§ The PRIME MINISTER
I beg to move:
That the Committee stage, Report stage, and Third Reading of the Government of Ireland Bill, and the necessary stages of any Financial Resolutions relating there to, shall be proceeded with as follows:—
§ (1) Committee Stage.
§ Twenty-five allotted days shall be given to the Committee stage of the Bill (including the proceedings on the necessary stages of any Financial Resolutions relating thereto), and the proceedings in Committee on each allotted day shall be as shown in the second column of the Table annexed to this Order, and those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of the Table.
§ (2) Report Stage.
§ Seven allotted days shall be given to the Report stage of the Bill, and the proceedings for each of those allotted days shall be such as may be hereafter determined in manner provided by this Order, and those proceedings, if not previously 548 brought to a conclusion, shall be brought to a conclusion at such time on each such allotted day as may be so determined.
§ (3) Third Reading.
§ Two allotted days shall be given to the Third Reading of the Bill, and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. on the second of those allotted days.
§ On the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without Question put, and the House shall on a subsequent day consider the proposals made by the Government for the allocation of the proceedings on the Report stage of the Bill between the allotted days given to that stage. If the proceedings on the consideration of those proposals are not brought to a conclusion before the expiration of two hours after they have been commenced, the Speaker shall, at the expiration of that time, bring them to a conclusion by putting the Question on the Motion proposed by the Government, after having put the Question, if necessary, on any Amendment or other Motion which has been already proposed from the Chair and not disposed of.
§ After this Order comes into operation any day after the day on which this Order is passed shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order on which the Bill is put down as the first Order of the Day, or on which any stage of any Financial Resolution relating thereto is put down as the first Order of the Day followed by the Bill: Provided that 4.30 p.m. shall be substituted for 10.30 p.m. as respects any allotted day which is a Friday as the time at which proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under the foregoing provisions, and Friday shall not be considered an allotted day for the purpose of any allotted day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion at 7.30 p.m.
§ For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion on an allotted day and have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time appointed under this Order for the conclusion of those proceedings, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and shall next proceed successively to put 549 forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given, but no other Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules, and on any Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded, and, in the case of Government Amendments or of Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clauses or Schedule be added to the Bill, as the case may be.
§ The Chair shall have power to select the Amendments to be proposed on any allotted day, and Standing Order No. 26 shall apply as if a Motion had been carried under paragraph 3 of that Standing Order empowering the Chair to select the Amendments with respect to each Motion, Clause, or Schedule under Debate on that day.
§ A Motion may be made by the Government to leave out any Clause or consecutive Clauses of the Bill before consideration of any Amendments to the Clause or Clauses in Committee.
§ The Question on a Motion made by the Government to leave out any Clause or Clauses of the Bill shall be put by the Chairman or Mr. Speaker after a brief explanatory statement from the Minister in charge and from any one Member who criticises any such statement.
§ Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 8.15 p.m. on an allotted day shall on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing
|Proceedings on Committee Stage.|
|Allotted Day.||Proceedings.||Time for Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion.|
|First||Clause 2 to the end of paragraph (6)||7.30|
|Paragraphs (7) to (10) of Clause 2||10.30|
|Second||Paragraph (11) of Clause 2, and the Amendments to the rest of the Clause, excluding proposed additions*||10.30|
|Third||Proposed additions to Clause 2*||—|
|Fourth||Proposed additions to Clause 2*||—|
|Fifth||Proposed additions to Clause 2,* and any other proceeding necessary to bring Clause 2 to a conclusion||7.30|
|Eighth||Clauses 5 and 6||10.30|
|Twelfth||Clauses 9 and 10||—|
§ Order "Time for taking Private Business," be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House, and shall be treated as Government Business.
§ On an allotted day no dilatory Motion on the Bill, nor Motion to recommit the Bill, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, nor Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 10, nor Motion that the Chairman do report Progress or do leave the Chair, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate.
§ Nothing in this Order shall—
- (a) prevent any proceedings which under this Order are to be concluded on any particular day being concluded any other day, or necessitate any particular day or part of a particular day being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
- (b) prevent any other business being proceeded with on any particular day, or part of a particular day, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, after any proceedings to be concluded under this Order on that particular day, or part of a particular day, have been disposed of.
|Allotted Day.||Proceedings||Time for Proceedings to be brought to a conclusion.|
|Thirteenth||Clauses 9 and 10||7.30|
|Clauses 11 and 12||10.30|
|Fifteenth||Committee stage of any Financial Resolution||10.30|
|Sixteenth||Report stage of any Financial Resolution and Clause 14||10.30|
|Seventeenth||Clauses 15 and 16||—|
|Eighteenth||Clauses 15 and 16||7.30|
|Clauses 17 to 21||10.30|
|Nineteenth||Clauses 22 and 23||7.30|
|Clauses 24 and 25||10.30|
|Twentieth||Clause 26 to the end of Sub-section (2)||7.30|
|Sub-section (3) of Clause 26||10.30|
|Twenty-first||Clauses 27 and 28||7.30|
|Clauses 29 and 30||—|
|Twenty-second||Clauses 29 and 30||7.30|
|Clauses 31 and 32||10.30|
|Twenty-third||Clauses 33 to 36||10.30|
|Twenty-fourth||Clauses 37 to 41||7.30|
|Clauses 42 to 48||10.30|
|Twenty-fifth||New Clauses, Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion||10.30|
§ * NOTE.—All Amendments proposing to add matters to the list of matters excepted from the legislative power of the Irish Parliament which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should properly be placed in separate paragraphs, shall not be taken till the other Amendments to the Clause have been disposed of; but if any Amendment proposing any such addition is carried in Committee, the addition shall be taken to have been inserted in the Clause in such a place as the Chairman directs, having regard to the subject matter of the addition.
§ I am sorry to be obliged to make a rather special appeal to the indulgence of the House if by reason of a certain amount of physical disability I have to compress what I otherwise would have said into a narrower compass than I should have liked. Sir, the Motion which I am about to make belongs to a class which I am afraid we must all admit has now become an almost normal element in our Parliamentary procedure, but which, nevertheless, is always proposed by those who make it with unaffected distaste, and received by the House without anything in the nature of a cordial or enthusiastic welcome. Upon the present occasion I may at once say this: I think it is a more or less fortunate circumstance that the Motion is made in a Session in which the rights and privileges of private Members have been more scrupulously respected, and less invaded by the Executive Government than in almost any Session within my Parliamentary memory. During the months which the House sat, from February until the adjournment in August, the Government did not take away, on balance, a single hour of the time allocated by Standing Orders and rules to private Members. Their Tuesdays, 552 their Wednesdays, their Fridays, were left to them, and when, as was the case, we had for a purpose of admitted public urgency, to take I think a couple of nights of private Members' time in connection with the Bill for the Minimum Wage for Miners, we repaid what we had taken with interest and, as the House will remember, we provided special facilities in accordance with the pledges we had given for a private Member's Bill dealing with the extension of the Franchise to Women. Those therefore who speak of the House of Commons, as I see it sometimes spoken of outside and occasionally inside, as if it were gagged and tongue-tied by the Government of the day, absolutely have no justification in the procedure up to this moment of the present Session.
§ Every opportunity that our Standing Orders allow and prescribe, has been given for the introduction of private legislation, for the ventilation by Motion or otherwise, of new ideas of policy, and for the criticism of the executive action of the Administration itself. Further, Sir, as regards the Bill to the proceedings upon which, and upon which alone, this Motion is confined—the Bill for the Better Government of Ireland—we have now 553 passed through stages—the First Reading, the Second Reading and the discussion of the first Clause, and I think the introductory words of the Second Clause in Committee—without resort to any exceptional proceedings. As regards the first Clause of the Bill, the discussion of which in Committee, as I have stated, took place without any kind of restriction, every great question of principle the Bill involves was raised in the course of these Debates by Amendment, by discussion, and by Division. The question we have now to face is what steps ought to be taken which are compatible with the attainment of two objects, both of which are in the opinion of the Government of vital importance. The first is the carrying of this measure through the House of Commons, with a reasonable allowance of Parliamentary time; and the second, though not less important, the securing for its discussion in Committee and upon Report, as regards all its essential and important features, adequate opportunities for de bate. [HON. MEMBEKS: "Hear, hear."] I hear an ironical cheer, but I do not think those who cheer show, if I may say so with respect, an intelligent appreciation of the position. What is our object in this matter? Our object is not only that the Bill should pass into law, but that it should pass into law in such a shape—
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Not only that it should pass into law within the lifetime of the present Parliament, but that it should pass in such a shape with its provisions so carefully criticised, reviewed, and discussed that it will become a real workable measure. We have no desire, therefore, and if we had the desire we have no interest, in withdrawing any part of it from adequate discussion in the House of Commons. Now, Sir, when we have reached under our modern Parliamentary conditions the Committee stage of a Bill, a Bill of complexity and a Bill of importance, we have to consider what is the best manner from the Parliamentary point of view of dealing with it. There are obviously two entirely different categories into which our legislative proposals may be divided. On the one hand, there are Bills, the principle of which is generally accepted; I would have taken, if it did not seem obsolete to do so, the case of the Insurance Act of last year.—Bills where there is, at any rate, an avowed and ostensible disposition to 554 accept the principle, and where, therefore, the function of the Committee is, or ought to be, on both sides of the House, after a full discussion in Debate, to improve what is amiss, to supplement what is wanting, and to make the Bill indeed a more workable measure for the purpose of carrying out a generally accepted principle. There are, I am glad to say, a number of measures which all fall within that class. There is a second class, to which, I regret to say, the present Bill belongs. It is the class where the principle of the Bill is stoutly contested, and where, when you get into Committee, the object of those who are opposed to it is not to improve it, not to make it more workable, not to secure that it shall, by its details and its machinery, carry out more effectively the objects for which it is intended, but where the object—a perfectly legitimate object; I am not disputing that for a moment—is twofold. It is, first of all, by the quantity of your Amendments to smother the Bill; and next, by the quality and character of your Amendment, to frustrate, defeat, and nullify its governing principles. Now there can be no doubt whatever, as every honest man, as everybody in every quarter of the House will agree, that that is a function to which the Committee stage of this Bill is intended to be applied. We have had some illustration of it already in the discussion of the first Clause. We have seen Amendments supported for the exclusion of Ulster, for the denial to the new representative body in Ireland of a Second Chamber, for the deletion of words securing in express terms the continued authority of the Imperial Parliament and the Crown—not one of those Amendments was promoted or supported with the object of improving the quality of the Bill, but, as everyone knows, and as was quite candidly avowed, with the object of making the Bill worse, or at least of exposing its essential absurdities. Here I should like to quote some language which was used by a very distinguished Member of the Opposition, who unfortunately does not at present participate in our Debates—I mean the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), who, speaking in 1902 upon the Motion made by the then head of the Government, the present Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour), to adopt a Resolution framed on the same lines as this in regard to the Education Bill of that 555 year, the right hon. Gentleman looked back to the proceedings of the Opposition in the case of the last Home Rule Bill to the year 1893—I am quoting from a speech of 11th November, 1902—and, speaking of my right hon. Friend beside me, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, he said:—I will not venture to challenge the hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, who has taken a very prominent part in this Debate, as to whether his object as not been to destroy the Bill. I do not blame him a bit, but I say that the general object of the Amendments which have been advocated with so much force has been to destroy the Bill. The hon. Gentleman says that in the Home Rule Debate in 1893 it was our object to destroy that Bill, while their object was not to destroy this Bill but to improve it. I admit that our object was to destroy that Bill—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I will continue the quotation:—I admit our object was to destroy that Bill and not to improve it, and I am not ashamed of it.That is a perfectly legitimate method of Parliamentary warfare, only let us recognise facts as they are. Do not let it be put forward as a pretence by people whose avowed object is not to improve, not to amend, but to destroy and defeat the Bill, if they are not allowed to occupy the whole of this Session in that legitimate but not very useful part, that we are curtailing the opportunities of the House of Commons for what is called legitimate discussion. Everybody knows the position in which we stand. Everybody knows in every quarter of the House that unless some Resolution of the kind and character as that which I am about to propose is submitted to and approved by the House, the whole of the Session and any prolongation of this Session which the law allows will be occupied in the consumption of time, not for the purpose of making this Bill a workable Bill worthy to take its place upon the Statute Book, but to prevent the House of Commons giving effect to the will of the representatives of the nation. It is not necessary for me in making the Motion I am about to submit, as Mr. Gladstone said—I remember well him speaking from this box in 1893—to make out a case of obstruction—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London said the same thing in 1902 in regard to the Education Bill. It is not necessary to show that excessive time was consumed in the discussion of this Bill, but it is necessary to show that unless some Resolution of this kind is passed the will of the majority of the 556 House of Commons and those whom they represent will be thwarted. That being so, and those demands being met on the one side and upon the other, the only real practical question for the House to consider in the case of the Resolution I am about to submit is the question of reasonableness. We want, and we intend, this Bill to pass the House of Commons during the present Session, without an undue consumption of the time of Parliament, without interfering with, imperilling, or ruining the chances of other legislation. You want it not. You want to have the opportunity of taking the whole of the Session in prolonging the Committee stage of the Bill. There we are at issue with one another, and assuming that the will of the majority in this, as in other matters, must prevail, the real practical question for the House of Commons to consider is whether or not, under the scheme which the Government has propounded, which is embodied in this Resolution, adequate and reasonable facilities are offered for the discussion of its important parts.
That must necessarily bring us back to the question of precedents. It is said, I know, that we are dealing less generously from that point of view with the time of the House than was done by the Government in 1893. In 1893 this procedure of Closure, by what is now called the guillotine, was still in its infancy. It has now become much more scientific, and I think much more reasonable, as it has been developed by subsequent experience, an experience to which both parties in the State have impartially contributed. There is not a man sitting on those benches who does not know as well as I do that if we were turned out of office to-morrow, if we went to the country, and if—a much larger if—you got a majority and came to sit upon this bench instead of upon that, there is not a man sitting there who has had a couple of years' of Parliamentary experience who does not know perfectly well that within six months of your advent to office—[An HON. MEMBER: "We would have a Second Chamber."]—you would be making a precisely similar Resolution with regard to the principal measure of the Session—the Tariff. Will you ever get a Tariff through this House without the guillotine? I do not think you would. Whether we like it or not the guillotine has become a necessary instrument—I may say an almost elementary and normal instrument—in our Parliamentary proceedings. The question is really one of reasons.
557 I go back to the precedent of 1893. In that year the total time consumed upon the Irish Government Bill of that year making the necessary corrections for part sittings and so on was seventy-six Parliamentary days. [An HON. MEMBER: It was seventy seven days."] Well, it was seventy-six or seventy-seven, but I make it seventy six days. The total time we propose to give if this Resolution is carried is fifty Parliamentary days. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, Sir, but although at first sight that may seem as though we were curtailing, as compared with twenty years ago, the amount of effective Parliamentary time given to the real discussion of the measure, that is not the case. I will tell the House why. We are really giving a much more thorough and effective discussion to this Bill than was given to the Bill of 1893. Why? For two reasons. In the first place, in 1S93, the Motion for the allocation of time was not made until after twenty-five and a-half days of Parliamentary time had been spent in Committee. They had been occupied in the discussion of four Clauses only, four Clauses which correspond to three Clauses in the present Bill. So that in this case twenty-five and a half days, or nearly six weeks of Parliamentary time, were spent in the discussion of practically three Clauses, a gross waste of time. For the remainder of the Committee—those twenty-five and a-half days having been consumed before the allocation Resolution was proposed—for the whole of the remainder of the Committee, that is for ail the Clauses of the Bill from the fourth Clause to the end, the Resolution of that year only gave eighteen days. We are giving twenty-five days.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It may be eight Clauses longer, but it is not eight Clauses longer except in a purely technical sense. It is a mere matter of drafting. In substance, they are exactly the same, and we are really giving twenty-five days for that which was then given only eighteen.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The second point, which is quite equally important, bears out again my proposition that we are giving fuller opportunity for the discussion of this Bill than was given in 1893 under Mr. Gladstone's Resolution, under which eighteen days were given in 558 Committee to the whole of the remainder of the Bill. The Bill was divided into four compartments. What was the result? The result was that something like thirty Clauses remained wholly undiscussed. That is absolutely impossible under the schedule which is appended to this Resolution. [Laughter.] It is all very well to laugh, but I am dealing with actual facts. I assert without any hesitation, because this has been gone into with the utmost care, that under the provisions of this Resolution, if you take the Committee stage, and if you then take the Report stage, which has been purposely left free in order that it may be given to any points left undiscussed in Committee, there is not a single essential, or even important provision of this Bill, which will not have a full opportunity of Parliamentary discussion. Therefore we are really dealing with the matter, guided as we are, no doubt, by the light of subsequent experience, in a far more liberal spirit, and with a much keener desire that every important point in our Bill should receive a more thorough Parliamentary review, than was possible in 1893. I have spoken of the precedent of 1893. Let me now ask the House just for a moment to consider the Parliamentary experience of this great assembly in days gone by in regard to Bills of character and importance such as this. We propose that from first to last there should be given by the House of Commons for the discussion of this Bill fifty Parliamentary days. If you omit Fridays—we do not propose to take it on Fridays—that gives you twelve full weeks, or rather more of Parliamentary time. What has been the case in regard to the great and most controversial measures of the past, in the days when the House had neither Closure nor guillotine, nor any of these expedients for abridging and rendering more businesslike our Debates? I see Mr. Gladstone, in his speech in 1893, when he proposed the corresponding Resolution to that which I am now submitting—I have not verified this, but he was very accurate in these matters—said,, in the case of the great Reform Bill of 1831, which was regarded at that time at least as revolutionary a measure as this:—The total number of days taken for its discussion in the House of Commons was forty-nine.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Both longer and shorter; sometimes longer and some- 559 times shorter. At any rate, it was forty-nine. The Noble Lord may work that out if he likes. Take the Representation of the People Act of 1867, the next of our great Reform Bills. This has been verified by ourselves. That Bill, which contained sixty-one Clauses, occupied twenty-three days in Committee, and twenty-eight days in all, in its passage through the House of Commons. Take the next of the great controversial measures of these old Parliamentary times, the Irish Church Act of 1869. People will hardly believe it, but that was a hotly contested measure, strongly opposed in Ulster, and very strong language was used about it in Ireland and elsewhere. The Trish Church Act, an enormously controversial and complicated Bill of seventy-two Clauses, occupied, how much time in this House? Sixteen days.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Exactly in the same way as this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I come next to the Education Act of 1870, a very controversial measure.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The Noble Lord's historic memory is very short. It wrecked the Liberal party. That occupied twenty-one days in all, fourteen and a-half in Committee. I come still later to an Irish Bill, perhaps the most contentious Irish Bill which has ever been passed through this House and the other House since the Irish Church Act. That was the Irish Land Bill of 1881. My hon. Friend, the Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) took part in those discussions, and will remember it well. The Irish Land Bill of 1881 was given twenty-five and a half days in Committee, and during the whole time of its passage through this House it occupied less than forty days. So now I have gone through, up to the time when these measures of restriction of Debate were first invented, really all the most seriously contentious Bills that have been through this House during the course of half a century, and I have shown the House that not in the case of one of them was as much time occupied under the conditions of free debate as we are proposing to assign to this Bill under this Resolution. If, therefore, the question is, as I venture to repeat the practical 560 one—is this, or is this not, a reasonable allocation of time, having regard to all the precedents both before and since the introduction of the Closure?—we are giving ample time for the discussion of this Bill. I note in passing that in the discussion of 1902, on the Closure of the Education Bill of that year, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), who supported the very drastic guillotine Resolution which was then proposed, said that looking back to 1893 and to the Closure of that Bill, he found himself in almost entire agreement with everything Sir William Harcourt had said upon that occasion. Amongst other things—this will seem very strange, certainly to new Members—the right hon. Gentleman said, and he quoted with approval Sir William Harcourt's statement:—This was the opinion of that great and experienced Parliamentarian: 'I have found'said Sir William Harcourt, with the ratification and approval of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham:—'everything that could be said on a Clause can be well said in a day.'
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am quoting my authority. That is the opinion at any rate of two of the greatest Parliamentarians who have ever sat in this House. When you come to the question of what is reasonable with a dictum of that kind in your mind and memory and you look at the schedule appended to this Resolution, I think the general opinion will be that we have erred rather on the side of generosity. I am not going to deal, it would be irregular and most unnecessary if I were to deal, by way of anticipation, with the points which are raised in the Amendment which I see the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law) has put on the Paper, points which, of course, he is well entitled to raise. We shall listen to his arguments in support of them with the greatest interest and attention, and in due course I hope and believe an adequate reply will be forthcoming. That is not the function which at this moment it is my duty to discharge. If I have made out, as I believe I have made out, my three propositions, the first is that if this Bill is to pass into law at all, which is the will of the great majority of this House, some compulsory limitation of the time of its discussion 561 must be applied. My second proposition is the total time allotted in view of the precedents to which I have referred, and of our actual Parliamentary situation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, and quite apart from our actual Parliamentary situation—is not only reasonably sufficient but ample and indeed generous. My third proposition, and it is equally important, is that of that total time to be given for the further discussion of the measure the apportionment will be so allocated as to secure either on the Committee stage or on the Report stage that every provision of substantial importance can and will come under criticism and review. Those are conditions which, if they are satisfied, will justify a deliberative assembly in asserting the right of the majority to control its own proceedings, and it is because in no other way can we attain the object the majority of us have in view that on the part of the Government I submit this Resolution.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I rise at once, with your permission and with that of the House, to move the Amendment in my name on the Paper as follows:—
To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to insert instead thereof the words "a Bill, which proposes to establish a separate Parliament and Executive in Ireland in defiance of the clearly expressed wish of a great section of its people, which is presented by the Government as the first step towards the creation of several separate Legislatures and Executives within the United Kingdom, which has never received the approval of the country and which is introduced while the Constitution is admittedly in suspense, requires the full and unfettered consideration of this House, and this House declines to apply any restrictions to its discussion."
I have been long enough a Member of this House to have listened to many speeches delivered from that Bench in favour of Closure Resolutions and to many criticisms of such Resolutions from this Bench made by Leaders of both parties, and I confess that they always seemed to me to have a certain air of unreality, and that air of unreality—I think I may go further and say an air of insincerity—which was never so apparent as in the speech to which we have just listened. I could, if I chose, occupy the time of the House for many hours in reading extracts from speeches of Leaders of the party opposite, from Mr. Gladstone 562 downwards—speeches which condemn in the strongest terms of which our language is capable any such proposal as that which we are now considering. Mr. Gladstone, for instance, said, in introducing the guillotine, that it would only be used against wilful obstruction, and he said something else which ought to have applied at a later stage: he said the minority would always be able to rely on the sense of justice and fair play of the majority. This proposal, then, is the standard by which we can judge the sense of justice and fair play of the majority. The right hon. Gentleman also himself not so-very long ago—during the last Parliament, when he was in opposition—said:—Legislation without deliberation in a democratic country was a contradiction in terms. Once the House of Commons became a mere automatic machine for recording the fiat of the Government, not only would legislation go forth to the country without respect and authority, but it would destroy the best safeguards for the permanence of that legislation.This then is the method by which the right hon. Gentleman secures that legislation shall be accompanied by deliberation, and that it shall go forth with full authority to the country. I confess that, in my view, the speech—not so much the speech as the subjects dealt with by the Prime Minister—are far too trivial for the circumstances in which we stand, and if I am not going to take up time with his speech it is, as I say, because the subjects to which of necessity he directed himself do not represent the real facts of the situation.
