§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [29th March] "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now", and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Clynes.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
May I ask the Leader of the House, will he make arrangements to have the Division taken not later than 4.30 to-day?
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Alter listening to the Debate for the last two days, on my return home last night the first letter I opened enclosed a copy of the "Illustrated London News" for the week ending Saturday, 30th August, 1851, and the leading article in it was under the heading, "What is to be done with Ireland?" and it states:It was imagined by some hopeless Englishmen, sick of the very name of Ireland, that the only means to relieve Great Britain from the constant abuse inflicted upon her by Mr. O'Connell's 'gem of the sea' would be to shove the troublesome isle out into the Atlantic Ocean midway between Liverpool and New York and to establish the Pope as its temporal and spiritual sovereign. It is a pity that the engineering difficulties in the way of that arrangement are insurmountable.
§ Sir E. CARSON
It goes on,How satisfactory the result would be to all parties.I suppose that ever since 1851 this country has been asking the same question, and I do not imagine for a moment that I shall be really able to make any novel contribution to this Debate. I am told by His Majesty's Government that they mean to pass this Bill into law, and in those circumstances I would like to take 1288 advantage of this which may well be one of the last opportunities of reiterating, however tiresome it may be, to the House of Commons my opposition to the very end to the whole policy of Home Rule for Ireland. I never believed in it. I do not believe in it now, and I believe that it will be fraught with disaster to your country and to mine. As regards my own country, it will be cut off from the greatest Kingdom that has ever existed. We shall no longer be able to rely upon your credit. Of all the extraordinary proposals which are put forward, to which I profoundly object as being absolutely impossible and uneconomical, it is that we shall be here in reduced numbers while you retain the power of taxing us to the full.
Ireland is mad to give up her representation in this House. Every injustice and every harm committed towards Ireland, towards her trade laws, and towards her whole administration from an economic point of view—all those injuries were inflicted before the Union and not since the Union, and none of them would be possible with the present representation of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament. There is another matter. It cuts me to the quick that you are going absolutely to desert my loyal fellow-subjects and co-religionists in the south of Ireland. I believe that to be a part of the Home Rule policy, which is a gross act of treachery to faithful friends. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.- Colonel Guinness) made the case, as I understood it last night, speaking, I think, on behalf of what is called the Anti-Partition League, as if Ulster was deserting the south of Ireland. Nothing is further from the fact, and if the hon. Member will recollect or look back to his own actions on this Home Rule controversy he will see that he was one of those who most specifically put forward the impossibility of Ulster helping the South of Ireland by being retained within the ambit of the Irish Parliament.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Listen to what he said:I believe that almost every Irish Protestant will recognise that in the present conditions it is the duty of Ulster Members to take this opportunity of trying to secure for their constituents freedom from this iniquitous measure. I believe that Unionists outside Ulster would blame their allies in 1289 this House if they opposed such action. It would be merely a dog in the manger policy for us who live outside Ulster to grudge relief to our co-religionists merely because we could not share it. Such self-denial on their part would in no way help us, and it would only injure our compatriots in the North.Upon that question we voted for leaving Ulster outside the Bill. I am more and more confirmed in my hostility to the Home Rule Parliament on every occasion upon which we have a discussion on the subject, and the reason is that nobody has ever yet suggested, nor have we in this Debate been able to suggest, any alternative to the Union which was generally acceptable on this side of the Channel and on the other side. You have had already two Home Rule Bills and one Act. What is the fate of all of them? I thought it a rather pathetic sight to see the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) standing at that box yesterday. We all know the struggles which he went through to get the 1914 Act on the Statute Book. Yesterday he was killing his own child. It was only five years born before he saw how utterly inefficacious it was as a settlement of the Irish Question. He has confessed to the failure of it. He has confessed to the failure of the other two Bills—both proposed by Mr. Gladstone, and one of them backed by himself—and he now comes down to this House after all these failures to tell you that he can give you advice how to produce an alternative proposal.
The truth of the matter is that there is no alternative to the Union unless separation, and anybody who for a moment will think out the circumstances will necessarily come to that conclusion. We have said it for the last thirty years. It has always been one of our main stock arguments which our opponents jeered at. It is now the confession of the majority of the representatives of Ireland, headed by Mr. de Valera, their elected President, that he will accept nothing but, to use his own latest words, the evacuation of the English people from Ireland, and in the face of that, in the face of the announcement of the vast bulk of the Irish people that they will have nothing but an independent republic of their own choice, is not it idle and is not it ridiculous to be trying to formulate something halfway which will offend your own 1290 friends and will not conciliate a single one of those who are in favour of separation? That is the reality of the situation. It is no use talking of settlement in Ireland where nobody proposes to settle. It is no use talking, as I will show in a few moments, of self-determination in Ireland, for nobody proposes to give self-determination.
Let us try to put away all these sham phrases. I took them down as the Debate went on. An hon. Member opposite—I have no doubt in perfect sincerity—said, as if he had solved the question, "We must start with unity." Where are we to get it? Another says that there is no use doing anything unless you satisfy Irish aspirations. What are Irish aspirations? Another says, "Above all things, let us do it on the principle of self-determination," and then immediately goes on to add, "but it is self-determination as defined by me. It is not the Irish who are to self-determine. It is I who am to determine how the Irish self-determination ought to work out." That was what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Clynes), who moved the rejection of the Bill, said. I believe that more harm has been done in Ireland and in all these controversies by the use of this ridiculous phraseology which has crept into our political controversy. "Make the world safe for democracy!" Make the world safe for hyprocrisy, and all the rest of it. No, what you are really going to do—I wish to put it on record as my opinion, if I was never to make another speech in the House—what you are really proposing to do is to give a lever to your enemies by which they may, under the guise of constitutional law, attain results which you know in your hearts will be absolutely fatal to your whole Empire. Under these circumstances I, at all events, can take no responsibility, and I decline to take any responsibility for this Bill.
We are always told that the Union has failed in Ireland. I do not agree. It may not have been an absolute success, nor would any other system have been an absolute success. Certainly the Union has not failed in that part of Ireland which I represent, and, if it has not failed there, I do hot see why it should have failed in the other parts of Ireland. If, however, the Union has failed in Ireland, why has it failed? It has failed because of the corruption of English political parties. It has failed because political 1291 parties, as Mr. Gladstone confessed, could not resist the power of office or the hopes of office given to them by coquetting with the eighty Irish votes. It is that which has caused the failure in Ireland. I quite agree with what I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that once a great political party in England had taken up this question and were determined to prevent. Government going on in Ireland, the whole situation was changed. I remember the first time that I ever came to this House as a listener, I sat under that Gallery, and there was going on an Irish Debate at a time when Ireland was, if not in a worse, certainly in as bad a condition as it is at the present time. Magistrates and police were carrying their lives in their hands from day to day, and murder was rife. What was the spectacle that I saw coming straight from there, helping myself at the time in the administration of the law and not without personal danger? What was the scene that I saw. I saw Mr. Gladstone and I saw Lord Morley ridiculing the magistrates, ridiculing the police, and doing their best to raise against the Government in Ireland all those feelings which they have never since hesitated and do not hesitate to-day to raise. Yes, that is what has caused the Union to fail in Ireland. Mr. Birrell was Chief Secretary for a long time. I will say this for him. He had a policy. His policy was to show that the Government of Ireland by this country was impossible, and therefore he refused to enforce the law or to put down crime. That was his policy. What is the good of telling me, in circumstances such as these, that it is the Union that has failed? It is not the Union that has failed; it is the grasping at office through Irish votes which has led people into courses which in anything connected with the government of their own country they would be ashamed to avow.
Having said so much, that does not relieve me of the responsibilities which I have, rightly or wrongly, for so many years taken upon myself. It would be very easy for me to say that I will go on and fight to the end regardless of consequences. I am not such a fool or so inexperienced in politics as not to know what it means that the Act of 1814 is upon the Statute Book. There are two things, one of which affects one side and one the other, which are cardinal facts in 1292 the present situation. One is that the Act of 1914 is upon the Statute Book, and the other is the pledges that have been given to Ulster. That is really the whole situation. I know that many of my old friends in Ireland will call me a traitor. Plenty of them will. Why? Because I will not go on and fight to the end. Let me say this. I am offered by this Bill a Parliament for the six counties. Ought I to try and kill a Bill that contains that proposal with the Act of 1914 upon the Statute Book? In other words, if I help to kill this Bill, I bring into force automatically the Act of 1914. What a nice statesman and leader I would be when the Act of 1914 or something worse was being set up! If I saw no hope from the other side in the course of this Debate, what a nice leader I would be to go up to Belfast and call the people there together, and say, "Look here, you made a Covenant; go and get your rifles again, and come out and drill and fight." For what? For the six counties that are offered in a Bill which I could have got without fighting at all. No one but a lunatic would undertake such a performance.
§ Sir E. CARSON
No, I have not! If I had got all that I ever asked for there would never have been a Home Rule Bill. Therefore my duty at all events is clear in this matter. I cannot vote for Home Rule, and I will not vote for Home Rule At the same time, I shall do nothing to prevent this Bill becoming law. I looked forward with great interest yesterday to the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley. I have had a great deal to do with him in the past over this question. He commenced by asking a very germane question: "Does any section of Irishmen demand this Bill?" I certainly do not demand this Bill.
§ Sir E. CARSON
But does any section of Ireland demand the 1914 Act? When I am given my choice between these two Bills, I certainly prefer the Bill in which the six counties of Ulster do not come under the Parliament in Dublin. What is the good of putting this kind of question? What is the Bill that any Irishman demands? Where is it? Why do not they produce it? "Oh!" they say, 1293 "start a Conference!" I think the ex-Prime Minister, in one of his references, said: "Start a Conference." [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, set up an assembly to frame—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Then perhaps it was my right hon. Friend who moved the rejection! [HON. MEMBERS: "Both!"]. I think they both did. What does that mean? What hope is there? When the present Prime Minister started a Conference, I was in his Government, and I was in favour of the Conference. What became of it?
§ Sir E. CARSON
Not at all. It is no use trying to do this by repartee at all. This is the most serious hour for Ireland. What happened at the Conference—The first and fatal thing that happened was that the majority of the representatives of the Irish people would not go there at all.
