§ EARL CADOGAN
asked Her Majesty's Government on what principle the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had acted with reference to the acceptance or refusal of addresses to His Excellency? He said: My Lords, before asking the question I wish to express my very sincere regret at the absence of my noble Friend the Viceroy of Ireland. When I placed this Notice on the Paper I felt it my duty to communicate privately with my noble Friend, and I asked him whether the day suggested 274 would be convenient to him. My noble Friend replied that, so far as he knew, the date would be quite convenient to Her Majesty's Government. I have just had a private communication from my noble Friend in which he regrets his inability to be present, and adds that he is at this moment labouring under somewhat severe indisposition. It is distasteful to me, as if would be to any one of your Lordships, to criticise the action of an important Member of the Government like the Viceroy of Ireland in his absence. I am aware that in ordinary circumstances, in His Excellency's absence, we should look to the Members of Her Majesty's Government to answer any question, or give any information we may require; but we have to remember that Her Majesty's Government are not entirely free agents in this matter. Unfortunately, they are bound hand and foot to a section of their supporters in the other House, by whose authority and by whose support they live and move and have their being, and without whom probably they could not continue as a Government. I venture to think that much of the action of the Lord Lieutenant of which we now have to complain must have been repugnant to the feelings of my noble Friend and to noble Lords opposite, and I am quite willing to give them every credit for the difficulty of the position in which they now find themselves placed with reference to the government of Ireland. The Notice I have placed on the Paper will, I think, sufficiently explain the object I have in view. I wish to draw the attention of the House to the action of the Lord Lieutenant with reference to the rejection and refusal of addresses in Ireland. Briefly stated, the accusation is this: that, whereas some few months ago the Lord Lieutenant declined to accept addresses proposed to be presented to him by the loyal inhabitants and Unionists of Dublin, on subsequent occasions, and as I believe without any exception, my noble Friend has, although he constantly deprecated allusions in such addresses to political subjects, accepted and received them. I will briefly state to your Lordships the facts as they have arisen. The Lord Lieutenant arrived in Dublin in 1892. At that time the Corporation of Dublin and the authorities at Kingstown, after debates and divisions, decided that they would not pay the Lord Lieutenant the usual 275 compliment of an address. A few days afterwards, however, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce resolved to present an address to His Excellency, and they sent a copy of it to the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant requesting that His Lordship would receive it. A few lines of that correspondence will show exactly the position in which the matter stood. The Secretary of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce forwarded to Major Jekyll, the Lord Lieutenant's Secretary, the address it was proposed to present. They first of all proposed to assure Her Majesty's Representative of their loyal devotion to Her Majesty's person and Throne, and their attachment to the Constitution, and concluded—We have felt it our duty to declare our conviction that the maintenance of the legislative Union now existing between Ireland and Great Britain is essential to the prosperity of the trade and commerce of Ireland.That is the only allusion in the address which might be considered to bear on contemporary politics. In the reply of the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant I find the following paragraph:—His Excellency, however, observes with regret that the address contains allusions to matters of a controversial kind which, in his opinion, render it impossible for him to receive it in its present form.Then, my Lords, the committee of the Methodist Church also desired to present an address, which declared their belief that the legislative Union so long existing between England and Ireland should be preserved inviolate. Again, Major Jekyll replied—It is with great regret that he (the Lord Lieutenant) rinds coupled with the loyal expressions which your committee desire to tender to him as the Queen's Representative declarations of opinion upon matters of acute Party controversy, which precludes him from receiving the address in the form in which it is proposed to be presented.Your Lordships will see that on the ground alone of these two allusions to the maintenance of the Union, the Lord Lieutenant declined to receive these addresses. Now, my Lords, I am not aware that it has ever been the custom to refuse to receive addresses on similar grounds. I do not say that the Lord Lieutenant would not be justified in departing from precedent if he thought it wise to do so, but there is one point of enormous importance in this discussion. In my view, the Constitutional 276 objection is one which it was hardly within the power of the Lord Lieutenant to take. It appears to me that the Lord Lieutenant, who is the Representative of the Sovereign, is morally, if not legally, bound to administer the law as he finds it. When my noble Friend went to Ireland he found the Union existing