But I will take one point, for it is important. He laid down this general principle, that provided an Opposition desires to destroy a Bill, they have no claim to discuss that Bill in this House. I take a different view from the right hon. Gentleman. I think, unlike him, that, after all, the country and not the House of Commons is the final Court of Appeal, and I claim that legitimate discussion which does do what he says we have done—which shows the absurdities of this Bill—is as necessary as any other form of discussion. But the position is very different from the kind of speech lo which we have listened. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House do not in the least realise what our feelings on this whole subject are. That is more likely, because I confess I do not understand the point of view of the Gentlemen who sit on that bench. I have tried, but I have never been able to understand in what way they justify to their own consciences the course which they are taking with regard to this Bill. I think it would be 563 well that the House should understand what our view is. I hope they will allow me to express it clearly. However exaggerated it seems to them I can assure them it does not seem exaggerated to me. We think that this proposal is simply the climax for the moment of a deliberate and, as we believe, most ignoble conspiracy. We believe that what the Prime Minister meant by talking so frequently about the Parliamentary situation was simply this, that from the time they came back from the country after the General Election of 1910, and when they were faced with the very difficult alternative of seeing the People's Budget, on which they had gone to the country, rejected by the representatives of the people, or submitting unconditionally to the Gentlemen who sit on the Nationalist Benches, they have never been free agents. We believe that from that day to this, not on their own initiative, but impelled by a power not themselves, which in this case does not make for righteousness, from that day to this their one object has been to carry through under Parliamentary forms a measure which we know and which they know would never receive the assent of the people of this country.
That being our view, I am not willing to discuss this proposal as if it had any relation, however remote, to anything which has ever been proposed in the House of Commons before. It differs from every other proposal, not only in degree, but in kind. It differs from it very much in degree. When the right hon. Gentleman told us that this proposal gave us adequate time, and that, if anything, it erred on the side of generosity, I could hardly believe my ears. I have had an analysis carefully made of the time given to the great subjects which are raised under this Bill in accordance with this Resolution. It would take a long time to go through it, and I am not going to do it. I will give only one or, perhaps, two points. The first is that the time given under this proposal to the whole discussion of the question of Irish representation in this House, which goes to the root of our whole constitutional system, is six and a half hours. Now take the other, the sixteenth day—six and a half hours again. The Report stage, which was carried forward from the previous day, of the Financial Resolutions and Clause 14 are to be taken. Of that six and a half hours, some time, probably a considerable time, will be occupied with 564 the Report stage. What are the principles which have to be discussed in the balance of the six and a half hours? The Joint Exchequer Board, the principle of the transferred sum, the principle of the subsidy by British taxpayers, the payment of all Irish revenues into the Imperial Consolidated Fund, and the payment of the Irish deficit. In part of six and a half hours! I take a different view from the right hon. Gentleman. I say that after the examination of the details I have given that in my sincere judgment it would not have been in essence a great travesty of the whole system of Parliamentary government if the right hon. Gentleman had proposed that every stage of the Bill should go through to-morrow. I have not the smallest doubt that he would have made as good a speech in support of such a Resolution, and that it would have been supported with equal unanimity.
But this proposal differs from all others, not only in degree, but in essence. The right hon. Gentleman said to us that if we were in his place in six months we would be doing the same thing. I remember what happened to the man who asked, "Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" and I am cautious. If we were ever subjected to the same temptation before which the right hon. Gentleman has fallen, we might do it; but I trust that if ever it is done by the party to which I belong, neither I nor any of my Friends will be a member of the party. This Resolution differs, as I said, in essence as well as in degree. This is the first fruits of your Parliament Act. Do not forget that. And the fact that this Resolution is proposed at all is the clearest evidence that that Act can never work unless the majority are willing to make this House cease altogether to be a legislative Assembly and to become a machine for registering the decrees of the Government. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will get his usual majority for this or any other proposal, but I am sure, also, that there are many of the hon. Gentlemen whom I am addressing who will vote for this proposal with misgiving, and who will only vote for it because they think that this is the only way by which the policy of their party can be carried out. What does that mean? It means, as was pointed out over and over again in our discussions on the Parliament Bill, and by no one more cogently than by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City (Mr. Balfour), that it will actually work in this 565 way: That all great Bills which are in tended to be carried through Parliament must be pressed into a single Session. It will mean that the Bills which are controversial, and which therefore ought to receive the most discussion, must all come together. In other words, it means this, that just in proportion to the importance of the subject, and to the need for the discussion of that subject, in that proportion discussion will be stifled in this House. Is that a system which can be permanent? I put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite, is it tolerable even for a single Session in any country which makes a pretence to being governed by Parliamentary institutions?
It means something more than that, and to this I specially direct the attention of the Government. The Parliament Act is not interfered with by a General Election. After a General Election, as before, if the Government comes back with a majority in this House, the Parliament Act will work. Why then this frantic haste? They won the election in my opinion by this cry more than by any other means, "The will of the people must prevail." What are they doing? They are using a majority which they got in that way in order to force into law measures for which by their acts, which, if not perhaps more eloquent, are more trustworthy than their speeches, they themselves acknowledge they do not believe they have the support of the people of this country. This proposal differs in essence from any other this House has ever considered, because it deals with a Bill which is of surpassing importance, which, if once carried, can never be reversed except by force, and which has not received the approval, even in principle, of the people of this country. Its importance will not be denied. I think I am right in saying that it is the kind of Bill which in any constitutional country which has a written Constitution could not be carried even by a bare majority. Something more would be needed. Yet they propose to carry it—to put it far more mildly than the facts justify—without having any proof that it is supported even by a majority of the electors in this country. They have no authority from the country even for the principle of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman made many extraordinary statements, as it seemed to me, in the course of his speech. The one which was most extraordinary was this Bill had received the approval of this country in the same way as the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. When he reads that statement in cold blood tomorrow 566 I think he will be sorry that he made it. This subject of the mandate, if one has to call it that, which the Government has received, has been often discussed. It is necessary to discuss it again, although I do not pretend I can say anything new about it. I say they deliberately tried to shirk this issue and to prevent it from being an issue at the last General Election.
That is my contention. What are the facts? Take, first, their election addresses. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that as we have mentioned this before we should not mention it again. I do not know why. Take their election addresses. It is a fact that this subject of surpassing importance was not mentioned in the election addresses of the Prime Minister, or of the majority of his most important colleagues, or the great majority of his supporters behind him. Why are election addresses issued at all? They are issued, as I think, in order to put clearly before the electors the issues which are important, and which are likely to come up in the Parliament for which the candidate seeks selection. They have an importance greater than any other declaration of policy, because they are in the exact words of the candidate. They go to every elector, and are not dependent upon newspaper reports. This subject was not mentioned. Why was it not mentioned? The only man on that bench who, so far as I have heard, has given an explanation is the Prime Minister. What was his explanation? He said that his address related only to the Parliament Act, as that was the main issue of the last election. Yes, Sir, but in the address there was one sentence which did not refer to the Parliament Act. He said this, or something like this—I do not refer to other aspects of our policy, because they were clearly expressed in my election address nearly a year ago.I turned up the other election address. It dealt with almost every political subject under the sun, but contained not one word about Home Rule.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that at the General Election of January, 1910, I kept Home Rule back? [HON. MEMBERS: "Your election address."] Will he read my speech at the Albert Hall?
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Since the right hon. Gentleman is so proud of it, I shall refer to his Albert Hall speech. In the meantime I am dealing with his election 567 address. I do not suggest that he is in a different position from the others. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Chief Secretary for Ireland."] Oh, he is worse, but I have quoted him so often that it is not worth while doing it again. The right hon. Gentleman is the Prime Minister, that is why I refer to him. It is a curious commentary upon the burning enthusiasm which has always inspired the Prime Minister for this cause that, from the defeat of Home Rule in 1895 to this hour, he has never once mentioned it in an election address. The right hon. Gentleman referred me to his speech. This subject was raised by my predecessor, and as it happened I locked over the Debate only this morning. What do I find? The right hon. Gentleman had hunted for every reference which he had made to Home Rule, and there were, I think, three. At least, that is all I remember. I may be wrong.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
All that is mentioned in the defence of the right hon. Gentleman. The most important of the three was Hull. He was addressing a great meeting of, I suppose, 5,000 or 6,000 people. He spoke, for him, for a considerable length, and there was one reference to Home Rule, and this was the reference: "I made a declaration in the Albert Hall a year ago, and to every word of that declaration I adhere." That is the way to win support for a great policy from a great audience. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman imagined that those working men would go home and turn up the files of the "Times," and if they did they would not have been very much wiser. He did make a declaration about Home Rule, but it was in the most general terms, and would have applied almost, if not quite, as well to the Local Government Bill of Mr. Gerald Balfour as to the Bill which is now before the House of Commons. But we all know that the real defence of the right hon. Gentleman—I wonder if he will make it again; I hope not, for his sake—is that whether they made it an issue or not, we made it an issue. Will he still make that defence after the by-elections?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Take North-West Manchester, which is typical of the whole of them. [An HON. MEMBER: "Midlothian."] It was the same. Mr. Shaw, the candidate at Midlothian, said over and over again that the real vital issue was Tariff Reform. Take North-West Manchester, which is typical of the whole. The candidate in his address and in nearly all his speeches said the issue of this election is Tariff Reform. The most influential Radical paper in the district—in the Kingdom I think—took consistently the same line, and said, "This election is fought on Tariff Reform." You know the result. Do you admit that Tariff Reform was the issue? At all events, the Prime Minister does not. This is what he said on Saturday:—One thing at any rate is certain, and is indeed not attempted to be controverted by the hardiest Protectionist, and that is that these by-elections have not been fought, lost or won on Tariff Reform.The right hon. Gentleman cheers that. Let us get down to business. Does he contend that though the defeated candidates at the by-elections could not make the issue, we, who were defeated at the General Election, succeeded in making it the issue?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Home Rule was the issue. It was understood, and it was laid down by both parties.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
Both parties did not make it the issue.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is really not so obtuse as he pretends. I have already pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman did not make it an issue, and that his defence was that we made it an issue. Now, I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite with some confidence. There will be a General Election some time. There may be a General Election while Home Rule is the issue. Suppose that when that time comes neither I nor any of my colleagues on this bench mention Tariff Reform in our addresses, and suppose that we only mention it in our speeches often enough to be able to say after the election that we had mentioned it. Suppose that the party opposite—and this is not impossible—thinking that opposition to Tariff Reform is a better card than approval of 569 Home Rule, were to devote all their speeches and addresses to Tariff Reform. Suppose—the thing is conceivable—that we won the election and in spite of our silence, immediately carried Tariff Reform, what would you think of us? [An HON. MEMBER: "You did it before."] I will tell you what I would say. I should think it disgraceful, and if it is disgraceful for us, is it quite honourable for you? But really this question as to whether or not you have the authority of the country is no longer open to argument. Your own Press—the most influential part of it—influenced by what has been happening in Ireland, are telling you openly that though it was an issue, it was not the issue, and that before carrying it into law you ought to have an election. I know that when the Press disagrees with the politicians, some hon. Gentlemen opposite have a poor opinion of the Press—even their own Press—but, so far as my observation has gone, in comparison with ours it is very subservient. The hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Norfolk has expressed his view. He speaks, and I think he has a right to speak, for the party opposite, because he has the almost unique distinction of having, since the introduction of the Home Rule Bill, retained for his party a seat which had never been held by a Unionist, He says that the Press when he disagrees with it, even his own Press, has no influence. But for the declaration of the policy of the party and to influence the country they must wait till the moment comes when the utterance is given not by the Prime Minister, that is incidental, but by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The truth is that when their own Press turns against them the game is up, and they know it. They may pretend that they did receive the approval of the country, but it is a hollow pretence. They may say it, but they do not themselves believe it, and neither does anyone else.
In connection with the same subject, take another point which was referred to by the Prime Minister on Saturday, the Preamble of the Parliament Act. We say that, admitting you won the election on the Parliament Bill, the Preamble was as much a part of your proposals as any other part of it, and over and over again in my own experience, when I tried to point out to the electors that this meant Single-Chamber Government, I was pointed to the Preamble as a proof that nothing of the kind was meant. What does the right hon. Gentleman say now? 570 He says that nobody, neither politician nor elector, ever dreamt that the Preamble would be put into operation until all the stages of the Home Rule Bill had gone through. He must make some exception. He must make the not unimportant exception of Lord Loreburn, and I am sorry he is more ignorant than any politician or any elector. Speaking after the election, he said this, dealing with the Preamble and the rest of the Bill:—They are twin Bills, and when we hare carried one we will carry the other.He must also make an exception, and a not unimportant exception, of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He told us some little time ago that the Preamble was a debt of honour. That was not all. He said it did not brook delay. Did that mean that the whole period of this Parliament was to go through before this debt of honour, which does not brook delay, was to be carried out?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I never said the whole period of this Parliament was to go through. We shall very soon introduce it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I will limit it. Does a debt of honour which does not brook delay mean that all the stages of the Home Rule Bill have to be gone through and become law before the Preamble is to come into operation? The Prime Minister said something about this on Saturday. I shall contrast the debt of honour which does not brook delay with what he said on Saturday:It is our intention to carry out the promise contained in the Preamble, if time and opportunity permit, in the lifetime of the present Parliament.Can he listen to these two statements placed side by side without any sense of shame? I have no doubt that if that is what the right hon. Gentleman means, he can explain it away. He has performed a harder task than that. Ten years ago he said in the country that the Liberal party ought never to undertake the duty of office unless it had an independent Liberal majority. If he said now that circumstances were too strong for him, and that he had changed his mind, we could understand it, but he said nothing of the kind. Only last Session he was challenged about it in the House, and he said, "That is perfectly consistent with what I said ten years ago." Anyone who is able to explain to his own satisfaction that when he says the Liberal party should not undertake office unless it has an independent Liberal majority he means that it should under- 571 take office even though it is not the largest party in the House, will have no difficulty in explaining that a debt of honour which does not brook delay is a debt which he will leave to be settled by his heirs.
The only other special ground which is mentioned in the Amendment as a reason why this Resolution should not be agreed to is the clear expression of the determination of a large and homogeneous section of the Irish people not to submit to it if passed under present conditions. That is, of course, the factor in this whole question which far transcends in importance every other, and in connection with it two incidents have happened during the Recess of very varying degrees of importance, it is true, but both important. One is the declaration of a Minister of the Crown, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the other is what has happened in Ulster. The right hon. Gentleman is in a peculiar position. His visit to Belfast, where he was permitted to address a Nationalist meeting, has made a lasting impression on his mind. He has realised, if the other Members of the Government have not, that there is a reality which no amount of Parliamentary manœuvring and no chicanery, however skilful, can get over. He realised that, and he came to this House at the time of the second reading Debate, when he made a declaration which I understood, and which, I think every Member of this House understood, to mean that the Government were prepared to consider leaving Ulster out of this Bill. He made that declaration and then he disappeared. Over and over again we challenged the one or two Members of the Government who condescended to discuss the Bill to produce the scheme, and asked them to justify or explain what he said. We never saw him. He reminded me of a well-known cartoon of another famous statesman who was depicted as a little boy who wrote up "No Popery!" and then ran away. It is not the legend on the door that is of importance; it is the running away.
During the calmness of the recess the right hon. Gentleman's courage returned, and he made a statement which, in spite of what the Prime Minister said at Question Time to-day, is not only entirely inconsistent with the Bill now before the House, but—and this is far more serious—pours ridicule on the Bill. That is not my view. I read every Radical paper I 572 could get hold of at the time, and there; was not one that took any notice of it which did not regard it as a bomb-shell thrown into the Radical camp. When I read it I was reminded of a remark made about another great statesman, Alcibiades, who had many points of resemblance with the right hon. Gentleman. Of Alcibiades it was said, "You ought not to keep a lion's whelp in your city, but if you do choose to keep him, you must submit yourself to his behaviour." I say that proposal was entirely inconsistent with the Bill now before the House of Commons. What was his idea of the way it should be settled when we come to deal with that federalism and devolution of which they talk so glibly? It was that devolution should not take place on national, but on local lines. He selected a particular instance with the object of showing its appositeness to Ulster. He pointed out that Lancashire has ideas, political and educational, which justify it in having a separate Parliament. If on these grounds Lancashire is entitled to a separate Parliament, does he pretend that he can refuse, that he is not bound, to offer separate treatment to the people of Ulster? It is quite true the right hon. Gentleman, at the end of his speech, to save his face, I suppose, said, "We must concentrate on a Home Rule Bill for Ireland to begin with." Yes, but if the right hon. Gentleman means that, will he say now that he really proposes that the forces of the British Crown should be used to compel the people of the North-East of Ireland to submit to a Parliament in Dublin in order that a year or two afterwards, when we complete our scheme, they should go out of that Parliament and have separate treatment? But the real question, the real incident, which has altered the whole situation is what has recently happened in Ulster. [Laughter.] I am sorry hon. Members laugh, for I really think that this whole question is not one for laughter. The right hon. Gentleman said on Saturday that what has happened in Ulster has taught him or any of us nothing new. Is that true? I remember the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) in the early stages of the controversy about this. Bill said there was no Ulster question.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
Certainly. We do do not deny that there is a question, but 573 it is not an Ulster question. It is a question, of a small corner of Ulster.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Very well, if the hon. and learned Member thinks it worth while, I accept that correction. We all know what is meant by the term "Ulster question." Does anyone say that now? I am not going to look at this question from the point of view of the power of those people to carry out their expressed determination not to submit to this Bill, although it is a point of view worth looking at. They have great power of resistance. They are far more homogeneous than the Boers were, and far more numerous than the Boers were. I should like if some day the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain why, if he thought it cruel to compel obedience on the part of the Boers, it is right to use the same means with regard to the people of Ulster. I think their power of resistance is absolutely irresistible, and I will tell the House why. It is not on account of the character of the people. I do not share the view of the hon. Member for Mayo, who expressed his opinion of them in strong language during the Recess. It is not on account of the character of the people, or of their number, or of their determination. It is because their cause is just, and because they are ready to give up their lives for it. But leaving out of account altogether their power of resistance, look at the facts which you have to face. Over and over again I have asked hon. Gentlemen on the bench opposite to tell me how they justify that on their own principles. They said in introducing this Bill that a minority of the United Kingdom, representing something like a fourteenth or a fifteenth, is entitled to separate treatment because they want it. On what principle can you say that a homogeneous community—for that is the essence of it—representing one-fourth of the population of Ireland, is not entitled to equal separate treatment as against the rest of Ireland? Will they ever explain it? It is no use saying to us, as they say over and over again, that the fears of these people are unreal, and that the dangers they anticipate will never arise. That is not, in my opinion, the question. They may be right. The dangers may never arise.
What has that got to do with it? You might as well have said, if you had been alive, to the people of Poland: "The dangers you fear will not happen. If you accept the situation Russia will treat you well." The position is exactly the same. 574 It is not whether they are right or wrong. It is whether or not they wish to remain in our community. I recognise, and I have always recognised, my full responsibility in connection with this question, which I regard honestly as far more serious than hon. Gentlemen on the other benches do. We are told—I think the right hon. Gentleman himself hinted at it—that this is a doctrine of lawlessness. Well, there must be a limit. The people who resisted James II. were resisting a constituted authority. The people who resisted Robespierre were resisting a constituted authority, for he, like the right hon. Gentleman, had the support of the majority of the Convention. There is a limit, and the limit comes, in my opinion, in a free country when a body of men, whether they call themselves a Cabinet or not, propose to make a great change like this for which they have never received the sanction of the people. We were told constantly—and again the Prime Minister hinted at it—we were charged with it openly, that the action which we are taking will lead to disorder, and is intended to lead to disorder. We know, and the Government know, or if they do not know they ought to know, that that charge is utterly false. They know, or they ought to know, that the sense of injustice under which these people are labouring, and justifiably labouring, in my opinion, is so intense that outbreaks are likely, and outbreaks of a kind, maybe, which I really shudder when I think of the possibility of them occurring, for they will be massacres. [HON. MEMBERS: "Of Catholics"? "Who will be massacred?"] These people have only been restrained by two reasons. They have been restrained by the wise leadership and the self-control displayed by my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson). I should not have said that if I did not believe it, and all those who know the circumstances must believe it.
They have been restrained by that reason and by another. The other is—[An HON. MEMBER: "F. E. Smith."] These people realise—[Interruption]. I think that the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite is a curious commentary on freedom of speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give them a row if they want it." "We want a row."] They have been restrained because they believe—I have done my best to convince them that they are right, and I am sure they are—that this calamity cannot be inflicted upon them until there has been an appeal to the people of this 575 country; because they believe that so long as that appeal is refused, and so long only remember, there is absolutely no difference between the views of Unionists here and of Unionists in Ulster, that their cause is ours, and that until the Government obtain the sanction of the people we will do everything in our power to support these people in their just cause. I put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite. If you think that the people are behind you, why does your Prime Minister and the Government not say, honestly and frankly, "We will carry this Bill through Parliament, but before it becomes law we will submit it to the ratification of the electorate of the United Kingdom"? Why do they not say that. [An HON. MEMBER: "They dare not."] I believe they would like to say it. I think that their followers would like them to say it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] [An HON. MEMBER: "They have said enough."] Why do they not say it? Because they are in precisely the position which was foreseen by Mr. Gladstone when he said, "We cannot be in such a position that a body not belonging to our party can say to it, 'Do this or do that, or we will turn you out.'" That is why they dare not do it. As I said before, I fully recognise the responsibility of every action which I take, and which I cannot shirk. I know, if hon. Gentlemen opposite do not know, that Ulster at this moment is like a powder mine which at any moment might explode. I know that, and I know my responsibility. But have they no responsibility? If they really mean, without obtaining the sanction of the people of this country, to go on with this measure and to force Home Rule upon Ulster at the point of the bayonet, then Heaven help this country. But if they do not mean it; if, as I believe is the case, they are a body of Micawbers waiting for something to turn up; if in their hearts they know that when it comes to this last fence they will shirk it, then they are incurring a terrible responsibility, and if bloodshed comes the blood-guiltiness will not be on us, but on them.
§ Mr. MILDMAY
It is a very difficult matter indeed to speak after such a speech as we have listened to, and I hope that the House will bear with me while I say just a few words on the subject, on which I feel very strongly indeed. Of course the Prime Minister's Motion can be looked on from two points of view. We can ask ourselves, in the first place: Is the 576 guillotine, speaking generally, a defensible method of coping with obstruction? and, in the second place, is this particular guillotine Motion justifiable in the circumstances of the moment? Dealing with the general question first, the Prime Minister in his speech just now said that anyone with a few years' experience of the House would know that if our Friends of the Front Bench were in power shortly they would adopt exactly the same method. I have considerably more experience than a few years of this House, but I hope most devoutly that that is not the case, because to my mind the guillotine policy is wholly indefensible, and when I say that I believe that I speak the mind of nine-tenths of the Members of this House. There is a growing feeling among Members of all parties that some less cumbersome and less indefensible method ought to be found of forcing legislation through the House. It is indefensible, because, as we all know, important matters are left entirely without discussion, and our whole time is frittered away on trivial points. But it is indefensible for the still more important reason that year by year these guillotine Motions become more drastic in their actions and interfere more and more with the responsibility of the House for legislation, and tend more and more to confer autocratic powers on the Cabinet of the day, as I maintain to the detriment of our indubitable right to criticise all prospective legislation in this House—a right which I maintain it is our duty to guard very carefully.
