§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I see the Chief Secretary is now in his place and I would like to give him an opportunity of making his promised statement with regard to interned Irish prisoners.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Duke)
I said to the House last night that I have had this question under my anxious consideration from the time I became Chief Secretary. I referred to the many urgent representations which have been made to me. Such representations in favour of the release of these interned men have come constantly, not merely from persons concerned and from Parliamentary representatives, but from disinterested people of many shades of opinion who are heart and soul with us in the prosecution of the War. I referred to the distinct advance towards normal conditions which has lately been evident in Ireland. It has been, as I said last night, a very difficult duty to balance the risks of release against what I believe to be the great and almost inestimable advantage of limiting interference with personal liberty to the irreducible minimum of necessity. I have come to the conclusion, in view of all the facts within my knowledge, that the time has come in this case when the advantage outweighs the risk. I have so advised His Majesty's Government, and a decision has therefore been taken to-day to proceed with as little delay as possible to return these interned prisoners to their homes. I do not need to dwell, and I will not dwell, upon the exceptional safeguards for public order which exist in these days. They form part of the facts. I prefer to say that, conscious as I have been of the earnestness of the appeals which have been made for a 1764 generous and comprehensive decision in this case, I think I may justly express a hope that the act of condonation which is now resolved upon in response to so many earnest representations will have the good results, the results of unmixed good, which so many Irishmen have foretold for it.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I think it will be agreed in all parts of the House that the Chief Secretary has made a statement which commends itself to the House generally. I have heard the announcement made by the right hon. Gentleman with the deepest satisfaction, because I know that he has brought to this task the most conscientious and scrupulous thought and attention, and I know that he has not taken this decision without the full consciousness that in the present state of Irish feeling the step he has taken is free from any real danger. My right hon. Friend made just a passing reference to the asssurance which my hon. Friends and myself and other people have given that this large act of generous oblivion would not cause trouble in Ireland. My hon. Friends and myself have given that advice in perfect good faith, and we have given it with a large and intimate knowledge of the character of our people and their feelings at this moment. We have said to my right hon. Friend that the better feeling and the healthier atmosphere which the release of these prisoners will produce in Ireland will have the effect of creating a state of feeling between the two countries in very sharp and pleasant and healthy contrast with that which has obtained before. We have pledged ourselves as far as we can, and we have assured the right hon. Gentleman—it is partly on these assurances that he has agreed to this great act of policy— that this measure will be unattended with insecurity either to law or to order or to the general condition of Ireland. I think I may make the boast that the Members of our party have never given an assurance of any kind to any Ministry that they have not carried out to the very best of their power. I am sure that our people will back the assurances of their leaders and will show that this act on the part of the Government will lead to a better and a pleasanter state of feeling between the two countries. I trust that better state of feeling may lead to other things, and that we may all see what I believe is the universal desire of all parties in this 1765 country, namely, a true and lasting conciliation between the people of England and of Ireland in this great hour of crisis.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The statement of the Chief Secretary will, I am sure, have been received with great satisfaction in all quarters of the House. Of the men who were arrested at the time of the rebellion, five-sixths have already been released. We are glad to know that the remaining one-sixth, the men who have been in internment, are now also to be set free. They have suffered no inconsiderable penalty already for their share in the rebellion, having been kept in conditions not of imprisonment but of detention for now a considerable number of months. Their private circumstances must necessarily have suffered in consequence. It had been recognised for some time that the question was not free from difficulty, but the late Prime Minister was about to bring it before the Cabinet, and I have every reason to think, to hope, that a similar decision would have been arrived at under the auspices of the late Government. I feel confident, as I ventured to say in the House last night, that this is a wise act of policy, and that it will be warmly welcomed throughout Ireland, even among that vast majority of the Irish population which had no sympathy whatever with the rebellion or with its aims. It will be generally recognised as being an act of appeasement designed on the part of the Imperial Government to reconcile the feelings of Ireland to those of the rest of the Empire.
§ Colonel Lord HENRY CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
I am very loth to stand between the House and its next business, but I promised my hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Major Wood) that I would support him in his plea for a better atmosphere and a better understanding with the people of Ireland, and I rise for a few moments to fulfil my promise. I have been a Member of this House, off and on, for over thirty years, and I must say that I have consistently voted against hon. Members from Ireland, but I am free to confess that for some time I have had considerable doubts in my mind as to whether come concession was not due to Nationalist feelings, and I am at this present juncture quite convinced that self-government is an absolute necessity for Ireland in 1766 order to stop the great waste which is now being caused to our strength in fighting our enemies. There is no doubt about it that if the feeling in Ireland towards this country were a better one at the present moment we should, first of all, be able to spare a large body of troops now locked up in that country, and, secondly, we should stand a very good chance of getting some of the finest fighting men in the world into our Army. There is, I am sorry to say, a certain section of opinion which thinks it is possible to obtain a better feeling in Ireland by forcible means, and that it would be of great benefit to the Irish people generally if we could by forcible means put the young men of Ireland into our Army to fight against the Germans. Personally, I dissent in the strongest possible manner from that point of view. It would throw Ireland into turmoil, and lock up a still larger number of troops than we have got there at present. Besides that, there is no reason why, because we are fighting the greatest tyranny the world has ever known, that we should become tyrannical and domineering ourselves. I should like to remind the House what Edmund Burke wrote in 1777 to the sheriff of Bristol. He said:Liberty is in danger of being made unpopular to Englishmen. We are taught to believe that a desire of domineering over our countrymen is love to our country and that those who hate civil war abet rebellion, and that the amiable and conciliatory virtues of lenity, moderation and tenderness to the privileges of those who depend on this Kingdom are a sort of treason to the State.There is a strong resemblance between the situation now and the situation then. We had the right, no doubt, in those days to domineer over the Americans. We have the right now to domineer over the Irishmen. The question we have got to ask ourselves is whether it would not be to our advantage to show the amiable and conciliatory virtues of lenity, moderation and tenderness to the privileges of the Irish people. We have great Allies in this War, but I am not sure that the greatest allies of all are not our ideals, our ideals of liberty and of freedom. It is those ideals which have sustained this country in two years of unexampled trial, and it is the belief that we are honest in those ideals that has brought our fellow countrymen rolling up from every part of the Empire. It is because we unfortunately do not believe those ideals apply to Ireland that the Irish people are now turning their backs upon us. To do the English people justice, I believe they fully 1767 realise the necessity for the application of our ideals to Ireland. I believe that there is nothing that English people wish for and desire more at the present moment than a better understanding with the Irish people. If I did not think so, I should not be standing here and saying this. But the British people are thwarted and hindered in their desire by the unfortunate differences which exist in Ireland. I appreciate those differences and I respect those differences as much as any man in this House, but there comes a time in the history of every country when smaller things must give way to greater. We are fighting for our lives against the most powerful combination of Powers in the world, and I think we have a right to ask that the people in Ireland should put aside those differences and help us wholeheartedly and stand together in the fight. If the men of the North and the men of the South can die together in the trenches we have a right to hope that the men of the Forth and the men of the South can live together in Ireland and shoulder together the common burden and responsibilities of the Government of that country.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I rise to make an appeal to the House. I wish it to realise that time is getting on and that there is a good deal of business yet to be gone through. I sincerely hope that hon. Members will enable us to get on with it as fast as possible.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I have every desire to follow the advice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I think the House will excuse me if I refer to the speech he made himself this afternoon. He drew attention in that speech to a most vital question—that of our war policy and war diplomacy. May I refer to one aspect of it—to the organisation of the joint diplomacy of the Allies? I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister on the activity and speed with which he has foreshadowed—as a matter which will be dealt with—the concentration of diplomacy. Such concentration has been needed from the day the War commenced, especially for dealing with two most vital factors which presented themselves for diplomacy to manipulate—the States in the Near East who were at the time neutral, and the neutrals of the West— and, above all, America. With regard to the former, of course it is a subject for 1768 rather melancholy reflection that our unrivalled opportunities for securing the support of the whole Balkan States were muddled away.