§ Sir E. CARSON
All I can say is that I did not. I never anticipated it. Will the hon. Member for the Falls Division of Belfast assure us that, if there be a Conference set up, the Sinn Feiners will come?
§ Sir E. CARSON
Now what is the use of that kind of talk? You are not getting down to business when you say that. Therefore, I say that there is no use attempting this Conference. I never understand. One moment they say, "Have a Conference," which, if you could bring it about, would certainly take about a year or two, and the next moment they say, "Something must be done at once, if you are to relieve the situation in Ireland." I followed, as well as I could, what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley said about his Ulster pledges, but I must admit that I did not come to any satisfactory conclusion. What is his objection to this Bill? Let me try and tell the House what I make out. He pointed across to me and said, "Ulster's case always was, 1294 'leave us alone.'" That is our case to-day. Our longing is to be left alone. Our appeal to you is to leave us alone. We ask you to keep us with you. We are prepared, as we have been in the past, to go with you in your triumphs and your sorrows, in your wars and in your victories. Yes, that is our case—"Leave us alone." Will the right hon. Gentleman leave us alone? He certainly did not tell us so yesterday. What is his objection? Here is what he said. He seemed to see something very fantastic in the division of Ireland and in the Parliament for the six counties. In 1916 I was sent, though not a member of the Government, or at least I was requested by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who was then, I think, Minister of Munitions, I was asked to go to Ireland on his invitation, backed by the Prime Minister, who had wished to make a settlement at the time. I also even got a letter from Lord Northcliffe. The present Prime Minister had so little influence with me that Lord Northcliffe wrote to me at his request—so he says in the letter—and he said "Do go over! I can assure you this arrangement of the elimination of the six counties is a most reasonable one." I consented to go over.
When I came back the other day, having got my Unionist friends' support for not trying to destroy this Bill, to have a Parliament for the six counties, the next day in the "Times" it was said, "All he has succeeded in doing is getting six counties cut out. Was there ever a more terrible or humiliating position?" Good old Northcliffe! Then having described my humiliation with all the fairness of that great journal, the "Times," two days afterwards he wrote and said that practically the whole cause of discontent in Ireland was that I had so much power over the Government that I could do what I liked. Why, Sir, that is what Lord Northcliffe is always trying to have. I went to Ireland in 1916, and the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) knows something of what he went through and what I went through. I have always in my heart felt that he showed the true courage of a man, however I may hate and loathe the political view he possesses, and I have this common bond of sympathy with him for the occasion, that both of us having done our best, we were both thrown over when we came back to England. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley say 1295 then? I am now on the point of the fantastic division of Ulster. Here is what he said, speaking on 24th July, 1916:He had laid it down in the clearest terms that there must be no coercion of Ulster, and the six excluded counties should not be put back by any automatic process, but only by an express Act of Parliament." What is it he objects to, then, in this Bill? Is it the difference between excluding them without a Parliament and including them with a Parliament? Is that the whole difference? I asked this question the same day:Another thing I should like to ask is—I assume the Bill to be brought in will contain a provision with reference to the future government of the six counties, or, at all events, we will have, before the Bill goes through the House, a provision for the government of the six counties laid before the House.The answer was:The machinery will be suggested.So it becomes more narrow. It is not merely a difference between leaving it out and including it with a Parliament, but between having a Parliament and the machinery of government to govern it when it is left out. Why is my right hon. Friend then opposing this Bill? If he was here sitting on this side of the House and had to face this question, he would be coming to me and he would be saying to me: "Will not you get your Ulster people to agree to some settlement on the basis either of excluding them or of giving them a Parliament?" Yes, Sir, he asked me before. What is his reason now? He says he has come to a different opinion. He did say that he would like to keep his pledges to Ulster, but he did not tell us how he was going to keep them if we rejected this Bill. He went on to say: "I would give something in the nature of dominion home rule with limitations—the Army and the Navy. I would give them all the rest. I am prepared to sacrifice every principle in my Home Rule Act of 1914 which I put forward to the country at the time, which was to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom." Taxation, Customs, Excise—they were the baits held out. I heard that over and over again in this House. That showed the emblem of unity that still existed after the Act came into force. He said he was prepared to scatter them all to the winds and to give what he called dominion home rule with these exceptions. But he did 1296 not tell us what he was going to do with Ulster. Was it to be dominion home rule without Ulster? Above all things he did not tell us who was prepared to agree to such a settlement as that.
The hon. Member for Falls spoke afterwards. I did not see him swallow that offer with great avidity. I did not see him rise rise and say, "I am in favour of leaving out Ulster or parts of Ulster if you will do that." I did not hear anyone suggest that the Sinn Feiners would be willing, even for a moment, to consider such a question. No. No alternative has been put forward. I should like to ask hon. Members opposite, if they defeat this Bill what are they going to the country upon? What is the question they will raise before the country? Let us have it perfectly clear; let us not play with it any longer. The right hon. Gentleman who seconded this Motion said, "Might is not right." Only when it is applied to Ulster apparently. Will you go to the country—I dare you to do it—and say, "We are determined to drive Ulster under a Dublin Parliament by the forces of the Crown." Will you do that? Will you go down and tell the people of the country "Ulster was our most faithful ally and part of ourselves in the War. She sacrificed everything for the War. She did not shoot our troops in the streets at the middle of the most critical period of the War, but for all that, ladies and gentlemen, we propose to put Ulster under the Sinn Fein Parliament in Dublin, and be faithless and treacherous to the man who died in thousands in France and Flanders and never gave us one moment of anxiety throughout the whole course of the War." Go and preach that on the platforms.
Or are you going further? Are you going down to tell them, "None of these Home Rule. Acts has gone nearly far enough." You never were able, even with the old ones, to get a majority in this country, and do not forget that England is not a negligible quantity in these matters. Are you going down to them and say, "There is no use doing things half-way, we must go the whole hog. There is nothing for it but to satisfy Irish aspirations. There is nothing for it but unity. There is nothing for it but self-determination, and the will of the majority must prevail. Therefore, we are going to give either what is a republic, or what any day may be turned into a re- 1297 public Will you honestly go down and preach that from the platforms, and will you tell them then that if, unfortunately, another war comes, what will be the condition of the western ports of Ireland as havens and harbours for the enemy? Why, you could not have won the last War under those conditions. Every man who had anything to do with the Admiralty knows that perfectly well. All that is an impossible policy. I know that, whatever happens, you will never have the boldness to say these things to the constituencies. You will camouflage it all. You will say, "Do not bother about Ireland. Think of your nationalisation and other things; think of your bread and butter and do not bother about Ireland." And then you will come into power, and you will be just as powerless as you always were in trying to deal with Irish matters. Meanwhile, in the middle of all this, the tragedy in Ireland will go on.
To some people it is new, to me it is not. I remember well the old Fenian times. I know that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of this Bill attributes the whole of the misfortunes to my rebellion in Ulster, as he called it. I remember the old Fenian times. I was brought up in the middle of them I remember the old Land League times and I had something to do with the administration of the law at the time when the murders which then disgraced the country went on. I remember the newsboys, I was very young at the time, calling put in Dublin, "Glorious news from Tipperary, another landlord shot." Now it is "Glorious news from Thurles, another policeman shot." I remember it all perfectly well. I remember the Phœnix Park murders and I remember the boys in the street rolling out "Phœnix Park murders, the whole discovery found cut." I remember it all perfectly well. It has been a tragic, may I call it, queue of crime which has always in one form or another taken this brutal method of assassination. I do not believe it is my countrymen who are in these assassinations. I do not believe it. I believe it is ill-conditioned men from America, who have come back here, and are carrying out these things because of the propaganda' which goes on in America and which you never take the slightest trouble to answer. I myself, when the Ulster business was at its height, got a message one day from Scotland Yard as I was 1298 coming down here, to tell me to be careful, as six men had' left New York from the Clan-na-Gael to assassinate me. Those are the Irishmen, those are the people you are asked to hand over Ulster to. Those are the people whom you are asked to patronise as if they were assisting this country, and to throw over those who really help it.
This Bill, at all events, does this. It modifies the objections to the 1914 Act as regards Ulster. As the ex-Prime Minister said yesterday, we would rather be left alone, and if that will bring him in as a supporter of this Bill, which will be very important, and if he likes to move an Amendment to leave us out of the Bill and to have no Parliament, I will support him. I would rather see Ulster brought every day closer and closer and closer to this country with her great Labour population which has the right to advance hand in hand with the great Labour population of this country. We have been too long dragged down by other influences in Ireland. It may turn out, as the Leader of the House said yesterday, that under this Bill, if it passes, the only part of Ireland which will have a Parliament is the part that never asked for it. That, of course, sounds like a paradox. All I can say about that is this. If the South and West would come forward to-day to me, or if there was anybody here who could say it for them, and say, "Look here, you and I are members of the same country "—I will not say nation, for Ireland never was a nation—"and we each love our country; let us each do our best, starting in good temper to govern in these new Parliaments the districts which are entrusted to them," and I would grasp his hand firmly, and I would say with all my heart, "I accept it as a settlement," and what is more, as I have said before, I would look forward to a very short time elapsing before, under those conditions, we would be more likely to unite in one Parliament. But I do not get that chance. Is that my fault? Certainly not. As far as the conception of the Bill goes, it sets up these two Parliaments with this Council as a liaison between them. I know Ulster does not want this Parliament. Ulster unreasonable, always unreasonable, as we are told, so unreasonable that it never asks for anything, so unreasonable that she values her citizenship in the United Kingdom, a thing 1299 despised by hon. Members. But one thing I will promise you, that Ulster, even under the conditions laid down by the Leader of the House, will do her level best with her Parliament. I do not myself look upon a Parliament in Ulster as altogether without a ray of sunshine. The day cannot be far distant when there will be a great devolution of the business of the United Kingdom, and necessarily under those conditions the same question will arise as to Parliaments in Ireland. Whilst we will do our best, and I say this to my Ulster friends, and particularly to the trade unions and the working classes there, who can carry every single place if they like, you will have at your door the right of access to have every grievance put forward which takes you months and months, perhaps years, before it can be brought up in the House of Commons Your children will perhaps then be allowed to be educated. Thirty thousand children without a day's schooling in Belfast—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"—because the priests will not have it. Thirty thousand children, the children of the working classes, blocked in their education, because the Government try to conciliate the priests' No, Sir, I hope all that may come to an end. These are the rays of sunshine that I see in the Bill. I see no other alternative which can at the same time face the two conditions of the Act of 1914 and the pledges to Ulster, and certainly nobody in this House has pointed out anything. I will only say this in conclusion. Why do you always abuse Ulster? Has Ulster ever been false to you? Has Ulster ever been false to the Empire? What is it you want me to do in relation to Ulster? You are always talking of me as some unreasonable man who wants to do or is bringing about some great wrong to Ireland or to the United Kingdom. What is it you want me to do? I ask you from your hearts, do you want me to go over and say to the Ulster people, "Go and entrust your destinies and the destinies of your children to a Sinn Fein Parliament in Dublin"? Is that what you want me to do? If it is, all I can say is that if I did it you would have lost your last friends in Ireland, and when the day of your trouble came, instead of having the most loyal men that have ever existed to help you in your struggle you would have men who, as at the time of the War of Independence with America, were 1300 your bitterest enemies. Ulster has asked to be left alone, and all the thanks for all she has ever done is the abuse of malignant politicians.
