brought as an alternative to Home Rule. It was preached by Lord Salisbury when he compared the Irish people with Hottentots and prescribed manacles and Manitoba as the sovereign remedies for Irish discontent and preached the policy which you now know to be a futile policy of twenty years of "firm and resolute government." That stands today as it was twenty-five years ago, the only authorised alternative policy of the Tory party—the re-erection of the plank bed, the battering ram, and the gibbet as the emblems of Tory rule in Ireland. John Bright said:—Terror is the only specific of the Tory party. They have no confidence in allegiance, except when there is no power to rebel.The House has two policies before it, and, as between the two, I do not for a moment doubt this House will confirm and 480 enforce the policy which has already received the approval of the masses of the electors of this Kingdom.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I venture to intervene in this Debate as one who took part in the battle of Home Rule in the years 1886 and 1893. I hope we are now entering upon what may prove to be the last campaign in the promotion of that cause. I was a Home Ruler long before Home Rule was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. Gladstone. I have always been a Home Ruler, for this reason. I believe that Home Rule is essential to the well-being of Ireland. Looking at it from the point of view of the theory of government, I believe that the whole trend of civilisation lies in the direction of the consolidation or centralisation of the Executive and the Legislature. I think, if anyone studies the history of Europe—I make this concession to the Unionist party—one cannot fail to be impressed, if you take the history of Germany, of France, or of Italy, with the fact that the whole objective of civilisation has been in the direction of the centralisation of the executive and the legislative functions. Where there are exceptions, they have been associated with either racial or religious antipathies. Although those considerations of theory appeal to one, there are considerations of more importance, and the consideration which impresses mo most of all in favour of Homo Rule for Ireland is that the demand of Ireland for Home Rule has been persistent and consistent. There is hardly a page of Irish history that does not eloquently assert justification for that policy on the part of the Irish people. I am quite content to admit that economic grievances in Ireland which when I first entered Parliament were so conspicuous, have been abated to a large extent owing largely to the action of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and especially the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham). Yet the passion for Home Rule has not in the slightest degree diminished.
I remember a conversation I had with Mr. Parnell in 1887 or 1888, after the rejection of the Home Rule Bill, and when right hon. Gentlemen opposite had entered upon their policy of endeavouring to conciliate the Irish people by economic legislation. I remember suggesting to him—it was rather presumptious on my part—that it was an unwise policy on his part and on that of his party to promote economic reform as it would tend to weaken the Home Rule 481 movement. His answer to me has been fully justified by subsequent events. He said: "If every economic grievance in Ireland were remedied, the demand of the Irish people for Home Rule would be just as strong as it ever was in the darkest days of the past." I do not pretend to repeat his words precisely, but that was the substance of the answer he gave to me. If that be so, and I think it is so, let us for one moment apply ourselves to an examination of the present Home Rule measure. I am bound to say there is no measure of such complexity and such far-reaching results as this measure, which must not be open to effective destructive criticism. There are phases of this Bill which undoubtedly some of us on this side of the House view with a certain amount of alarm. I admit at once I do not like a nominated Chamber. Mr. Gladstone, speaking in 1893 of a nominated Chamber, stated that his cardinal objection to it was that it would be a very weak Chamber, and he desired to build up a second Chamber which would be comparatively strong. The reason which Mr. Gladstone gave against the proposal would be a reason which would appeal to me in its favour. On the whole, although in theory I object to the nominated Chamber, yet there are certain men who it is desirable to secure the co-operation of in the government of Ireland, such as my right hon. Friend Sir Horace Plunkett, and Lord MacDonnell, and others whom it might be impossible to get returned through an elected Chamber for Ulster or for any other part of Ireland, and, therefore, on the whole, I would be disposed to welcome a nominated Chamber as a step in the right direction, for the purpose of securing the co-operation of men whose services would be invaluable to Ireland.
Again, I frankly admit I am troubled about Clause 3, which prohibits any endowment of religion or the imposition of any prohibition upon the exercise of religion. It strikes me that that may prove a very serious difficulty in the action of an Irish Legislature in reference to education, and I would suggest to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary that if there is any danger of its hampering the Irish Legislature in respect of education, the point might be dealt with by a separate Clause. With regard to finance, although I very much agree with the views put forward as to the principle of taxation in Ireland by the late Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour), and as to the incidence 482 of taxation in Ireland, I would at the same time remind hon. Members of probably one of the most valuable contributions to the study of Irish finance to be found in a speech made in this House by the late Mr. Blake, in which he examined, with most singular care and accuracy, the whole financial relations existing since the Union between Great Britain and Ireland. I will only say this with regard to finance: Nobody can doubt that Ireland has been taxed largely beyond her taxable capacity. I rather resent the observation in the Report of the Primrose Commission which suggests that restitution is not to be considered. It was admitted in the speech made by my right hon. Friend, and it is admitted by current literature, that if we continue the Union between England and Ireland our expenditure on Ireland must materially increase. I very much deplore that old age pensions were extended to Ireland in the form in which they were. The conditions of an industrial community are very different from those of an agricultural community, and the necessity for old age pensions was not certainly so urgent in Ireland as in this country. Of this I am certain, however, that there is an abundance of room in various departments of Irish local government for very considerable economy being effected which will amply justify a reduction of £500,000 a year, and which will also amply justify the vaticination indulged in by the head of the Government that Ireland, perhaps, at some future date, may be able to contribute to Imperial expenditure, which for some time past she has not been expected to do.