What is the effect of these constantly recurring guillotine Motions? The effect of them is that our duties in the future will be confined merely to registering the decrees of the Cabinet. We shall lose all power, not only of initiative, but of criticism, and we shall not be able to question for one moment the wisdom of the legislative efforts of the Government of the day—at any rate, not in detail. Everybody who has been any time in the House of Commons knows how far and how fast we have moved of late in the direction of Cabinet autocracy. We have not got government by the people at the present moment. We have not got Government by the representatives of the people in the House of Commons, but Government by Cabinet decree is the system which hon. Gentlemen opposite are substituting for the old ideals of Liberalism. We pride ourselves on the House of Commons being a pattern for 577 the whole civilised world, and we congratulate ourselves upon having compelled by our methods in this House the admiration of every civilised community. Are we entitled to puff ourselves out in satisfaction in this way? I very much doubt it. I do not think so. At any rate, I think I am right in saying that in no representative Chamber in the world is the Government for the time being perpetually empowered to force through legislation by such methods as these. I maintain that such procedure—and hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree with me—is the negation of the principle of popular representation, for it prevents us from performing the duty which we are sent here to perform, the duty of criticising all legislation in the interests of those whom we represent.
I pass now to the second consideration. Is this particular guillotine Motion justifiable? In the circumstances, most certainly not, as has been said by our leader just now. We have got to face an entirely new position under the Parliament Act. Hitherto all Governments have relied upon the House of Lords stage to correct their mistakes, and very often to make drastic alterations in their Bills. Measures have often been fundamentally altered in the House of Lords. That will be impossible in the future. If the Lords reject this Bill, as I believe they will on the Second Heading, they will sacrifice all right for ever of amending the measure. It will then result from the guillotine Motion in combination with the Parliament Act, that huge chunks of this Bill, the most important provisions of it, are bound to pass into law without their being discussed in either House of Parliament. We must remember further that it will not be open to the House of Commons to amend the Bill or alter it in any way the second and third times, because if they altered it, it would then be a new Bill. Everything depends on what we are going to do to this Bill between now and Christmas. We shall never have another opportunity of correcting our mistakes; never another chance of altering the Bill. I put it to any reasonable person, is it not lunacy to divest ourselves through this Motion of the power of doing our work thoroughly. More than ever is it necessary to find some saner way of coping with obstruction than by guillotine Motions. Experience tells us that such Motions as these are simply a stimulus to obstruction. I maintain this ought not to be a 578 party matter at all. I know from conversations I have had with hon. Members opposite that these methods are just as repugnant to them as to me.
I do not believe in obstruction myself; I do not believe in superfluous talk, and I honestly think that I have always acted up to that view. Are we really to be told that it passes the wit of man to devise some better method of getting through our work than guillotine Motions, a method which every Member of this House in his heart of hearts looks upon as absolutely indefensible. Above all are these methods indefensible in connection with such a Bill as this, which will have for good or evil, such a lasting effect on the future of Great Britain and the future of Ireland. I cannot help thinking that there must be some prickings of conscience amongst many hon. Gentlemen opposite when they contemplate the fact that they are going to be called upon, between now and the end of the Session, to deal with no less than three enormous measures—Homo Rule, Welsh Disestablishment, and the Franchise Bill. What would Mr. Gladstone have thought of it? Mr. Gladstone, in the way we remember so well, would, I think, have thrown up his hands, a gesture almost more eloquent than words, even in the case of Mr. Gladstone. Nobody can contend that Mr. Gladstone would have been in favour of such action as this. And remember that this Bill is a far more comprehensive Bill than any previous Home Rule Bill. The Prime Minister said that the time given is sufficient. Does he bear in mind the time given in connection with former Home Rule Bills? Apart from instances given by the Leader of the Opposition, which show that this is a far more comprehensive Bill, look at the question of finance. Finance is undertaken in a way which requires, everybody must admit, the most lengthy criticism. Is it to be pretended for one moment that the time allowed for finance is sufficient? Remember also that the fiscal future of these-islands is at stake.
Mr. Gladstone's Bill never undertook such operations in connection with our fiscal future as this Bill contemplates. What does this Bill contemplate? It proposes for the first time that fiscal barriers may be created within these islands, and this Government brings forward a Bill which, for the first time, hampers and restricts free trade, not between these islands and foreign countries, but between one part of these islands and another part 579 of these islands. There is much denunciation of the proposals of the present Government in this House, and much denunciation in the country of this Resolution—denunciation which to my mind is thorough justified. But I would rather go a better way. I do not want to exasperate my opponents. I always think that the best way is to try to persuade them, and get them to agree with me, especially in connection with such a Bill as this. All I would ask of them is this: Do they honestly think that we could produce a Bill which would work well, in the point of view of England and the point of view of Ireland, if we deal with it at such speed as we shall be compelled to do by this Resolution? But strongly as I feel about the way in which we are dealing with this particular Bill, I want to appeal to the House on broader grounds than that. Let us dismiss from our minds all party considerations. I appeal to all those who are what are called "House of Commons" men; I appeal to all those who think as I think, that in the interests of the dignity and the efficiency of the House itself some change in this procedure is necessary to support this Amendment.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I wish to say that the course pursued by the Government in the earlier part of the Session in reference to this Bill, makes our attitude towards this present Motion a matter of considerable difficulty. The Government and their advisers have the responsibility of carrying out their undertaking, or at all events what has been construed in Ireland as their undertaking, to pass this Bill into Jaw before the present Parliament is dissolved; and so long as they can assure us that they can still do it, we certainly shall not refuse them, as far as we are concerned, any powers that they may declare to be necessary. At the same time, coercion is hateful to me, from whatever side of the House it comes. I have had considerable experience in this House and in Ireland of coercion from both British parties in turn, and I have lived too long in this House to be able to forget that the time inevitably comes when the coercionist majority of the day crosses the floor, and becomes the coerced minority. I have no doubt at all that events will justify the anticipation of the Prime Minister here this evening; that under succeeding Governments as well as under the present Government, the guillotine will be put in operation. Unhappily it is always Ireland 580 that is the worst sufferer when it comes to be a question of coercion. If this Bill is ever to become law, it can only be done by being passed next year and the year after without the alteration of a syllable in the form in which it has left this House. I should have thought this was a good reason for making progress with this Bill in the early part of the Session, when there was plenty of time to give it most adequate discussion. Even now I think it is a good argument for going to the utmost limit of forbearance towards any form of discussion which is not sheer obstruction.
If you do otherwise, I am afraid you will be only strengthening the ease which the Leader of the Opposition raised here this evening, that England ought to be consulted, and that there is some unfair game going on for hustling this Bill into law before the people of England can have any voice in the matter. I do not for one moment think that that suspicion is well founded, but we all know at the present moment that it is a suspicion which possibly is the most formidable obstacle. Frankly I cannot see that there would have been very much difficulty in providing opportunities for ample discussion, even for the most meticulous discussion of this Bill, if the Government themselves had managed their time-table for the Session a little better, and if they had made this. Session, as they promised to make it, genuinely a Home Rule Session. I cannot at all share the enthusiasm expressed by the Prime Minister to-night for his own action in giving extraordinary, and I think he claimed, and justly claimed, unprecedented facilities to private Members in the course of this Session. In my judgment the only effect of that was that month after month two or three days every week were wasted by private Members' Bills, and Motions which all the world knows under the present Rule of this House can lead to nothing except dreary and futile debate. Three months ago, when the Session was at its critical time, progress in Committee on this Bill was certainly dropped for no reason that I have ever been able to discover, and it is only now, on the eve of winter, and with other gigantic Bills on our hand, that it is proposed to make any material progress with the Amendments by methods which may prove peculiarly dangerous in the future. The Government and those who have the responsibility and power of managing business in this House tell us that the thing has got to be done if the Bill is to go through at all. We acquiesce, and we 581 shall certainly not attempt to encroach upon whatever time is left now for discussion by doing more than submit two of our own Amendments, as to which I should like to say a word or two. The first of those Amendments is in reference to finance. It is a proposal to hand over the collected revenue of Ireland to the Irish Parliament, as Mr. Gladstone proposed to do under the Bill of 1886. I should have anticipated that, come what might, ample time would have been given, above all other questions perhaps, for largely debating this question of finance. I was surprised, and I might say shocked, to find that altogether it is only proposed to devote two days to Clause 14, embracing the whole question of the financial relations between these two countries. As I read the Schedule there are two days given for that, but I think the Government would be extremely well advised to add at least three other days to the time for the discussion of those particular finance Clauses. I certainly think that we have the right to ask that our proposal in reference to the future finances of Ireland shall not be smothered by this Closure Resolution. Our other Amendment is in reference to the future of land purchase, and is a still more important Amendment for the future of Ireland and for the success of this Bill. I think we are entitled to claim that there shall be reasonable opportunity given for the discussion of that topic. It is an extraordinary fact that in a Bill of, I think, about forty-five pages there is only one line devoted to this tremendous question of land purchase, which is the very core of the whole Irish problem. Even that line is so peculiarly worded that if the object were to rule out of order any discussion whatever upon this tremendous question it could not have been more artfully framed. We have put down an Amendment in the very words of Mr. Gladstone's own Bill of 1893, and words which were agreed upon between him and all the Irish Nationalist leaders of that time, and all the Irish Nationalist leaders of the present time as well. As I understood, the Prime Minister gave us some months ago a distinct promise that we should have an opportunity for full and fair discussion upon that topic.
I want to know how this time-table will work, because I find that the Amendments to paragraph 11 of Clause 2 are put down for one allotted day, the second allotted day, while any proposed additions are to be taken upon another day. I want to 582 know whether or not it will be competent for me in proposing my first Amendment, which is merely a technical one, to disucss at the same time my Amendment lower down on the Paper, which is really consequential, and which is my real, effective Amendment. It is one of the absurdities of the situation that in the first technical Amendment I am driven to propose the very opposite of what I want to propose, namely, to leave out the words altogether in order to have any discussion at all upon the really effective Amendment which follows, as the time-table seems to indicate that any additions are to be discussed upon a different day from the day on which the direct Amendments to this particular paragraph are taken. It is a subject upon which, I think, before this discussion closes, we should have full information. The Prime Minister is certainly in our experience a man of his word. If we get an assurance that we shall have the opportunity for fair and square discussion of those two Amendments of ours, I have nothing further to say, except that I do deeply deplore the necessity for this proposal.
I rise under a feeling of a certain sense of restraint, because I feel so strongly about the way in which the Prime Minister introduced this Motion to-day, less perhaps from his speech than in his interruptions of the Leader of the Opposition. He still sends out—and I wish to mark this, as I think it most unfair on the part of the Prime Minister at this late hour—he still sends out to the country the statement that this Bill or that Home Bale was an issue at the last election. I think really the Prime Minister is past all reasoning and all argument when he will stand up still and use that argument in the House of Commons. I took up the papers this morning, and I discovered in the "Times" an article or a letter written from the National Liberal Club. I only wish to read two or three extracts from it in order to show that the Prime Minister is still trying to humbug and to fool the people. This gentleman (Mr. McMillan), in one part of his letter, which is rather a long one, says:—Whilst Home Rule, as an abstract question, may have been more or less before the electorate at the last General Election, the present Irish Home Rule Bill, with its far-reaching powers, certainly was never before the people.He closes his letter by saying:—I would suggest that a National Protest League upon non-party lines be formed at once with a view to educating the people by means of public meetings and 583 otherwise, and to bring such direct and personal pressure of voters and others in each constituency to bear upon Members of Parliament and upon the Government that they will not dare to put this Bill into effect until the q question has first been submitted to the people at a General Election. If the Government decline to listen to such a national protest an appeal can finally be made direct to the King in confidence that he will listen to his loyal subjects.In another part of his letter he says:—The scheme put forward by the Government is so manifestly impracticable that it would appear to be the work of men who are either incompetent to deal with Imperial matters or who are forced to their present line of action by interests desirous of breaking up the British Empire.That is only one of many, many instances during the Recess that have come lo the knowledge of all of us that the expession that Home Rule was in issue at the last election was wrong, and that no one now really would have the face to rise up on any platform in the country and say it even at a small public meeting. We were told over and over again when this Home Rule Bill was brought in by the Government that it would receive at the hands of Parliament adequate discussion. Adequate discussion was promised to us by Minister after Minister. I only see two of them in their seats now, and may I just read, to show the deplorable depths to which His Majesty's Government have fallen, first of all what the Chief Secretary for Ireland said at Bristol on the 1st of December, 1910:—Home Rule was one of the questions which ought to be left, and should be left, to the judgment of the whole people. There it was, and so it would be, if they thought you could smuggle a Home Rule Bill through the House of Commons in the three years following. All that he could say was that their ignorance was beyond all conception.Let me quote the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture. [An HON. MEMBER:"NO."] Then I will not quote him. I rather agree with my colleague. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, the man who, perhaps, more than any other man, should have more care, first of all, in making statements affecting the welfare of the country that he is supposed to govern, and also more care in treating the minority in Ireland. It was he who in this House used the expression that minorities must suffer, and that it was the badge of their tribe. Those expressions, intended from time to time to raise the ire of the Ulster men, he has made several times. Thank God they are too sensible to rise to those flippant remarks and those gibes about their religion and the names he thought fit to call the representatives who are sent to speak their minds on this all-important matter for them. More than 584 that, the Chief Secretary for Ireland promised us discussion in this House on the Home Rule Bill. I have the quotations here where he stated distinctly that we would have the opportunity of discussing this question of Home Rule. We have seen it in the papers over and over again, and I noticed the question only the other day in one of the pamphlets issued with regard to Home Rule: what was it killed the other two Bills? And the answer in the Radical leaflets for their speakers is this: arguments killed the other two Bills. Therefore now the proposal of the Government is: they are stifling arguments hoping this Bill will not be killed. Let me go a little bit further than that. The statement made by the Postmaster-General was this:There is little doubt that there will be ample opportunity to discuss all these matters if the Opposition will so arrange their business as to enable that to be done.There is not a Minister sitting on the Front Bench who has not told us that when we got into Committee we would have full opportunity of discussing this measure. Those statements and those pledges, like a great many other Radical pledges, have been deliberately broken, and not a word of apology in this House this afternoon. They have gone back on their words, they have gone back on their honour, or such honour as they ever possessed. What clap-trap, what cheap stuff, the Prime Minister gave us this afternoon. He rattled through Bills, going back to the Irish Church Bill, the Education Bill, the Irish Land Bill, and others; he said that some took only fifteen or sixteen days, and he got as high as forty days for the Irish Land Bill. But the Home Rule Bill has all these measures wrapped up in it, and far more besides. The whole of your land policy, the whole of your education, the whole of your religion, every mortal thing that goes to make up the life of the people in Ireland, is included in the Home Rule Bill. It is a wonder the Prime Minister did not compare it with a Dublin Corporation Bill. From the beginning we have been treated very badly, but, so far as we in Ulster are concerned, we have never been humbugged over this matter. We saw clearly from the moment the Prime Minister and his colleagues placed themselves in the absolute power of the Nationalist party exactly what course would be mapped out. It has come true in every single detail. The Government are now taking this absurd—it would be laughable if it were not so serious—scheme of closuring debate on everything affecting 585 the whole future of Ireland, when it would have been so easy for them to have brought the Bill in early next year, to have allowed reasonable time for its full discussion, and to have trusted the people in whom they say they have such faith to back them up in their endeavours to send us out of the United Kingdom, to shatter the Kingdom at its heart, and to tell the Ulster people that they must go out from under the British flag and take their orders from and obey the Nationalist party.
Does the Chief Secretary for a moment imagine that the country would back up that proposition? He would not put it in that way. He would put it in the same form as the Liberal pamphlets on Chinese labour. Having got returned on these false pretences, the Liberal party now come forward and claim that not only were they given a mandate for Home Rule at the last General Election, but that they have a mandate to stifle discussion in this House. That is what is goading the people who will suffer most under this tyranny, to such an extent that I do not wonder at our Leader saying to-day that there might be at any moment consequences far more serious than those who sneeringly laugh at us ever realise. It is only because of their patience and courage, and the leader that they have, that Ulster is kept in the quiet condition in which she is at present. It is because they are being treated in this way that the people have made up their minds far more firmly than a wobbly Prime Minister ever did, that—no matter whether you gag us in the House of Commons, no matter what course you may take inside or outside the House, or what literature you may circulate—under no circumstances whatever shall you dictate to them who their masters shall be when you kick them out from under the Union Jack. Will right hon. Gentlemen opposite never learn any lesson? Do they never deal with honest folk at all? Is that why they will not believe a straight message and honest words? Have the Ulster Members during the past six years ever said a word in this House that they were not able to carry out to the full? Have the people of Ulster, who have taken upon themselves far more extensive duties than we ever anticipated they would have to undertake, ever said a single thing that they have not been able to perform? Someone may say, "Ask the First Lord of the Admiralty." That was a mere nothing. Such things are only in 586 the day's work when people are out to save their civil and religious liberties. I warn the Government that whatever is undertaken by these honest people in the North of Ireland will be performed.
There have been suggestions in the Press that such is the situation at the present moment we ought to take drastic action in this House. In my opinion the crisis is far too serious for any such step. I and my colleagues feel very deeply in this matter. Standing at the Bar of the House and demanding mere justice from this Radical Government, we ask you to remember that the people you are driving out are people who for long years have stuck to their word and to the British Government, and we ask whether, in exchanging these people for those who in past years have vilified you, you are making a good exchange. I know perfectly well that there are Members opposite who cannot see eye to eye with us in this matter. But surely they will recognise that under this tyrannous form of closure England cannot be educated on all the Clauses of this complicated Bill. Considerations of finance and the safeguards, such as they are, ought to be exposed, so that the British people might see the wrong that is being done. Instead of that, the Government propose in the most cowardly way to destroy all reasonable discussion. They will then turn round next year and say, "This Bill was discussed in 1912; therefore there is no necessity to discuss it in 1913." In 1914 the excuse will be, "This Bill is two years old; let it become law." The Government are doing all this in spite of the fact that the country is against them. If there is a shred of decency left in any Members on the Radical benches they will recognise that we are being placed in an extremely awkward position—not as regards our position in this House, but in regard to leading our people at home. By placing us under the guillotine, instead of appealing to the arbitrament of the people, you place us in the position that two long years must elapse during which the North of Ireland is to remain wondering what is to be its fate, all industry crippled, every person pointing out how this business has had to be stopped and that building ground is lying vacant, while industries which would otherwise be going on are waiting to know whether in the end they are to be governed by the people represented here or to be degraded to the level of some county council in the South or West of Ireland, and placed under the Molly Macguires or 587 some other secret society. I hope that some Members will be found on the Radical benches to say that we are being unfairly treated, and that as far as they are concerned they will not back up this guillotine Motion, which goes far beyond anything ever attempted before, stifles free discussion, and is likely in the end to cause serious trouble. I hope that the First Lord of the Admiralty, with his firsthand knowledge of the situation in the North of Ireland, will yet be able to hold out some hope that this proposal will not be pressed forward to its disastrous conclusion.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
This discussion was opened to-night by the Prime Minister in a speech resembling in many respects speeches to which we have listened before, delivered by leaders, both of the Conservative and of the Liberal parties, in Debates of this kind. But the right hon. Gentleman only succeeded in caricaturing himself. The arguments have become so thin that I think even the Prime Minister's own side could hardly listen to them without a smile while they were trotted out once more. On that point the real answer is that it is no use Front Benches sitting opposite to one another and pointing out one another's faults. That does not advance freedom of Debate in this House. The plain fact is that these Motions are becoming more and more drastic; they are being applied to discussions more and more important; they are destroying, by immeasurable steps, though gradually, the deliberative powers of the House of Commons. From the point of view of the House of Commons or of those who value representative government it does not very much matter whether one party is to blame more than another. We may, however, reasonably say that as the Liberal party have been in power for some years, all the later precedents are those of the Liberal party, and they have gone a great deal further than I heir predecessors. I do not want to build on that. I am quite prepared to believe that the Conservative Government will use those precedents and improve upon them—if "improve" is the word. Is it any consolation for those who value representative government to think that perhaps Tariff Reform may be guillotined even more scandalously than Home Rule? I see no advantage in that. I want to know what point Liberals, who claim to be the special guardians of the 588 liberties of the people, and of the reality of representative government, are gaining here? How long will it be before they interfere to save the House of Commons from the fate which is quite evidently overtaking it? The Prime Minister argued that you can do a great deal in a day or two days' debate. But we all know how the guillotine works, how it takes all the heart and reality out of a discussion. We know how empty the benches would be, and how unreal the discussions will become.
It comes to this: Is the House of Commons as a deliberative assembly worth anything at all? The right hon. Gentleman said that some Bills were agreed Bills. I gather that he implied by that that little discussion was necessary in those cases. He said that other Bills were measures which the Opposition intended to destroy, and therefore there was no use in listening to purely destructive criticism. That argument logically pressed would bring all discussion to an end. You might as well take at once the Third Reading of the Bill. That would be a nice thing to do in some respects, and it would enable us to spend the next few weeks much more agreeably than we are likely to spend them here. The question is a very serious one. If the House of Commons is to be saved, it can be saved in only one way, and that is by a revolt in the ranks of the majority of the House for the time being. But I am afraid it will not be saved in that way to-night. I do not think that hon. Members have the least intention of revolting from their party. That brings me to another point. The right hon. Gentleman had one passage in his speech that I thought stood out in reality and interest from the rest. He compared the time taken in the old times for debate with the time allowed now, in modern times, under this guillotine Resolution. That is quite true; it is extremely interesting. A great many people have noticed it when looking through the pages of "Hansard" of past years. It is quite true the Committee stage in the old time was much shorter on the whole, though it is also true that First and Second Reading Debates were much longer and extended, I do not think I am wrong in saying to sixteen days for the principle of a great Bill. Why? Of course the reason was that in the old days there was a large part of the House of Commons which was more or less open to conviction, and the convenient way therefore of approaching that body 589 of opinion was to have a great Debate on the main issue of a Bill, to all the points possible against the Bill; and thus you did what you could to convince those open to conviction. Now practically no one in the House of Commons is open to conviction or, at any rate, no one is allowed to keep his convictions to the extent of voting against his party. The exception is so rare as to make it unimportant. I observe an extraordinarily significant symptom.
In the "Times" there was a letter. The writer tells us he is a Member of Parliament on the Liberal side. He wrote protesting against the action of the Government, but he did not sign his name. He was afraid to do so. Here is a case for the Gladstone League—clearly a case of intimidation. What would that league say if some voter in an agricultural constituency was as visibly afraid of being evicted from his cottage as this gentleman appears to be of being evicted from his seat. This gentleman does not venture to differ from his party, because he knows Parliament. He knows that a few days later his association will assemble and pass a vote of censure, and that it will soon be made quite clear to him, as I think it was to the hon. Member for Banff; and that he must, if necessary, vote in contravention of the principles he believes in. That is one of the great differences that distinguishes the present day House of Commons from the old House of Commons. It is not that independent Assembly that it was. We have not here to anything like the same extent the Members of the old House of Commons, who used to sit on personal grounds. Some sat for small boroughs in which they had great influence. Others sat for agricultural constituencies, where, again, they were personally popular. They depended, therefore, on their personal influence more than on their party attachments. They were in large measure independent. The present Government have added now another danger to the independence of Parliament by paying Members. They will hardly face the brutal danger of what the payment of Members amounts to. It amounts to this: That all of us who value £400 a year—and I value it as much as anyone—and who also sit for seats which they think may possibly be shaky—there I am more fortunately placed than some others—[laughter]—I was not thinking of disfranchisement—those of us who sit for shaky seats, if they vote against the 590 Government, may find it is £400 or £800 out of their pockets.