§ Mr. JELLETT
It is not inappropriate as one of a very small band of Unionists in this House that I should intervene at this stage. I cannot help thinking that this House is being placed in a most extraordinary position in connection with this Bill. We are asked by the Government to vote for a Bill which the House does not approve of in order to prevent another measure coming into operation of which it does not approve either. The Bill apparently is not to be treated in this House on its merits, but the Government find apparently the only way out of the difficulty is that the Union with Ireland shall be broken up. As representing a very large body of Southern Unionists, may I be allowed to say that we Southern Unionists in common with our fellow Unionists of the North have opposed this Home Rule policy ever since it was first introduced? Why have we done so? We have opposed it because we saw in it, not only disaster to Ireland, but the gravest possible danger to the future of the British Empire. We have opposed it because we have seen that every movement of this kind has been based on disloyalty, and because every movement of this kind had in front of it the same goal of absolute independence and total separation. There is, I think, in some minds a slight misapprehension as to what is the attitude of the so-called Constitutional Nationalist party on this measure. I would like to remove that. Speaking in this House on the 5th November, 1918, the then Leader of the Constitutional Nationalist party in this House used these words:As regards the demand of Ireland we do not differ in the least degree and never have differed from the demand made by the present Sinn Feiners or by any of the Nationalist Revolutionary parties of the past."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1918, col. 2058, vol. 110.]2.0 P.M.
A little more than a year ago these words were used by the then Leader of the Nationalist party in this House. I am not aware that they have ever been repudiated by any Member of that party, and no one who has followed these different Home Rule proposals from 1886 to the present time will deny that these words represent 1301 the absolute truth, and that the object and the ultimate aims of that party are what was stated. The right hon. and learned Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) has put before the House in no unmistakable terms the reasons why he thinks that those for whom he speaks will not be willing to place the destinies of Ulster under the control of a Sinn Fein Parliament in Dublin. He speaks for the people of the North. He has a considerable following, and they are strongly represented in this House. The dangers with which they are faced are very apparent. What is the position of ourselves in the South? If the North is not prepared to run the risk of the danger of being governed by rebels, what chance have we in the South of Ireland, scattered as we are in different counties, with no power in the representation and no way of getting our views heard; what chance have we and what have we to look forward to, because in some cases we are not allowed even to live.
We were asked the day before yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to face the facts, but that is what His Majesty's Government has always declined to do until the present moment. What are the facts? We are also asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to remember that a good many things have happened since 1914. Yes, Sir, a great many things have happened since 1914. Everything that has happened since 1914 has only served to further convince the Irish Unionists of the danger of this policy. Every prophecy which the Irish Unionists made has been fulfilled to the letter. The moment of the greatest agony of the British Empire was the time seized by the dominant party in Ireland to stab us in the back. The moment of the agony of Verdun was seized by them as the moment when they broke out into open rebellion, with the result that they kept many thousands of British soldiers in Ireland who at the time were sorely needed in the line of battle. That is one of the facts that we have learned since 1914. We find, again, that in 1918 there was another German plot in Ireland. We found that the same thing happened then as had happened in 1916. We people in the South of Ireland have often wondered what the English people are waiting for, what further proof 1302 they require in order to demonstrate beyond a possibility of doubt what the loyal people of Ireland have been and are exposed to at the present moment. We want to know whether the Empire is to be dictated to by these hostile people, who are hostile not only to the British Empire, but have also determined to do everything within their power to bring about the downfall of this Empire. All these facts apparently have left the Government unmoved. Apparently they have nothing to do with them and their policy because they now propose to entrust the destinies of Ireland to the rebels, who fought side by side in favour of Germany. It is even worse than that. They have been abandoned by what they called their gallant allies the Germans. The Germans, whom they hoped would have come to their assistance and would have secured the victory, have failed, and they have turned their hopes in other directions.
Where do they now look? They have turned to Bolshevist Russia, and they are now acting in close alliance with those anarchial forces which are spreading from land to land and are doing, and will continue to do, everything they can to uproot our system of society. So that I am entitled to say when I am asked to look the facts in the face and to remember what has happened since 1914, that my conclusion is this—that you are now faced in Ireland with a force which demands, and which will do its best to set up a hostile independent republic, a hostile independent Bolshevist republic. Is it any wonder that Ulster declines to entrust her destinies to such a power as this? Is it any wonder that the Unionists in the South of Ireland look forward to the prospect before them with absolute consternation. Let me turn, for a moment, to the proposals of this Bill. This is not the time to analyse its provisions, but there are one or two matters which stand out in bold relief and enable us to take a proper view of the whole position. We observe some provisions which we have never seen before, and I hope that that is the effect of the realisation of the facts up to a certain point. The echoes of the struggle in 1914 have, to some extent, died away and the facts are now realised at last. They are realised in Ulster. They realise how much they will be affected by these new facts and that is also realised, to some 1303 extent, in the South. The Bill thus contains some extraordinary provisions. The Government will not allow, and rightly they will not allow, the Sinn Feiners to govern Ulster, even though they might be confronted in that part of Ireland with a large and powerful majority, but apparently they are to be allowed to govern the west of Ireland where the Sinn Feiners will be absolutely omnipotent. That is the extraordinary feature of this Bill; that loyalty is recognised technically in the North of Ireland, but when you come to the South the loyal people are surrendered to the forces of disloyalty. Why has this Bill ever been introduced in the circumstances with which we are confronted? I have never heard more than two reasons given for a measure of this kind at this moment. One was that we should try to please America and the other was that the Act of 1914 was on the Statute Book.
I hope it will be a long time before this Imperial Parliament will be prepared to regulate its own domestic affairs at the dictation of any foreign Power, and I hope that we in this House will be still competent to frame our own Constitution by ourselves, and not to do so at the dictation of any outside Power. The real reason, so far as I can see, why this measure is introduced is the existence of the Act of 1914. We are told to remember that the Act of 1914 is on the Statute Book. So it is? But how did that Act get there? Was it the result of the considered opinion of the electorate of the United Kingdom? Was there any mandate for it from the electorate? Nothing of the kind. The election of 1910, as we all know, was fought upon the question of the veto of the House of Lords. Ireland was never mentioned. There was no mandate for Home Rule from the electorate. There was certainly no mandate for the introduction of the measure which subsequently became an Act of Parliament, and accordingly we are entitled to say that the considered views of the electorate were not behind that policy. More than that, we were told that at the outbreak of the War all contentious matters were to be laid aside. We were told even by the then Prime Minister that nobody was to be prejudiced, no political party was to be prejudiced, by anything that was to be done in connection with this matter. 1304 What happened to that pledge? It was treated in the same way as Germany deals with its treaties. But it does not stop there. Does anyone suppose, even if the Act of 1914 was a proper measure in the circumstances of the time, that nothing has happened since then? Are we for ever to be guided by what happened before, and never by what subsequently occurred? Are we to be tied down to something which occurred four or five years ago and in totally different conditions and circumstances? Are we never to be allowed to review the present circumstances or the circumstances of that time in the light of subsequent events? Has what was thought to be, in the circumstances, a proper measure to be proposed and carried years ago, to be now necessarily put into operation.
I can understand this House considering this Bill now upon the Statute Book if it were true that the country was behind it. I can understand that consideration, if the House agreed that it was a desirable Measure, even now in the altered conditions, but I cannot understand this House considering that it is bound by the fact that the Bill is on the Statute Book, now that everybody, in Ireland has rejected the proposal and that the conditions have changed since the time it was passed. It is not supported by anybody in the electorate in Ireland, and yet it is to be put into operation under circumstances which are wholly different from those which existed at the time of the passing of the Act. I have yet to learn that it is any defence of this Measure to say that we are to consider ourselves bound hand and foot; that it is not in our power to deal with this Measure which is now before the House as if it were a piece of honest and necessary legislation. I suppose His Majesty's Government wish to please somebody, but that somebody has yet to be found. I need hardly say you are not going to please the Sinn Feiner. What about Ulster? The Bill places Ulster in an almost impossible position. Ulster has been asked—has been told in effect—that unless she is prepared to be ruled by a Parliament in Dublin, she must take what she is now offered, and what she does not want. She has been forced, sorely against her will, to adopt a course involving not only her own isolation but the isolation of her fellow- 1305 Unionists in the rest of Ireland. And all this in the futile attempt to placate your deadly and implacable enemies! It has been made clearer than ever that loyalty to King and Empire does not pay, and that the real, if not the only, way to win the sympathy and secure the confidence of His Majesty's Government is by treason, sedition, rebellion and crime. What an example to the rest of the British Empire and the world! What does anyone suppose will be thought of this course in other parts of the British Empire where the forces of anarchy are even now at work? That is the example we are going to set at home, and we should pause to think what effect it will have in other parts. It may be that the full disaster may not be sounded in our time, but the House may rest assured that if this Bill is passed and ever becomes law, future generations will curse the day when we here took the first step which led to the disintegration of the British Empire.