In regard to America who have done well, and I will ask leave to say just a few words on this matter, because it has not been dealt with in recent days in this House. There are rumours to-day in the Lobby of some action by America not yet defined. However that may be, it is extremely vital we should keep our eyes closely on the paramount factor which America represents. Everyone realises that she is the only State powerful enough to turn the scale if she chooses to do so, or to guarantee any settlement that may be arrived at. Everyone who has studied the facts and figures must realise that. I have realised it all the more because lately I have been in America raising funds for war relief work. Public opinion has been regrettably deflected into misconception on this subject, and I desire to recall one or two facts in common justice to our American friends. We sometimes hear talk that America ought to be fighting on our side. Her policy has even been called that of the hyena, or, at least, of the Levite passing by on the other side. We ought to clear our minds of these ideas. It is not true, and its effect is of the very highest importance. No one who knows American conditions and the difficulties arising from the presence of a mixed population in America, including many more than ten million Germans could suppose that America could go to war with a united front. In the opinion of high authorities here the part she has played as a friendly neutral has been more useful to us. Of course, she may have: vastly improved her financial position. It is easy to be cynical about money-making Americans, but the economic advantages to the greater part of the American people is doubtful. Large classes in America with fixed incomes are suffering severely from the War, because of the rise in prices. There is one absolute proof of the service that America has rendered as—one which we very naturally forget, but it is an important one, namely, the burning hatred which is felt for America, in Germany by the Jingoes. It is unworthy of British common sense if we blind ourselves to facts like these at the expense of our interests. We surely agree with the Prime Minister in his appeal that we shall deal with reality and not fortify ourselves with 1769 words. America was no party to the Treaty which guaranteed Belgium, and even we, who are so much more involved in the conflict than America, argued in 1914 that our main reason for going to war was our share in that Treaty.
American friendship is essential to us. Fortunately we have it. According to the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, we are still dependent on America for supplies to the extent of £2,000,000 a day. There is no need for us to resent the realisation of facts like these when we remember that America is, after all, Anglo-Saxon in language and still more in ideas. I think it is due to America that the enormous services rendered voluntarily by Americans should be recalled in this House. It would astonish anyone who went there to find how ardent is the support given and work which is being done and great services rendered, without any reward, and our gratitude ought to be shown for them. Everyone knows of the princely generosity of Mr. Hoover and his friend, in regard to Belgium. But very little has been heard of other kinds of American sympathy and generosity towards the Allies. It is astonishing to find the leisured classes in New York working in many places in the same way as the leisured classes are working here and with the same enthusiasm. In one afternoon when I was in New York £200,000 was raised for Bed Cross work at a single bazaar. Belief work for the wounded and for the distressed in Belgium, Poland, Serbia, and Armenia had some months ago passed a total of £5,000,000. We know what we owe the American Government and the philanthropic agents who helped them in regard not only to British prisoners, but also to Russian, French, Italian, and Serbian prisoners. In fact, the American generosity has proved almost beyond belief and I hope that American will understand how much gratitude is felt here. I thought it was only fitting some mention should be made of it in this House.
But what is not very largely known is the fighting service America has rendered is in personnel. It is not realised here that regiments and even brigades are practically composed of American citizens. There are at least 30,000 Americans fighting for us, and it is only necessary to cross the Atlantic to immediately find evidence of that fact in the presence on board ships of Americans—officers probably in the Canadian Army—returning home, on leave. There is a feeling when 1770 the influence of America in the settlement is considered it would be infra dig. for us to trouble about America. This feeling is unworthy of us. It is not merely that we have got to reckon with America, but we ought to welcome her essential sympathy on our side. To feel it as infra dig. is as if the French or Russians were to consider it infra dig. to rely on British financial aid.
America is also with us in the main political aspects of the War, and in a much higher degree than we have any special right to anticipate, and it is well to remember that. She is with us, above all, because of the invasion of Belgium, because of German frightfulness, and there is no country among the Allies where a more intense feeling was aroused by the horrors in Belgium, by such things as the execution of Captain Fryatt, by the submarine atrocities, by the deportation, and, above all, by the horrible Armenian atrocities.
The Americans are the only Western people who have a large and close personal representation in the Near East. They are the people who know the Near East best, and they have an even wider interest in the Armenian question than any of us as a nation. Above all, America is with us because she is against militarism. She is with us in demanding therefore restitution and security, because in America those are regarded as the right ways to discredit militarism. The question of the way to discredit militarism is constantly debated in America. It behoves us to notice American opinion, if only because it is the opinion of a friend who has also a full view of the situation, both military and diplomatic. As the House is aware, the American soldiers are very famous experts. I believe it was the opinion of Lord Kitchener that the American Staff College was the finest in the world. They are great students of the military as well as of the diplomatic situation.