What would be thought of it if at the door of this Chamber the Government Whip stood with a pocketful of banknotes, and said to the Members, "Here is £400 or £800 for every one who votes for the Government in a critical Division." That is, in fact, what in truth it amounts to. That is really the House of Commons as it works to-day. I do not at all imagine that other Members are more corrupt-minded than I am, but it is absurd, fantastically absurd, to think that, human nature being what it is, the consideration of £400 does not enter into what I believe philosophers call the sublimated self, gradually rising through conscious self to action. There is a second consideration. The House of Commons is neither independent nor has it freedom from what amounts to pecuniary considerations. I think, therefore, we cannot compare ourselves with past times. There might have been unnecessarily diffuse discussions, but they, nevertheless, served their purpose by discussing the points, first, from one aspect and then from another. They made the majority a little uneasy, and if they did not make it too apparent in public, they put private pressure upon the Government to say what they meant. What is more, they enlightened public opinion outside, which is not always an easy process, especially if a great deal of interests is not taken in Parliamentary Debates, and if but little attention is given to our proceedings here. But the Debates of old did possess this quality that, though slow, they went on for weeks, and the impression got abroad that the Bill might be defeated or the Government beaten. Sooner or later all this penetrated the minds of the electorate, and this was one of the ways in which the electorate could be instructed in the merits of a Bill. Observe that under the Parliament Act this was to be altered. We were told that there would not be the slightest danger of a Bill being passed of which the country did not approve. There would be a long discussion and public opinion would express itself about the matter, and it would be found impossible to pass a Bill in face of public disapproval. Well, the moment we come to the test, what do we find? That when we are trying to educate public opinion, and bring it to bear upon a Bill, down come the Government with a guillotine Resolution, shut off Debate and make it unreal and uninteresting, and 591 destroy all chance of effective criticism, so that the one safeguard which they themselves use to throw in our faces is destroyed by this Resolution.
This Resolution, which is destructive of House of Commons freedom, is also inconsistent with all the principles of Liberalism. Indeed, the Government disregard these principles in a very striking manner. We hear, of course, a good deal from Members as to the situation of Ulster and the danger that threatens in that quarter. Hon. Members opposite are anxious to blame what has been done. Let me ask them just to consider whether they would not do better to see whether it does not contain a lesson which, according to their own principles, they are bound to lay to heart. What are the principles of Liberalism? Surely they preclude this: Handing over a population which is free, civilised, and Christian, from a Government which they respect and desire to serve, to a Government which they denounce and abhor; from a nationality which they wish to belong to, to a nationality which they repudiate. Such transfers of population are by no means unprecedented, but they have never been done by Liberals before. Liberalism has never before handed over a population to be governed against its will to a nationality to which it does not wish to give allegiance. The Congress of Vienna did it very well. It made quite a practice of it. It handed over Norway to Sweden, Belgium to Holland, many of the provinces of Italy to Austria, a part of Poland to Russia, and part of Saxony to Prussia. But the statesmen at the Congress of Vienna were denounced by Liberals and the whole movement of Continental Liberalism, spoken of always in terms of the greatest respect by English Liberals, was to restore the balance. English Liberals co-operated in the earlier and middle part of the nineteenth century with Continental Liberals in their desire to restore the populations to those governments and nationalities to which they chose to belong. How can Liberals possibly justify this handing over of Ulstermen against their will to the sovereignty they deny and the nationality—as you call it—to which they do not wish to belong?
I am persuaded that we see before us the apostacy of a party. Hon. Members do not now represent the principles of Liberalism or any other body of principles. They play at politics as men play at a 592 game. On the Front Bench opposite you see the champion team of Liberal limpets engaged in playing for the champion cup, their favourite sport of log-rolling. That is what the Liberal party has come to today. That is all very well if politics are to be treated as a game, but you must come to realities, and the opposition of Ulster is a reality. How are the Government going to meet it? They have brought forward this Resolution, and the Debate has already been continued some hours, and they have not given the slightest hint of how they propose to deal if this Bill passes—as pass it must—with the opposition and resistance of Ulster. Are they going to shoot Ulster down? They have never said so. An hon. Member opposite, who sits, I think, for the Eccles Division of Lancashire (Sir G. H. Pollard), and who is connected with a great newspaper, the "Manchester Gnardian" I believe, has suggested that the Government should not shrink from that course if the necessity calls for it. That is a very striking position for a professed pacificist. The hon. Member objects to force except when he is going to drive people out from the protection of British law and British nationality. He objects to war except when it is civil war. He does not like to shed blood except it is the blood of his own countrymen. Is that to be the last stage in the degradation of Liberalism? Is the Liberalism of the twentieth century going to shoot down a free, Christian, and civilised population in order to force them out of the protection of the British Throne and British law? I do not believe it.
I think the Government has still some scruples, and that they draw the line at murder. I do not believe they mean to do it. Then, from their own point of view, I think they should declare what their solution in the matter of Ulster really is. What is the use of the two contending parties in Ireland growing more and more embittered day by day, and more and more anxious. Why not say frankly that, according to the principles of Liberalism we can only carry Home Rule if we can succeed in cutting Ulster out of the Bill. That is the truth. If you can cut Ulster out of the Bill there would still be very grave objections to it from our point of view, but it would not then be fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of Liberalism. So long as Ulster is in the Bill it can only be carried by the apostasy of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I put it to hon. Gentlemen that this is really a question of quite 593 unusual magnitude and importance, and that hon. Members should rise above partisan feelings and oppose this view in the interests of our common country. I am told that it will wreck the Bill to cut Ulster out. I believe that the Bill is an unreality, that there is no true feeling behind it, no feeling of intensity behind it to carry it through. Therefore, I believe, any serious blow to it would kill it. To hon. Members opposite who do not think so I cannot conceive why they should think that to cut Ulster out of the Bill is to ruin it. According to their theory here are the great provinces in Ireland hungering for national self-government. If you give them national self-government, with a great deal of national poverty, for that is what the cutting out of Ulster really means—if you are going to have a national Parliament paid for only by Nationalist money, that means, of course, a poor nationality; and if a poor nationality, a poor national Parliament. Home Rule is interpenetrated with insincerity. It is a fraud and a sham on polities. Nevertheless that does not alter but enhances the responsibility of the Liberal party. We have a right to say to them, as we do with the utmost emphasis in our power, you must make Home Rule square with Liberalism or cast Home Rule aside.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I find it exceedingly difficult to follow what has been said upon the other side in any of the speeches that have been made with a speech that will be directly relevant to the Motion before the House. However I should like to answer some of the things put forward by the Noble Lord and his predecessors, although they are not within the four corners of the Resolution. He referred, first of all, in that part of his speech which was undoubtedly relevant to the Motion, to the frequency of guillotine Resolutions. I have been in this House long enough to oppose these Resolutions and to support them.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
And so has the Noble Lord, and I cannot recall a single case in which I opposed them on the ground that I thought they ought on no condition to be used by the Government, not even when I opposed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) when he proposed the guillotine on the Licensing Bill. I always recognised what he then said, that under the present conditions of congestion 594 in the Imperial Parliament it is impossible to get a great contentious Bill through a single Session without using the guillotine.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That makes my case all the stronger. If you cannot get one through, you cannot get three. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London was engaged in passing that guillotine Resolution on the Licensing Bill, which I think was the worst guillotine Resolution ever submitted to this House, the right hon. Gentlemen, who was then Prime Minister, said that at that juncture—and he had been longer a Member of the House than anybody else—it was quite impossible to carry through a great contentious measure in a single Session of Parliament without using methods of this kind. That was the conclusion he came to. The Noble Lord who has just spoken said it is no use to refer to old times. Why you carried a much greater revolution in the Reform Bill of 1867. [HON. MEMBERS: "No," and other HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I do not suppose anyone would really in his heart doubt that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] That Bill was carried in forty-nine days. But the Noble Lord says "the conditions were different. People were open to conviction in these days, but they are not now. Therefore let us talk a little more about it. Argument in those days was listened to; argument in these days is not listened to; then let us have more of it." That is a most extraordinary proposition. I recognise the great and the increasing interest which the democracy of both sides take in Parliamentary government. They take an amount of interest in our Parliamentary government which is certainly not comparable to the old days. The Noble Lord said they take a great interest in war perhaps, but in the mere Debates in Parliament they do not take the same amount of interest. But what about the case of intimidation he referred to? He referred to the case of a Member on our side who wrote to the papers without giving his own name, and he said that was to avoid intimidation. But what intimidation? The intimidation of his own constituency? That is an intimidation which I hope will continue. What does the Noble Lord mean by saying that? Is it his argument, that because the democracy take a greater interest in these matters, that therefore you should make it impossible for a Bill in which they do 595 take an interest to get through the House of Commons at all, for unless there is some remedy that is what it means? Personally, I think that democracy is still influenced far more by speeches outside Parliament than inside Parliament, and I am sure so does the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) opposite, and so did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and others think.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Noble Lord assumes that if you could go on talking for fifty days here the electorate would read every speech. The electorate, it is true, take an interest in a number of speeches. They will probably read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment this afternoon, and the speech of the Prime Minister, but the vast mass of speeches made in this House are not read by the electors. And, therefore, when the Noble Lord asks for lengthy debates with a view to influencing opinion, he knows perfectly well that one speech delivered in the constituency is worth fifty speeches delivered in this House for the purpose of influencing the electors. There I am only answering his argument.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am only answering one argument of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University. The Noble Lord used this in order to show his opinion of this House. That is his argument. He would make these lengthy speeches in order to influence opinion outside. I say that is not the way to influence opinion outside. I come to another argument used on this particular issue before I pass away from the Motion. The only criticism passed by the Leader of the Opposition upon the Motion itself was confined to finance. That is his only criticism, and it is very significant.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
He read one part of the Resolution dealing with finance; he did not read the other part. As a matter of fact, it is not six and a-half 596 hours for finance and Clause 14 thrown in, but two whole days.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I think the right hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. Take the 16th day. What remains over? Financial Report stage six and a-half hours, and in addition there is the other subject which I gave.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Yes, but what the right hon. Gentleman did not tell the House is that the whole of the fifteenth day is devoted to the discussion of finance.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
On the fifteenth day you discuss the whole finances of Home Rule under the Resolution, so it means you have got two days for the discussion of the finances of the Home Rule Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] At any rate, it is twice as much as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out to the House. Now I come to another part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. He really did not base his opposition to this Motion so much upon the time which was allocated as upon other considerations which are outside the Resolution. He said that the arguments advanced by the Prime Minister were too trivial to be noticed. But after all, they were the arguments advanced by Mr. Gladstone when he advocated a similar Resolution; they were the arguments advanced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London when he advocated a similar Resolution; they were the arguments advanced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham when he supported a similar Resolution, and I do not think it lies with the right hon. Gentleman to say that arguments of that kind which are strictly relevant to the Resolution before the House are too trivial. I will deal, if I may be permitted to do so, with the considerations which the right hon. Gentleman advanced. First of all he suggested that we had no right to pass a Home Rule Bill at all, whatever the time given for this discussion. If instead of fifty we had taken 100 days his argument would be equally good.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I agree. The right hon. Gentleman said the question was not before the country, and when the 597 Prime Minister said, "I did put it before the country when I was elaborating the programme of the party at the Albert Hall," what was the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He said, supposing "I had done the same thing about Tariff Reform, would I be entitled to pass it?" If the right hon. Gentleman, on the eve of the elections with all his colleagues surrounding him, summoned a great meeting at the Albert Hall to place his programme before the country—because that was the object of the meeting the Prime Minister held at the Albert Hall—and if he said in terms as explicit as those used by the Prime Minister, "I propose if I come in to deal with the question of Tariff," there is not a man here would have the right to complain if he did so. I am assuming he is in the position the Prime Minister was in. If the Prime Minister, whoever the Gentleman happened to be who is Prime Minister in the next Unionist Administration, makes a speech of that kind containing his programme, let us assume on the eve of another election after coming into power on the same conditions, and goes to the annual meeting of the Conservative association, and says "what I said about Disestablishment and Home Rule I adhere to every word;" if be says that about Tariff Reform no one here would have a right to quarrel with him If he does that on the eve of an election at a meeting when he is propounding his programme to the country, it will be the fault of the country entirely if they do not take notice of it. I am not depending at all upon the fact that the right hon. Gentleman himself said in Manchester, "If the Liberal party is returned to power, they are returned to power to deal with Home Rule." He said so himself. I am depending upon the declarations made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the party as well as what took place in the House of Commons, and certainly what was said by Lord Lansdowne and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London. Then we are told that the by-elections are against Home Rule, and that this question was before the electors at recent by-elections. I was interested in a by-election in 1890, and it was the fourth year of that Parliament. The by-elections had been going steadily against the Government for three or four years, and I happened to win a Tory seat. I think mine was about the twentieth or the twenty-fifth by-election 598 in England, Scotland, and Wales which had been going steadily against the Government on one question, and one question only, and that was the Irish question. There was no other question that was even debated in the constituencies, and every by-election condemned the policy of the Unionist administration and returned Home Rulers. Is it the doctrine of right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they ought after a year of by-elections going against them to instantly dissolve, change the whole of their Irish policy, and introduce an Irish Home Rule Bill, or go to the country? Is that their doctrine? If so it is a very remarkable one. What happens? The then Unionist Government remained in power for another two years. They fought an election, and although the by-elections indicated clearly for the first four years of that administration that the country was against their Irish policy and for Home Rule, the election of 1892 showed that Great Britain at that election was against Home Rule. But that was after a series of by-elections when there had been an overwhelming majority for Home Rule.
What is the doctrine of by-elections? What I want to put is this: If by-elections are not sufficient to justify a Government in a policy of coercion against elections for five years, why should by-elections for a single year be sufficient to compel a Government to drop a policy of self-government? There is this difference. Those by-elections were fought on the Irish question, and these are not. This is what the "Daily Telegraph" said about the Norfolk election:—The election was mainly fought on the Insurance Act. Home Rule and Welsh Disestablishment being frankly relegated to a subordinate position, and the sweeping reduction of the Radical majority is a proof of the persistent unpopularity of that measure.Therefore it was not Home Rule, but the Insurance Act. I will give one or two other quotations referring to this doctrine of by-elections. Here is another election at Holmfirth, and that was since the Home Rule Bill. May I correct another inaccuracy of the right hon. Gentleman?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman's interruptions are usually very 599 helpful. Here is another by-election at Holmfirth.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If the right hon. Gentleman says he did not say the other thing, then this is the first. This is what the "Times" says about the Holmfirth by-election, which was fought after Home Rule was introduced:—The mainstay of Mr. Ellis is the widespread discontent with the Insurance Act.[An HON. MEMBER:"DO you agree with that?"] Yes, certainly I do.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I will tell the right hon. Gentleman later. I will proceed with the quotation:—What affects the issue is the fear of a rise in the cost of food under Tariff Reform, and none of the other questions of the day are more than dust in the balance.Now I come to the right hon. Gentleman's inaccuracy. I understood him to say—and if I am wrong I will accept his correction—that there was only one by-election that had gone in favour of the Government since the Home Rule Bill was introduced.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If that is not the case, then I would refer him to the fact that several by-elections have gone in favour of the Government since that time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Withdraw that inaccuracy."] But I accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement. I could make several quotations from Conservative newspapers in which they attribute the victories of the by-elections not to Disestablishment, not to Home Rule, but purely to the unpopularity—as I think a temporary unpopularity—of the Insurance Act. All these newspapers say that it is entirely due to the fact that for the moment the Insurance Act does not commend itself to the electors. Now what has all that got to do with the question as to whether Home Rule is accepted by them or not? That is what the "Times" said two or three days ago. You might imagine by the sort of thing we have heard that the country is boiling with indignation about Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman said, and what he said was repeated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division 600 of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith), that we should be lynched if we carried this Bill, and the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) says he really did think we drew the line at murder. Does he think we ought to be lynched? I am personally interested to know. We are to be lynched and there are the lynchers. Here is a picture of the country which is boiling with indignation against the Home Rule Bill, given in the "Times" at the beginning of this Session, after the demonstrations in Ulster, after the regal splendour of the procession, after the king had returned to this country with his blackthorn sceptre. If there were an election to-day, what would be the issue according to the "Times." Not Ulster, Home Rule, Protestantism, not even Tariff Reform, but the General Election would be fought on the Insurance Act. Whatever their masters, guides, philosophers and friends may think at the next General Election the democracy are going to decide the issue, not upon Home Rule or upon Ulster, but upon the Insurance Act. And this is the country that is simply surging with anger and wrath about Home Rule. I could quote every Unionist paper, the "Morning Post," the "Telegraph," and the "Standard." We have been reminded that all the Press on the other side is independent. If they are more independent than ours, then Heaven help the right hon. Gentleman when he comes to form his Administration. The "Times" and even the "Daily Mail," all of them say the by-elections will be fought on the Insurance Act first, and the "Times" says if you dissolve Parliament we will not get the verdict of the country upon Ulster, but upon the Insurance Act.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I will come to that question in a moment. The right hon. Gentleman was very solemn in his references to Ulster, and I am not criticising those references. [HON. MEMBEKS: "Oh, oh!"] I am not criticising those references, and I have never in my life—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Surely the right hon. Gentleman is the last person to complain of the chaff which I used about him.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No man is fit for public life unless he can stand a little of that. I have never treated the Ulster question as if it were merely a question for jest. [An HON. MEMBER: "But your party has done so to-day."] No man has any right to jest at the honest convictions of any man. I belong to a small nationality myself, the smallest nationality in this kingdom and a nationality which for its size—[An HON. MEMBER: "Which pulls women's hair out."] That, just like a good many things which I have heard, is an utter falsehood.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to say an observation falling from another hon. Member of this House is a falsehood?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I really do not know what the truth is about this matter. Certain facts were recorded in the newspapers. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Harold Smith) has taken one view, and the right hon. Gentleman who was present denies that view to be correct.
§ Mr. HAROLD SMITH
If the right hon. Gentleman disagrees with or wishes to deny a statement of an hon. Member, is he in order in saying that statement is an utter falsehood?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The statement repeated by the hon. Member for Warrington must have been taken from the newspaper. I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer was denying that statement, and when he said it was a falsehood he meant the statement which had appeared in the newspapers was a falsehood.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If the hon. Member had been present and had said be had seen it with his own eyes, I agree it would have been very different. Let me say the whole of that story is not merely grossly exaggerated, but nine-tenths of it is an unutterable falsehood. I was present and saw the whole thing. I do not want, however, to be drawn aside into a controversy about that. I only want to say this: I am the last man in this House to ridicule the passions, the feelings, the sympathies, and even the prejudices of a small nationality.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Therefore, when I approach the question of Ulster, I certainly do not approach it from the point of view of one who is suggesting they are not sincere in their convictions. I have never had the slightest doubt about the sincerity of what is known as Ulster—I mean the corner of Ulster referred to—never. This is what I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman. The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) referred to the Congress of Vienna, and he said they had parcelled out nationalities. They took a bit of Saxony and flung it here, and they took a bit of another nationality and flung it there, and took no account of the idiosyncrasies of the people, their race, their traditions, their language, and their love of something which they knew as "nation." Very well, I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) this: Is there an Ulsterman in this House who will say he is not an Irishman? I have never met one. I heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman in passionate terms claim that he was an Irishman.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Nobody who knows the genius of the right hon. Gentleman could possibly challenge it. He is particularly Irish, if I may say so, in his brilliance and in his power. It is not merely that. I have never met an Ulster man who would get up and say, "I am not an Irishman." I do not believe the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has spoken in the course of the Debate would get up and say, "I am not an Irishman."
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The cases given by the Noble Lord are cases of people who are taken out of their own nationality and put into another. This is a different case. The Noble Lord said you are taking them out of their British nationality.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to conclude my argument. I am really trying to address myself to the point. Take the case of my own nationality. Supposing to-morrow I could persuade the Noble Lord and his Friends to do what I tried to persuade them to do in 1892, to give us autonomy in education—I tried to persuade them to give us autonomy on the question of temperance—supposing you gave us autonomy on two or three questions which we think peculiarly 603 our own and on which we take absolutely separate and distinct views from the rest of the United Kingdom, does he imagine any Welshman would cease to consider himself a man of the British race and nationality? It would not make the slightest difference to him. He would claim the same share in the greater Empire and the same interest, probably a greater interest. Why on earth should there be any difference in the case of Ulster? The plea of the Noble Lord is a very different plea from that put forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who, whatever may be said of him in criticism, has been perfectly candid. The plea of the Noble Lord is separate race, separate religion, separate traditions, and separate history.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I said they passionately desired not to come under the Government of Dublin. That is the point. You must allow people to be judges in their own case. They passionately hate the National Parliament in Dublin under which you are prepared to put them by force.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Noble Lord's claim is a claim for separate treatment for Ulster. Is that correct or not? If it is, it is not the claim of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I make no claim. I say the right hon. Gentleman's own Liberal principles require him not to force Ulster out of the nationality to which she wishes to belong and into the nationality to which she does not wish to belong. That is a plain proposition. I am against the whole scheme, of course
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I quite agree with the Noble Lord that we have no right to turn any man out of his nationality, and, if we were turning Ulster out of the nationality to which she belongs into another, I agree there would be an overwhelming case for them, but the Ulster men themselves claim to be Irishmen. If they are not Irish, what is their nationality? You can be an Irishman and at the same time feel that you have an interest 604 in the greater and wider nationality of the Empire—exactly as you can if you are a Scotchman or a Welshman. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law) belongs to a small nationality. He is a Scotchman, but he is also a Britisher. Why should Ulster be in a different position? If there had been any claim of that kind—it is not put and never has been put—then, at any rate, there would be a case for consideration, but the right hon. Gentleman has himself repudiated it emphatically.