between Great Britain and Ireland. It may have been his opinion that the Union should no longer exist, but I submit to the House that as long as that Union exists there could be nothing in any address expressing loyalty to that Union to justify their rejection. If any partiality is to be shown, surely it is not unreasonable to say that Her Majesty's Representative should receive addresses expressing loyalty to the law as it exists, and should reject those which touch upon controversial subjects; in other words, which suggest alterations in the law. I now pass on as briefly as possible to state exactly what happened. After having declined to accept addresses from these two loyal Bodies, His Excellency proceeded on a tour in the West and South of Ireland; but I will confine myself, in the remarks I have to make, to the larger towns he visited. The first place I will mention is Mullingar, where two addresses containing political allusions were presented. The first was from the Rev. Father Drum, and the following is an extract from it:—While we admire in you a distinguished scholar and a man of letters, we greet Your Excellency more particularly as a bearer of a message of peace and justice to our country from Her Majesty's present Government. The English nation believes the time has come when, as a matter of right and justice, the people of Ireland should be intrusted with the management of their own affairs. The Irish nation believes that the Home Rule Bill at present before the House of Commons, when passed into law, will largely contribute to the peace and stability of the United Kingdom and to the development of the natural resources of our own country. The noble exertions of Mr. Gladstone in promoting this measure of peace and justice must ever meet with our grateful recognition.And a similar passage occurred in another address. It is fair to the Lord Lieutenant that I should read to the House his dignified protest against such allusions—It is, however, my duty now to allude to what I may call the political part of the address which you have been so good as to present to me. I cannot affect to be surprised at finding political allusions in these addresses. The subject is one that you have greatly at heart, and, as I say, I am not surprised at the warm 277 and picturesque manner in which you have alluded to it. If you had failed to do so, your hostile critics might take the omission as a mark of supposed indifference on your part, but in this matter there is nothing could be more certain than that, holding the office I do in this country, I am Constitutionally debarred from discussing, or even alluding to, a measure of a political character, such as the Irish Government Bill, while it is under the consideration of Parliament. That is a disability which rests upon me as representing the Crown, and, in my opinion, it goes further. It prevents me from receiving officially on public occasions like this expressions of political opinion upon this measure. There are other means by which your wishes, if it was thought desirable, can be brought under the notice of Parliament. I particularly wish it to be understood that I entirely appreciate the motives that induced you to make those allusions, and I do not attach the smallest blame to anybody here for making them. Your addresses have been somewhat recently placed in my hands, or I would have taken other means to express my views, but f am not sorry to have this opportunity of making a public appeal to people of all Parties in all places I will visit during my present journey, to their good sense and to their self-restraint, and, in courtesy towards myself, to prevent the necessity for repeating my views on this subject, as to the correctness of which I have not the smallest doubt. I am confident that I will not be misunderstood and that you will receive what I have said in the same spirit of goodwill in which I have said it.Nothing could be better as a protest or as a speech in deprecation of the paragraphs contained in these addresses than the words of the Lord Lieutenant. The noble Lord repeated this protest in reply to a whole series of similar addresses; but what I want to call the attention of the Government to is that in spite of that, at every single place, he received the addresses. The only addresses which he is known to have refused to receive on account of their political allusions were the two loyal addresses proposed to he presented to him in Dublin. I will mention a few other instances, assuring noble Lords opposite that I have chapter and verse for them in what I may call the organ of the Government, The Freeman s Journal. At Galway the addresses from the local branch of the Irish National Federation contained political allusions; at Limerick the Mayor in his speech alluded to the political situation, and an address was presented which discussed one of the clauses of the Home little Bill; and at Tralee the address from the Commissioners contained political allusions. On the day on which the Lord Lieutenant was expected to arrive the Corporation of Cork held a sitting, and 278 a very stormy, lively, and interesting debate took place, chiefly as to whether some sentences which partook of a loyal character in the draft address should be expunged. After many hours' discussion it was agreed, on a division, that all loyal expressions should be expunged from this address. So impressed was the Mayor of Cork with this result that after the division he expressed his opinion that it would be impossible for His Excellency to receive such an address. But the