May I tell the House a word upon the American, view of that situation? In some circles the military pulverisation of Germany is desired, but in the best informed sections of pro-Ally opinion it is held most distinctly that the renunciation of the conquered lands by negotiation would discredit militarism more completely than the must crushing victory in the field. At the same time, they hope that we shall insist upon the most drastic 1771 terms—above all, that France and Belgium should be evacuated, and that Belgian sovereignty, independence, and integrity should be restored in every respect without exception. Sympathising, as Americans do, with our desire for reparation and security, they approve our insistence on such terms. It certainly is the case that they would feel that a mere refusal to consider what are our aims in the form of definite terms was a grave diplomatic error. The party which favoured an embargo on the export of munitions, and which came fairly near to success in the early part of the War, would readily make use of the material which a blunt rejection on our part would afford. Even if that party should fail in regard to munitions, the limitation of the export of wheat, which has become a very pressing question owing to the shortage of the crop, would become a practical proposal, and it is the case that a Bill has been introduced by one of the pro-German party in Congress to legalise that prohibition. These views may, of course, be right or wrong, but we are dealing with facts and not with our own opinions. Americans look to the anti-annexationists in Germany as their main hope. They have great belief in the mass of sane and anti-militarist and anti-Junker influence in Germany, and it is certainly a strange fact that in spite of the difficulties of the situation, that party has shown itself to be as strong as it is. They feel that if military subjugation were complete the resentment which defeat would arouse against the military class would be obscured by the spirit of bitter revenge, which would unite all sections in favour of further military ventures. They think we should be burning down our own house in order to roast the German pig.
The party of constitutional reform, again, it is thought, would be most fully reinforced by defeat through terms, such as would show that militarism had produced no gains, while involving the most intolerable losses. The desire to sec militarism destroyed is very intense indeed across the water. It is thought that the paramount necessity for America and also for the world is security and stability for the future, and that for security we ought to rely largely upon new international guarantees in which America would share. Certainly it is a stroke of fortune, not 1772 only for us but for the world, that America has not only aided us, but is preparing—public opinion is being successfully urged in that direction—to guarantee the stability of the settlement. They will do so if the settlement appears to them to contain the elements of permanence. President Wilson went far to define in the notorious speech of 27th May last the principles upon which alone he would consent to aid in a discussion of the terms. Those are principles to which we also adhere, namely, the rights of the nations and the defeat of aggression. There is very intense sympathy across the water with our desire to continue the War until the sacrifices of those whom we have lost is rendered, as we think, profitable. There is a very keen sympathy with our feeling on that subject. It is well understood in America. I think I am correct in saying that the view is taken that nothing will so fully do honour to or justify the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives as the establishment of an international settlement based on the total defeat of aggression and the new international guarantees which would do what, at all events, is most possible to preclude war in the future and obviate the necessity that tragedies so deplorable should ever occur again.
§ Mr. CURRIE
I had intended to ask the attention of the Government for a few minutes to the fact that the Session is to close without our having from them any expression whatever of any intention on their part to deal with the better regulation of the drink traffic. The subject is one in which we know the Prime Minister is interested, but in view of the appeal made by the Leader of the House that time should not be wasted, I do not propose to make the observations I had intended to make. I will only say it is rather strange that although we have time, apparently, to proceed at no little length to all sorts of twopenny-halfpenny questions, the Session should close without anything being said on this point, upon which I will not express my own view, but which I still think requires the Government's courageous action.
I should like first to congratulate the Chief Secretary on the statement he has made to-night, and I hope that the great act of reconciliation in the release of these prisoners will be the commencement of a process of 1773 appeasement which will make the future brighter and better for Ireland. When I heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I was wondering whether he was unsaying what the Prime Minister said the other day. The Prime Minister said:To enter on the invitation of Germany, proclaiming herself victorious, without any knowledge of the proposals she proposes to make, into a Conference is to put our heads into a noose with the rope end in the hands of Germany.To that I agree. He further said:We feel that we ought to know, before we can give favourable consideration to such an invitation, that Germany is prepared to accede to the only terms on which it is possible for peace to be obtained and maintained in Europe."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1916, col. 1335.]The right hon. Gentleman's speech to-night seemed to indicate that it was quite impossible, that this offer of negotiations should, under any circumstances, receive other than a direct negative. I understood the Prime Minister to leave the door open and to make it possible, if terms were submitted which were capable of discussion and capable of reconciliation with the aims and objects with which we entered this War, that negotiations might take place, and it might be possible perhaps to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of men whose lives would be thrown away if this War of attrition, which has gone on for so long, were unnecessarily continued. If continued a day longer than is necessary to obtain the object on which our hearts are set, it would be a crime on the part of the country which prolonged it. I only wanted to make quite sure that the Leader of the House was not going back on the statement of the Prime Minister and that we may still hope it may be possible to curtail this War and to save many thousands of lives. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he will find a large mass of opinion in the country which will attach greater glory to the man who brings this War to an end than to the men who have conducted it.
There were two other points I particularly wanted to refer to. The Prime Minister on Tuesday referred to a good many things. He indicated the possibility of our being turned into a province of Germany. We are to have all kinds of regimentation in our lives. We are to have all our old freedom curtailed. We are to be regimented, we are to be put under the direction of Civil servants, who are to tell us what we are fit for and what we are to do. Our meals are to be regulated, our food supply is to be controlled, and our 1774 land is to be controlled also. But there was one significant omission which caused some of us, who are extremely interested in this matter, a sense of dismay. Of all the evils referred to in his speech, of all the enemies of our country, sources of weakness and loss, not a single one of them compares for a moment with alcohol. It weakens our soldiers in the field, it makes their recovery from wounds prolonged, and if the right hon. Gentleman wants evidence of that he can go to men like Sir Thomas Barlow, who are advisers of the Government in matters of the kind. It is causing a vast amount of sickness, and it has turned many a young fellow who entered the Army a total abstainer into a drunkard. Many of the saddest cases have come to my own personal knowledge. And it does this kind of thing. I have a letter from a colonel in the Canadian Forces who himself was the means of raising a Canadian regiment, and is now in command of it. He says:—I believe that if the sale of intoxicating liquors were cut off for the time of the War, there would follow an immediate dropping off in the number of venereal diseased soldiers amounting to fully fifty per cent. I base this on the fact that fully seventy-five per cent of the men I have seen have told me that they have filled up with booze before they went with a woman. This is especially true of sailors with whom I have talked.He adds, later on—Canada has pledged her last man to the cause, but our mothers are not willing that their boys should be the prey of rum and disease in trying to see London.Not only is drink weakening our Forces at the time we are asking for an addition to our man-power and throwing industry into all kinds of difficulties in the endeavour to obtain additional men for our ranks, not only is it actually weakening our forces in the field, but at home here it is employing over 900,000 acres of land in the growth of the proportion of barley which is used in the manufacture of intoxicants, and the acreage devoted to hops—over 900,000 acres at a time when we have appointed a Food Dictator. And we have appointed at the head of the Agricultural Department a gentleman who has called together the farmers of the country and told them they will have to be regimented like other people, and have to be told to what crops to devote the acres under their control. That is direct waste, excepting that portion of these foodstuffs which is being used to provide alcohol for the purpose of explosives, and it is useless to talk to the people of this country about waste and the duty of saving when we are allowing this great 1775 mass of foodstuffs to be destroyed in the production of that which weakens instead of strengthens our forces.