§ Earl WINTERTON made an observation which the Official Reporter could not hear.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am sure the Noble Lord does not wish to be rude. I think he is slightly unfair.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have listened carefully and with respect to everything that has been said, and I hope I may be allowed to proceed. The very fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University repudiates emphatically any claim to separate treatment is in itself an indication of a consciousness that it is the same nationality. Why does he do it? He says, "I have got the same people all over Ireland." He has a sense of identity with the whole of Ireland, and it came out yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman was present at a deputation to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture, and I hear he made a strong, I will not call it a Nationalist speech—he would be angry with me if I did—but a speech so strong in its Irish emphasis that all the Nationalists of the South of Ireland who had come over thought he had been converted to Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman himself has made it clear in all his speeches that he regards Ireland in this respect as a unit. He objects to Home Rule for it, but only as a unit. He says, "If Home Rule is carried for Ireland it must be for Ireland as a whole and not for parts of it." That is the position of the right hon. Gentleman. Until Ulster departs from that position there is no case. Ulster has a right to claim a hearing for separate treatment; she has no right to say, "Because we do not want Home Rule ourselves Connaught, Munster, Leinster, and the majority of Irishmen are not to have Home Rule." Now I come to the last point about Ulster. The right hon. Gentleman 605 (Mr. Bonar Law), in very solemn words, in words which I think on reflection he will regret—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Perhaps he will allow me to refer to what he said. He hinted at massacres, massacres of whom, by whom? It is massacres of the Catholics of Ulster by the Protestants? The right hon. Gentleman said feeling was so in tense that it required all the influence of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University to restrain them from starting the massacres now. Really that is a curious way of presenting a claim to the Imperial Government, not for self-government for themselves, but for the denial of self-government to the people they are going to massacre. The right hon. Gentleman said he would give his moral support—I think he said "moral support," and not his physical support—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No distinction. Very well, I will put this to him. He said he is prepared to give his support to the Protestants of Ireland, whatever action they take. That is a very remarkable doctrine to come from the Leader of a party which claims to be the Constitutional party, the party of law and order.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
May I put that quite plainly? I said that if this Government attempted without first appealing to the country to impose this rule upon Ulster by force I would support them at any length in resistance to such an attempt.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is the next point to which I am coming. But may I call attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman talked about the right to rebel. I venture to submit if in this country you begin to lay down the doctrine that when people dislike the law they have a right to rebel, you are starting a very dangerous doctrine. There are many other laws in this country than those for the protection of property, and the question I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman is this: Supposing there were an election, and supposing that at that election the country approved of Home Rule, does the right hon. Gentleman then say it would be the duty of Ulster to obey?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
That is a very serious question. I understand it to be a 606 firm offer on the part of the Government. If the right hon. Gentleman makes that offer quite specific and definite, I will at once answer it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman means that if he can get an election at the moment which best suits him, there shall be no rebellion, but if there is an election at a time which does not suit him, then there must be rebellion. Then all this solemn talk about liberty of conscience becomes purely a question of electioneering. I think I am entitled to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman himself.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I cannot answer several people at the same time. When I get silence I will give my reply. The right hon. Gentleman has given me a challenge, and I will answer him the moment he replies to the question I put to him. I again ask this of the right hon. Gentleman: If there is a dissolution before Home Rule becomes law and the electorate approve of it, will he then use the same pressure to coerce Ulster as evidently he is willing to use to coerce the rest of Ireland? He will not answer. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait and see."] I will tell the House why he will not answer. He dare not. There sits his master (pointing to Sir E. Carson).
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The fact of the matter is the right hon. Gentleman is under the Irish vote. He is under Irish domination. It is the Irish vote he is afraid of. If the right hon. Gentleman would openly and frankly say that the opinion of the country has not been asked for and obtained on Home Rule, and therefore we have no right to pass it, I could understand it. I could understand it if he said that in those circumstances they would be entitled to rebel. But he does not dare say that.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman taunted my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister with insincerity. I fling back that taunt, and I say that, until the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to answer the question I have put to him, all this talk about rebellion in Ulster is mere humbug.
§ Sir E. CARSON
The right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech by stating that it was speeches on the platform and not speeches in this House which influenced the electorate, and he then proceeded to give us some instances of the kind of speech that he is accustomed to make when he goes to the country. The right hon. Gentleman has an extraordinary knack—a very amusing and a very effective one in drawing cheers if they are worth anything—in drawing cheers from his own side. He puts forward arguments to which he gives a complete answer, the only flaw in his procedure being that the arguments have never been advanced by anybody on this side. He adopts this most effective style of rhetoric in almost every speech, and when he has to his full satisfaction knocked down the arguments that were never made he proceeds, by inaccuracy after inaccuracy, in quoting his opponent, to deal with these inaccuracies as if he really believed them to be true. In point of fact the first part of his speech contained Inaccuracy No. 1, and when he came to Inaccuracy No. 2 he was compelled to change that into Inaccuracy No. 1. Subsequently it turned out that the statement had never been made at all. All these inaccuracies brought thundering cheers from the hon. and right hon. Members beside and behind the right hon. Gentleman, and yet, although they all tumbled to the ground, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed himself to be extremely satisfied with the dramatic effect he had secured. After all, to the right hon. Gentleman this question may seem to lend itself to a good deal of foolery. But I am bound to say that I have been brought in such close contact with the more serious side of it that I have not the least ambition to follow the right hon. Gentleman into the foolery we have listened to. I do not mind in the slightest degree the very cheap sneers he has levelled against me. I do not mind them one bit. If I could not bear a few sneers in a cause on which I feel so deeply as I do upon this, I would indeed be a hypocrite in all that I have undertaken to bear, and all that I am willing to bear.
Now let us try to get back to the grievance that we feel. In making this Motion the Prime Minister seems to think that 608 because there has been no gag up till this Session, therefore we ought to be satisfied. I should like to ask this question: Why is the exception made as regards the Irish Home Rule Bill, on which we feel so deeply? If he was not prepared to make any exception up till the present time in the present Session, why are we singled out? There (pointing to the hon. and learned Member for Water-ford) is the leader of the right hon. Gentlemen. He has driven him to it. The right hon. Gentleman made a good deal of fun about the Irish vote. He said my right hon. Friend was under the Irish vote, but he is not kept in office drawing a salary by the Irish vote.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I should like really to ask the House to put aside all this hypocrisy and pretence about the reason for curtailing Debate. Let us try and see what the reality of the thing is. It is not a question of precedents of thirty, forty, or fifty years back, when the Constitution was different, and when we had two Houses of Parliament by which Bills were dealt with. It is nothing of the kind. It is not a question of passing one Bill in a Session, a point on which the right hon. Gentleman dwelt so long in the early part of his speech. You know perfectly well that your party cannot hang together unless you give a bone to each dog. Every man in the House of Commons knows that that is the case. You must satisfy your Welsh supporters, you must satisfy your Irish supporters, and you must give each of them something, as otherwise the one will not support the other. It is for that reason, and that reason alone. It is not a question of adequate discussion or anything else. It is as a bribe for each to support the other that you have brought forward this Resolution. This Resolution in the effect, rightly or wrongly, that it is going to have in the future upon the whole constitution of this country cannot be exaggerated. Look at what it comes to. You have only three Bills you want to get through this Session. Another time, when you think you want to use your Parliament Act, it may be twenty Bills. What is to stop you? If that is so, do not you see that the importance of each measure has no relation whatever to the time that is to be given to the discussion of it? That is the whole fallacy at the back of the Constitution under the Parliament Act. You are driven, in point of fact, in the very first Session to bring forward the Bills 609 you think would be rejected by the House of Lords. The more important and the more revolutionary they are the more unlikely they are to be accepted by the House of Lords, the less time each is to receive in the House of Commons. I say a result like that, which is certainly the result which is going to follow under the Parliament Act, is the death bed of all free discussion in this House, and is an end of all utility in this House. The Prime Minister practically admitted it, because, if you push his argument to its logical conclusion, he said this: If the Opposition so object to the Bill that they try to discuss it with a view to killing it, the moment you came to that conclusion it was not necessary to have any more discussion at all.
I myself believe that, in addition to that, there is at the back of the action of the Government in relation to this scandalous outrage upon the forms of the House, which this Resolution undoubtedly is, an intention to take deliberately one step more to strain all their power to never let this Bill go to the electorate. Otherwise, what is the hurry? As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has already pointed out, the Parliament Act operates after an election just as before it. You know perfectly well that it is a risk you are not prepared to take. The reason you are not prepared to take it is because you entered into a bargain with the Nationalist party when you were getting your Budget, and when the Parliament Bill was being passed, that under the Parliament Bill you would do everything to get them their Bill without going to the country. That is the whole truth of the matter. That cannot be denied, and I will tell you why. The Nationalists, from their point of view are perfectly right and consistent. The right hon. Gentleman spent a great deal of time in telling us how much the Bill was before the country, or this question of Home Rule was before the country, at the last election, He knows as well as I do, because it is a plain fact, that the previous two Home Rule Bills were killed when you put them into concrete form. The principle sounds anything. Home Rule sounds anything, from gas and water Home Rule up to the claim of nationality. But when the details were put before the country in a concrete form, and had been threshed out upon the platforms in the country and in this House, the country, which had accepted the principle of Home Rule in 1892—as Mr. Gladstone, at all 610 events, claimed at that time that they did—when they saw the details and the havoc and wreck you were making of the Constitution of the country, sent back the largest majority we had had for many years as the answer. Nationalist Members know perfectly well, and the Government know perfectly well, that exactly the same thing would happen to-day. They know it is necessary for the passing of this Bill and, as I think they would say, getting the beastly thing out of the way, that they never dare let this Bill go to the country, and it is because this is a step forward in that direction and bringing the Parliament Act into play that they are attempting to curtail discussion of this House in a manner absolutely unexampled in any Closure Motion that has ever been brought before the House.
I am not going into the comparison with the old Closure Motion under Mr. Gladstone's Bill, but I do say that the whole of this Session the Government have shown by their procedure that they never meant this Bill to be discussed at all. I will make that good. They did not bring in the Bill until two months later than Mr. Gladstone brought in his Bill. Why? Because they could not come to terms with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond). The House will grasp what good reason I had for saying that they never intended it to be discussed when I tell them that 3rd July, which was the last day we discussed this Bill in Committee, was the sixth day of discussion in Committee whereas in the year 1893, when Mr. Gladstone brought it in, that was the twenty-ninth day. Why was it all left in that way? Why was not the Bill taken up seriously and fairly and justly as between the different parties in the House? Because what you always intended was to come back with it after the holidays and say, "Now we must have a drastic closure, because we have mismanaged the whole of our business in the previous part of the Session." I think that is another reason why the Government might be a little more frank and not go into all those various details to which we have been listening from the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down talked a good deal about Ulster. He, at all events, takes the question seriously. He really made so much fun and ridicule of it that I am not at all sure that in his heart he does take the matter seriously. At all events, he made no contribution whatever as to 611 any way of solving the question with which he is concerned.
As regards the question of Ulster, a good deal has been said by Members of the Government as regards my own conduct—not here to-night. I was waiting to hear some of them say something—they do it in the papers—about my lawlessness, and the necessity of prosecuting me, and all the other ridiculous rot. Even if you wanted to do it, you would not have the courage to do it. I noticed the other evening that one of the Whips, who is not here at the present time, said that I would have been prosecuted but that they were afraid there would be riots. I can only say this—I hate referring to a personal matter, and I only say it to leave it once and for ever—let no man suppose that I am claiming any immunity from anything to which the humblest man in the country is subject. We have made our protest in Ulster. The majority of hon. Members and the majority of their Press having nothing to say in argument, and having nothing to find fault with in what we say, try to laugh us out of court. I do not envy the man who goes to laugh Belfast out of it. I think he will find himself extremely mistaken. When we come forward and make our protest, your answer to us to-night is this Resolution. You tell us, "You may protest as much as you like in the country, because the country will never be consulted, but we are determined to shut your mouths as much as ever we can in the House of Commons." I suppose we ought to be grateful that we are allowed to discuss it even in the country. There are some Members opposite and some Irish Members who might be very glad if we were not allowed to do that.
I am bound to admit that so far as I am concerned I entirely agree with what my colleague, the hon. Member for East Down (Captain Craig) said in an earlier part of the Debate, that from the beginning to the end as regards this question, notwithstanding the many professions that had been made from time to time by the Government as to their anxiety to act fairly, they never intended to act fairly in any single instance in regard to the whole of this matter. Yet I am not at all sure, having said that, that the very nature of your own Resolution is not some evidence that you have not yet made up your minds as to whether you really mean to proceed to put this Bill upon the Statute Book. I will tell you why I say that. I believe 612 that if you had really made up your minds as to whether you intended to coerce Ulster—I know you never will; you were asked by one of your own followers the other day if you had made up your minds, and I have never seen an answer to that question—and to drive this matter to extremities, the first thing you would have said to yourselves is this, "Well, at all events, we must take care that we have given the fullest and freest possible discussion to the solution of a question involving such vital issues." It is because you are not doing that, and because you are bringing forward a gag which is an outrage upon the House of Commons, that I believe you have not yet made up your minds as to the course you are going to take in the future as regards this Bill. At the same time you are giving us arguments, and justifying the position we take up in Ulster. Everything that has been done with regard to the passing of this Bill is justifying the position we take up in Ulster, and, in my opinion, no position we could take up in Ulster would be too extreme having regard to the conduct of the Government. If I based it only upon this gagging Resolution it would be sufficient, but I have a great deal more. Let me read to you what was said when the Closure Motion was made in Mr. Gladstone's time, when we had two Houses of Parliament, Here is what a Gentleman said who was a Member of the House then and is still a Member:—Having regard to the Resolution, he felt now however, that the time had come when he was bound to say that, the representatives of Ulster having been gagged, they would not be morally bound to recognise this Bill in any shape or form. Speaking with a full sense of responsibility, he said that in his opinion Ulster would he entitled, not only to refuse to recognise the Irish Legislature, but to decline to pay taxes levied by its authority, and he declined to perform any of the duties of citizenship which that Legislature might impose upon him. He had never used such language before, but he used it now, because he believed that the House was not only doing an injury to Ulster, but was doing it in an unconstitutional manner. It was not only carrying a Resolution, but it was carrying it by revolutionary procedure.You notice there that the hon. Gentleman says that he declined to pay taxes levied by its authority, and declined to perform any of the duties of citizenship. I want to ask was he a rebel, was he a traitor? You are always calling me a rebel and a traitor. If he was a rebel and a traitor—for he said a great deal more there than I have said—what did you do with him? You rewarded him by taking him into your Government. The right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister said you had a mandate at the last election to pass this. 613 Bill. I am going to give up for the moment the controversy which we are always engaged in as to whether the matter was before the electors. The extraordinary coincidence of the election addresses is a matter which will always be very difficult to explain to any reasonable man. But I pass that by. I ask you this: Will you tell me, to take just one or two examples, where to look for any speech during the last election where any Minister dealt with the question of forcing this Bill upon North-East Ulster against her will? Then if you will not, do you say that that is a question—as to the using of British bayonets against their own fellow subjects—in which the British elector ought to have no voice? I will put one or two further questions just as instances. Will you tell me where any Minister at the last election dealt with the finance which was likely to be imposed under this Bill? That is a vital matter for Ireland and for England. You are going to give Ireland, out of the control of this House, something like £60,000,000, that is capitalising the £2,000,000 a year. Do you think you have a right to give that £60,000,000 without consulting the electors of this country? Will you again refer me to a speech made by anybody who said anything about finance at the last election.
I take another question—the retention of the Irish Members. Who dealt with that at the last election? I remember the history of that question. It was a vital question. In the first Bill they were left out altogether. In the second Bill they were brought in with limited powers, they were to be here when only Irish questions were discussed. Then Mr. Gladstone said it passed the wit of man to find out what were purely Irish questions, so they were left in for all purposes. Then these three different proposals being regarded as impossible by the Government, they make a sort of compromise. They said that all three were absolutely unworkable and illogical and so you split the difference and keep half of them here and turn the other half out, not on any question of principle, but on a sort of rule of thumb bargain between the two countries. Was that before the electors at the last election? Quote me the speech of any Minister who said to the electors, What I am going to propose is that while you will have no voice whatsoever in Irish affairs in the Irish Parliament, I am going to have forty Members from Irleand here who will have no interest in your affairs 614 but who will have a perfect right to turn out a Government and put in another one, contrary even to the majority which may be elected in this country. Will you please quote whether that was put before the electors at the last election? I am perfectly sure it was not. Not a word of it, and I will tell you why. Because I find the Prime Minister himself, speaking at East Fife on 8th December, 1910, made this very frank and bold statement in taking the electors into his confidence:—We cannot and ought not to give any detail of the Home Rule Bill at this stage.And yet, as I said before, it was on the details of the Bill when put before the country on two previous occasions that the country rejected the Bill. In addition to that, you say we are laying the foundations for further Parliaments in this country—the hobby of the right hon. Gentleman, Mr. Churchill. But it was stated by the Prime Minister, in proposing the Bill. The Bill must, therefore, be started upon some basis which is laying the foundation for these Parliaments. What is the principle? Is it that every Parliament is to have £2,000,000 and their own Customs and their own Post Offices? If this is the foundation of Parliaments for the United Kingdom, ought the principle to have been put before the electors? Will the right hon. Gentleman quote me in what speech the guiding principle of the federated Parliaments for the United Kingdom was put before the electors at the last election? After all, these are vital questions for the future of the country. They dispose of all these pretences that the country has declared upon this Bill. The country knew nothing about it. And they get rid of all these pretences that what you are trying to do now is to act fairly when you are restricting discussion within such narrow limits that, whereas you may be able to say a few sentences about Clauses of the Bill, you know perfectly well that the time will not allow us to make any impression whatsoever on the numerous Amendments which necessarily arise on such a complicated measure. You may say this to me, that those whom I represent are not prepared to accept the Bill in any form. It is perfectly fair to say so. You say they make an audacious claim to stay under the Imperial Parliament. Terrible blackguards! It really astonishes me more than anything in the world how anybody ever cares to stay under the Imperial Parliament. It is a 615 kind of crime. The British Constitution is the last thing in the world that any men, even when they flourished under it, ought to care to stay under. That is the crime against these men. The right hon. Gentleman made a good deal of play about our all being Irishmen, as if that was any solution of the question. I think he was only joking. It is not a question of being Irishmen, it is a question that they loathe with a passionate hatred the idea of being turned out from under this Parliament and handed over to an Irish Parliament, and the question of nationality does not come in therefore. It is a question of their feelings. Their whole tradition and the whole history behind them has made them citizens of the United Kingdom exactly the same as Englishmen are citizens of the United Kingdom. It is no answer to say to men under these conditions, "You are all Irishmen, go and live happily together." The thing is absurd.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I did not leave it there. I proceeded to deal with the argument of the Noble Lord that they were of a different nationality.
§ Sir E. CARSON
These arguments of nationality seem to be all quips. You are up against real, stern facts, and you cannot get rid of them by telling people they are all Irish or that they are all one nationality. We consider that we are one nationality with Great Britain, and we are satisfied to be, and that is what hon. Gentlemen will never tell us, why, if we are satisfied, we are to be turned out? That is what we are always asking, and we never get an answer. Then the right hon. Gentleman talked about Ulster not claiming separate treatment. Ulster is making no claim at all. All Ulster asks—I know it is a very extravagant thing—is to stay as she is.
§ Sir E. CARSON
She asks to stay as she is. That is the only claim that she has made that I know of. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is fatal to the Bill."] I cannot help it. I think the hon. Gentleman is probably 616 right. I think the whole object is to get hold of Belfast and the northern counties so that you may tax them. After all it is not a very extravagant thing for the people who are there, the people who have made Belfast, to say, "We are not altogether agreeable to that; we prefer to stay as we are. We are doing very well." You say to them, "No, we must turn you out because it is fatal to the Bill." I do not understand that argument. It is quite true that we would not accept it, but at the same time I could reply to you that your argument is that Ulster will accept the Bill. The Prime Minister said so at Dublin. He said that Ulster, once the Bill was passed, would fall in with the rest of Ireland in accepting it I do not believe a word of it. But if you do believe what you say, do you think you are aiding it by this Resolution? Do you think that by preventing full and free discussion, you are forwarding the cause that you yourselves put forward? In any event, what we insist on is that we have a right to have the fullest time given us so that we may bring home to our fellow countrymen what is the real meaning of this Bill, so that in any steps that we may take we may have our countrymen behind us.
We want to stand justified in the face of our fellow countrymen, and we believe we will if we get a full discussion of the Bill. This Resolution, in my opinion, is sheer tyranny. It is put forward as part of a bargain. The time is shortened because you want to pay off other creditors, and I say that it is very difficult, feeling as we do, to bear that tyranny, and to bear such an outrage as this is upon free discussion upon a subject which to us, at all events, is the most important, that ever can arise in the life of any living man or of any man in the future. We say under these circumstances, that to press this Bill in the way you are going to do, is a matter which will justify any steps we may take to resist such a Bill being put on the Statute Book. At the same time, feeling strongly and bitterly, and hating, loathing, and detesting the whole of the Bill I am not going, even under these circumstances, to lose either my head or my temper. I shall go on. It is far too serious for my own people. If I had only myself to think of, and if I had only mere Parliamentary tactics, and matters of that kind to think of, I do not know that I would not retire altogether, or get turned out, which would probably be the more dramatic way; but I know the subject is far too serious, and I mean to stop here, and to do nothing 617 which will prevent me, and I hope none of my followers will do anything which will prevent them from being here in full force. We will fight it to the end, even if you have tied our hands behind our backs. We will do our best, and I believe in the long run the country will come to understand the monstrous injustice which is attempted to be perpetrated, and that in some ways the country will take care that we are guarded in our rights.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said just now that the people cared nothing for Parliamentary speeches, and that what they really cared for were speeches delivered in the country. If that is the case, why do not the Government take the logical course of going to the country and making speeches to explain this Bill? There have been a good many speeches made by Ministers during the last few weeks, but I do not think that any one of them has dared to deal with the details of the Home Rule Bill. Financial matters and the other subjects which were referred to in the admirable and able speech of my right hon. Friend, and the relationship between hon. Members from Ireland and the Government are matters on which not a single Member of the Government has ever taken the country into his confidence. If it is true that the country does not listen to speeches in Parliament, the honest course for Members of the Government to take is to make speeches in the country telling the country what is the real state of the case. It is surely irony for a Government which has done most to guillotine discussion in this House to confess that the country does not care what is said in Parliament. I believe that is in a certain sense true, because debate is stifled in such a way as to be regarded by some people as unreal, and they think that it is merely the will of the Prime Minister and the Government of the day which the majority registers, whatever may be said in debate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that he had never ridiculed such a serious matter as what we have seen lately in Ulster. It seems to me that what he called chaff across the floor of the House will not be understood by the country as chaff. His supporters cheered him when he talked of a sceptre of blackthorn and of regal processions.
I think chaff ought not to enter into a discussion of such a subject as this. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, as Leader of 618 the House for the moment, ought not to condescend to chaff upon a subject like this. He forgets, and I think a great many hon. Members on the other side also forget, what is the foundation of all these proceedings in Ulster which they laugh at. We have never seen such a sight in our lifetime. I doubt whether such a sight has been seen in England at all as a whole section of the population betaking itself to prayer in the most solemn manner before entering into a covenant couched in the most solemn and restrained language—a covenant entered into not lightly, but in a way I should have thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of all people, and those who think with him on religious subjects, would have been the very last to sneer at in any way. I should have thought that they would have been the very last persons to turn these proceedings into a joke or refer to in the way of chaff in the House of Commons.
It seems to me that the covenant is a factor which Nonconformists on the other side have left out of account altogether. It is not an Irish faction fight. Hon. Gentlemen opposite talk of the leadership of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) as if it were blameworthy. Perhaps they do not know Ireland. I think a great many Members have legislated on this without knowing Ireland. But they ought to know that if the right hon. Gentleman had lifted his little finger half an inch there might have been riots of the most terrible description, because Belfast and that part of the country are full of people who only want an excuse to fight on the one side or the other, and very little provocation would produce a riot, which would not have begun with the Protestants, but would have begun with the other side. They were in the midst of the most inflammable material, but had the wisdom not to provoke the other side to any conflict, and to take very good care that no provocation was given to give them any excuse for it. The real factor of the situation of which we have got to take notice—a factor of which I think the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Russell), who now represents the Ministry, would be the first to know, and as to which he should be the first to protest—is that if men can enter into a covenant of this sort with the solemn preparation which they all made beforehand, that preparation was not a mockery. It was reality, and that, at all events, ought to make the right hon. Gentleman pause 619 before he has any share in this tyranny towards that part of the country.