The only other topic of importance in connection with what I may call the general policy of the Bill is that which concerns Ulster. That has been so abundantly discussed, and with great moderation, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover to-day that I do not propose to say very much on the point. I do not regard with ridicule, neither do I scoff at this very serious situation. I do not for one moment imagine there is any danger of revolution, but I think the establishment of Home Rule might possibly lead to very great disorder. There might be some attempt at passive resistance, and it might bring about a very deplorable state of things. What I want to do is to ask my Unionist Friends who may be in this House how do they propose that this question should be settled? Of course they have a policy, that of 483 taking no other step than to continue a resolute form of government. The position of the Ulster representatives, and those who speak for them on that side of the House, is singuarly infelicitous. If they said, "We must have distinct treatment for Ulster, because Ireland is not a homogeneous nation—Ulster is really a province which deserves separate treatment," that would be a, perfectly intelligible position, although I do not say it would be entertained. But the Ulster representatives have chosen to put an absolute veto on that mode of treatment. They have said, "No; our Protestant brethren are scattered over different parts of the country, and these sporadic Protestants must be looked after by the English Government and not by a Government established in Dublin."
It reduces it to this: Three-fourths of the people of Ireland are in favour of some form of Home Rule, and is it reasonable that one-fourth—not a homogeneous fourth—should say, "We have no solution to offer and no proposal to make other than one which is not justified by the history of Ulster." In the days of Grattan's Parliament, in the days of Wolff Tone, and of Napper Tandy, the leaders of the revolutionary movement for a form of republic in Ireland were to be found among the Protestants of Ireland, and were adverse to the opinions and feelings of a great Catholic population. I do not throw that out as a vital argument at the present time. It only shows the inconsistency of public opinion. But with regard to this extremely difficult question of Ulster, they leave us absolutely no alternative. They put us in this position. We are to negative the cession of Home Rule to the people of Ireland without having an opportunity of meeting any reasonable wish that they put forward. This Bill is full of safeguards, and I must say I have been surprised at the extreme moderation which has been displayed by the Irish party in accepting a measure hedged in by so many safeguards. There can be no doubt that a great Protestant community, like that to be found in Ulster, would not suffer if these Statutes were violated, because we should not tolerate any evasion or violation of the provisions for the protection of the Irish Protestant minority.
I now turn to a point on which I feel very strongly, and which actuated me in the course I pursued on the Bill of 1893—I refer to the retention of the Irish Members at 484 Westminster. I think my late hon. Friend Dr. Wallace, then Member for Edinburgh, and myself were the two only Liberal Members who went into the Lobby against the Government on the question of the retention of the Irish Members here. My convictions on that point are as strong today as ever they were. In the 1886 Bill no Irish Members were to be retained, and that state of things was accepted by the then Leader of the Irish party, Mr. Parnell, who declared, speaking authoritatively on behalf of his party, that he had no desire whatever that there should be an Irish representative in the English Parliament. But under the Bill of 1893 eighty Irish Members were retained in the Eng-glish Parliament. There were certain in-and-out Clauses, and they were prohibited under the Bill from dealing with certain matters. Now we have, in 1912, a reduction to forty-two of the number of Irish Members to be retained. I want to read an extract which illustrates and elucidates my attitude in regard to this question. In 1896 the present Leader of the Irish party made the following statement, which holds just as good at the present time as then:—It is unfortunately proposed in the present Bill that Irish Members should be kept here. If Irish Members were away there would be no temptation for a loyal minority to send to this House representatives hostile to Home Rule for Ireland, who would come here with an avowed policy of wrecking the Constitution, and initiating debates on every conceivable Irish question. I say the presence of Irish Members would be a standing temptation to the Irish Parliament to do that which it would not otherwise do.Those are very pregnant words. I quite agree that such Ulster Members as may find their way to the Imperial Parliament will be continually criticising the action of the Irish Executive and the Irish Administration, and endeavouring to curtail the scope of the powers of the Irish Parliament. There is another point of view that was voiced by Mr. Sexton. He did not quite agree with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, and he justified the retention of the Irish Members as affordinga certain leverage for securing further concessions.There is the mischief. I do not say that because I would not give further concessions. I would gladly give further concessions, but there is the mischief foretold by Mr. Gladstone, foretold by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, and foretold by Mr. Sexton, of a body of Irish Members in this House, representing the interests of the Irish people, using their power for the purpose of making further 485 exactions for the Irish people. In what directions would these