I want to know what the Government is going to do about it. We shall not have any chance of hearing for several weeks to come. I shall be glad to be told whether they are going to tackle this question more stringently than they have done. Something has been done, I know. The Board of Control by its restrictions has greatly improved things. The Limitation of Output Act, passed last July, has had the effect during the six months ending September of reducing the amount of beer released for home consumption by 2,250,000 barrels, and the amount of spirits by something like 6,000,000 gallons. That is all to the good. But at the same time the common use of intoxicants in our munitions areas is to-day producing results, not so bad as originally, but bad enough. I was talking to an ironmaster in the smoking-room the other day, and he tells me that even now, with the restrictions in operation, a certain class of worker in his ironworks, the puddlers, during the hours from 12 to 2.30 drink heavily and largely unfit themselves for their afternoon's work. That is an unnecessary limitation of our output, and the restrictions, valuable as they are, ought to be carried still further. I hope either the Food Controller or some other member of the Government will deal more drastically than has been done with this question. I hope the Government will remember that not long ago they received 2,000,000 signatures asking that during the period of the War the production and sale of alcohol should be entirely prohibited. I hope they will remember that on the Order Book of the House twenty-three Members have put down Resolutions asking for the self-same thing, and that they will respond to this demand that the country shall put forward its full strength to win this War by removing the causes of weakness which exist among us.
There is only one other point I wish to refer to. I notice that the new Minister for Agriculture made a speech to the farmers yesterday, in which occurs this paragraph. This is from the "Freeman's Journal":We hope to be able to give you clerical assistance and assistance in the way of surveyors and valuers and everything else required to carry out the first step in the survey of the land in each county which may be utilised.1776 Further down he says:If you set to work at once I believe you can do it—That is, get this survey—within a fortnight. Of course the business man who gives his time to that work will require to be paid.I want to know what has become of the information already registered in the pigeon-holes of the Valuation Department. The nature of the soils, the value of the soils, and probably all the information which the Minister for Agriculture will require to be got at further expense by the use of business men, who will want to be paid, is already registered in the pigeon holes of the Valuation Department. Is it intended to ignore all that information which has cost so much money? Is it intended, whilst we have officials already in employment in that Department who could be utilised for the purpose of adding to the information already possessed any further information required, to engage others to do it? Is it intended to cramp that Department and make it difficult for it to resume its work when the War is over? I should like to have some kind of assurance on that, because I think it is very important. We are on the verge of drastic efforts to force into use all the unused land of the country. We hear that it is necessary that all the information possible shall be collected and that none of it shall be lost. It is important, then, that those who have been engaged in the gathering of this information should be kept at work as a body for the further use which we hope to be able to make of them after the War is over. I should like to know whether the declaration of the Minister of Agriculture has any bearing on that question? I will not detain the House any longer, but I want these two points cleared up: First of all, what is the attitude of the Government towards the greatest enemy the country has—their attitude towards the great question as to whether they are prepared to protect us against those internal ('angers which are even more dangerous than any external one? And, secondly what is their attitude towards the Land Valuation Department?
§ Sir STEPHEN COLLINS
I want to make an appeal to the Leader of the House and to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench to bring their minds to the gravity of this question TO which my hon. Friend has just referred. In the speech of the Prime Minister last Tuesday 1777 the right hon. Gentleman implored the nation to arise to national sacrifice. Are we doing this in relation to the drink traffic? Perhaps some of you may look upon me as a fanatic, but I appeal to you, not as an abstainer, but as a supporter of the Government to win the War. I appeal to you as a patriot —I may be a humble one. But I do ask the Government to tackle this question. Why is it that this great drink traffic, which we are up against on every hand, is not dealt with? My right hon. Friend said something about the soldier. Not long ago I was going home from the House one night and I came up against a Canadian soldier. I always try to give the soldier a word of encouragement. This one told me what he had seen in regard to drinking since be came to this country from his home across the sea, where there is sobriety to a large extent. Canada has nearly gone dry now on this question, and we have examples the world over which has put us to shame. For here, in England, which has been held up to the world as a pattern, we are behind every nation on this question. Is it not time, if we want to win this War, that we should do something more than we are doing? This would mean not only a saving of money, which is a great thing, for money is wanted, and the millions that are now spent in this way could be put into the War Loan. How much better we then should be able to fight the foe! I beg the right hon. and hon. Members opposite to bear in mind that the Prime Minister asked us to rise to this national sacrifice. He implored us to "have a national altar of sacrifice," a "National Lent." Let us put it into execution. Let every Member of this House of Commons say that, "By God's help, I will do all I can in this respect to win the War." We shall do it all the better if we make this sacrifice Let us banish the drink, which everyone recognises now is, at its best, but a luxury. I told the House the other day that even the "Brewers' Gazette" said that it was a waste and a luxury. I hope the Leader of the House will convey our wishes to the Prime Minister, and that, without undue delay, the Government will tackle this question. If they do, I am sure it will help us more than anything else to bring this War to a victorious and glorious conclusion.