What about the date of Irish union? The Bill talks glibly about it. The Bill looks forward to it, and apparently contemplates that at some period not very remote North and South will fall into each other's arms. I take the liberty of saying that neither now nor hereafter can there be any union between the forces of loyalty and treason. If that is the union to which the Bill is looking forward, it is looking forward to a date that will never arrive. So far as any hon. Member in this House may feel attracted by the provision, which apparently contemplates that at some future time there will be one Parliament for the whole of Ireland, he may put it out of his head. Ireland will not be made loyal by this Bill. Those who have fought against their King and Empire will not suddenly become loyal by the passing of a measure which they do not want, and which they will ignore. You will not make the disloyal loyal. You will make the loyal disloyal, because once it goes abroad from this House that the loyal population are going to be abandoned by His Majesty's Government to their bitterest foes, you need not imagine that after that there will be very much more talk of loyalty in southern Ireland.
I have said practically nothing about the Unionists of the South of Ireland. Their fate, apparently, is a matter of small consequence to some people, but, however callous anyone may be as to their future, there is one thing they cannot deny. 1306 Through evil report and good report the Loyalists of the South of Ireland have steadfastly stood by their King and their Constitution. They have never wavered. They did their duty, and more than their duty, in the War. They fought for you, and, like many another gallant Irishman, they died for you. Now, apparently, they are about to receive their reward, and what is it? To be handed over to the tender mercies of those who fought against them. Those who drew the sword to defend you are to be handed over to those who drew the dagger in the hour of your greatest agony, and stabbed the Empire in the back. I have said, and am entitled to say, we have never wavered in our loyalty. We are loyal now. But there are limits even to loyalty, and those limits will be reached on the day when you hand over loyal southern men and women to the tender mercies of pro-Germans and rebels. What will be the position of the Imperial Parliament then? You will have lost your last friends in southern Ireland. You will be confronted then with a country uniformly hostile. The demand for total independence will be intensified tenfold. We will all be asking for it. Why should any man continue to be loyal to those who have betrayed him, and who have handed him over to probable, if not certain, ruin at the hands of his enemies? Are Englishmen going to stand by and see the Loyalists of South and West robbed of their property, ruined if not murdered, driven away from the land of their birth in search of some happier clime, where honour is not yet dead, and where they can at least expect to find some protection for their lives and the small amount of property they possess? This House some years ago voted, with a light heart, some £200,000,000 for the benefit of those in Ireland who never were your friends. Will you do the same now to save from ruin those whose loyalty has ever been unquestioned and unswerving? If not, all I can say is they are doomed.
Let me take a wider view for one moment. We have heard a great deal about national unity. Never, I suppose, in the history of this Kingdom was there a time when it was more essential. Empires and kingdoms have been tumbling down about our ears. The world is in a state of upheaval. Europe is looking to us for help, guidance and example. Is this a time for experiments 1307 in disruption, and are we going to imperil our whole future by embarking upon a policy of disintegration in the very heart of the Empire? One last word I might perhaps be allowed to address to Unionist Members of this House. They belong still, as their name implies, to the great party that was called into existence in this House many years ago to combat the grave perils to which I have briefly referred. They are still Members of that great party led by the great leaders of the past who have warded off this danger and successfully defeated it up to the present. I ask them to face the issue now as they have always faced it before. The issue is, the Union or total separation. The Union, let them remember, is a great constructive policy which always succeeded where it was properly administered. We have only to look back to the days of the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Admiralty. We always look back upon them with pride and gratitude. Why? He administered the Union, and when he left the shores of Ireland he left behind him, as his successor said, a country peaceable, contented and prosperous. The only safe course for the Imperial Parliament to adopt in the conditions existing in Ireland is to maintain the legislative union. There is no other course. Any other possible course you may adopt will only lead, either to an absolutely independent republic, or bloodshed to put it down. Those are the alternatives which are before His Majesty's Government. The republic will be started, you may be perfectly certain. You have two alternatives. You can recognise it, which is inconceivable. You will not recognise it. You have got to fight. That is the prospect held out to us in Ireland, and that is what we are told is the message of peace. I ask—and I confidently ask—the Unionist Members of this House to remember that they are the custodians of a great trust. They belong to a great party that has great and essential and fundamental principles. I ask them to act to-day, true to themselves, true to their convictions, true to the principles of the great body to which they belong, true to their honour. I ask them confidently to face the issue now, and if the issue is not faced now it will have to be faced later at the point of the bayonet. Now is the time to make up your minds: Are you going to hand over 1308 any part of Ireland to the King's enemies or not? Yes, or no. I appeal to every Member of this House' to act according to his convictions, and vote against this Bill.
§ Mr. HARBISON
In supporting the rejection of this Bill, I would like to say that so far as I can understand from the speeches on the Government side of the House, that there has been nothing of reality about the whole performance. It is a case of make-believe. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary, introduced the Bill, the title of which is "A Bill for the Better Government of Ireland." I could change that title and make it more appropriate by altering one letter, when it would read, "A Bill for the Bitter Government of Ireland." For the last 40 years the party to which I belong has come here to try to find a way of knitting together in one solid bond of friendship the two peoples. Up to the present we have failed, for reasons that I need not now go into. The Bill, however, which is produced here to-day, is a Bill not to create friendship but to create discord, and that not only between England and Ireland but between Irishmen and Irishmen.
I was very much pained at the tone of the speech to-day of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dun-cairn (Sir E. Carson). Towards the end of his speech he made one statement that rather astonished me. He was weeping tears—crocodile tears—because the Ulster Unionists had never had a chance of shaking hands with their fellow-Irishmen. I was astonished to hear that statement coming from a man who leads a party in this House. I would ask him if his memory has become defective? If not, let him go back in memory to early August of 1914 when the then leader of the Irish people-there were no Sinn Feiners in Ireland then, Ireland was peaceful and loyal—when the leader of this party, the late John Redmond, offered to shake hands across the floor of this House with the Leader of the Ulster Unionist party, so that they might join together in the battle for freedom, not only for England, but Ireland also. What was the response? There was no response. Immediately a campaign began in Ireland, and the Bill that is produced here to-day is the result of that campaign, of conspiracy to drive Ireland into disloyalty. Ireland at the beginning of the War, by voluntary recruiting, gave more soldiers accor- 1309 ding to her population than any other part of th three Kingdoms. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ulster!"] The statistics show it—show that Southern Ireland more than Northern Ireland gave her quota voluntarily, and if Ireland had not been disturbed by the conspiracy which was then hatched she would have gone on in that course. This Bill is a result of that conspiracy to drive Irishmen from joining the Army. Men were sent to recruit in the South of Ireland who told the people there that Irishmen were not wanted in the Army. Irishmen are sufficiently cute to see things, and they soon saw the game, which was that the Act stated to be upon the Statute Book was not to be put into force. Is it any wonder then that recruiting died away?
When the leader of the Ulster rebellion was placed in a position of trust in the British Government, is it any wonder that Ireland became dissatisfied? Ireland has been taunted to-day with her disloyalty. Ireland is not disloyal, but she is very discontented. In this Bill it is proposed to divide Ireland into two parts, or rather Ulster into two parts. We are told that there is a homogeneous Ulster. So the homogeneous six counties are to be created a separate State and cut off from the rest of Ireland! What are the facts about three of these Ulster counties, the three that lie together, and are coterminous with what is called Southern Ireland? There is the county of Tyrone, which has a Nationalist majority of 15,365. There is county Fermanagh, which has a Nationalist—or call it Catholic, if you like—majority of 7,644. It is proposed that these two counties are to have a kind of self-determination, that the minority in these two counties are to rule the majority, and that the majority in these two counties is to be placed in the position of a permanent minority in a Parliament where they get practically no representation.
I put it to Englishmen, who have a reputation for being sportsmen, and men who like to see fair play; is it fair on any constitutional ground that two counties, having an absolute majority of the population, ought to be put into an assembly where they never by any chance can have their rights asserted, and where they will be subject to the bitterest and most bigoted government that could ever be set up—of men who have stated in this House during this 1310 Debate that never would they coalesce with their brother Irishmen? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) to-day corroborated his brother Member (Capt. Craig), although he did not think he was doing so, when he was trying to cover a slight mistake that his brother Member made when he addressed the House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman lifted a little corner of the drop-scene, and let the House see what was the mentality of these men that have said—and sworn it—that they would never coalesce with the rest of Ireland.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Duncairn to-day said that Ireland was never a nation. That is another statement that I am surprised to hear from him. I have here a document which this House cannot dispute. It is an Act of this House. It is an Act for preventing and removing all doubts which have arisen—I quote from "Statutes at Large" (Vol. VIII., 23 George 3, chap. 28):—An Act for preventing and removing all doubts which have arisen and will arise concerning the exclusive rights of the Parliament and Courts of Ireland in matters of legislation and judicature, and for preventing any writ of error or appeal from any of His Majesty's Courts in the Kingdom from being received, heard, or adjudged in any of His Majesty's Courts in the kingdom of Great Britain.There is the preamble, and then follows:—Therefore for removing all doubts respecting same, may it please Your Majesty that it may be declared and enacted and be it declared and enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent—and so on:—That the said right claimed by the people of Ireland to be bound only by laws enacted by His Majesty and the Parliament of that kingdom in all cases whatsoever, and to have all actions and suits at law or in equity which may be instituted in that Kingdom, decided in His Majesty's Courts therein, finally and without appeal from thence, shall be and is hereby declared to be established and ascertained for ever.…That is the form of the Declaration of Rights that came from my county of Tyrone, in the heart of Ulster, from the assemblage of the Ulster Volunteers in 1782 under Henry Grattan, and confirmed by Statute by this House, that Ireland is a Kingdom.
§ Mr. HARBISON
England is not a nation either. It refers to England as a Kingdom—England or Great Britain!