address was received on the very evening of the day on which the discussion took place. It is impossible to believe that the Lord Lieutenant had not been informed of the discussion. He must have known that the absence of any allusions of a loyal character did not arise from any oversight or any desire for brevity, but Wits the result of the decision which had been arrived at by the Corporation. There were no political allusions in the address; but I think, if there is to be any discrimination as to the addresses which the Lord Lieutenant will receive or reject, that that was tin occasion on which the Lord Lieutenant ought, by refusal to receive the address, to have marked in some sense his opinion of the proceedings of which the address Wits the result. At Queenstown the Town Commissioners and the Board of Guardians presented addresses containing political allusions. These allusions were deprecated by the Lord Lieutenant, but he accepted them, and so it goes on, my Lords; but I will not weary the House by going further into the history of the tour. I think I have said enough, and laid before the House sufficient facts, to support to some extent the accusations which I have made—first of all, that there has been inequality and injustice in the conduct of the Lord Lieutenant with regard to these addresses; and, secondly, that where addresses have been rejected they have been addresses from Bodies who not only have been loyal, but whose only fault has been that they have made allusions to the Union under which they are now existing. I have put my Notice in the form of a question, and I sincerely trust the Government will not refuse some explanation of facts which are, I think, indisputable. We certainly have not had much encouragement to ask questions on the subject of Ireland. Many noble Lords from Ireland have repeatedly asked for information on 279 various subjects connected with that country, and the replies which have been furnished have, to say the least, not been very satisfactory. I trust on this occasion to hear something that will be, to a certain extent, satisfactory. We have had a great deal to complain of during the past few mouths with regard to the conduct of the Government towards the loyal minority in Ireland, and I have very little doubt that if Her Majesty's Government are left to their own devices, spurred and urged on as they are by their political masters, that there is worse still in store for the Unionists of Ireland. But whatever Her Majesty's Government may do, to whatever depths of degradation their present position may lead them, I, for one, must strongly protest against the Representative of the Sovereign being involved in a course of action which I can only describe as dishonest, dishonourable, and discreditable to all concerned.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Earl SPENCER)
My Lords, I rise to answer the question which the noble Earl has put to me in regard to addresses which have been presented to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. First of all, I should like to say that I waited with considerable curiosity to hear the speech of the noble Earl, because he will agree that it is a very unusual course to take to criticise or bring under discussion the question of addresses to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and his replies to them. With regard to the absence of the Lord Lieutenant, I regret very much to hear that he is unwell, but I do not understand that he or the noble Earl opposite put his absence from his place to-night on that ground. He put it, as we know, deliberately on other grounds.
§ EARL CADOGAN
It is rather a delicate matter. In the first letter I received from my noble Friend he said that the date I suggested would be, as far as he knew, quite convenient. I received another letter yesterday morning from my noble Friend. It was marked "private," and I hardly know whether I ought to quote it in this House, but in it he most distinctly told me, much to my regret, that he was indisposed.
§ EARL SPENCER
I only expressed my regret that such was the case; but the Government are quite prepared to take on themselves the responsibility of having advised the Lord Lieutenant not 280 to take part in this Debate, and I will give my reasons for it. I do not say it has been the invariable practice, but it has been for many years past the usual practice, for Lord Lieutenants of Ireland not to take part in political Debates in this House. I am aware that there have been exceptions. There was a notable exception in the time of the noble Marquess, at which I was very much surprised. I refer to the time when Lord Carnarvon was the organ for declaring the Irish policy of the Government in this House. Rut that was quite contrary to practice, and I will broadly state that, as a general rule, it has not been the policy of the Lord Lieutenant, as the Representative of the Crown in Ireland, to take part in political Debates in this House. On one occasion Lord Clarendon took part in a Debate, and defended himself in a particular case—the supersession of Lord Roden; and I myself engaged in a discussion, either on the Church Bill or the Lund Bill; but I was very young to the office then, and I always repented having done so. I do not for a moment say I stand in a very good position with regard to that circumstance, and I frankly admit I have learned from experience it was most undesirable, considering the responsible position the Lord Lieutenant occupies, in view of the fact that he has to come into contact with men of the opposite side, that