It ought to make him represent to the Government, remembering that he is the only Member of the Government who knows Ulster, or who knows what Ulster is, remembering that he does know Ulster from both sides—I am not saying a word against him as to this. He has got a right to change his political convictions if he likes, but having changed it, that throws an additional responsibility upon him. He knows Ulster on both sides. He is the one representative of an Ulster constituency in the Government, and he ought to be, and is, the one to impress upon the Prime Minister and upon all the Government that this is no factious opposition, that this is no sham opposition, that it is not merely made for show, that it is not bluff, because he knows that Ulster men are not accustomed to bluff, and, above all, bluff is never founded upon such solemn foundations as attended the signing of this covenant. That seems to me to be a new factor, and a factor of which all hon. Members on the other side, especially those who are co-religionists of the signers of the covenant, pause; and to me it seems incredible that Nonconformists really think that they can pass this Bill as it stands into law in face of what happened in Ulster only a few weeks ago.
§ Mr. CASSEL
It is good fortune for me in an empty House that at all events I have the satisfaction of having opposite to me the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland, because I put, myself, on the Order Paper to-day an Amendment which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will recognise, as it is, ipsissima verba, the Amendment which he himself moved to a similar gagging Motion in 1893. Perhaps, if he looks at it on the Order Paper, he will recognise that it corresponds exactly with what he moved on that occasion. I should like to ask him whether the Parliamentary representatives of the people have no longer, in 1912, the right of discussing a question which affects the constitutional liberty for which he pleaded so eloquently in 1893? I hope that to-night we shall be favoured with his views upon this question, and that we shall have an explanation of the reason why a proceeding which he condemned in the most eloquent terms and in the strongest possible way in that year should not be condemned in the same strong terms in 1912. I will tell you why 620 it ought to be condemned in strong terms. In the first place, we are proceeding now under the Parliament Act, and in whatever form this Bill goes through no Amendment can hereafter be made. That surely is a strong reason why full and free discussion should be allowed on the only opportunities which we have of introducing an Amendment at all. Assuming that hereafter it turns out that through that same gagging Resolution which ruined the Insurance Act, which made of a measure which might have been beneficent one which has been utterly harmful to the people of this country—if such a measure is going to be passed under the Parliament Act, and you are not going to allow Amendments to be moved at the only period at which they can be moved, what position will you be in if it turns out next year that some Amendment which ought to be moved now cannot be moved any more, as otherwise the whole Bill would have to fail?
If it was a constitutional right of the representatives of the people then, it is doubly a constitutional right of the representatives of the people, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, now, because they have not that check through which a reference could be made to the people in the times before the Parliament Act. But the Prime Minister himself admitted that in a measure of this kind the only justification for a gagging Resolution would be the absolute necessity to get the Bill through in the Session. He did not prove in the least that there was that necessity. The only reason why this gagging Resolution was brought forward is because the Government did not in the earlier part of the Session provide for its discussion. It is not because they want to pass the Home Rule Bill in this Session, but because they want to pass three Bills in the Session without any one of them being allowed to be adjudicated upon by the people. That is the real reason. But for the fact that they desire to pass in one Session three Bills, any one of which is really enough to take up a whole Session, there would have been no necessity for this gagging Resolution, which allows such a wholly inadequate time for the discussion of a variety of highly important questions. I would like to quote the Prime Minister himself, because my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. W. Peel), with marvellous prescience, in the discussion on the Parliament Bill, moved an Amendment that the Parliament Act should only be 621 applied to one Bill in one Session. At the time I did not think very much of that Amendment. I thought it was very ingenious, but not very important, but now I begin to realise how really prescient was my hon. Friend. What was the answer of the Prime Minister? He said:—The hon. Member has drawn an alarming picture of a future Government trying to carry through in a single Session a number of first-class controversial measures, but there are limits to the powers of human and Parliamentary endurance, which I think form a very adequate safeguard against anything of the kind suggested by the hon. Gentleman. It is difficult enough to pass a single controversial measure—and nobody knows that better than the hon. Baronet opposite—in the course of one Session. There is not the slightest fear or prospect of the difficulty to which the hon. Member referred being realised.That is what he said then and it was by that that he persuaded the House to reject that Amendment. Now he is doing the very thing which my hon. Friend then suggested might happen, and might be the ruin of Parliamentary discussion under the Parliament Act. Actually not one but three great controversial measures are endeavoured to be passed through in a single Session, and the reason no one of them can be adequately discussed is because you are trying to pass all three in the one Session. There is no necessity of any appeal to the gag, for the purpose of passing one important measure in a Session. The necessity of appeal arises because you are trying to do the very thing which the Prime Minister said in Parliament he did not intend to do under the Parliament Act. The next point the Prime Minister dealt with was that the time allowed was sufficient. So far as that is concerned we have to look at the actual terms of the Schedule. Some examples have already been given. I will give one of the most glaring. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that only two examples have been given. Of course, we could not take up the time of the House now in going through every detail of the Schedule, but we give these as instances. The Prime Minister said, I think, that one Clause would be enough for one day, and I find that on the 24th there are eleven Clauses for one day, and the first of those is sufficient for a whole day's discussion. The first of those Clauses is Clause 37, which, we find, deals with the whole future of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metroplitan Police. That alone requires a full day's effective discussion. It is a scandal and a disgrace to Parliament that it should be mixed up with eleven Clauses, all of them to be discussed in six and a half hours. Besides the ten other Clauses we are to decide the whole 622 fate of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan. Police in a period of time which is an absolutely ridiculous and inadequate allowance.
As I read the Resolution these Clauses might be taken on a Friday, but I understand the Prime Minister to say that he is going to alter that and not take Friday. I myself have put down an Amendment excluding Friday, and I gather rather from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that these eleven Clauses will not be taken on a Friday and that my Amendment in that respect will be accepted, and Friday will be excluded. Take even the ordinary day of six and a half hours: I have begun with the Clause relating to the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, but there is another important Clause, Clause 41, which raises the whole question of concurrent legislation, as to the effect of the Imperial legislation on Acts of the Irish Parliament, and how far the Acts of the Irish Parliament may be independent of the Acts of the Imperial Parliament. That is a most important question, yet it is to be discussed in the six and a half hours along with the Clause on the Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police, and the rest of the eleven Clauses. And even that is not all. On that same day and within the six and a half hours we are going to be forced to discuss a point on which the Prime Minister gave us a pledge that there would be adequate discussion. He gave us a pledge that he would allow adequate and full discussion and he induced us to withdraw an Amendment by that pledge on the question of the appointed day on which the Irish Parliament was to be constituted. He said:—I intervene for the sake of saving time if I can, and not of replying to arguments which have been put forward. I cannot accept this Amendment. I think the words ought to remain as they are. At the same time it is a perfectly reasonable proposition that hon. Members should be assured that they will have an opportunity of discussing the actual date at which this Parliament is to be brought into existence. Be it observed—I say this by way of caution—that I do not in the least degree admit that that date ought not to be the date named in the Bill, or that it ought to be a date after there has been an opportunity, by dissolution or otherwise, of some reference to the country. I think that at the proper time and place in the Bill there ought to be an opportunity of discussing what is undoubtedly one of the most important of all the points raised.Here we have the Prime Minister admitting that it is one of the most important points, yet it is included in eleven Clauses, which are to be discussed within six and a-half hours. The Prime Minister went on to say:—I am quite ready to give an undertaking that there shall be an opportunity, be it on Clause 42 or in some 623 other place—I think Clause 42 is the appropriate and natural place—of discussing the date at which the Irish Parliament should come into existence. I think hon. Members might be content with that assurance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th June, 1912, cols. 769–770, Vol. XXXIX.]I demurred a little to accepting that, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) advised me to be satisfied with it, and, acting on his advice, the Amendment was withdrawn. I have now come here to claim redemption of the pledge given by the Prime Minister, and I ask him to perform the undertaking he gave by not putting this important Clause among a group of eleven Clauses which also deal with important matters. It is one of the most important Clauses in the Bill, and is deserving of full and effective discussion. The Prime Minister will have broken his deliberate pledge on which he obtained the withdrawal of my Amendment unless he allows full discussion on the point. Let us take, again, another Clause which will give rise to the whole question of whether the operation of this Bill ought not to be deferred until the electorate have been consulted.
That, again, is a very important matter, one on which, no doubt, there will be considerable discussion, and on which different views will be expressed. That also is to be included in this batch of eleven Clauses, and yet within six hours and a-half we have to include a discussion applying to the whole of the Bill. Anyone who has had experience of the law will appreciate more than laymen the importance of the definitions to be included in an Act of Parliament being properly considered and framed. The whole of the interpretation of the Act must necessarily depend upon having proper and accurate definitions. Just fancy lumping the definitions among these eleven Clauses, all to be discussed in six and a-half hours. I have given a sample, and a sample only, of the measure of discussion which the Government appear to think sufficient for this Bill. I could multiply the illustrations, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not use the fact that I have given one day only as an argument that the other days, or many of them, could not be attacked to the same extent. If he is going to use that as an argument, I am afraid I shall be bound to trouble the House for some time longer, but I think I have given sufficient illustrations of the measure of justice which the Government is prepared to allow. The Prime Minister has constantly said that he is prepared to 624 put any proper safeguards into this Bill which are suggested, and to consider them and to discuss them Personally I do not believe that any paper safeguards are worth anything, but it does not lie in the Prime Minister's mouth to say that because he has pledged himself that if anybody can bring forward any objections to the safeguards that are provided, or suggest any further safeguards, he will consider them. What provision is there in this time-table for that purpose?
§ Mr. CASSEL
The hon. Member says, "Three days," but suppose on Clause 3, on which the question of safeguards would mainly arise and for which one and a-half days are allotted, that two or three points were first on the Amendment Paper or were selected by the Chairman, who is, I understand, the whole time to be applying a continual kangaroo to the discussion, suppose he selects some of the suggested safeguards, and none of those which the representatives from Ulster wish to propose and have time to discuss. Suppose, then, that the closing hour arrives before a, particular safeguard which I wish to propose is discussed. Will the hon. Member opposite who is interrupting me, in that case say that the Government would be prepared to accept an Amendment that further time be allowed to consider any safeguards which are considered necessary by those who are opposed to the Bill if the time specified by this table is not sufficient. That does not seem to meet with a ready response from the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is obvious that that promise and pledge cannot possibly be fulfilled if that schedule is adhered to. All the statements which have been made in various parts of the country as to allowing opportunity for the consideration of any safeguards or protection for whatever they are worth, and I believe they arc worth nothing, all those pledges are I going to be scandalously broken by means of this Resolution. Mr. Gladstone, at all events, waited before he brought in a gagging Resolution until he saw there was necessity for it from the point of view of getting his one and only measure in that one Session, and not three measures. He waited until the twenty-eighth day of Committee before he moved his gagging Resolution. He allowed more discussion in Committee before he moved his gagging 625 Resolution than this schedule allots to the Committee stage altogether. This Resolution allots twenty-five days to the Committee stage. On the Report stage Mr. Gladstone did not move the gagging Resolution until the eleventh day of that stage, while this schedule allots seven days altogether for the Report stage. There again you had a Report stage continued for one and a-half times as long as this Resolution allots altogether before a gagging Resolution is even thought of.
This is a more stringent form of gagging than this House has ever been subjected to. Some of its Clauses, if they are going to remain, are appalling in their severity. There is one provision that the Government can omit a Clause, and the only discussion allowed is a statement by the Minister and a statement by somebody who criticises that statement. Thus Clause 3 might be dropped or Clause 13 might be dropped altogether, the only discussion allowed being a statement by the Minister and by somebody criticising. I suppose it would be for the Chairman to determine whether he was criticising it or not. Could anything be more ridiculous than that an important provision in a Bill like this could be entirely omitted simply on the statement of a Minister and one statement from the other side? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman opposite agrees with that interpretation, but that is how I interpret the Resolution. I interpret it that any Clause, or even any consecutive number of Clauses, can be omitted on the mere statement of a Minister and merely one statement in answer. If that Clause is not intended to be put into effect, the sooner it is cut out of the Resolution the better. If it is intended to be used, it is simply a tyrannical use of the gag. The Resolution is more stringent also in this respect: in the past we have had closure by compartments. This is closure by commas; the very commas and sub-paragraphs are allocated and meted out, and it is prescribed how much we are to say on every two or three lines. Even during that short period when the time is meticulously meted out like rations to a beseiged garrison, you, Sir, are to exercise supervision over us, and only to allow us to move such Amendments as you think right, because the whole time there is to be a continuous kangaroo.
No one respects the authority of the Chair more than I do, and no one respects it more than I when you, Sir, fill the Chair; but I am sure it must be an odious duty cast upon the Chair that during the 626 whole of the discussion on a Bill of this description, when you already have the Bill cut up into little fragments and commas almost, that even then you are to have the duty cast upon you of determining the Amendments that we are allowed to speak upon. I have no doubt that you will most fairly discharge that odious, duty which will be cast upon you, but on a great constitutional question like this, is it right that it should be dealt with in that way? I put it that the conditions under which we are to discuss this question are humiliating to any free Assembly. Time is dealt out to us in small, homoeopathic doses; everything is cut and dried, the minutes we have to speak and the Amendments that are to be brought forward. This Bill is being kept most carefully in darkness; the light is allowed to peer in only through crevices, and even that little bit of light is grudgingly given by the Government. I have always tried to express myself with moderation and with fairness to my opponents, but I put it to you, Sir, that in a Bill of this description the strain which is to be put upon the Opposition is very great if we are to be subjected to and tied down by those humiliating conditions. I cannot describe otherwise the manner in which a free Assembly is asked to discuss a great constitutional question. I hope that, as far as we are concerned, we shall be able to bear the strain that will be placed upon our loyalty to the observance of the forms of the House. But so far as the ultimate fate of this Bill is concerned, it will have the effect of depriving the measure of every shred of moral authority. My authority for that statement is the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. W. Russell), who used those very words when, in answer to a similar Resolution in 1893, he moved the Amendment which I have placed on the Paper to-day. In conclusion let me quote the authority of a great Law Officer of the Crown, whose words will be respected in every part of the House. Sir Edward Clarke, speaking with the full weight of responsibility attaching to his position, in 1893 said:—I think Ulster will have the right to take every measure which offers itself, to refuse submission to the authority set up, having regard to the circumstances hi which the Bill is now being pressed. If there is anything which makes it absolutely certain that the moral authority of your Act will be denied and refused by Ulster, it is your passing it in spite of its enormous constitutional importance without adequate discussion.If those words were true then, they are doubly true now. This Resolution is 627 grossly unjust to those who desire to discus this Bill fully, to put forward their views, and to move their Amendments. It would have been wholly unnecesary if the business of the Session had been confined to what is proper and legitimate for a single Session. The reason for it is that not one, but three, great controversial measures may be passed in such a way that the people shall have no opportunity of expressing their opinion upon them.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Sir JOHN LONSDALE
So much has been truly and eloquently said from the Irish Unionist point of view by my right hon. Friend the senior Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson), that there is very little left for me to say. In one sense I do not regret that this Motion has been made by the Prime Minister, because it is a confession on the part of the Government that their Home Rule proposals will not stand the test of fair and free discussion. At the same time the occasion is one that demands from all who have any regard to the honour and dignity of this House, not only plain language, but strong and resolute action. The Prime Minister in the course of his speech did not show a single shred of justification for this unparalleled application of the Closure to a measure of this character. Surely, it cannot be denied that, apart altogether from any question of principle, the Government of Ireland Bill ought to receive the fullest and most careful scrutiny of all its details. Let the House remember that this Bill proposes, not merely a separate Parliament for Ireland, but a new Constitution to the United Kingdom. We are asked to destroy the legislative unity of these islands and to lay the foundations of a new federal system of Government. Therefore every Clause of this Bill has to be considered not merely as it affects Ireland, but as it will be applicable to England, Scotland, and Wales. When Parliament is invited to embark upon a constitutional change so far reaching in its character and effects, it is only reasonable that the House of Commons should expend the most anxious consideration upon all the details of the scheme. But it is evident from this Motion that the Government do not intend that there shall be any detailed examination of their Home Rule proposals. The foundations of the new system are to be laid in complete ignorance as to whether we are to have two, three, four, or, as the First Lord of 628 the Admiralty suggested, twelve Parliaments within the area of the United Kingdom.
In addition to this, the House is not to be allowed to discuss at least four-fifths of the Government of Ireland Bill. That I submit is bound to be the consequence if this Motion is carried into effect. I ask the House to consider what happened in connection with the Home Rule Bill of 1893. That measure was driven through Committee by means similar to that which it is proposed to apply to the present Bill. It is true that the Closure Resolution of 1893 was not nearly so drastic a proposal as the Motion now before the House, and it was not brought forward—this cannot be too explicitly understood by the House—until the Bill had been twenty-eight days in Committee. What was the result of passing it? The Bill of 1893 contained forty Clauses, and although forty-seven days were occupied in Committee, only about ten Clauses were discussed. More than three-fourths of the Bill was driven through the House of Commons without the slightest examination of the details; and on that ground alone the House of Lords was more than justified in rejecting it. What is the position in regard to the present Bill? It has been in Committee, not twenty-eight, but less than seven days, and during that time, as the result of some forty-five hours' Debate, we have passed one Clause. This measure consists of forty-eight Clauses. It is not only longer but more complicated than the Bill of 1893; and I challenge contradiction when I say that the time which the Government propose to allow for its consideration in Committee is preposterously inadequate. The House would require not thirty but 300 days to give to the details of this measure the attention which their importance demands. We have in this Motion one more example of the Prime Ministers capacity for breaking his most solemn pledges to the House. In March last the right hon. Gentleman used these words:I have always thought that this Bill, having regard to its magnitude and complexity, and to its being far the most important Bill of the Session, ought to be introduced under conditions which will secure adequate Parliamentary discussion.What is that but an assurance and an undertaking that the House of Commons should have the fullest opportunity of debating all these important proposals? We had the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who gave a definite promise on behalf of the Prime Minister that there should be ample opportunity to consider the Bill, and the 629 promise of ample time was repeated a few days later by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. How have those promises been kept? They have been broken in the most cynical and shameless fashion, and broken, I very much regret to have to say—because I do not like to have to use language of the sort—by the Leader of the House. In the circumstances that I have mentioned I cannot but feel that this Motion is nothing more nor less than a deliberate insult to the House of Commons. If it were to pass without protest I think this assembly would forfeit all right to the confidence and respect of the country. It is something more than that. I think we are justified in regarding this Motion as a direct challenge to the people of Ulster. Hon. Members must all be aware of the fact that the loyalists of Ulster, to a man, have determined that they will never submit to be ruled by a Nationalist Parliament. They have bound themselves, as has been already stated, by a solemn covenant to use all means that may be found necessary to defend their "position of equal citizenship" in the United Kingdom. None but fools would ridicule this resolution of the loyalists of Ulster.
We who represent Ulster constituencies on these benches are proud to have taken part in the proceedings which culminated in the deliberate signing of the covenant. We know full well there is not a man in Ulster who has signed that covenant, that will go back upon it. What answer do the Government make to the united protest of the loyalists of Ulster? They reply to these men by this Motion. The only interpretation that we can put upon it is that they are determined to overcome Ulster resistance by force. If that represents the deliberate intention of the Government, I can only say that we are brought appreciably nearer to a very dangerous situation. I can only tell the Government, and this House, that the passing of this Motion will have no effect whatever in shaking the resolution of the loyalists of Ulster. On the contrary, it will strengthen their determination to oppose Home Rule at all costs, and it will more than justify them in offering a most strenuous resistance to this measure if it is ever placed upon the Statute Book. We all regret that in this matter the Government are not acting on their own will; they are acting under compulsion. They have entered into a corrupt bargain with the Nationalist party, and they have to carry out their compact even 630 at the cost of the degradation of the House of Commons.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford has, we all know, contracted to keep the Government in office. He has found it necessary to warn his followers, according to the Whip that was issued, that they must be in attendance every hour of the Session, though he desires undoubtedly to relieve the strain upon them as much as possible. Therefore he has issued his edict that discussion on the Home Rule Bill must be kept within the narrowest possible limits. I ask hon. Members opposite, do they intend to submit to the dictation of the leader of the party, Members of which have declared that whilst they are in the House of Commons they are not of it? Their action in this House has been in the past to undermine its authority and to destroy its efficiency. I ask are they to be allowed now to put the finishing touch to this degradation? I am glad to know there are some hon. Members opposite who have shown that they regard this Motion with disfavour. The Government have been warned by some of their advisers in the Press against the policy of rushing Home Rule through without adequate discussion. Apparently the Government are determined to ignore these counsels. They have no doubt satisfied themselves that they can command a majority in the House to enable them to carry this Motion. The Opposition may not be able to prevent this Motion being carried. But we can at least do what Ulster is determined to do if the Home Rule is placed upon the Statute Book under the Parliament Act; we can refuse to recognise the binding authority of this Resolution. I hold that in the circumstances in which these retrictions are being placed upon our Debates we shall be perfectly justified in refusing to submit.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
I am bound to say that I was one of those who dissented very strongly from the report I heard shortly after the introduction of this Bill that a time-table was likely to be set up for its discussion, and I expressed my dissent. The situation seems to me to have altered. We have been discussing the Bill in Committee for nearly seven days, and we have passed one Clause. We are barely at the beginning of the second. The length of time which the Bill should take has been indicated by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. If you consider the Amendments which are down on the Order Paper, 631 it is a moderate estimate to say that, at the present rate of progress, it would mean between 150 and 200 days to complete the Bill. That is quite an impracticable proposition. I have listened to a good many speeches, and it has been stated frequently that there has been no unnecessary discussion up to the present time. That has not been my impression. The object of the Committee stage of a Bill—of any Bill—is to improve it. Hon. Members opposite have no desire to improve this Bill. Speakers on those benches themselves have told us that they are supporting Amendments, not because they believe in them, but for purely wrecking purposes. I think the purpose of hon. Members opposite is quite clear, and even that the results are quite clear. Hon. Members, having been defeated on the Second Reading of the Bill, are now engaged in an attempt to kill it in detail. The Order Paper is loaded with Amendments which cut out its fundamental principle, which will move from the Irish Parliament one after another of the powers assigned to it, and will leave no Home Rule at all.
I quite recognise that is a perfectly legitimate mode of warfare. The only defence we have against the interminable discussion which it involves is the timetable now before the House. A good many references have been made to the time-table introduced by Mr. Gladstone, and the generous limits of that time-table have been given their meed of praise. I am bound to say this acknowledgment comes rather late. It would have been taken more seriously if Mr. Gladstone heard it himself. As a matter of fact, Mr. Gladstone was assailed for his time-table a great deal more bitterly than the Prime Minister has been assailed to-day; but all these comparisons with Mr. Gladstone's time-table are really beside the mark. This time-table is a shorter one than Mr. Gladstone's, but it will most certainly secure a far better discussion over the whole range of the Bill. Mr. Gladstone's time-table consisted of compartments so large as to contain seventeen clauses at one time, so that hon. Members opposite by protracting the discussion upon the early Clauses were able to prevent any discussion upon the later ones. This time-table has been so drawn up that every important Clause must inevitably come under discussion, and unless hon. Members opposite are going to put down a number of niggling Amendments upon the first line of every 632 Clause, it means that every important point will come under discussion. This time-table is enough for the proper purposes of the Committee stage, which is the improvement of the Bill. That is not the purpose of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The time-table is not enough for them, and it is not the business of the Government to make it enough.