§ Mr. HARBISON
Will the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister deny that Ireland is a nation? Was he not a member of the Administration of this country that granted a measure—and I say a good measure—of self-government for Ireland? He was a member of that Administration, and responsible for that Act of Parliament which is on the Statute Book. Was he of the opinion then that there were two nations in Ireland? Yesterday a letter was quoted by the hon. Member for the Falls Division, and there seemed to be some controversy about it. Was the right hon. Gentleman of the opinion on February 25th, 1918, when he wrote that letter that Ireland was one and indivisible, and could not be divided up? Here are his words. He was writing to Sir Horace Plunkett:—There is, however, a further consideration which has an important bearing upon the possibilities of the present situation. During the period of the War it is best to proceed, as far as possible, by agreement. Questions on which there is acute difference of opinion in Ireland or Great Britain must be held over for determination after the War. At the same time it is clear to the Government, in view of previous attempts at a settlement, and of the deliberations of the Convention itself, that the only hope of agreement lies in a solution which on the one side provides for the unity of Ireland under a single legislature, with adequate safeguards for the interests of Ulster and the Southern Unionists, and on the other hand, preserves the well-being of the Empire, and the fundamental unity of the United Kingdom.Did he then hold that there were two nations in Ireland? I do not think so. We have been asked in this House whether there is any solution of the Irish question. That is a very simple question, and the answer is equally simple. The solution is the granting of liberty to Ireland, and by that I mean that the liberty that was given by the Statute of 1783, which was taken away by a deed as dark as any that blackens the pages of the 1312 history of any country, by the Act of' Union. I am glad to see in this Bill there is one little ray of hope, because if it is passed, it does away with the Act of Union and paves the way to eventual freedom. The Irish people are being denounced for their disloyalty, but I deny that they are disloyal, and they have proved this too often on many battlefields. In the wars of the past, there were no more loyal soldiers than the Irish. Ireland is a nation, and as such she demands her rights, and she will not; have partition either of six, nine, four, or even one county. Ireland is a nation one and indivisible, and this House has no moral right or power to divide Ireland. In my humble judgment no power has any right to divide up a nation, except the people of that nation itself. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh at that statement, but I wonder what they would say if a proposition were made in this House, or even outside, to cut off Lancashire and Yorkshire and the northern counties from England. Would Englishmen admit, in regard to such a proposition, that you had power to divide up your own kingdom, much less the right to divide up another nation and another kingdom.
With regard to this Bill and the county which I represent in Ulster, I want to say that I have been in this movement, fighting the constitutional cause for the rights of my countrymen in the county of Tyrone for well-nigh 40 years, and during that period we have held that county for nationalism. Formerly, Tyrone returned four Members to Parliament, and we never returned less than three until the Redistribution Act of 1918, when one Member was taken off. Fermanagh has been Nationalist ever since the passing of the Franchise Act of 1884, and these two counties and Armagh and Tyrone have been cut off. Armagh has a larger Nationalist minority than Tyrone has a Unionist minority. Why should we not claim that Armagh should come in with Tyrone and Fermanagh and the rest of Ireland? The figures for these three counties, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Armagh taken together, show a gross total of 168,000 Catholics and 166,000 Protestants, which gives a Catholic majority in those three counties, which are to be made into a separate State, of 11,770. Derry City is to be taken way where there is an absolute majority, and nearly 45 per 1313 cent. of the entire population is to be taken away, and where is your homogeneous Ulster?
I was talking to Sir Henry Robinson over a little gerrymandering scheme which is going on in Tyrone, and he informed me that he had instructions from the Government to draw up a map of Ulster. We did not know what was going on behind the scenes in this country, but Sir Henry Robinson had to mark that map in electoral divisions, giving the Protestants and the Catholics over the whole province, and also the surrounding counties. Sir Henry is a public official of 40 years' experience, and he said that he was astounded, on going over the map of Ulster, to find that it was Catholic everywhere except at one little dot around about the City of Belfast, part of the county Down, and Antrim, and with those exceptions the Catholics were overwhelming everywhere. What is the grand total? Outside the places I have mentioned and the City of Belfast, in the entire province of Ulster, the majority is Catholic. Now we are asked in Tyrone and Fermanagh to submit to going into a Parliament in Belfast. The county of Tyrone is the land of the O'Neills. There were two O'Neills, there was the O'Neill and the Queen's O'Neill, and the latter was not very popular in Ireland. All that I can say is that the land of the O'Neills will never submit, no matter what Statute is passed, to being put into bonds of enternal slavery amongst the men who swore they would never coalesce with their brother Irishmen.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I desire to intervene for a short time for the purpose of supporting the Motion of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Platting Division of Manchester (Mr. Clynes). Like him, I am not taking this course because I am against extending the principle of self-government to Ireland. That is a principle I have been in favour of, both for Ireland and for my own country, for the greater part of my life. I am taking this course because I believe the Bill now under discussion will miserably fail to settle this century-old controversy between Ireland and ourselves. As a matter of fact, I am strongly of the opinion that no section of the Irish people are in favour of such a Bill as is now being discussed in this House, and I believe that the overwhelming 1314 majority of the Irish people resent bitterly the idea of Ireland being divided into two parts. Like the hon. Member who spoke last, I was very much surprised to find the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Duncairn stating to-day that Ireland had never been a nation. I can quite understand the Prime Minister or anyone on this side of the Channel falling into an error of that kind, but I cannot understand a man who professes to be an Irishman himself taking up the position that Ireland has never been a nation. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is true!"]
§ 3.0. P.M.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
From my own knowledge of Irish history I know that Ireland is a nation just as much as Scotland or England, and just as much as the Prime Minister would claim that Wales is a nation. In addition to being strongly of opinion that Ireland is a nation, just as firmly I believe that Ireland is an economic unit, and anyone who seeks to divide it is not the friend of Ireland or of the Irish people. Not only will the Irish people bitterly resent the idea of Ireland being divided into two portions, but I think that some of the statements which have been made in this House in the course of the Debate will more firmly convince them than ever that in the terms of the Bill submitted by the Government there is no earthly chance of the two parts of Ireland ever coming together. The hon. Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig) said in the most emphatic terms that it would not be fair to this House if he did not state that there was not the slightest hope of that state of things arising in the lifetime of any man in this House. I do not believe for a moment that such a thing is possible. This, to my mind, will leave no doubt in the minds of the men of the South and West of Ireland as to the attitude and the course to be pursued by the officials of Ulster. There are two things from which Ireland is suffering to-day. The first of these is the frustration of their national aspirations. For generations they have been demanding self-government at the hands of our people, and on every occasion that demand has been met by refusal. We have been willing to give to them any- 1315 thing else but the opportunity of realising their national aspirations. We have been willing to put on the Statute Book Land Acts and Acts providing cottages under very advantageous conditions, and other remedial legislation of various kinds, but I would remind my fellow Members that remedial legislation, good government, kind government, is never a satisfactory substitute for self-government, and the Irish people continue to claim Home Rule at our hands, and I believe will continue to claim it until we are wise enough to give it them. I believe that a very large number of Irish people have grown tired of repeated applications being made to this House. They have made up their minds that it is going to be impossible to secure this by constitutional means, and as a result we have seen that the principles for which Sinn Fein stands have been spreading over large parts of Ireland. The second of the causes of discontent and dissatisfaction, the second of the maladies from which Ireland suffers, is unquestionably our methods of administration. Over the greater part of Ireland the belief exists that Dublin Castle pursues a policy of calculated provocation. Military rule alone obtains in large parts of the country, raids on private dwellings are of common occurrence, the possession of certain political leaflets is the cause of immediate arrest, ordinary trade union meetings and meetings for national games and pastimes are declared illegal assemblies, musical festivals and literary societies are regarded as conspiracies, social functions of every kind are repressed, and we have men taken from their homes and deported without a charge being preferred against them and without being put upon trial.
Under such conditions as these, can anyone wonder that the doctrine of Sinn Fein is sweeping over large parts of Ireland like a holy war? What I would suggest to this House is that if we wanted to complete the influence of Sinn Fein in the other parts of Ireland we could not do better than go on with our policy of repression. At no time in the history of Ireland has the policy of repression been a success, and I think that no particular time has it been a more miserable failure than it is at the present moment. The condition of Ireland shows the futility of the position taken up by the Noble Lord 1316 the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) in the course of Monday's Debate, and by others associated with him, that the restoration of law and order must precede self-government, and that the enforcement of law is the first duty of any Government in Ireland at the present time. This policy has never settled the Irish Question, and we would be well advised to try some other method of governing Ireland. We have simply, so far as our policy of repression is concerned, been following a vicious circle. When Ireland has been in a state of ferment and turmoil, as has been the case in the last few years, we have been told, as the Noble Lord told us, that law and order must be enforced before it was safe to confer upon them any form of self-government, and as soon as ever the policy of repression or some other cause has quietened the disturbed condition of Ireland, we have been told that Ireland has never been in a more happy and prosperous condition, and that it would be better not to disturb the happier relations by raising the question of self-government. In the course of yesterday's Debate the Leader of the House said he would like to know what was the attitude of the Labour party with regard to the settlement of the Irish Question. The words used by the Leader of the House were:But I would like to know what the attitude of the Labour party is with regard to that. I listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynes) yesterday, and I have rarely listened to a speech from anybody so disappointing, and certainly never a speech from him which was so disappointing. He talks about self-determination and all the rest of it, as if he were living in the world with his eyes shut, and he knew nothing of the facts of the situation. When he talks of self-determination, I put it to his party to say openly, Do they mean what their language implies? Do they mean that if the elected representatives of Ireland want a Republic they will give them a Republic?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1920; col. 1126, Vol. 127.]In reply I want to ask the Leader of the House—
§ Mr. ADAMSON
It so happens that the Leader of the House and myself are fellow countrymen and that such a method of answering a question is permissible in the country to which we both belong. What I want to ask the Leader of the House is, has he discussed that very pertinent 1317 question with his friend and colleague the Prime Minister? Because I do not know of any member of the Labour party who has been more definite in his statements regarding the principle of self-determination than the Prime Minister has been. Take, for instance, this quotation from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, on the 5th January, 1918, when addressing a meeting of trade unionists in one of the halls of this city, said:Mere lip service to the principle of self-determination is useless.I do not know any member of the Labour, party who has been more definite in talking of the principle of self-determination, than that. The Prime Minister went on to say further in connection with that same principle:We believe that before permanent peace can be hoped for three conditions must be fulfilled, one of them being a territorial settlement based on the right of self-determination with the consent of the governed.There again you have the Prime Minister dealing with that principle of self-determination in as emphatic a way as it is possible for any member of the Labour party to deal with it, and I should suggest to the Leader of the House that before he asks either the Labour party or any other section of the House what they mean by their repeated statements about self-determination he should adjust that matter with his friend and colleague the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I will leave hon. Members to have that out with the Prime Minister. All that I want to say regarding that is this, and I think it would be just as well for hon. Members who seem so mightily amused to give a little attention to what I am going to say. All I want to say further regarding that matter is this, and it is to the Prime Minister. That is a statement that has sunk into the minds of every Irishman and into the minds of every people who are presently incorporated within the British Empire. That is a statement' that has sunk into the minds of every Irishman and of the citizens of India, of Egypt, and of the other parts of the British Empire. [HON. MEMBER'S: "And Ulster!"] I expect it will have sunk into the minds of the people of Ulster as well. I do not take 1318 up the position that the people of Ulster are less intelligent than the people of any other part of the Empire. That is a statement that has sunk into the minds of the people in every part of the British Empire, and it will demand at the hands of the Prime Minister and, of His Majesty's Government a clearer definition of what was meant than has been given by the Prime Minister up till now, and in closing on that particular point I would recommend my fellow-countryman, the Leader of the House, to have the matter out with his friend and colleague, the Prime Minister, at the earliest possible moment. The statement that I have just quoted is on all fours with that other one that was referred to in the course of the Debate to-day: "Making the world safe for Democracy." May I say that I was sorry to discover the manner in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division of Belfast (Sir E. Carson) dealt with that matter, and I was sorry that he descended to the statement: "Making the world safe for hypocrisy."