he should take part in political discussion in this House. That is an opinion which I have held since 1872; I adhere to it, and believe it to lie absolutely right. The present Lord Lieutenant consulted my noble Friend the Leader of this House on the subject, and he advised him that it was not desirable to break what the Government considered was the wise usage in this matter. I was also consulted, and I agreed with the advice given to the Lord Lieutenant. The Lord Lieutenant immediately acquiesced in that view. He wrote to me stating that he considered it was most undesirable that the Lord Lieutenant, unless absolutely obliged to do so, should take part in political discussions in this House. I thought it was due to him to say this, as I thought your Lordships might think he had shown a want of courtesy or disregard of the gravity of the accusation made against him if he did not come. When my conduct was called in question 281 with regard to the supersession of Lord Rossmore on the Commission of the Peace for the County Monaghan, an attack was made directly upon me by a learned and distinguished Member of your Lordships' House, Lord Cairns. That case was almost on a par with the case of Lord Clarendon; but the Cabinet of the day thought it inadvisable that I should take part in the discussion, and my defence was, therefore, left to Lord Carlingford, who was then Lord Privy Seal. I do not think any rigid rule can be laid down as to bow addresses are to be answered or how addresses are to be received by Viceroys in Ireland. One Viceroy may take a different view from another, and the circumstances of each address must also be considered. Therefore, I am quite clear that no rigid rule can be laid down a to what a Lord Lieutenant can receive or as to what he can reject, nor can any rigid rule be laid down as to what is required in such addresses. I have beard from the present Lord Lieutenant, and he says that in the addresses of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and of the Methodists in Ireland there were allusions to the political controversy that was going on in Parliament, to which the Lord Lieutenant made objection. The Lord Lieutenant said there were three courses open to him. He might receive the address and pass over such allusions in silence; he might receive the address and give his views upon it; or he might send back the address and ask for a re-consideration of its terms. The Lord Lieutenant deliberately adopted the third course. He considered that there were two kinds of addresses, and that the ordinary addresses, such as those presented to the Lord Lieutenant in different parts of the country when he makes a tour, are to be distinguished from the addresses presented to him on his first arrival in Dublin. The latter are congratulatory addresses; and when he entered upon the Viceroyalty he had no desire to discuss questions which he knew excited strong opposition in Ireland. He therefore desired to avoid discussing addresses which touched on the burning question of Home Rule. He was quite aware that some of his Predecessors had replied to similar references, and had dealt with them in no measured terms. The noble Marquess opposite, Lord Zetland, had a reference to the sub- 282 ject, and replied at length, in such a manner as he might have replied in Parliament on the subject. The present Lord Lieutenant does not criticise or object to his Predecessor's action; but if he answers addresses, he claims a free baud with regard to the views he holds upon the same questions. Some deputations who were to present addresses— notably Trinity College—willingly fell in with the suggestion to eliminate from their addresses the references to Home Rule. I now come to the tour of Lord Houghton made in the South and West. The noble Earl, who always shows fairness in these matters, drew a distinction between addresses received from large and small cities through which the Lord Lieutenant might pass. I agree that there is a marked distinction between those and addresses sent beforehand to be considered by the Lord Lieutenant. The first place he stopped at was Mullingar. He had not bad an opportunity of receiving the addresses from Mullingar; and when they were put into his hand as he was going by the train, he considered it was best, under the, circumstances, to allow those addresses to be presented, and that he should reply to them in a way which would show during the rest of his tour what were his wishes. The noble Earl has very fairly admitted that that reply was dignified and proper. The Lord Lieutenant tells me that after the expression of his desire that political allusions with reference to a subject under consideration in Parliament should not be made in addresses, his wishes were, with some few exceptions, complied with. I do not know how the noble Lord could avoid receiving addresses as he went through the country; and had be refused addresses because there were omissions or because they contained political allusions, he would have done much more harm than good by his refusal. The noble Earl did not criticise the address presented to the Lord Lieutenant at Cork, but he criticised the omissions. He drew a distinction between questions which are matters in controversy before Parliament and questions which are not before Parliament, or which are intimately connected with the administration of justice in Ireland.
§ EARL CADOGAN
I did not mention questions like the release of the prisoners, and other matters which I 283 might have dealt with, which might he considered to be Executive matters.