exactions go? Let me give a concrete instance. Mr. Parnell, speaking at Wicklow, and dealing with the Home Rule Bill and with what the ultimate action of Ireland would be said:—No solution of the Irish question will be acceptable to the Irish people, unless it gives them full and ample control over questions of trade and navigation.Trade and navigation is one of the departments of activity excluded from the operation of the Irish Parliament. We are Free Traders on this side of the House, but we know that there is imminent danger of that policy, which has been observed so long, being reversed by Parliament. I believe a reversal of the Free Trade policy would be beneficial to Ireland. That was the view Mr. Parnell took, and I think it is the view that most thoughtful men would take. The placing of a tariff such as the leader of an Opposition would place—an ad valorem tariff—on agricultural produce, would be of enormous benefit to the Irish people, and they would naturally support the imposition of such a tariff. It is no disrespect to the Irish Members to say that. They are serving the interests of their country, and it would be pure patriotism on their part; firstly, because the object in itself is good; and, secondly, because they might thereby secure even further concessions, by way of subsidies, loans, or Grants, from the English Parliament for the development of their own country. Is it not certain that on the eve of a General Election, as was done by Lord Carnarvon in 1885, that one of the first things the Leader of an English party would do would be to consult Irish Members, so as to start with a nucleus of forty-two on a Division. That is the danger I apprehend. I could elaborate it at greater length by quotations from Mr. Gladstone's speeches and the speeches of others. What has taken place here? The Prime Minister has given us forty-two Irish Members. What did Mr. Gladstone say in regard to forty-two Members? He said that it would be an insult to the Irish people to give them forty-two Members; that the proper proportion was eighty Members, and that to give them thirty or forty Members would be to give an unequal and an unfair position to the interests of Ireland in relation to questions of Imperial policy. The Prime Minister says it is only forty, and he said:—In my experience in Parliament, it is only on very few occasions when forty Members would hold the balance of power.486 There have been two Parliaments of which I have been a Member, the Parliament of 1893 and the present Parliament, where forty-two Members held the balance of power. If I go back to the year 1837, I find that there was a long succession of Parliaments in which the transfer of forty-two votes from one side to the other would have altered the entire political destiny of the country. I want to press that point a little further. If you are content, as I believe you are, to do without Irish representation in this Parliament, still it might be desirable for you to have what Mr. Gladstone was in favour of, namely, a delegation. If forty Members are not likely to affect the destiny of English parties, then to make the matter doubly sure, inasmuch as you are cut down in numbers, so that you cannot be, according to the Prime Minister's opinion, an effective force, but only a debating force—although no doubt the powerful debating force—if we only want you for a debating force, let us reduce you still more to a delegation of ten or twelve Members. You will still have a debating force in the House of Commons, but you would not endanger the course of English domestic politics. I have very imperfectly stated my views upon the subject owing to the exigencies of time.
That is the attitude I take up with regard to the retention of the Irish Members in this House. I rejoice to think that is a view shared by my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. John Redmond). He knows that if there is Irish representation here we shall still be discussing, and discussing very often under the most disagreeable conditions, questions relating to Irish affairs. That is not the worst evil. The one I shrink from is that we shall be moulding our Irish policy according to the exigencies of political parties. It would be a perfectly legitimate action on the part of the Irish Members, who are here quite properly seeking the interests of their own country, but for us it would be odious if we should endeavour to purchase by promises of subsidies and loans, by promises of powers over trade and navigation, a vote which would override the vote of the true opinion of the House of Commons as represented by English and Scottish Members. I know that these views, although they will not be given utterance to from this side of the House, are shared by very many of my hon. Friends, and although I yield to no one in my devotion to Home Rule—and I would 487 give a very much larger measure of Home Rule to Ireland than this Bill gives—yet I regard with the gravest apprehension what I believe, in the words of Mr. Glad-Stone, would bethe degradation of Parliament.I believe this is a great measure. I believe it is a measure which in its details has been framed with great care and skill. I believe it is a measure which ought to satisfy Irishmen, although there is no finality to the just aspirations of the Irish party. I believe there need be no apprehension on our part, because there is a probationary period of six years in regard to certain matters, and a longer period in regard to other matters, during which we shall have a grip of the purse strings, and also the control over physical force. Six years will be enough for us to learn, or, at any rate, for those who doubt it to learn, that the Irish people are capable of great wisdom and justice and capable of discharging the great duties of administration.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow (Thursday).