§ Mr. ADAMSON
He did not say so at the time. It may be, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman has explained, but, to my mind, it was a blemish on an otherwise brilliant speech from his point of view. The Leader of the House, in the course of yesterday's Debate, did not deal only with the principle of self-determination. He also asked those who were taking part in the Debate, and who had signified that they were in favour of Dominion Home Rule, what they meant. He went on to explain that Dominion Home Rule would hand over to Ireland the military forces and all the other parts of national government, and that, if carried to its logical conclusion, it might mean the setting up of an independent Irish Republic. With reference to that, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if the granting of Dominion Home Rule to certain Colonies belonging to this country—[An HON. MEMBER: "Dominions"]—they were not Dominions until they had been granted Dominion Home Rule—I would ask the Leader of the House if the granting to those Colonies of what is commonly called Dominion Home Rule has resulted in the setting up of any in-dependent republics? If that is our ex- 1319 perience as a nation, why should the Leader of the House argue that the granting of Dominion Home Rule to Ireland is something that is dangerous, in order to prevent the Irish people from getting a proper measure of self-government. Not only has the granting of Dominion Home Rule to our Colonies not meant the setting up of independent republics, but those very Dominions who have been granted Dominion Home Rule have been our foremost friends and supporters during the great War. I question seriously whether we should have been able to come through that conflict in the manner in which we did but for the magnificent help that we got from those same Colonies. A united Ireland would have been of far more value to this country in those days than a sullen Ireland, smarting under the idea that she was being worse treated than any other section of our people. I want to ask the Leader of the House whether the refusal to grant self-government to any of our Colonies has been the cause of setting up independent republics? I find he does not answer so readily as he did on the occasion of the first question I put to him. I think he is beginning to realise that these questions of mine are rather difficult, because, if he did answer, he would be bound to answer in the affirmative. He knows that the insistence of this country in imposing on our American Colonies something which they did not want, led to the setting up of an independent Republic. What I want to say to the Prime Minister and to the Leader of the House is, that we had better take warning by our experience as a nation, and not press the Irish people to the point when nothing short of the setting up of an independent Republic will satisfy them.
There are just one or two more points that I want to deal with, and I take them from the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dun-cairn. In the course of his eloquent and moving speech earlier in the Debate, he asked us a plain question, "Are you going to hand us over to a Parliament of Sinn Feiners in Dublin?" In asking that question, he got the sympathetic cheers of three-fourths of the House. Was not that his attitude, however, in 1914, when no Parliament of Sinn Feiners was possible? I happened to be a Member of 1320 this House in 1914, and I well remember the discussion that took place on the Home Rule Bill of that time. I remember the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attitude towards a Parliament in Dublin that would have been made up of the Nationalist Members, in the main—men who professed, and who now profess, to be constitutionalists.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I always believed that when a Parliament was set up in Dublin, it would be manned by Sinn Feiners and people hostile to this country.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The representation from Ireland in this House did not justify any such belief. The representation of Ireland in 1914 was as largely, if not more largely, Nationalist than it is Sinn Fein to-day. The attitude of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to-day is not a new one. All through those Home Rule Debates, ever since I became a Member of this House, he has been taking up the same attitude that he takes up when he asks us to-day if we were willing to hand them over to a Parliament of Sinn Feiners. He said to us, "All that we want from you is to be left alone," and again he carried with him a considerable amount of sympathy in all parts of the House. I would remind him, however, that that is exactly what the majority of the people in the South and West of Ireland are saying. They are simply asking at our hands to be left alone. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] In putting a statement of that kind before us, he is giving us no solution of the problem which his country presents to this House and to the people of Great Britain. We are entitled, from a man of his ability, to a greater contribution towards the finding of a solution than that. No man, in my opinion, could render such service as the right hon. and learned Gentleman could, if he cared to put himself into the task of finding a solution for this problem, which has so long separated the people of Ireland and the people of this country. He also told us, in the course of his speech, that there is no alternative to union but complete separation. With that statement I profoundly disagree. I believe that there is an alternative that would be satisfactory to the majority of the Irish people. Of course, if we have the people of the North, as represented by the right hon. and learned 1321 Gentleman the Member for Duncairn, taking up the impossible position which they have taken up all through, then it is just possible that there is no alternative but complete separation. If, however, he and those who are associated with him in the representation of the Province of Ulster take up a different position, I have no hesitation in saying that there is a solution, short of separation, that would be satisfactory to the majority of the Irish people. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"]
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I have been asked, "What is it?" In giving my answer, I am not speaking on behalf of the party that I represent at the moment, because the statement I am about to quote from is a personal one, and has not yet come before the party, either for acceptance or rejection. Consequently, I give it as a personal statement. The first thing that, in my opinion, would be a satisfactory solution of this difficulty to the majority of the Irish people, would be the granting of a full measure of Dominion Self-Government, with provision for the protection of minorities, the questions of Defence and Foreign Relations being reserved for the Imperial Parliament. The second alternative which, in my opinion, would be a satisfactory basis of settlement to the majority of the Irish people, is that the form of self-government should be decided upon by an Irish Constituent Assembly, representing the whole of the Irish people and elected on a system of Proportional Representation, which would be charged with the task of drafting the new Constitution and making provision for the protection of minorities, questions of defence and of foreign relations being reserved to the Imperial Parliament. Holding these views, and being convinced that the Bill supplies no settlement of the Irish question, I shall have much pleasure in joining my right hon. Friend and voting against it.
Mr. J. JONES
On a point of Order. I should like to ask if there is going to be any opportunity for heterodox opinion to be expressed on the subject? Up to now we have only heard the orthodox.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)
My right hon. Friend, when he came to the practical part of his speech, discriminated rather between himself in his personal capacity and himself as Leader of a party. He made a certain suggestion in his own name and on his own personal responsibility, with which I will deal later on, but when speaking on behalf of the party he had only one solution, and if he were here in my place now, introducing a Bill for the better government of Ireland, it would consist exclusively, as far as I can see, of a note of interrogation. He answered none of the very pertinent questions which were put to him, and it is upon the answer to those that must depend the judgment, not merely of Members of this House, but of the people of this country, and of Ireland as well.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am going to answer them, certainly. The difficulty of this problem, as I pointed out when I sketched out the scheme which has been embodied in this Bill, is that no proposals which would be acceptable to any party in this country will be accepted by any party in Ireland. I think the Government have every reason to be gratified with the course of the discussion, because it demonstrates quite clearly that the Government plan is the only one that holds the field. If you asked the people of Ireland what plan they would accept, by an emphatic majority, they would say, "We want independence and an Irish Republic." There is absolutely no doubt about that. The elected representatives of Ireland now, by a clear, definite majority, have declared in favour of independence—of secession. Is there a single party in this House which would support them? (Interruption.) I understand there are individuals. Unless I am mistaken, in an interruption which was made by the hon. Member (Mr. Jones), he would be in favour of a proposal of that kind.
Mr. J. JONES
I never said anything of the kind. I am prepared to answer 1323 for myself and not have anyone else answer for me.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am not in the least concerned about the hon. Member's opinion. I was only dealing with an interruption. If I misinterpreted it, I am sorry. I ask therefore, is there a single party in this House, a single group or a fraction of a party which would accept this. Therefore it is of no use talking about self-determination. If the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adamson) supports self-determination he must go the full length of planting an Irish Republic in Ireland.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I have asked the Leader of the House what the Prime Minister meant when he used the same term. That is a term you cannot play with.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I agree, and I am going to deal with it. Self-determination does not mean that every part of a country which has been acting together for hundreds of years shall have a right to say, "We mean to set up a separate Republic." That is the very thing which was fought for in the Civil War in America. If any section in Wales were to say, "We want to set up a Welsh Republic," I should certainly resist it to the utmost of my power. Not only that, Britain in its own interests, including the interests of Wales, would be absolutely right to resist it, and yet Wales has a definite and clear nationality. The same applies to Scotland. If Brittany demanded self-determination that does notmean that France, which has been in favour of the principle of self-determination, ought to grant a separate Republic for Brittany. There must be that limitation to the application of any principle; otherwise you might carry it to every fragment and every area and every locality in every country throughout the world. When you lay down a principle of that kind you must lay it down within the limitations which common-sense and tradition will permit. That is my answer to my right hon. Friend. Having given that answer I now ask the Leader of the Labour party, is he, speaking on behalf of his party, in favour of applying the principle of self-determination to Ireland? There is no answer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]
§ Mr. CLYNES
If an answer is to be exacted, the answer is not self-determination as you have now defined it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That means that the Labour party is not prepared to give self-determination to Ireland. That is, that if Ireland demands a separate Irish Republic, the Labour party is opposed to it. If that be so, that is quite satisfactory. But do not mislead Irish electors either in Ireland or in this country into the belief that the Labour party means to concede self-determination.