§ EARL SPENCER
If the noble Earl did not, there have been very severe criticisms, because the Lord Lieutenant received addresses in which amnesty, evicted tenants, and one or two other subjects have been mentioned. I had a very long experience in Ireland, and I never stayed at home in Dublin. I visited every part of the country, and wherever I went questions of political amnesty were always brought forward. I did not refuse to receive addresses on that subject, because I thought it was within the legitimate right of every subject of Her Majesty to bring forward a question of that sort. Other subjects of local interest were continually raised—subjects on which there was considerable difference of opinion—and I never hesitated to state my opinion, if I thought it desirable, as opposed to the views of those who brought forward these addresses. Now I come to the gravamen of the charge which the noble Earl has made—that the Lord Lieutenant received an address in which no allusion whatever was made to Her Majesty.
§ EARL SPENCER
I was going to refer to the other point, which is a matter of notoriety. On the day of the arrival of the Enchantress in the harbour of Queenstown a discussion had taken place in the local Town Council, and by a majority words of loyalty towards Her Majesty were omitted from the address.
§ EARL SPENCER
Very well; I am ready to admit that they were expunged, for the sake of argument, from the address. With regard to the position of the Lord Lieutenant, he was not aware of this when he informed the Town Council that he would receive the address. Would it, then, have been desirable for trim to have refused to receive it? I am very clear that it would have been exceedingly injudicious on his part to refuse to receive the address on account of this vote of the Town Council. I deplore that the paragraph was expunged from the address, but I believe that it would have given enormous importance to certain persons, and would have increased the dormant disloyalty of what I believe to be but a 284 small portion of the population, if Lord Houghton had refused to receive the address, and I feel convinced that this would have been a most injudicious step to have taken. What did he do? He received an address of welcome. The Mayor of Cork welcomed him as the Representative of the Queen, and in that way approached the Lord Lieutenant not in his individual or personal character, but as the Representative of the Sovereign. That ought to be borne in mind in all these cases of addresses. I have always thought that, in approaching the Lord Lieutenant those who come to him show by that very act that they are desirous of addressing him as the Representative of the Sovereign. The Lord Lieutenant did not reply to this address. He treated it entirely as an affair in which the local people had an interest, and he discussed the various points raised with those who presented the address. The question of amnesty, of Haulbowline, and of evicted tenants were all subjects proper to be brought before the Lord Lieutenant in that way. Really, I hardly know what the noble Earl and those who support him have to say in this matter. They cannot complain of the language of the Lord Lieutenant. His language was dignified and proper on every occasion. When he answered an address, no one can take the slightest exception to what he said. It conies, then, to drawing a distinction between congratulatory addresses and other addresses. You find fault with his exercise of discretion in receiving addresses from other parts of the country. I think it will be unfortunate if Parliament steps in and criticises the Lord Lieutenant and says whether he is to receive one address and to reject another. All the circumstances connected with the place must be considered, and there might well be times when it would be right for him to reject addresses and others when it would be far better that he should sec the people, even if their addresses be not couched in language which he would wholly approve. I confess I think the charge made by the noble Earl is a very potty one. I do not consider that it is warranted by the facts brought forward, or that it is justified by the usages of Parliament; and I sincerely hope that a precedent will not be formed from the Motion of the noble Earl, and that the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant upon facts such as those which 285 have been brought forward will not in future be called in question.