I did not expect so little of this Debate would concern the actual subject under discussion, and that so much of it would be taken up with what we heard during the earlier days. Practically every speaker from the other side has told us it is a constitutional outrage to pass this Bill without another General Election, without referring it to the people. To my mind the answer to that argument has always been very clear. Hon. Members opposite have no real desire to refer this measure to the people. If we accepted their invitation and had a General Election tomorrow, we know well enough they would smuggle Home Rule into the background and fight it upon some other measure, probably the Insurance Act. I go further. If I can speak for my own Constituency, and others where I have spoken lately, I am convinced that with the best intentions in the world, if both sides, agreed to it, it is a practical impossibility at this moment to have a General Election on Home Rule. Very dramatic speeches are made in this House and very dramatic moments may be witnessed, but, as a matter of fact, we know, and hon. Members opposite know, the country refuses to be stirred. Every single candidate at an election might confine all his speeches to Home Rule, but I am convinced you cannot compel the people of this country to give their decision on the question of Home Rule, a question in which they are so little interested. I am bound to say this appears to me to be a very vital factor in considering the speeches delivered by leading Members of the party opposite.
It seems to me that the only justification for the statements of the Leader of the Opposition in his incitements towards, disorder—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"]—in his threats of future disorder—he has actually mentioned war—the only justification for speeches of that sort, unprecedented from one in his position, would be not only strong feeling in Ulster, but outraged feeling in England itself. We know, and hon. Members opposite know, that the feeling of the country so far from 633 being outraged, can hardly be The Leader of the Opposition, in making speeches which can only be justified by the most intense condition of the public feeling, is, I am convinced, making one of the gravest miscalculations of which any statesman has ever been guilty. I know well enough all these Debates on Closure have a strong family resemblance. I quite agree with what is stated that, as a matter of fact, Governments are finding themselves forced by forces which they themselves can scarcely control, into ever-tightening their grip upon the time of this House. I believe when the historian of the future comes to write the history of the Closure he will divide the responsibility for it fairly equally between both parties. But there is one difference between us and hon. Members upon the opposite benches. Hon. Members opposite have no alternative. We, in this Bill, which we are now discussing, are taking the first step by which the time of Parliament will be left free.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
And the first step by which drastic Closures will be unnecessary in future and by which the freedom of Parliamentary discussions will be restored.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
The hon. Member who has just sat down gave, I think, as one of his reasons for supporting this Motion that the Order Paper was loaded with Amendments. I do not want to do him any injustice, but I think I am correct in saying that one of the largest of the Amendments on the Order Paper stands in his name.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
Listening to the hon. Member's speech, anyone might suppose this Motion has been rendered necessary by the action of hon. Members sitting upon this side of the House, but, as a matter of fact, considerable time was taken up in the earlier portion of the Session by two Amendments put down on the Order Paper by his own Friends. More than that, on two occasions when the Closure was moved it was moved on these two Amendments put down by his Friends and on one of these two occasions it was the eloquence of his hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr.Cowan) which was 634 promptly nipped in the bud by the Prime Minister, who moved the Closure. Therefore it really seems quite clear that the Government do not want merely to closure the Opposition, but they want to gag the House of Commons as a whole; in fact, it is Cabinet rule they are determined to enforce. They despise the House of Commons. I think they have shown that over and over again in the last few years, and they have determined to crush the rights of private Members. All they really want are the votes of their supporters; they despise their arguments, and they are determined not to tolerate their criticism. The hon. Member who has just sat down is, I think, a very fair-minded man, and I cannot help thinking he cannot be so entirely blinded by party prejudice as not to realise the danger of the course the Government are pursuing. Really, if one comes to think of it, the Closure is far more dangerous to hon. Members sitting opposite than it is to those on this side of the House. Hon. Members opposite are dependent for a majority on the support of certain groups, and if one of those groups desire to have the Closure on any Bill, that group has to support the Closure on other Bills which very likely they do not want to support, and which, as a matter of fact, that particular group may cordially hate. It has to do this as part of a more or less corrupt transaction, but if the Closure has come to say, surely it is enormously important that it ought only to be used upon the most urgent and necessary occasions. If not it will simply become a mere instrument for crushing out independent criticism in this House of whatever kind. A great Irishman whom I am sure is venerated by hon. Members below the Gangway, Mr. John Philpot Curran, once said:—It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition, if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.I only wish hon. Members opposite were imbued with the same spirit and tried to maintain the eternal vigilance and preserve the liberties of Debate and the rights of free criticism in regard to the passage of Bills through this House. The adoption of the guillotine Closure so early in the passage of this Bill when there has been absolutely no obstruction whatsoever, in spite of what the hon. Member opposite has said, will naturally in the future be regarded as a precedent, and 635 any Bill that any Government happens to want to put the stopper on, in the case of any such Bill the guillotine will be used to stifle discussion upon it. Why could not the Government have waited until there had been obstruction and until they had some ostensible reason for saying that there had been a certain amount of obstruction? Up to the present there has been absolutely none. The Chairman in Committee has always power to rule out Amendments which deal with the ground already covered, and the Chairman also in Committee has full power to accept the Closure Motion at any time when it is proposed by any right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Debate if he thinks the particular Amendment has been sufficiently discussed. Therefore, the Prime Minister has no valid reason for proposing this Motion. The last Home Rule Bill was not closured until Clause 5 had been reached, and the Bill had been in Committee for twenty-nine days, but here you have already applied the Closure which has been granted on Clause 1, and you now propose a drastic guillotine Closure, although Clause 1 certainly is the most important Clause in the whole of the Bill.
But, after all, there is no real analogy between this and the Home Rule Bill of 1893. In the first place, we have a Single-Chamber Government at the present moment, and, in the second place, this Bill is far more complicated, far more subversive of existing principles and far more pregnant with future consequences. Take the machinery of Clause 15 dealing with Customs and Excise. That Clause is so complicated and so far-reaching in its effects that at least one week of Parliamentary time ought to be devoted to thrashing out the question on the floor of this House. As to the importance of this measure, I do not think there can be two opinions. After all nothing affects the lives of men so much as changing the type of Government under which they live. It is not as though you were handing over to the Irish people our own free British Constitution and the liberty of the individual which is enjoyed under British laws. You are setting up a Parliament which will be able to change the laws of the people, and entirely alter the lives of the people committed to their care. Personally, I cannot see in the least why, if the Government really believe this to be a good Bill they should object to full and fair criticism. Either their proposals cannot stand a 636 minute examination or the Government have got so puffed up with their own importance that they think they can override the Members of this House. They have nothing to be puffed up about. The Government came in with a majority at the last election, but they are quite wrong if they think that that majority is going to last for ever. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has certainly taught them how to snatch votes, but I am not so sure that he has taught them how to keep them, and the worst of riding on the waves of political popularity is that the higher you happen to be on the crest to-day the lower you may find yourself in the froth to-morrow.
It is not really as though the Irish Nationalist party were agreed upon the principles of this Bill. Everybody knows that grave divisions of opinion exist on the subject of this Bill in the ranks of the Nationalist party. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Certainly a great difference of opinion exists in the ranks of the Irish Nationalist party about what is perhaps the most important part of the Bill so far as Ireland is concerned, namely, land purchase in Ireland to which the Government are only giving one day for discussion. The Insurance Bill of last year was allowed practically to run the whole of the summer without a Closure. Why was a Bill affecting the wages of the working classes allowed a free run for several months together when another Bill, turning the Loyalists in Ireland out of the British Constitution is to be closured at once? I can only imagine one reason, and that is because the Government think the electors are more actively interested for the moment in the one measure than the other. In other words they are governed by expediency rather than principle and duty, and they are more afraid of the British working man than they are of the Day of Judgment. The real reason for this Motion appears to be quite plain. It is because the Government are afraid to face free and proper discussions of this Bill.
They want to escape Debate and exposure on certain vital aspects of it, and they are afraid that divisions in their own ranks will arise if full and free discussion is permitted. They know perfectly well, for instance, that their Bill is inconsistent with the Federal development of the rest of the Kingdom. They know the provisions regarding the Executive are unworkable, contradictory and indefensible. 637 They know that the finance of the Bill will not bear detailed examination for the moment. If the Bill is an honest and fair and workable and Statesmanlike Bill, there is nothing whatever to fear from free and full Debate, but it is not an honest Bill, and the Government are merely trying to stifle scrutiny. The only object of this Motion is to hustle through this hollow sham, this so-called settlement of the Irish question which settles nothing, before the light of detailed criticism has had time to play upon it. If the Liberal party are really in earnest when they profess to uphold liberties of this democratic Chamber, surely there will be some of them, including the hon. Member who spoke last, who will have the courage to vote against this abuse of the power of the Cabinet. If not; if they tamely allow this Motion to go through and be carried unchallenged from their own side of the House it will only be one more proof of how difficult it is under our present party system for politicians to be honest men.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
I do not think it would be possible to bring more clearly before the House the difference in the points of view from which the two sides of the House respectively approach this question than was done in the speeches we have had this evening from the two Front Benches. We have had from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law) and from my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) speeches of measured gravity, dealing with this question in solemn and serious mood. On the other hand, we have had from the Prime Minister a speech dealing in a spirit of frivolity with the arguments in favour of his Resolution, and a speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a spirit of buffoonery, which no doubt may have amused the House, but certainly did not elevate the tone of Debate. What was the sort of argument with which the Prime Minister sought to recommend to us his Resolution? He told us there was no reason why the liberty of Debate upon this grave question should not be curtailed as he proposes to curtail it, because at an earlier part of the Session, as he put it, full latitude was given to private Members for the discussion of Resolutions and private Bills. I do not profess to remember what private Bills or Resolutions were discussed, but I fancy the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Somerset (Mr. King) introduced some private Bills or Resolutions. I am not sure what they 638 were; they may have been to enfranchise the "white rabbit" or the "Duchess." Resolutions of that sort were no doubt debated. There was a Resolution, I think, dealing with Syndicalism, but it seems tome an extraordinary argument that because the hon. Member for Somerset or the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth), or some such Member as that, was allowed to discuss under the forms of the House some perfectly frivolous Resolution or some Bill which nobody for a moment took seriously the whole constitution of the United Kingdom may be cut up without Debate, the finances of Great Britain and of Ireland rushed through without adequate examination or discussion, and the liberties of the whole of the population of Ulster sacrificed without adequate Debate under this Bill.
It appears to me that no one who Las-the slightest regard for constitutional methods or for representative institutions can with any show of conscience or consistency refuse to accept or to support the Amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition; but so far as the Resolution of the Government is concerned, I confess that, for my part, I do not very much care whether it is carried or rejected. I do not think it will make any very great difference. After all, we all know that the only protection we have against the designs, or, as I would call it, the conspiracy, of the Government or can hope to have, lies, not in this House, but in the country outside. I think the Resolution the Government have brought before the House to-day shows one thing, and one thing alone. It shows they have at last got to that stage of recklessness with regard to this policy that they are prepared for desperate courses, and they are saying to themselves they may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. It is quite clear they do not care what sort of Bill they get. All the Government wants is to get a Bill of some-sort passed through this House, so that they may say to their supporters and especially to their master that they have given what they bargained to give. If that be so, they have not the slightest care whether the Bill which is passed through this House is a workmanlike measure or a statesmanlike measure, or what the quality of their legislation is to be.
I was exceedingly surprised that the Prime Minister this afternoon had the assurance and the courage to quote the 639 Insurance Act as an analogy to the proceedings under this Bill, because it is perfectly patent to us all now that the Insurance Act—which might have been made a useful measure, and, as we hoped, would have been made a useful measure had it been properly discussed and examined and adequate time given in this House to hammering it out into a practical piece of legislation—was ruined and destroyed simply by the hurry of the Government and their resolve to pass that Bill at any price, no matter what it might be, in order to clear the deck for the Bill now before the House. Not only are they perfectly reckless as to the sort of Bill they are producing, but they do not care how much incidental damage they may do to the Constitution of the country by the methods which they are adopting to carry it. Let me take as an example the provision in this Resolution, that the Chairman of Committees is to be allowed, or is to be ordered, to make the selection of the Amendments that are to be discussed and those that are to be rejected. Speaking for myself—and I believe I represent in this the opinion of many on this side of the House—I say there is no Member of the party opposite who is more respected or more popular on these benches than the Chairman of Committees. But the Chairman of Committees is a Member of the party opposite, and it appears to me to be of the utmost importance for the conduct of our business in this House that the impartiality which we all recognise in the Chairman of Committees should not be cast into suspicion, and should not be slurred in any way in the minds of Members of this House. I am perfectly certain, if the Chairman of Committees is to be called upon to decide what Amendments are to be discussed and what Amendments are to be passed over and left unexamined, it will be impossible, as time goes on, for that impartiality to be preserved, and we shall arrive at the state of affairs which prevails in some other countries, notably in America, where the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees are frankly regarded as partisan, party men, who are to do the business of the party which elects them. That is what will inevitably be the result of casting such duties as this Resolution proposes upon the Chairman of Committees.
The Prime Minister, in a speech delivered in the country the other day, 640 said that certain proceedings in Ulster appeared to him to aim a destructive blow at the principles of democratic government. Can the Prime Minister possibly think that anything which was done in Ulster, no matter how strong a view he may take, could be as destructive of democratic principles and constitutional government as the procedure he has introduced into the House this afternoon? It appears to me, speaking of those proceedings in Ulster, that what is being done to-day, forcing this Resolution upon the House and forcing by its means this Bill through the House without real examination or discussion by the House of Commons, will more than amply justify any measures which may be taken by the people of Ulster when the time comes to resist the Bill which is now before the House. I think it was my right hon. Friend the Member for the Dublin University who, upon this point, quoted words used a few years ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Irish Board of Agriculture. That right hon. Gentleman has been very mercifully treated by Members on this side of the House during these Debates. He is now sitting in a prominent place, but, as a rule, he has preferred a less conspicuous portion of that Front Bench, and one reason why we have spared him is because no quotation which we could make from his past utterances could add anything to the unfathomable depth of our disrespect for him. But his words, which were quoted this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, at all events have this advantage, that they are as true to-day as when they were first uttered, showing the justification which this procedure will give to the people of Ulster if they refuse to accept the validity of this legislation.
For my part I think that this legislation will have no validity whatever. It is being thrust through this House at a time when the real Constitution of the country is in itself in abeyance. It is being thrust through practically by methods of force and violence, and, under these circumstances, if resistance, or active resistance, should be offered to this legislation, such resistance will, in my opinion, involve nothing more than the most technical illegality. The Bill itself will, I think, be technically invalid. It will never in any sense be an Act of Parliament. It may be an act of the Cabinet, but it will never be an Act of Parliament, and, therefore, I 641 maintain any resistance, whether active or passive, will be more than amply justified. If this procedure is to be adopted at all, why stop where the Government are stopping? Why do they not pass the whole Bill through all its stages tomorrow? That was one of the questions put by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Surely the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer lent ample confirmation to that suggestion. His argument went to show, if it showed anything, that the House of Commons has practically no function to perform. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself showed that speeches in this House have no direct bearing not only on votes in this House, but on the formation of public opinion outside. If that is so, why in the world should there be any debate on these matters at all? Why should not the Government simply pass the Bill through as a matter of form, without allowing a week even for discussion, and allow us to take our holidays elsewhere, it would have exactly the same effect, so far as the legislation of the country is concerned.
Here is a question which has been asked but not answered. Do the Government intend at any period, or at any time, to seek from the people of this country their approval for the work which they are doing? A question which follows from that is: Do the Government really contend that this Bill has received the sanction of the country? I use the words "this Bill," I do not ask whether Home Rule has received sanction, but I ask whether this Bill has received it. The two things are quite separate. I am not now going to discuss the question of mandate in a general form. The Prime Minister this afternoon treated us for the hundredth time to our dear old friend the Albert Hall speech, and also to that most trivial and shallow pretence that a mandate was given to this Parliament, not on account of anything which the Government or their supporters said, but on account of speeches delivered from this side of the House. I believe in the Albert Hall speech there was some such general phrase as that the Government would hold themselves free to grant to Ireland full self-government. But that has nothing to do with this Bill. Has the finance of this Bill been sanctioned by the country? Has the country decided that we should have two Post Offices instead of one? Has the I country sanctioned the proposal by which 642 land purchase is to be under one authority and the fixing of judicial rents under another? Have all the absurdities which are embodied in this Bill been sanctioned by the country as well as the principle? Is it the contention of the Government, is it their constitutional doctrine that in matters of this kind all that is incumbent upon them is to seek the sanction of the country to a general phrase which may be said to cover their policy, and that all the methods and details by which effect shall be given to that principle may be carried through without the country being consulted, and in face of their dislike?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon was at very great pains to show that the by-elections had not been fought upon Home Rule. His contention was that there was no serious indignation against the Government for their Home Rule policy, and incidentally he made the very valuable admission, which may be relevant to other discussions, that the Government is unpopular in the country on account of their Insurance Act. He has told us that the Insurance Act is unpopular; that the dislike of the people for Home Rule has been swallowed up by it, and that by-elections have been fought and won by these benches on account of the dislike of the country for the Insurance Act. That may or may not be the case. But surely that, at all events, does not show that the country has, in a positive sense, given its sanction not merely to the principle, but to the details of this measure. We have heard in these Debates a great deal about the analogy between Home Rule as proposed for Ireland, and as proposed for provincial governments in the Overseas Dominions. Has the House ever considered there is a great distinction between the care that was taken, in framing the provincial governments, to secure popular support for the Government proposals in the Dominions as compared with what has been done here? Let me remind the House for one moment what was done in framing the Commonwealth of Australia. The first step was to hold a National Convention, which, I suppose, was representative of all interests in the Australian Dominions. There a measure for the Commonwealth Government was drafted. When the Convention had done its work the draft was sent to each of the Provincial or Colonial Governments for their discussion and sanction. It was amended by those Governments and then sent back again to the Convention. The Convention then discussed the Amendments which had 643 been made, went through the whole measure again, effected some further improvements in it, and sent it back a second time to the Colonial Governments, so that before the measure took final shape it had been twice before the National Convention and twice before every one of the Colonial Governments. Practically the same thing was done in the case of South Africa. Not only was the Bill submitted first of all to the Convention in the way I have described and then to the Provincial Governments, but finally, to make certain that the people throughout the country who were affected by it were predominantly, if not unanimously, in favour of it, it was submitted to a referendum. In the case of South Africa the referendum, it is true, was confined to the State of Natal, but in each case the measure was threshed out by these various bodies and finally submitted to a referendum of the people.
What has been done in the present case? Has there been any National Convention either in Ireland, or in Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, apart from this Parliament, to frame the draft? It is true there was what is called a "Convention," which was held in Dublin, but that was a convention which was not representative of all parties in Ireland. They were not invited to it. Not only were my hon. Friends who come from Ulster not invited to that convention—I do not suppose the5' would have gone if they had been—but the minority of Nationalist Members were not invited. Not only that, but I believe that on a former occasion they were bludgeoned out when they went there. Consequently, so far as a convention is concerned, there can be no pretence of any impartial authority having framed the draft of the future Constitution of Ireland. Instead of the draft being made by some such body as that, it has in this case been made by a partisan Government, who really represent one single party in the State, and that not the largest. When that draft had been made by that partisan Committee of a second-rate party in this House, what happened to it? It was not referred, and, according to the Government, is not going to be referred to the people for their sanction. Not only is it not to be referred by Referendum, as was done in the cases of Australia and South Africa, but it is not even to be referred to the people by the ordinary method of a General Election. We are told that it has 644 already been referred in a General Election, but, as I pointed out, the most that the Government can maintain is that the general principle was so referred. As is admitted on all hands, even supposing that the general principle of the Bill has been referred, the most that can be said is, that it was one of a number of principles, and that it did not receive first consideration, because the people were so taken up with other matters. We have ample evidence, as the Leader of the Opposition has already pointed out, that although the Government hold that there is no necessity to refer this Bill to the people, that is not the opinion which is held by all their supporters in the country. My right hon. Friend quoted a number of Liberal authorities on the subject. There was Mr. Massingham of the "Nation," who I suppose represents what may be called the intellectualism of the Liberal party. There was also the "Star" and the "Manchester Guardian." There is one other paper which has not been quoted, from which I would like to quote a few words, because it may interest some hon. Members opposite. I want to quote a few words from a paper in which at one time I had a particular interest, and which represents the stalwart Radicalism of North-East Scotland. The "Aberdeen Free Press" says in a leading article:—The conclusion to be drawn from the Ulster demonstrations, is that the Home Rule Bill cannot be forced through Parliament in any mechanical fashion under the Veto Act. If any Home Ruler entertains the idea that the Bill is going to be passed three times and that the Unionists of Ulster are to be coerced into an Irish Parliament, without the opinion of the United Kingdom being taken upon it then he is mightily mistaken. Failing a compromise with Ulster, such as its exclusion from the Bill, there must be an appeal to the country.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
Oh, yes it is. Perhaps the hon. Member who objects will allow me to read a passage which will convince him that it is. I do not agree with this part of the leading article, but it says:—The semi-royal receptions given to the Ulster leader and the salutes and the flag-unfurlings are also a trifle overdone.There is a good deal more to the same effect. Perhaps that is sufficient to show hon. Members opposite that this is a genuine Radical paper. [An HON. MEMBER: "The 'Daily Mail' said that."] Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to read the concluding words from this 645 leading article. I myself have had a private letter from the editor, which convinces me that he is still a good Home Ruler. It says:—The duty of the Government for the present is to go on with the Bill, as the only tangible means of advancing the discussion, and be guided by circumstances. There is a good deal of opportunism in statesmanship as in ordinary life, and we imagine that nobody in the Government or out of it knows what precisely will be done with Ulster. One thing, however, is realised by all reasonable Liberals, and that is that there can be no coercion of Ulster into Home Utile, and that there must be an election on this matter…Home Rule cannot be forced through under the Parliament Act in this Parliament.These are the opinions which are hold by a paper expressing Radical opinions in Scotland, which is only putting itself in line with papers like the "Nation," the "Manchester Guardian," and the "Star." Therefore I conclude, as I began, by saying that in these circumstances, feeling perfectly certain that, whatever the Government may think, they are not going to pass this Bill without an appeal to the country. I have little interest whether this Resolution is carried or not.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Churchill)
This is a subject which naturally arouses legitimate and strong difference between the two sides of the House. I have no wish to say anything which should unnecessarily add to its heat or to the vehemence of the feeling which in certain quarters exists. It is no good pretending that differences do not exist where they do, or that there is a hope of compromise or of agreement on points where no such hope exists. There are two points on which the Government cannot in any circumstances submit to be prevented. We are resolved, if we have the power, to pass the Home Rule Bill now before the House into law during this Parliament and to carry it through this House and up to the other House during this Session, and in the second place we cannot in any circumstances agree that Ulster should be allowed to bar the way to the satisfaction of the claims' of the whole of the rest of Ireland. We have no reason whatever to complain of the tone and temper of the Debate. Indeed, the whole character of this Debate has been in singular contrast with the extraordinary proceedings which have taken place out of doors. We have, at any rate, had from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law) some of the arguments, which, to quote an old expression, have on more than one occasion drawn a meed of popular applause. We have had the arguments that Home Rule was not before the 646 country at the last election, and that the Liberal party is insincere in its advocacy of Home Rule. Of course, I have no hope whatever of obtaining the agreement of hon. Gentlemen opposite to what I say, but on this side of the House we are quite, happy in our minds when such charges are made. How any fair-minded controversialist—and it is a great mistake to suppose that a controversialist is more effective because he is unfair—looking back over the long history of this question can dispute either the sincerity of the Liberal party on the question of Irish self-government or the reality of the identification of the Liberal party with the cause of Home Rule passes my comprehension.