I come to the suggestions made by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith). He has got a plan. Can he name any Irish party or any section of a party in Ireland which will get up and say, "We will accept it"? What is it? The Act of 1914, with Dominion Home Rule added on, as far as I can understand, subject to serious limitations: Customs, the power to erect a tariff wall against Great Britain, to exclude British goods from Ireland, the power to give a preference either to America or to Germany—that is the proposal—but with the exclusion of Irish counties. He says that is unity. He says, "I will give an Irish Parliament to the, whole of Ireland, but with county option." My right hon. Friend is always ill the habit of believing he can cover a fact with a phrase. He can say what he likes about it. That is partition. It may be a partition of four counties instead of six, but nevertheless it is partition. I ask hon. Members from Ireland, will they get up and say they accept that proposal? I listened to their speeches. I heard the eloquent and witty speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin) coming immediately after the speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith). Never a word of acceptance of it. His plan is not accepted by anyone. Sinn Feiners treat it with scorn. The Nationalist Members will not get up, and say they will accept it. The whole of the Ulster Members will resist it. What is the use of saying, under these circumstances, that no plan is acceptable unless Irish opinion will accept it?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have pointed out that there is no plan acceptable to any of the British parties which is acceptable to any party in 1325 Ireland at present. That is one of the fundamental facts. Let us get that into our minds. You have no foundation to build upon until you accept that. Therefore it is no use talking about this Bill not being acceptable to Irish opinion. My right hon. Friend's plan is not acceptable to Irish opinion. There is Irish opinion here which is prepared to accept and work this plan. His plan would be resisted by that opinion. There is no other section which would have a word to say to his plan. What is the good then of putting Motions down about this plan being unacceptable to Irish opinion?
I come now to the plan put forward by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Clynes). He would have a Convention—a Constituent Assembly—with, I take it, legislative powers. Otherwise I do not see the object of it. There has been a Convention in Ireland. Not even Nationalist opinion was agreed there. There is a document signed by twenty-two Nationalists and another document signed by twenty-six Nationalists disagreeing with it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
My hon. Friend will not get out of it like that. It was a very vital point. It was such a vital point that he separated from his leader on it.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. My leader was as strongly convinced as I was, and said so in his written and public declaration, in favour of this proposal upon which we had a division of opinion in the Convention, but he thought, in order to secure the Southern Unionist and the Labour Members, that he would waive that point.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That shows the difficulty we are in now to get assent. At any rate, there was no agreement in the recommendation that was made to the Government. The Nationalist party was completely divided.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It is no use saying that. The hon. and gallant Member has only to look at the document itself. It has the actual signatures of 22 Nationalists who signed one report, and there is another signed by 26, the late Mr. John 1326 Redmond, and my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast (Mr. Devlin) being in two separate camps.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
What is much more serious is this. Take that document. There were two classes of Irish opinion who had nothing to do with either of those reports—Sinn Fein and Ulster. It turned out in the elections that they were the two sections which between them represented the whole of Ireland. That has been the result of a Convention—complete division amongst all parties—a report that the whole of Irish opinion declined to accept. Why does my right hon. Friend think that he will be more successful with his Convention than we were with ours? Things have become much more difficult since then. Therefore, we are in the position that every plan which has been put forward is a plan which Irish opinion has declined to accept. A proposal which Irish opinion would by a majority accept, no party in Great Britain would accept. Therefore we must exercise the best judgment we can with our responsibility for the whole United Kingdom, a responsibility not merely for Ireland, but for Britain, and not merely a responsibility for Britain, but a responsibility for the whole Empire. We must exercise the best judgment we can and come to the wisest conclusion which we can possibly arrive at after serious reflection.
There is another observation I should like to make on this Debate, and that is that some of the leading critics of this Bill have clearly not taken the trouble to study it. I make no exception in favour of my hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin). He said that the Home Rule Parliament which we propose to set up under this Bill has not the powers of a municipality. What does he mean? He really cannot have read the Bill. Let me give to the House a summary of the powers conferred upon both Parliaments by this Bill. They can deal exclusively with the problems of agriculture and agricultural development in all its forms, legislatively as well as administratively. Can he name a single municipality in the Kingdom which has those powers? That is an industry by which two-thirds of the people of Ire- 1327 land earn their living. The factories of Ireland are under the control of these Parliaments. The workshops, the shops, the railways, inland transport, the development of inland transport, housing, problems relating to health, insurance (health and unemployment), old age pensions, higher, secondary, and primary education, licensing, and law and order, after an interval of two or three years. In fact everything that touches the lives of the people in their daily occupations, in their homes, in their training for the tasks of life, in their liberties, in their health, in their comforts and amenities, in the farm, the shop, the factory, the home, the schools, in their coming and going, in their business and industry, is transferred to the exclusive jurisdiction of these Parliaments. The only exceptions in this comprehensive description are the Post Office and the Customs and Excise which undoubtedly affect some of these categories. And yet the hon. Member for Belfast speaks about "this wretched thing," and says he cannot find words in the English language to describe it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Let him read out in any State in America the powers which are conferred upon an Irish Parliament by this Bill, and then say, "This is too wretched a thing for me to describe in the English language," and he will see what kind of a reception he will get from every American there, if he honestly reads out the Bill.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
There are two other nationalities in this kingdom which are just as Celtic as that represented by my hon. Friend. One is Scotland and the other is Wales. Both are as intensely patriotic as the Irish, both as intensely national, both as proud of their nationality 1328 and the traditions of their nationality. And may I say that at any rate with regard to one of them—which is more than my hon. Friend can say—it has conserved the Celtic language. The very treasonable documents which we found in the pockets of the gentlemen who were trying to strike a blow at Britain when we were fighting in March, 1918, were all written in the language of the oppressor! My hon. Friend (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) described himself as a man of letters. He has a right to claim that proud designation. He is probably as well acquainted with the literature of every language of Europe as any man in this House—every language except his own. There is an attempt—and as I come from a country where probably the bulk of the people can talk the language which their people talked two thousand years ago with a living literature I know what it means—there is an artificial attempt to revive that language in Ireland, and they put up names at street corners to the confusion of every honest patriot.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
What I want to say is this. Here are two nationalities that have as good a claim to nationhood as that of the hon. Gentleman.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
They would be proud and would not regard it as an insult; they would be grateful if a measure of self-government of this kind were given to them. They would not come to the House of Commons and say, "This wretched, miserable thing!" especially if you had bought up all their land, and put the whole burden of payment upon the taxpayers of the other parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. ADAMSON rose—1329
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Does the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adamson) rise to a point of Order? If not, he has no right to interrupt the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
On a point of Order. I want to say that if the Prime Minister puts it to Scottish Members that they would be proud to have a measure of this kind, I wish to say to the Prime Minister that no Scottish Member of this House would accept a Bill of this kind.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman must address his remarks to me, and not to the Prime Minister.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
My right hon. Friend is a Scottish Member. Let him go to any Scottish constituency, and say, "I am in favour of a Bill for Scotland to give full powers over education, licensing, land, railways, housing, over the agricultural development of the country, over afforestation, health, local government."
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Of course they will not. My right hon Friend's Scottish logic is not quite equal to sample. If the Highlands almost unanimously demanded exclusion, you would not get Scotsmen insisting upon them having a Parliament that would put them under the heal of Edinburgh if they objected. It is because they do not, and the fact that they do not, is proof that they are a unit, and the fact that Ulster does not agree is a proof that Ireland is not a unit. My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley was very mild, and I must say as to his criticism of the Bill that I have never seen it surpassed in its vehement futility. He talked about the Council, and said that the Council was a "fleshless and bloodless 1330 skeleton." It makes one's flesh creep to picture it. If he had taken as much trouble to read the Bill as to prepare phrases in denouncing it he would have known that that was not even remotely accurate. He need not have read more than one clause. Let us see what this bloodless, fleshless skeleton is. First of all it has got full powers to deal with all the private Bill legislation which affects the whole of Ireland.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
But I am going to say the things which the right hon. Gentleman did not say. Is that "flesh-less and bloodless"? I rather think that my right hon. Friend was responsible for a scheme for Scotland to deal with private Bill legislation. There was a scheme for Scotland—I am not complaining of it—which was purely a means of investigating in Scotland the Committee Stage. The rest had to come up here. This is a Bill which gives the whole powers of private Bill legislation to the Council. I do not dwell upon it, because I come to the second, which is much more important, and which he also mentioned without giving the real meaning of it—railways. What does that mean? The whole of the enormous powers which have been conferred on the Government Departments of this country to deal with railways are not merely handed over to this Council, but they are handed over for all time. I remember the denunciation by the associates of my right hon. Friend in the House of Lords, by Lord Buckmaster and Lord Crewe, of this gigantic Bill that was to hand over for two years these powers to a Government Department left under the supervision of an Imperial Parliament, with many of the powers only to be exercised under a Provisional Order obtained after coming back to this Parliament. Without any of those conditions all these powers are handed over to this Council. I have heard many denunciations of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, but I have never before heard him called a "bloodless, fleshless skeleton." Those are gigantic powers, powers not to be exercised for two years by reference to Provisional Orders which enable this Parliament to control it, which are handed over with full administrative and legislative powers to this Council. Anybody who knows how important transport is as an agency for 1331 developing the trade, commerce, industry and agriculture of a country will admit the folly of treating that as if it were a mere skeleton of no account at all. It is of vital importance in the life of a nation. But that is not all. This Council has to meet immediately. What for? To consider what services there are for the whole of Ireland that can best be administered by this Council.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
There are many things in Ireland as to which I have not the faintest doubt that it would be a mistake to divide the representative functions of both South and North. It may be in agriculture or local government, or perhaps education. It is not for me to specify, but I have no doubt at all that when they meet, always given that the temper of Ireland is such as to make it possible for the North and South to discuss things in a fair and reasonable spirit, a great many of these powers will be handed over to this Council. So I say that it is for Irishmen themselves to clothe it with flesh and blood and to breathe into it the breath of life. If they do not do so, why should we force union upon them when they cannot establish it themselves? Those are the powers which are given by this Act. It is a great mistake, it is unfair, it is misleading; it can do no good to represent to the people of this country, and especially to the people of Ireland, that there are not powers of a gigantic kind conferred on these Parliaments by these proposals.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The composition is of a character which makes it absolutely essential that, before anything can be done for the whole of Ireland, there should be agreement between North and South.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
We have deliberately formed it in such a way that no powers, beyond those which we have specified, should be given over the whole of Ireland except with the consent—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Not merely of the North, but of the South as well. The South can veto the North, and the North can veto the South unless there be unity between them. That is the point of the Bill. There is nothing to conceal. Much will depend when you try to achieve unity upon the attitude of the Sinn Fein population of the South. They can bring unity nearer by years if they make a real effort to work this plan, but if they work for the purpose of inflicting damage or harm upon Ulster or upon the population of this country they will postpone unity indefinitely. It is for this reason that I think it is a misfortune that the population of Ireland has been misled as to what the Bill really contains, because in that temper they cannot consider it; they cannot give a fair judgment upon it. I know that there are many men in Ireland who are sincerely desirous to see this Bill through, men who are just as good Nationalists as those sitting on that Bench.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
This scheme holds the field, because it recognises the facts. It recognises that you cannot satisfy Irish opinion in its present state of exultation without destroying the essential unity of the Kingdom. You must take that as an axiom for the moment, and I regret it. It recognises that the demand in Ireland for the moment is a demand for independence, for secession, and not for self-government. I want to say this to our American friends. Mr. de Valera is putting forward the same claim in exactly the same language as Mr. Jefferson Davis. The ancestors of some of the men who voted for that Motion in the Senate the other day fought to the death against conceding to the Southern States in the United States 1333 of America the very demand they were supporting for Ireland. The acceptance of that demand we will never concede. It is a demand which, if it be persisted in, will lead to exactly the same measures of repression as in the Southern States of America. We claim nothing more than the United States claimed for themselves. We will stand no less. Another point I want to put is, that there are certain powers which might be conferred on Ireland when she settles down and accepts union and works union, but which, if given to her in her present mood, would be used only for the hurt of the United Kingdom and for her own hurt. It would be placing dangerous weapons in the hands of an infuriated people.