§ * EARL COWPER
said, that he had listened with great interest and some anxiety to the speech of the noble Earl who had just sat down; but, to his mind, it gave no satisfactory answer to the question or defence of the Lord Lieutenant, whom he was sorry not to see in the House to answer for himself. Earl Spencer had let fall some observations upon that question which to him were entirely now. He had always been under the impression that it was desirable the Viceroy should not come over and make speeches on legislative matters such as the Land Act in former days or the present Home Rule Bill, but that a personal attack would justify and demand his appearance, as in the cases of Lord Clarendon and of Earl Spencer himself. As to the distinction drawn between different addresses, he thought this was an afterthought, and could not be maintained. He was unwilling to attack Lord Houghton. He thought, in the first place, that it was a patriotic thing for the noble Lord to have accepted the Viceroyalty under the circumstances, when his Chief Secretary was in the Cabinet and was expected to do till the work, and when the noble Lord was in a really subordinate position, though nominally the superior. Besides, at the present moment, the circumstances were not very pleasant. A large body of the well-to-do people had, owing to no personal feeling towards Lord Houghton— that would be impossible—shown that politically they were bitterly and strongly opposed to him, and had kept away from him and given him the cold shoulder. At the same time, the Nationalists seemed rather Lukewarm in their appreciation of him. No one could get over the fact that when the loyal people came forward with addresses they were not received on account of one paragraph about the legislative Union. If anybody wished to make a difference in the rule that everything political should be excluded, it would be far more graceful to make the exception in favour of political opponents rather than in favour of political friends. He would ask those in favour of Home Rule whether they did not think that the loyal Protestants would suffer considerably, and that their position would become a very painful and cruel one? 286 They all ought to be treated with every consideration; and if their addresses had been accepted and those on the other side refused, even the warmest supporters of Her Majesty's Government would have considered it an error on the right side. The Government were granting what had been refused for many years, and supported by very questionable means. Therefore, it was important to show that when they granted it they were not influenced by fear or compulsion or by a more desire to obtain popularity. He would not say how much, in his opinion, the conduct of Her Majesty's Government had been influenced by such considerations. But their representative had snubbed the loyal people, and truckled to those few counties where no conciliation was necessary. In his opinion, every address to Her Majesty ought to contain the ordinary expressions of loyalty; and if they did not do so, it must be taken to be equivalent to an expression of disloyalty somewhat similar to refusing to drink Her Majesty's health at a public dinner, or to stand up and take off one's hat upon the singing of "God save the Queen." That was especially the case when the act was done deliberately and after discussion, as had been the case at Cork, The Lord Lieutenant had no right to act in that way, and, in his opinion, had made a great mistake.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
said, the noble Lord opposite (Earl Spencer) had said it was an unusual course to criticise the reception of addresses presented to Viceroys. He was quite prepared to admit, it was a most unusual course, and one which was never adopted before, because it was not necessary. No previous Lord Lieutenant had over shown such partisanship or had declined to receive the addresses of one class of Her Majesty's subjects on the ground that they were contentious whilst he had received from another class addresses of an even more contentious character. The noble Earl opposite had said that the Lord Lieutenant was justified in refusing to take part in the Debate in that House on this question, but he would remind the noble Earl that Viceroys had come over from Ireland over and over again for the purpose of doing so, and that he himself when he was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had taken part in Debates in that House when similar questions were raised. For 287 his own part, he was most anxious to know the reasons why the Lord Lieutenant had not either refused to receive all contentious addresses or received all of them. He thought that the noble Lord the Lord Lieutenant might have given a much more full and satisfactory answer to the question than that which the noble Earl had given. The real fact was that the Lord Lieutenant was trying to occupy an impossible position, because he was endeavouring at the same time to represent both the Queen and Her Majesty's present Government. Previous Lord Lieutenants had never forgotten that they represented a Constitutional Sovereign, who maintained a perfect impartiality between all classes of her subjects. The noble Earl opposite went over to Ireland to administer the Kilmainham Treaty.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
said that, if the noble Earl objected to the term "Kilmainham Treaty," he would say that he went over to Ireland to attempt to administer the arrangement that had been come to at that time. That attempt had been as successful as the present attempt to bring about "the union of hearts" was likely to be. The noble Earl, while engaged in keeping his present friends in order in Ireland, had, at any rate, always acted with fairness and discretion, and he would not have refused addresses from one Party and accepted them from another under precisely similar circumstances. The Irish Nationalists themselves had described the present Lord Lieutenant as "a Home Rule Lord Lieutenant," and the noble Lord, in accepting the address of the Home Rule Party, had said that he could not attach the smallest blame to those who had drawn up those addresses for the language which they contained. The Representative of the Queen in Ireland received altogether 12 addresses containing statements favourable to Home Rule, but the two addresses expressive of views favourable to the existing régime he would not receive. The Lord Lieutenant had done much to discourage the loyal classes in Ireland and to encourage the forces of disorder, because he supposed Her Majesty's present Government depended for their very existence upon their friends. His Excellency possibly did not dare to refuse to receive the addresses in which Home Rule was ap- 288 proved. Perhaps he had had a hint from headquarters here that he ought to accept them. The Government would do well to bear in mind that they might have to call upon the loyal classes in Ireland for support at no very distant date; that they might want assistance against those who were their present friends. For himself he did not believe that the "union of hearts" would be of very long duration. Before much time bad elapsed the Lord Lieutenant, he was convinced, would greatly regret having taken this one-sided and un-Constitutional action in connection with these addresses and having used his high position to show gross partiality as between the different classes interested in political affairs in Ireland.