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not desire to say anything upon the topic which hon. Mem- 1778 bers who preceded me have referred to, except to say that I sympathise with the greater part of what has been said upon that subject. But I do think it of the utmost importance that to-night, when we are on the eve of dispersing for something like six weeks, something should be said in this House on the policy of the War. I said recently that I believe this country is passing through a most critical juncture in its history. Two years ago, when the House was adjourning for the Christmas holidays, the present Minister of Blockade protested against a four weeks' Adjournment on the ground of the critical events which might happen in that interval. To-day he is a member of that Ministry which is proroguing Parliament for six weeks at a far more grave juncture in our history. We are passing through an acute Ministerial crisis. On Tuesday we heard in this House two speeches, one from the Prime Minister and the other from the ex-Prime Minister. But I think it is only candid to say that neither the one speech nor the other revealed the real cause of the crisis. Nobody can believe—it is indeed incredible to suppose—that such an acute Ministerial crisis could have arisen purely on personal grounds, purely on a question of incompatibility of temperament Such a crisis can only be justified on the ground of some great question of national policy. We have been left to draw inferences as to what the question of national policy is. We know that during the greater part of the existence of the late Government there has been one great question upon which its members have disagreed. It is public property; we know it from speeches in this House; the question of the policy to be pursued in the East. We remember a year ago, when the present First Lord of the Admiralty retired from the Government, that he fully and frankly stated then the reason of his severance from his colleagues. He told us then that the Government had to decide whether they were going to intervene effectively in the East, that they should either intervene effectively or not intervene at all; and it was because the Government of that day decided to do neither that he washed his hands of responsibility of their policy. But what has happened? We know of course that at that time the present Prime Minister and the present Leader of the House held views indistinguishable from those of the First Lord of the Admiralty. But what has been the result? We have had now twelve months of a compromise policy, a hopeless policy, 1779 a policy bound to lead us to disaster. I believe that it has been the continuance of this compromise, this impossible situation, that has brought about the fall of the late Government. I think it is the duty of the House of Commons to inquire into these things. I have pressed on more than one occasion for a Secret Session. I believe that we in the British House of Commons have as much right to have these questions thrashed out, with full knowledge and ample information, as the members of the French Chamber, who recently had a Secret Session lasting, I think, for eight days. Here we are kept in ignorance. It is good enough that the British House of Commons should separate for the Recess with its eyes blindfolded; but I think there are questions which we should ask and questions which it is of the utmost importance in the vital interests of the country should be answered.
What is the new Eastern policy? The present Prime Minister never mentioned Salonika in his speech. The late Prime Minister never mentioned Salonika in his speech. Yet it was in regard to Salonika, what is happening there, what may happen there, and what may be the results of possible policy there that all those who are most vitally concerned with the future in this War were most concerned about. Are we to have any extension of the military commitments there? Are we to see division after division taking up the priceless tonnage through the Mediterranean? These are questions to which we should require an answer. We have had a Shipping Controller appointed. How many ships is he going to have to control as a result of this policy? We have had a Food Controller appointed. How much food is he going to distribute in the month of March when you are taking all our ships vitally required to bring wheat from Australia to this country? These are vital issues. I am not concerned with the speech of the German Chancellor in the Reichstag or our Prime Minister's speech here, or their competition in talk of victory. What I am concerned with are the facts of the situation, and the conditions of victory, and I believe that the conditions of victory in this War for this country depend far more to-day on a wise decision in this respect than upon any decision taken heretofore. We have heard a great deal about the vigorous prosecution of the War. We have had two Committees on opposite sides of the House 1780 talking about the vigorous prosecution of the War, and the present constitution of the Government Bench indicates the success of those Gentlemen in their vigorous prosecution of the War. They have vigorously prosecuted the War on to the Front Bench. What we went is a little more wise prosecution of the War. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Sir F. Cawley), who now holds an office of great responsibility, suggests that I should join them. I believe that I could have joined them if I had been willing to talk the language current on that. Front Bench. Let me come to the real question. Are we going to pursue this policy in the East, which is going to still further deplete the wasting tonnage of this country 1 You will say to me that I am encouraging the enemy and that I am giving information to the enemy. That is all nonsense. They know more about it than we do. They know the rates of insurance for ships crossing the Atlantic today. I do not think that the Leader of the House will deny that. They know, too, that, owing to the submarine menace, British vessels are now uninsurable in the Mediterranean. These are the vital facts of the War, and why are we discussing whether A, B, C, D, E, F, G, or H are to be on the War Council? This House is dispersing for a long period, dispersing, I believe, without the certainty of meeting again, and when no more responsible men are left to voice our protest, I believe that it is necessary even for one on the Back Benches to raise a protest against a ruinous policy.
§ Mr. BOLAND
The speeches of the Noble Lord who spoke about half ah hour ago, and of the hon. Member for Ripon, who spoke on the same subject—Ireland-were reecived in this portion of the House with great appreciation, and I think it a good omen that they coincided with an act of wise statesmanship on the part of the Chief Secretary. Now that the Chief Secretary is free to devote himself to another aspect of Irish life, I might ask him to settle the educational tangle in that country. I have had occasion during the last two months, almost day after day, to call his attention to the way in which the teaching of science in Ireland is hampered by the action of one of the so-called Education Boards in Ireland. A quarrel, for it is such, between two Government Departments is being waged over the Irish boy or girl who is wishing to 1781 learn science I regret to say that unless the Chief Secretary takes action immediately within the coming few weeks the teaching of science in Ireland for the coming year will be wasted. For the past fifteen years the teaching of science in Ireland has been conducted not on the basis of a written examination to test the pupils, but on the sound system of inspection of all the schools in which science is taught, precisely the same system which has always been adopted in this country and in Scotland. Yet suddenly the Intermediate Board in Ireland, an irresponsible body, decides that for fifteen years it has been guilty of an illegal practice, and has forced through this House a system of rules by which the system of the last fifteen years is to be wiped out, and a Board on which there is not a single scientific man is to be allowed to interfere with the teaching of science in our Irish schools.