In the year 1886 the Liberal party shattered itself for the time being upon a measure of Home Rule introduced by Mr. Gladstone. Then the whole question was revived again in 1893. In 1906 a special undertaking, scrupulously observed, was given to the country debarring us from embarking upon a Home Rule settlement of the Irish problem; but in 1908, while we were still in possession of an overwhelming majority in the House independent of all parties, a Resolution was passed, which the whole of the great majority then at our disposal supported, affirming the adherence of the Liberal party to the principle of a settlement with Ireland by means of an Irish Parliament for the conduct of Irish affairs. Then we come to the declaration of the Prime Minister at the Albert Hall in 1909. Then in 1910, after the election had been fought, when the Resolution on which the Bill was passed was introduced into the House for the first time, a Debate took place specifically on the question of whether the Parliament Bill should be used for passing Home Rule. I remember it because I had to wind it up, and we not only declared plainly that we would use the machinery of the Parliament Bill to pass Home Rule, but there was a division on it in which the great majority of those now sitting here this evening actuary voted. I pass on to the actual election. If you really consider that the argument about election addresses, to which you have referred so often, is a valid and important one, I certainly will not quarrel with the importance which you attach to it. Only one prime subject was before the country at that moment, namely, the passage of the Parliament Bill. But that Bill was being passed, as we have repeatedly declared, for the express purpose of enabling us to 647 carry the arrears of Liberal legislation which had been so long frustrated. For my own part at sixteen large meetings in the country I referred at length—by length I mean at the length of half to quarter of a column—to the subject of Home Rule, and, as everyone knows, the great feature of that election, on which it was largely if not entirely fought by the Opposition, was the compulsion of the Liberal party, as they alleged, at the hands of the "dollar dictator" to carry a measure of Home Rule for Ireland by means of the Parliament Act. As I say these facts are all on record, and no one is likely at this stage of the proceedings to be able to alter anyone else's opinion upon them, but we are quite content and easy in our minds on that part of the argument.
The right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) asked if anyone went into the details of the Home Rule Bill at that election. I do not know that there has ever been a case—certainly it is a very infrequent practice to go into the details of legislation when propounding a programme at an election. Certainly I do not expect that the Leader of the Opposition will give us the schedule of his tariff before the election is fought upon it, but if ever there was a subject which had been explored in detail, on which all the awkward turns and twists and uncomfortable corners and rocks on which the legislation might be wrecked had been fully laid before the country, it was this Home Rule question, which has been debated ever since 1886, and of which two complete, elaborate legislative projects had already been placed before the country. Then the right hon. Gentleman asked, did we ask the country for any mandate to use British bayonets in coercing Ulster. All this talk about British bayonets originates with him.
We have never used language of violence or force. No one here, and no one there has used any such language, and, as a matter of fact—[An HON. MEMBER: "Russell did"]—I take a close account of public affairs, and I am not aware that anyone threatened the use of force except those who have made the use of language of violence their regular practice. As a matter of fact, I have been wondering how it would be possible for any violent collision to occur before another election takes place. I went into that subject some time ago. It would appear extremely probable that two or three years 648 would elapse before anything like a practical difference could exist between the Government set up in Dublin and the people of Ulster, so that when we come to threats of the use of bayonets, I say they only exist in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, who is very anxious to embrace terrors of this character. They only exist at periods altogether remote from that in which we find ourselves.
But on the general question of an election the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Orange party has made it quite clear that he does not attach any importance to the opinion of the British electorate. He said in Belfast that even if both parties in Great Britain were committed to Home Rule, Ulster would still resist. What is the good of talking of the importance of this appeal to the people? Let me tell him that when he even ventures to discuss such a matter he runs very great risk of being exposed to the same attacks as have already stripped the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) of any influence over the party of which he was once a powerful leader. When the right hon. Gentleman went on to speak of the restraint which the right hon. Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) and the right hon. Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith) have shown, I took the trouble to provide myself with a large budget of quotations from those restrained speeches which have all been dictated by an extreme and overmastering sense of responsibility, and a desire to avoid anything in the nature of heat, and to dissociate the leaders from anything like the inculcation of violence. I remember the hon. Member for the Walton Division, among other things, spoke of the great majority of the Irish nation as people who were not able to manage a bucketshop or a pawnshop. [An HON. MEMBER: "A second-hand clothes-shop."] Yes, a second-hand clothes shop, and he used other epithets of that kind. Here I quite admit there is a different tone. Here I quite admit this afternoon a very different attitude is presented. We recognise on this side, and we respect, the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. I carefully limit my statement. But I confess we cannot help viewing with the strongest feelings of reprehension the proceedings in which they have indulged in Ulster during the recent Recess.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The right hon. Gentleman forces me to remind him that he was a member of the National Liberal Club.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
At any rate he never took his name off it until long after the Home Rule Bill, and no one has ever—[Interruption]—no one has ever—[An HON. MEMBER: "Talk sense."]—impugned the good faith or sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman. I have never impugned it, and I do not now impugn it. I seek to found no charge whatever of insincerity in regard to him, but I do think the circumstances being what they are in regard to his own personal career, that he should show towards others some of the courtesy which he expects to be shown towards himself.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have never said a discourteous word about the right hon. Gentleman. On the contrary, I have a very great respect for him. But great as is the respect which I have for him, I must say that he is in a very weak position when on a procedure Resolution of this character he comes down and talks to us about a "scandalous outrage upon the forms of the House." He comes here to grumble about Parliamentary procedure and the allocation of time when he has just elsewhere declared his intention to defy an Act of Parliament and to levy war upon his fellow countrymen. Why, what is the good, if you have made up your mind to go into rebellion, of worrying about the number of days to be given to the discussion of the Home Rule Bill and how much should be given to this Clause of that Schedule or whatever it is, when he and his friends have described us—I am going to say something to enable hon. Gentlemen to cheer—as a revolutionary junta who seized on power by a trick and whose acts have no validity—is not forty days enough to parley with people of that character? The right hon. Gentleman the 650 Leader of the Opposition has said that in certain circumstances he proposes to lynch us. Surely forty days is long enough to lecture people you are about to lynch. This talk about freedom of debate sounds very oddly to those who justify proceedings by which I was denied not forty days', but forty minutes' free speech in Belfast. Those who talk of revolution ought to be prepared for the guillotine. If it is only the revolution of talk, then it is appropriate that the guillotine should also operate in the same sphere. This is not the hour in which any lengthy argument can be indulged, but I should like to say one word on the subject of the speech which was delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) to-night. I have always listened with great attention to any reasonable statement of the Ulster case which I have heard presented in this House. But the claim which the right hon. Gentleman put forward in Ireland a fortnight ago was perfectly plain. He said:—I ask no separate treatment for Ulster. We will take no separate treatment. That is not our policy and has never been our policy.That amounts to the claim—I should like the House to see where we stand tonight—of half a province, irrespective of anything that might be done to meet their views, to bar the way for all time to the satisfaction of the wishes of the whole of the rest of Ireland, and to enforce that claim against the Crown and Parliament, if necessary, by rebellion and civil war. I am not going to characterise that attitude to-night. It would only cause ill-feeling and ill-temper, but such an attitude, while it is maintained, introduces many sombre simplifications into the question and into the minds of those who have to settle the question. I quite admit that in the course of the Debate this evening the right hon. Gentleman seemed for a moment to strike a new note. If I understood him rightly—I have not had an opportunity of seeing the verbatim report; I only took down what I heard for the moment—he seemed to me to take up a new position, though I may be wrong. He said:—We do not claim to bar the way of Ireland. All we want is to remain in the Imperial Parliament ourselves.Do I quote him correctly?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
That is not the proposition that he has put forward? He is not making the proposal in any way that 651 the ease of Ulster should have separate consideration; on the contrary, he claims—this is the point I wish the House might realise—that whatever may be the opinion of the whole of the rest of Ireland, these few counties of North-east Lister are entitled not merely to secure for themselves such treatment as would exempt them, but would bar the way in permanence to the satisfaction of the claims of the rest of the country.
§ Sir E. CARSON
As this is of some importance, what I did say was that Ulster claim to remain as they have always been, a part of the United Kingdom under the King and the Imperial Parliament. I said that if the effect of that was that Home Rule could not be granted to any other part of Ireland, that was not my business.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
That is not nearly so frank a statement as the right hon. Gentleman made this afternoon. Then it is quite clear that Ulster claims the right to bar the way, and it is because Ulster claims the right to bar the way—and because the party who support the claims of Ulster without any discrimination as to the just and legitimate claims of Ulster, claims the right to destroy this Bill by dilatory and obstructive Parliamentary methods—that we for our part, on behalf of the House of Commons, whose authority has been menaced and defied by those who have threatened rebellion against the State, proceed upon a reasonable and just consideration of the needs of debate to pass such a time table of business as will secure under all reasonable procedure that the will of the majority shall prevail and the effectiveness of Parliamentary power of legislation be maintained.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Like the right hon. Gentleman, I am strictly confined within narrow limits of time. There are many things I should like to say that I cannot attempt to say this evening. There are many points in the Debate which I would like to comment on, but which I must pass by, and there are some things in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman which at another time I should be inclined to dwell upon, but which this evening I can hardly mention. The right hon. Gentleman, whilst expressly disclaiming any intention to make a charge against the sincerity of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson), made allusion 652 to his having been a member of the National Liberal Club. Many men, or I think I had better say that when the National Liberal Club was formed every man who joined it was a Unionist because in those days there were no Home Rulers.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Is the right hon. Gentleman expecting from me an attack upon his inconsistency. It is not worth my while or anyone's. The right hon. Gentleman stands confessed of having changed his whole political creed from top to bottom through and through under just those circumstances which Mr. Gladstone declared to justly render the man so doing open to suspicion. My right hon. Friend will ask and will need no defence against a charge of inconsistency from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and the Liberal Party I venture to think when their consistency has next to be defended will hope that it will not fall to the right hon. Gentleman to do so, or that he, of all men, will not undertake to prove their sincerity on this question. He has written, and the words stand in print, that a Liberal Government which undertakes to deal with the Home Rule question while dependent on Irish support, will always be open to suspicion; and in the brief and incomplete review of the Liberal party's dealings with this question which he gave to-night, one thing, and one thing only, stood out conspicuously, namely, that on the single occasion since 1885, when the party opposite knew that they could obtain a majority without the Irish vote, they deliberately promised not to deal with Home Rule. If I am not misinformed by those who had occasion to follow in more detail than I did the electoral career of the right hon. Gentleman himself, he declined to stand as a Home Rule candidate or to pledge himself to Home Rule in 1906. When the rest of his party gave up, he remained virtuous—for how much longer? Not more than a year or two; and then, under the pressure of a by-election, the right hon. Gentleman, who thought it worthy of him to sneer at my right hon. Friend because he was once a member of the National Liberal Club, had wrung from him by his electoral necessities the pledge he had hitherto refused to give.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I voted for the Resolution, which was supported by the whole Liberal party in the early months of 1908—two months before the by-election.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
In face of the refusal to promise the electors to do anything of the kind. Has any Minister in this Cabinet a clearer mandate for his action than that? But I have already spent more time on these things than either they are worth or I had intended. I confess that I have listened to this Debate with a growing sense of anxiety, and almost with despair. The matter has been too much discussed, as if the Bill to which this Resolution applies was merely a question between Ulster and the rest of Ireland. It is nothing of the kind. The Prime Minister, to justify the Resolution, gave us a jejune list of precedents. What relevance had they to the present situation? The Disestablishment of the Irish Church—a single subject, complete in itself, agitated for long years. I cannot leave the subject of the Irish Church without saying that a more amazing travesty of history than that uttered by the Prime Minister I never heard. What is the history of the Irish Church Bill, which he compares with this measure, and which he says is exactly on all fours? Mr. Gladstone took a Dissolution before he introduced that Bill. He presented to this House a Resolution on the Irish Church before the Dissolution. Could you mere clearly or more scrupulously lay before the country one subject as the pre-eminent and predominant subject? What a precedent is that to the Government on the present occasion. In truth there is no precedent. What we are now doing is to make a Constitution, not to alter it; and not really making a Constitution, but destroying a Constitution. You are making a Constitution for Ireland; you are destroying the Constitution of the United Kingdom. But that is not the question. The question is grave enough as between Ulster and the rest of Ireland. But this is a question for every elector in Great Britain. It is not the Government of Ireland which is at stake: it is the Government of the United Kingdom. Do you pretend that you told any elector, or that any elector could discover from your speeches, that whilst Irishmen were to have a Parliament in which you intended that the English should never interfere in which 654 you believed they never would interfere, and in which we believe, if your Bill passes, they never could interfere—did you tell any elector that whilst you were establishing such a Parliament in Dublin you were going to leave forty Irishmen here to settle the fate of Ministries? To decide upon English and Scottish Bills? To put their votes up to auction, as they have done before, are doing now, and as they will do again?
What is to be the law, not merely in Ireland, but at Westminster in relation to England or Scotland? I have not heard any answer to that to-night. I have seen an attempt at an answer in the country. It has been said that this Bill is only the first step. If I may use an elegant phrase, which will commend itself to so great a master of deportment as the First Lord of the Admiralty—I cull it from the choice repertory of his colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a phrase not used in this House but in the country—this Bill is merely "the first of the litter." It is the model on which Scotland, Wales, Lancashire and Yorkshire are to be dealt with. [HON. MEMBERS: "Birmingham."] I hope Birmingham. Fancy the position if you proposed to establish a Parliament for Birmingham? It will have complete control of its own affairs; it will be subsidised by this Parliament to spend as the authorities please in perpetuity. It will control the Customs of the Birmingham district; the post office, telegraph, telephone. Omnipotent within its own sphere, it yet will be empowered to send—without speaking of other qualifications—a numerically important contingent of Members to this House to sway the balance of parties, without being affected by legislation which this House is passing; dictating its own terms to any Government, and in a position to make a profit—and a profit at the expense of the nation as a whole? This Bill is the first of the litter, but the rest cannot resemble it. You are making special terms for Ireland which cannot be extended to the rest of the United Kingdom, and your pretence that this is only part of Home Rule all-round, that it is part of a federal system that will enable England, Scotland and Wales to manage their own affairs, is a hollow sham.
There is a more serious matter. I said I listened to this Debate with grave anxiety and almost with distress. Is there a man in this House who, in his calmer moments, having seriously studied the Irish question, does not know that this Bill, 655 which is now proposed to be guillotined under more rigorous and strict conditions than we have ever known before, under a combination of instruments which the ingenuity of any Ministry could invent—is there a man in his calmer moments who does not know that this is a Bill which stirs passions, which revives controversies that have run through our national life for centuries, which embitter feelings which were happily being allayed, and which provoke in those that are going to suffer a great wrong a kind of stern forgetfulness of self, a resolve that for their children's sake they will not submit to such a tyranny, the same feeling that made our Civil War of 1660—
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am not now appealing to the hon. Member for South Donegal. Between him and me and those for whom he speaks and the class from which I come there is no sympathy. I was bred and born a Nonconformist; I have inherited the Nonconformist traditions. I do not pretend I am practically associated with any of the Nonconformist bodies now, but I do say, knowing something of their feelings, and sharing something of (heir feelings, I know the kind of thing you are now proposing is what has stirred them to the depths in the past; has made Cromwell and his Ironsides fight, and is that on which the Independent Churches of this country are founded, and I decline to believe that they will allow this to be utilised in carrying out a corrupt Parliamentary bargain. And, Sir, honestly regretting that such a course of events has taken place, I say to this House, and I think they will know I am sincere, j that among the symptoms of the times there is none which causes me more grave and real anxiety than the disposition to question the law. [HON. MEMBERS: "Bonar Law."] I have not much time—I make no complaint of an interruption which is serious—or if any hon. Member thinks I misrepresent him I will give way at once. I am only asking to be allowed to try and state a serious argument. The House is going to take a serious decision. There is no circumstance which gives me more anxiety than the disposition to deny the sanctity of the law. Upon regard for the law I believe democracy depends more than any other section of the community. None of us can help seeing that there is a growing tendency for discontented 656 parties or sections to take the law into their own hands. It began with what is called passive resistance.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Perhaps it began earlier in Ireland. It began in this country with passive resistance, but it has gone on growing in extent. It is a serious evil. Do you think that your course of action tends to secure respect? You have got a most difficult problem before you. Although there has been much laughter, much deplorable laughter on the subject of Ulster, no man who knows the Irish question doubts the gravity of what is passing in Ulster. Although you may think it mistaken, no man doubts the absolute honesty and the readiness of the Ulster men to die for their convictions. The Government do not doubt it. They cannot doubt it with the information in their possession.
What are you doing to placate that feeling? Assume that your Bill is to be carried as you are trying to carry it, what is your hope? To exercise patience to its utmost limits; to convince Ulster men that they are being treated fairly; to make it clear to Ulster that although they dislike the Bill the overwhelming opinion of their countrymen is in favour of it. You deny them an appeal to their countrymen. The whole object of the Parliament Act was to do that, and now by this Resolution you deny them a fair hearing, and a full discussion in this House. I remember a very highly respected judge of the English High Court telling me on one occasion that what was of most importance in the administration of the law was even to the mind of the litigant, not that he should get a verdict, but that he should leave the Court feeling that he had had a fair and patient trial, that his case had been fully stated and fairly listened to, and that the verdict if against him, was yet an honest verdict given upon a consideration of all the facts. It is the same with government. They know the truth of that in the Courts. Is it not also true in the larger affairs with which we are concerned here. With what moral sanction will your law go forth to Ulster? They will know7 that discussion in this House has been stifled. They will know that the appeal which might have been secured by the other House to the country, and which on two previous occasions, on two separate Home Rule Bills, was secured once by the 657 action of this House, and once by the action of the other House, each time with the result that the Court of Appeal, consisting of the electors of this country, gave their verdict in the sense that Ulster wished. They will know that you have done everything to prevent that appeal being taken. There is to be no fair hearing in the High Court of Parliament; there is to be no appeal to any tribunal beyond. The Government have passed the Parliament Act by the exercise or by the threat of force, which was unconstitutional, and by fraud, which is always odius, and when wielded by the Prime Minister and his colleagues is particularly so. The Parliament Act was passed by abuse of the powers of the Crown, and by concealing from the Crown the effect of the pledges given; and it is being used by men, who promised that the security which had hitherto been given us by the Second Chamber should now lie in the freedom of debate, to stifle that freedom, and, in defiance as we believe, of the opinions of the majority of our countrymen, to pass a Bill which will be disastrous to the United Kingdom and
§ which means civil war in Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen opposite lightly take the risk, and they who, as my Noble Friend (Lord Hugh Cecil) said, are against all war to defend our country against foreign powers, cheerfully engage in a civil struggle infinitely worse, more dangerous, infinitely more pitiable, and the end of which no man can foresee. I do not believe that under such circumstances public opinion will tolerate this Bill if pased, but, if it is passed under these circumstances and by these means, then I say for myself, as others have said for themselves, this law has no sanctity for me. I recognise no moral authority behind it. It is not a law carried by constitutional means; it is a revolution carried by fraud, to be enforced by the use of fraud. It cannot last. You may do immeasurable damage and incur the guilt of blood, but your settlement will be no settlement, and your Bill will perish before it is a year old.
§ Question put, "That the words, 'the Committee Stage,' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 323; Noes,232.661
|Division No. 231.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Chancellor, H. G.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Field, William|
|Adamson, William||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Clancy, John Joseph||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Clough, William||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Clynes, John R.||Furness, Stephen|
|Alien, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Armitage, Robert||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd|
|Arnold, Sydney||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Gilhooly, James|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gill, A. H.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Ginnell, Laurence|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cotton, William Francis||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Cowan, W. H.||Glanville, Harold James|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Barnes, George N.||Crawshay-Willlams, Eliot||Goldstone, Frank|
|Barton, William||Crean, Eugene||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Crumley, Patrick||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Cullinan, John||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Guiney, P.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Dawes, James Arthur||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Boland, John Pius||Delany, William||Hackett, John|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Dickinson, W. H.||Hancock, J. G.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Donelan, Captain A.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Brace, William||Doris, William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Duffy, William J.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Elverston, Sir Harold||Havelock-Alian, Sir Henry|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Essex, Richard Walter||Hazleton, Richard|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Healy, Maurice (Cork)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Falconer, James||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Farrell, James Patrick||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Menzies, Sir Walter||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Millar, James Duncan||Robinson, Sidney|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Molloy, Michael||Roch, Walter F.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Molteno, Percy Alport||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Hinds, John||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Mooney, John J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Hodge, John||Morgan, George Hay||Rowlands, James|
|Hogge, James Myles||Morrell, Philip||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Morison, Hector||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Home, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Muldoon, John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Munro, Robert||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|John, Edward Thomas||Needham, Christopher T.||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir U. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Nolan, Joseph||Sheehy, David|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Norman, Sir Henry||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Smith, Albert (Lancs., [...]roe)|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Nuttall, Harry||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Jowett, F. W.||O Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Joyce, Michael||O Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Doherty, Philip||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Donnell, Thomas||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Dowd, John||Sutton, John E.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Grady, James||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|King, Joseph||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Lamb, Ernest Henry||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Malley, William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lansbury, George||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Shee, James John||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Leach, Charles||Outhwaite, R. L.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Logan, John William||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lundon, Thomas||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Pollard, Sir George H.||Webb, H.|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Macdonald. J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Power, Patrick Joseph||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|McGhee, Richard||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Maclean, Donald||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Pringle, William M. R.||Wiles, Thomas|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Radford, George Heynes||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Raffan, peter Wilson||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|M'Kean, John||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Reddy, Michael||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Manfield, Harry||Rendall, Athelstan||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Richards, Thomas||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Mason, D. M. (Coventry)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Meagher, Michael||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Barrie, H. T.||Boyton, James|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Bull, Sir William James|
|Ashley, W. W.||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Burn, Col. C. R.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Butcher, John George|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Beresford, Lord Charles||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bigland, Alfred||Campion, W. R.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Bird, Alfred||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Boscawen, Sir A. T. Griffith-||Cassel, Felix|
|Barnston, Harry||Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Cator, John||Helmsley, Viscount||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Cautley, H. S.||Henderson, Major H. (Abingdon)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Cave, George||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Quitter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hickman, Col. T. E.||Randies, Sir John S.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hills, J. W.||Rawlinson, John Frederick peel|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hill-Wood, S.||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Chambers, J.||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Clyde, James Avon||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Royds, Edmund|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. J.||Horner, A. L.||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Houston, Robert Paterson||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Ingleby. Holcombe||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Stanler, Beville|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Kerry, Earl of||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Keswick, Henry||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Starkey, John R.|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Dixon, C. H.||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N.)|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Larmor, Sir J.||Swift, Rigby|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Lee, Arthur H.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (H'mts, W.)||Lewisham, Viscount||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Falle, B. G.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Fell, Arthur||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||MacCaw, Win. J. MacGeagh||Touche, George Alexander|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Mackinder, Halford J.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Macmaster, Donald||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Forster, Henry William||M'Mordie, Robert James||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Gardner, Ernest||Magnus, Sir Philip||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Malcolm, Ian||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Goldman, C. S.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Moore, William||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mount, William Arthur||Winterton, Earl|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Gretton, John||Newman, John R. P.||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Nield, Herbert||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Ormsby-Gore., Hon. William||Younger, Sir George|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Balcarres and Mr. Pike Pease.|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Peto, Basil Edward|
§ Main Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ It being after Eleven o'clock, and objection being taken to further proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next, October 14th.