Take Customs. Handed over now, they would be used inevitably for the purpose of making war on Great Britain. Those are powers we cannot see our way to transfer until Ireland settles down, until Ireland establishes union, until Ireland accepts in good faith partnership with the United Kingdom, just like any other nationality of this land. Another fact is this: It was referred to by the right hon. Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) in one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard him deliver with regard to Ulster. Ulster has been treated as if it were a minority that needed to be protected. Ulster is not a minority to be safeguarded. Ulster is an entity to be dealt with. It is a different problem. It is a separate and different part of Ireland. I am not now going to enter into the question of whether there is one nation or two nations, because I do not want to be more controversial than is necessary. It is exactly the problem we had to deal with in the Peace Conference in regard to Silesia. In Silesia you had one of the most ancient provinces in the whole of Europe—a separate entity, a separate government. In one part you had an overwhelming population of Poles, and in another an overwhelming population of Germans. What is the decision of the Peace Conference? We might have treated Silesia as a whole, which it always had been, but we felt that that would have been unfair. If the majority had been in favour of the Germans, you would have put a solid block of Poles inside Germany. If the majority had been in favour of the Poles, you would have put a solid block of Germans inside Poland. The Peace Conference decided that the 1334 area should be divided—have a block where probably there was a Polish majority here, and a block with a German majority there.
The same thing applies in principle here. Therefore the first thing for Ireland to do is to recognise this fact. Here I do not know whether I dare make an appeal. I am afraid it will be misunderstood. For 120 years England, or I would rather say Britain, has refused to recognise the one fact with regard to Ireland, that Ireland does not want the dictation of Britain in its own affairs. Britain might do it better; it might be able to endow her richly. That was not the point. Ireland wanted to go her own way as far as her domestic concerns went, and Britain would never recognise that fact. It said it was the work of agitators. It hurt the national pride; it hurt the national vanity to recognise it. Are Irish men quite sure they are not making exactly the same mistake with regard to Ulster? They say, "Ulster really wants us. Ulster would rather be governed by us. It is only the work of organisation— Orangemen." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I daresay I did, but I was wrong. I have always thought that we should have to deal separately with them. My hon. Friend knows that perfectly well, and if that had been done there would have been no trouble in Ireland. However, I do not want to go into that. Would it not be better that Ireland should recognise this fact, that Ulster does not want to be governed from Dublin, that Ulster has got her own ideas, her own thoughts, which are not common with those of the rest of Ireland? Are they going to wait 120 years before that fact comes home to them? Let them learn from the mistakes we have made with regard to Ireland as a whole, and not repeat the mistake when they come to deal with Ulster. If they do, they will get much more quickly to union. The real trouble with regard to Ireland is this. My right hon. Friend opposite has talked about Irish government.
There is a good deal in Irish government that one regrets from generation to generation, but the real trouble is that not for 100 years, as he said, but for 700 years, the majority of the people have been dis- 1335 sociated from responsibility in their own government. Government and law, whether good or bad, or bad or good, always came from the outside. The hand that extends good government to them is the same hand that extends bad government to them, and it gets equal discredit. It is not that Irishmen sympathise with murder. That is not the point. They say, "That is the business of Government," and the Government is not theirs; the Government belongs to somebody else. My hon. Friend talked about the teachers, and he will excuse me for saying I could not get a better illustration than that. He said the teachers were very badly paid in Ireland, and he talked as if that were purely a matter for Great Britain. It is not. We rate ourselves heavily here and we make our own effort to put up contributions to our teachers. In Ireland they say, "That is the business of the Government, that is the business of somebody else." The whole system of government in Ireland is vitiated by the fact that you have severed the people from the law and severed them from government.
Union—there is no union. There is union between Scotland and England and Wales. There is a union that bears the test of death. There is no union with Ireland. A grappling hook is not union. How are you going to get it? I am sanguine enough to believe
§ that we shall get it through this Bill. I do not say you will get it in a year, or in two years, or in three years. You cannot remove the misconceptions and misunderstandings and bitterness of centuries in a year or two. Ireland is a country of long memories. In fact it is one of the troubles of Ireland that it has stuck its roots rather too deep in the past and it has got, as you always do, into rather poor soil. Ireland needs root pruning. She has got to live more in the realities of the present. But I believe that with patience, and that feeling of good humour which I know Britishers can under certain conditions display, and without taking too much notice of mere histrionic displays of disaffection whilst dealing firmly with all real cases of treason and of crime, you will gradually work a union of the North and South, a union of Protestant and Catholic, a union of Britain with Ireland, a real union, in which all will be good partners in a great concern of which all will equally be proud.
§ Mr. J. JONES rose to continue the Debate—
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 348; Noes, 94.1339
|Division No. 77.]||AYES.||[4.23 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Blair, Major Reginald||Chadwick, R. Burton|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Blane, T. A.||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Cheyne, Sir William Watson|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Borwick, Major G. O.||Chilcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Bottomley, Horatio W.||Coats, Sir Stuart|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Cohen, Major J. Brunei|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Breese, Major Charles E.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bridgeman, William Clive||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Briggs, Harold||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Brittain, Sir Harry||Cope, Major Wm.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Britton, G. B.||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Broad, Thomas Tucker||Courthope, Major George L.|
|Barrand, A. R.||Brown, Captain D. C.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Barrle, Charles Coupar||Bruton, Sir James||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Curzon, Commander Viscount|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)|
|Beck, Sir C. (Essex, Saffron Walden)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)|
|Beilairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel A. H.||Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Butcher, Sir John George||Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)|
|Benn, Com. Ian H. (Greenwich)||Campbell, J. D. G.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)|
|Betheil, Sir John Henry||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Carr, W. Theodore||Denison-Pender, John C.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Casey, T. W.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Cautley, Henry S.||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Edge, Captain William||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Rogers, Sir Hailewell|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Lloyd, George Butler||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lloyd-Greame, Major P.||Roundeil, Colonel R. F.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Lorden, John William||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Eyres-Monseil, Commander B. M.||Lort-Williams, J.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Faile, Major Sir Bertram G.||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Lyon, Laurance||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Macdonaid, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Maryiebone)|
|Foreman, Henry||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Macieod, J. Mackintosh||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Macmaster, Donald||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Simm, M. T.|
|Freece, Sir Walter de||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Macquisten, F. A.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Maddocks, Henry||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Ganzonl, Captain Francis John C.||Mailalieu, F. W.||Stanier, Captain Sir Seville|
|Gardner, Ernest||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Manville, Edward||Stanton, Charles B.|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Mason, Robert||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Matthews, David||Stevens, Marshall|
|Gould, James C.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Grant, James A.||Mitchell, William Lane||Sturrock, J. Long|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Molson, Major John Eisdale||Sugden, W. H.|
|Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Taylor, J.|
|Greer, Harry||Morris, Richard||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Gregory, Holman||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Mount, William Arthur||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Guest, Major O. (Leic, Loughboro')||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Murchison, C. K.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hailwood, Augustine||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Vaidemar||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Neal, Arthur||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Harmaworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Nichoil, Commander Sir Edward||Waddington, R.|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncasler)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Haslam, Lewis||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Higham, Charles Frederick||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Parker, James||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wason, John Cathcart|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pearce, Sir William||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Hood, Joseph||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Hope, H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Peel, Lieut.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Perring, William George||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pownail, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Prescott, Major W. H.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Jesson, C.||Purchase, H. G.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Jodreil, Neville Paul||Rae, H. Norman||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Johnson, L. S.||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ramsden, G. T.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Rankin, Captain James S.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Raper, A. Baldwin||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llaneily)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Kelly, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Kidd, James||Remer, J. R||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Rendail, Atheistan||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Renwick, George||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||Younger, Sir George|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Lord E. Talbot and Capt. Guest.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Grundy, T. W.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Redmond, Captain William Archer|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Harbison, Thomas James S.||Robertson, John|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood||Hayday, Arthur||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayward, Major Evan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Briant, Frank||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bromfield, William||Houston, Robert P.||Spencer, George A.|
|Cairns, John||Irving, Dan||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cape, Thomas||Jeilett, William Morgan||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Kelly, Edward J. (Donegal, East)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Henry Page||Kenyon, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kiley, James D.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Lawson, John J.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lunn, William||Wignail, James|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Dockreil, Sir Maurice||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Donnelly, P.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Myers, Thomas||Woods, Sir Robert|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||O'Grady, Captain James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Greene, Lieut.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. Neil|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Maclean.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Perinefather, De Fonblanque|
Bill read a Second time, and committed be a Standing Committee.