The Chief Secretary has within his reach a very easy means of settling this question. it may possibly be contended by the Intermediate Board that the system of inspection of science teaching in Ireland has not been sufficiently strict. If that is the charge, there is nothing easier than to tighten up the system of inspection. The better the inspection, the better every educational body in Ireland will be pleased. I am perfectly certain that the Department of Agriculture, the Government authority which during these fifteen years has carried out the system of inspection, will be only too willing to improve it in every possible way and make it more valuable and more searching. It would be an absolutely retrograde step to depart from the old system of teaching science and instituting a system of written examination. The idea of written examinations for preliminary science teaching is absolutely abhorrent to every man who has the interests of Ireland at heart. It is not liked either in England or Scotland, and yet the Education Board for Ireland are to be entitled to do this, without consulting educational opinion, and against the advice of headmasters, teachers of science and others throughout the country. All the privileges of raising this question within forty days have been removed owing to the new conditions, and apparently the Education Board of Ireland is to be allowed to ride roughshod not only over Irish opinion, but over opinion in England and Scotland and every other country. During the Recess, 1782 the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary may have an opportunity of seeing the inspectors of the Irish Board of Agriculture, the heads of the Intermediate Board, the many learned and scientific experts in Ireland, the headmasters, and the educational bodies, and he will learn what is the real difficulty at the back of this question. I trust that when he returns at the beginning of the new Session he will be able to inform the House that the proposal has been withdrawn, and that nothing will interfere with the method of teaching science in our country which has been in operation for fifteen years.
§ Mr. WING
I wish to congratulate the Chief Secretary on his Christmas gift to the Irish people, and I would like to make an appeal to the Leader of the House on behalf of a section of the community to whom either a Christmas or a New Year's gift might be made. The replies to questions asked by myself on so many occasions, respecting increased allowances, have been of a character to lead one to believe that they will shortly be an actual fact. I wish an announcement could now be made on the matter, for it would cheer many a soldier, and it would be a very comforting message to people at home. Another class with regard to whom I feel great sympathy are the old age pensioners. Regulations have been made with regard to the men who earn money and those who receive allotments, but I believe that a very small proportion of old age pensioners are to receive the half-crown, which I understood was to apply to all old age pensioners not benefited by the concessions which I have named. We waited upon the late Secretary to the Treasury, who promised to hand the matter on to his successor, and I would ask the Leader of the House to drop all these rules and regulations, which consume a great deal of time, and cause a great deal of temper, and cost a good deal of money. You have dropped the regulation in respect of those men earning money and those receiving allotments, and now I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to say that the half-crown should be given. The concessions already made have been on the ground of the increased cost of living, and I submit that on the same ground the half crown should be given to all those who receive old age pensions, and are not otherwise benefited. There have been great speeches and a great decision made to-day, and I should like the right hon. 1783 Gentleman just to assure the old age pensioner—who, I am sure, has the whole country behind him—of immediate extra help. If it means a little more in income tax, I am certain that no income tax payer would object to it—that the half-a-crown should be given all round, because all alike suffer from the increased cost of living. I will not detain the House, nor elaborate this point, but, if the right hon. Gentleman wants to send a thrill of joy into thousands of homes, he cannot do better than accept the wish that has been expressed to him by resolution and by petition to the Treasury and by the general sense of the whole country. Increased allowances to soldiers' dependants, as promised, and a universal increase of old age pensions immediately offered would be Christmas or New Year gifts which would give universal satisfaction.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has referred to the question of separation allowances. I would only like to say, about that, that I personally am very grateful to the Leader of the House for the action he has taken with regard to this, and that, as one of the most persistent critics of the Government on that subject, I am satisfied, from what he has told the House and also told me, that the Government mean to do something substantial in regard to it. I can only emphasise what my hon. Friend has just said and add that, if the Leader of the House will remember the practice which obtains in his native country with regard to the New Year, he will try and synchronise these benefits with that date.
What I got up to say, and to say very shortly, was this: I made a few comments on the introduction of the Vote of Credit, which was for £400,000,000, and I put a question to the Leader of the House as to whether that amount of money meant a long recess. He at once got up and said he could give me his word that it did not. Now, I understand that the Government are going to prorogue for at least six weeks. If they are going to do that the Vote of Credit will only last another fortnight. That seems to me to suggest that ! the amount of the Vote of Credit does synchronise with the length of the Recess. It is only a fortnight short, in any case. I want to say, further, that the Prime Minister, when he spoke—in fact, he criticised the old Government, and thereby himself, in saying that there had been too much concealment of the actual 1784 facts of the situation—promised the House, and said he hoped in future that the public of this country would be taken more into the confidence of the Government than they had been hitherto. I am not in the least sure that the public are going to be taken into their confidence. I have been a Member of this House since the outbreak of war, and the only information I have been able to pick up in regard to what is happening has not been picked up officially, or communicated to me by anyone in that position. Therefore I, along with many other Members of the House, am at a very considerable disadvantage in arriving at sound conclusions. If that is the case with us, what can we say about the public outside? The public outside are absolutely ignorant of what is happening in the progress of this War. The public outside think that we are winning this War hands down. They are fed on headlines in our newspapers, with regard to detached events in the War, but they are not told of the real facts that lie behind those headlines. Now; it cap-not be alleged against myself, or my hon. Friend who sits next me (Mr. Pringle), that in saying what we are saying to-night we are, in. any sense giving, as the common phrase goes, information to the enemy the most serious information that has ever been given to the enemy has been given by members of the present Administration. Only yesterday the President of the Board of Trade answered to the German people that we were a beleaguered city. I have not myself seen all the signs that are usually associated with a beleaguered city. I wonder what steps the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House is going to take to restrain and stop those within the Ministry from communicating these kind of facts to the enemy. It is not good enough to get up on the Front Bench and to say that those who make such speeches had better not make them, when we learn our lesson from the right hon. Gentleman's own colleagues. We are told by a Member of the Ministry that we are a beleaguered city. Let me for a few moments examine what such a statement moans. I take it that a beleaguered city means that the ordinary and necessary supplies cannot be brought in. The measures which are being taken to provide the necessary food supplies of this country are measures which have necessitated special appointments in the new Ministry. That again is an indication 1785 that something requires to be done, People outside are not so foolish as members of that Front Bench think they are. They argue in an ordinary and commonsense way. They know that we as a country cannot grow the supplies necessary for the people of this country. They also know that those supplies are brought here in ships. They argue, when the Minister of Agriculture says that we are a beleaguered city, that the ships are not coming here. They say, "Britannia rules the waves." Why are the ships not coming in? The ships are not coming in, they say because somebody is preventing them. Who and what is it? German submarines! The German submarine, then, has developed to such an extent during this War that it is able to escape from the methods by which it was got hold of before and has got into the trade routes which lead to this country. Surely, then, in those circumstances, we have to face the question, for the public see through the veil that the Front Bench are drawing across the House.
The Front Bench cannot throw dust too long in the eyes of the public. As a friendly critic of this Administration, as a critic of whom, at any rate, it cannot be said that I have ever opposed the War, for I have been in favour all the time, I warn the Government that they may wake up some fine morning to have to answer the question which will be put to them by the public in this country: What is the meaning of the step that you are taking now after all that you have been telling us? There are great and serious questions involved in this to which I think the House ought to give some attention. I, like the Leader of the House, have been through the great fiscal controversies of the past. I have replied to all the speeches he ever made in various parts of the country, although, I suppose, he never heard of it. We took his speeches and said he knew nothing at all about the subject, and we produced our figures to show how he was wrong. Whether or not he or I was right or wrong, he will agree that both of us— that all of us who were concerned in that controversy, laid enormous stress upon the value of our mercantile marine to the prosperity of this country. I do not suppose there is a single Member of the House who does not recognise and realise that but for the efficiency and sufficiency of our mercantile marine this country would ont be the great country it is. Now there are two kinds of mercantile 1786 marine. There is the mercantile marine which trades between this country and other parts, supplying this country with the necessities of life and the necessities of industry, and there is the mercantile marine which is in the hands and control of British shippers, which is doing the mercantile trade of neutral countries beyond the seas which surround these Islands. These are two great sources of wealth and sustenance to this country, and we all know that both of those are being destroyed.
The Government have made certain proposals with regard to shipping. I understand the Prime Minister has promised the Labour party, or the Labour section of his Ministry or Cabinet, that he is going to nationalise the shipping industry of this country; in fact, he has promised to nationalise everything except his own Ministry. We were told when this War began that no Government, Coalition or otherwise—and I do not know quite what is the correct adjective with which to describe this Government—would introduce matters of a controversial aspect. Now the nationalisation of shipping, the nationalisation of mines, the nationalisation of practically every industry in this country is an extraordinarily controversial question. It is more. It is a very serious economic question as to whether individualists in this country—because, after all, even the Leader of the House will agree that the greatness of this country has been achieved by individuals— are going to have at their disposal the necessary capital to promote and stimulate the great industries that make for the greatness of this country, if the Government is going to nationalise any or all of those industries I think it is really rather dangerous to allow the present heterogeneous Ministry to be free from all kinds of criticism for six weeks, and to run loose through their various Departments, because, after all, the Prime Minister is going to be concerned with something entirely different. He is going to concern himself with the conduct of the War, and you have in charge of the various Departments of this Government a great many men, hardly any of whom agrees one with the other, running these Departments, promoting their ideas, experimenting at an abnormal time in some of the greatest economic and industrial changes that have ever been suggested in this country. If you 1787 wanted to make these great changes, you ought to have experimented in times when circumstances were normal, and you could have got normal results, and from those experiences made up your mind whether it was worth while to promote those experiments further or not. I do not think it is wise at a critical time like this to allow everybody and anybody—and, after all, that is a real description of the composition of this Ministry, which does consist of everybody and anybody—to try their 'prentice hands on some of the best established industries in this country. Therefore, I wish to associate myself with my hon. Friend, who, with myself, makes up our party, in protest against the length of this Recess, and in protest against allowing this Ministry to refuse to meet the House for so long with great questions undetermined.
There is one other point. My hon. Friend beside me has referred to a question which I know he would not have referred to if he did not feel it very seriously. All of us talk over these questions, even when we do not venture to express ourselves on them publicly. I think my hon. Friend is right in insisting that the Leader of the House should, at any rate, give us some indication as to whether with the new Ministry we are to have a more defined policy with regard to both our military and our naval operations. If it is true—and I say no more about it than this—that military necessity or your Government policy requires in the Near East the dispatch of many more thousands of troops than are at present there, then, taking those troops there and maintaining them means a reduction of from four to five tons of shipping per man all the time they are maintained in the Near East. Can we afford, in view of the physical necessities of the people in these Islands, to take away from our already depleted mercantile marine so much tonnage as that involves? I do not want to say more, because, like the Leader of the House, I should be more than willing to make very considerable sacrifices to see this country victorious in the right kind of way. I agree that what we want is to pursue this fight until we have got security or immunity from any such recurrence for, at any rate, another generation, if not longer. I am all with him in that, and I would be willing to go a very long way and make a very consider- 1788 able sacrifice if that end could be secured. For that reason I think you will excuse me and my Friend from putting our point of view. It is a wise thing to carry with the Government all the sources of strength that they can carry in the House of Commons, and if the Government can carry more hon. Members with them by indicating that this new Ministry has got some definite ideas about policy and how that policy is to be pursued it is well worth doing. Having put my case and added my protest, I leave the matter with the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. LYNCH
I wish, even at this last hour, to say one or two words which I hope may be judicious and helpful to the Government. To-day we have heard some very powerful and weighty speeches, delivered with a certain burning zeal for ideals such as is not usual in this Parliament, but which is a greater sign of strength than considerations greatly material. With respect to the two last speeches from the small but powerful party opposite, I would say that the situation has been summed up in the epigrammatic style of the French, where they have been tortured by the same apprehensions as we have, in the advice to the Government, "Make peace or make war." Make peace while the opportunity is now with us before we enter into untold further sacrifices; or else once and for all, having made up your minds to win, active with all energy the ten thousand factors we organise for warlike activity to the full, and infuse in every one of them the spirit of victory. There have been one or two disquieting symptoms since the present Government came into power, and one is the hesitating kind of policy with regard to Greece marked by nothing but sheer incompetence and futility. My advice to the Prime Minister is to assert himself in his own Cabinet; he should know that the people of this country and of all the world are looking up to him as a great leader; let him show himself as a great leader by the spirit of command which he can instil into those who are his immediate followers.
Leaving this point, I intend to say one or two words with respect to Ireland, because all these questions are very intimately associated. I believe that the War for a certain period will go from bad to worse, not from any fault of this present Government, but because effects follow causes at long intervals, and even now 1789 we are only reaping the results of some of the hesitations of six and twelve months ago.
I believe that the people of Ireland will feel more pressure and more hardship. There may be within the next three or four months a period of misery. Therefore, it behoves all those connected with the government or Ireland to make use of everything which will make for greater efficiency in that country. In my own Constituency—and I believe it holds with respect to the length and breadth of Ireland—one can see untenanted lands, some left perfectly derelict—even some of the very forests running wild—which, joined together, would make hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile land. All those acres should be immediately taken over, and should be immediately developed, and those difficulties of routine of Departments and so forth, which the Chief Secretary himself indicated to-day, should be brushed aside as much as possible. He himself should enter more determinedly into the very pith of the matter, and even make short work of all the cumbrous red tape and routine which delays the operation of this work in Ireland. He should devote his whole attention to putting as many men as possible on this waste land; this would in itself solve a great number of problems in Ireland, and would be of very great advantage to this country in one of these problems which may be soon the most pressing, such as the production of food.
There exists in my Constituency, and it is only an example of others, many places where productive work such as the reclaiming of land could be undertaken. Really, the difficulty that has stood in the way of this being accomplished has not been a material difficulty, but the difficulty of breaking down the spirit of routine in the offices. I venture to say that ten examples could be found of works of great value which would give employment to people, stave off poverty which I fear is coming, and be of immense advantage to the strength of Ireland, and indirectly to England also.
Leaving this topic, I will touch upon one other, and that is the question of the Irish prisoners. Looking at the matter from the point of view of the Chief Secretary, it was a bold and generous act on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to make the announcement which he did. I do not believe the Irish people at any time 1790 have failed to respond to evidence of good will, and I believe they will testify their gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman on this occasion. But if I might venture to say it in the face of his generous offer, I think he ought to have gone still further. He ought to have declared a general amnesty. He might put up in opposition to that many legal reasons, but after all the meaning of a general amnesty is to neglect to look into the minutiæ of the cases, to sweep all minor considerations away, so that all may be forgotten. That was done by my friend Theodore Roosevelt after the war in the Phillipines, when in one day he dismissed the question and allowed it to lapse into ancient history. It was never again referred to in after time except with approval of the boldness of the act. It was also done by my friend Louis Botha in South Africa, when he had a still more serious problem to deal with than that of the right hon. Gentleman in Ireland. Now is the time for big men—for men to do great and bold things in a large and generous way. I think in that sense the right hon. Gentleman ought to look once more into this question.
During the years I have sat in this Parliament I have never once spoken of the broad question of Ireland, although it was that which brought me here—which brought me into politics—to do something valid for Ireland, something great and enduring, has been the one dream of my political life, and the reason why I never intervened in any Debate in the years when there were many burning questions discussed in this House was that I was unwilling by any act of mine or any intervention on my part to stand in the way of Ireland obtaining what I considered was a very inadequate measure, but which seemed at that time to commend itself to the great majority of the people. I thought the measure of the last Government was badly conceived— conceived in a very small spirit—and that the basis having been badly laid, the superstructure was false and that the measure would never be found to be a valid operative measure.
Now there seems to be a tendency to feel that a better solution must be sought for Ireland, and I would suggest the Government will find it easier to carry a bold and great measure than to attempt in a small, pettifogging way to push through a smaller measure such as at every corner 1791 would bear marks of a compromise and party manœuvring. Now is the time to produce broad measures when great ideals are in the air, and I believe if the Government were to rise to this occasion and once and for all proclaim a measure so great that by its greatness and by the fascination of its proposals it would appeal to the men of Ulster themselves, they would have a better chance of carrying it than they would of carrying one smaller and hampered by ten thousand petty faults.
What is that measure to be? I am almost afraid to say; for my own standpoint, and in that respect my views, are more advanced perhaps than those held by any other Member of the House. With respect to the Chief Secretary I will say this, that whereas in private life I admire him as an admirable and courteous gentleman, yet as the Chief Secretary I abhor him, because I abhor the office which he represents, and which in itself is the very seal placed on the subjection of Irishmen. I abhor in that respect the Lord Lieutenant also, and I hope that in any bold scheme both will be swept away. Remember that you cannot coerce Irishmen; you cannot drive Irishmen. You may grind them down under your heel, and they will still fight. Even if you kill them outright, their very ghosts will come back to haunt you. I hope that Irishmen will never lose that spirit. If they had not maintained it our history would have been closed 100 years ago. With respect to these rebels, I say, from my place in this House, that I hope the spirit which animated them will never die out of the breasts of the young men of Ireland. I do not mean by that that I would encourage them in rebellion, partly because rebellion is not likely to be successful. If any words of mine could have influenced these young men before the rising, they would not have undertaken that rising at all. I would advise them to continue their agitation on strictly constitutional lines because I believe those lines are stronger and more valid than those of rebellion. At the same time I hope that they will never let perish from their minds the feeling of nationality. The depth and strength of that feeling can never be overestimated. Englishmen themselves feel that. What would you think of the Belgians if, being claimed as German subjects, they were to knuckle down and kow- 1792 tow to their oppressors? You would admire the Belgian who, crushed down beneath the brutal tyranny of Germany, at the moment of his dying still lifted his soul to the aspiration of a great and free Belgium. If your own country—I pray that the omen shall never be realised —were to be subjected to the heel of a conqueror, what Englishman would you respect—the man who made obeisance to the new Government, who learned to speak German and cry "Hoch" to the Kaiser, or the man who through every misery and disgrace still kept his soul pure in its ideals, burning strong with the aspiration to the liberty of his country? Do you think Irishmen are inferior to that? No ! Irishmen have many faults, but I believe there are no people in the world in whom the ideal is found burning more brightly than in the breasts, not only of the educated and cultured Irishmen, but of those in the very lowest ranks, not of humanity, but of the ordinary work-a-day world of profit. Many a time I have stood before an ignorant Irish peasant and have respected him—I was going to say as a king, but no!—higher than I place any king—simply for that bright and burning spark which he exhibited, and in the readiness with which he would defend it with his life.
That must not be lost sight of in finding a solution for the great Irish problem. I will leave the matter with that vagueness at present. My great hope is to see a solution however temporary, of this problem which will open the way to the future development of Ireland. We have heard a speech to-night upon education. Irish brains are not inferior to those of any people. I should like to see Irish education established in such a form that Irish genius can display itself in all the channels in which it has distinctively shown itself capable of success so that Irishmen can reach the highest point of education and stand in the forefront of the works of humanity. I should like to see art encouraged, science cultivated, and the country made stronger in all material works and in the strength of its population. As Thomas Francis Meagher said on a certain occasion when he stood in the dock at Clonmel—he was an object of hatred and derision to Englishmen but a hero to Ireland—"To lift this island up, to make her a benefactress to humanity instead of being, as she is now, one of the meanest beggars in the world, this has 1793 been my ambition and my ambition has been my crime." These words, uttered long ago, have inspired successive generations of Irish, and I hope they will continue to inspire them until they have realised the glory of their dreams.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read the third time," put and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.