* THE EARL OF BELMORE
said, that Earl Spencer had stated it was not the proper course for the Viceroy to defend himself against attacks in that House, but had given instances of some exceptions. He would cite another case, when Lord Carlisle was Viceroy in 1860. It was not connected with an address, but with a matter of administration. Lord Carlisle had, in the exercise of his discretion, appointed a gentleman to be Lieutenant of a Northern county. Looking back upon the matter, there was, he must admit, not much exception to be taken to it. It was, however, an unpopular appointment; and he (Lord Belmore) was asked by the late Lord Mayo and one of his colleagues in the last Conservative Government to bring the matter before their Lordships. On that occasion he was not so fortunate as his noble Friend (Earl Cadogan) had been, as to get the matter on early—some other business came first; and the sacred hour of dinner was approaching. He went over to Lord Carlisle and suggested postponing it; when Lord Carlisle replied, that that course would be most unfair to him, as be bad to leave London next day, and pressed him to go on with it at once. Lord Houghton's initial mistake had been in refusing to receive the addresses from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and from the Committee of the Irish Wesleyan Body. He did not intend to make an attack upon Lord Houghton; but he was no doubt a Minister of the Crown as well as Her Majesty's Representative. The subject of Home Rule was almost the only one about which anyone in Ireland was 289 thinking. It hung over everything like a black cloud from the Loyalist point of view, as was remarked to him quite lately by a former Colleague of Earl Spencer's during his first Vice-Royalty, whose bad health now unfortunately prevented him from often attending in this House. There would be no real valid reason for refusing an address which contained mention of that subject, and the Lord Lieutenant was not bound either to allude to it in his reply or to discuss it if he did not see fit to do so. Having refused those addresses, of course consistency obliged him to take exception to any mention of the matter in addresses coming from the other side. As to the addresses from which loyal allusions had been deliberately expunged, the Lord Lieutenant ought not to have received them. When he (Lord Belmore) was Governor of New South Wales he should certainly have refused to accept addresses under such circumstances had they been brought to his notice.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said, he bad not expected, after the very able and lucid speech of his noble Friend (Earl Cadogan), to be called upon to address their Lordships, but, as far as he could see, his noble Friend's question was to remain absolutely unanswered. Her Majesty's Government were pursuing the same policy in Office as when they were in Opposition. He remembered when he was Lord Lieutenant coming from Ireland to defend the Government against the attacks of the then Opposition, but he returned with an undelivered speech upon his mind because noble Lords opposite, who did not hesitate on public platforms to denounce the Irish Executive with which he was connected, dared not do so in that House where they could have been answered. In his opinion, Lord Houghton had acted in an absolutely inconsistent and wrong manner in refusing to accept addresses from various Bodies in Ireland, and that inconsistency and wrong course of conduct had not been defended by noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite. Addresses of a similar character to those of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Methodists of Ireland had been presented to Lord Aberdeen and to Lord Spencer; and those addresses were not refused. The conduct of Lord Houghton was more than inconsistent; it was 290 ridiculous. If a deputation waited on the Home Secretary to present an address approving of capital punishment the Home Secretary dare not refuse the address because lie objected to capital punishment. As to the addresses which the Lord Lieutenant did receive, in five of them no mention whatever was made of Her Majesty. He himself had had considerable experience as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in receiving addresses, and he had always insisted upon having a copy of the address sent to him beforehand that it might be carefully examined. Why had not Lord Houghton followed that course? He should like to ask the Leader of the House whether, when he was Lord Lieutenant, he had ever had addresses thrust into his hand at the last moment without knowing or caring what they contained? With regard to the Cork address, the Corporation of that city never meant the Lord Lieutenant to receive the address at all, as was shown by the manner in which they framed it. One member of the Corporation said, "As soon as the political prisoners are released, it will be time to talk of loyalty." The Lord Lieutenant must have known of the course taken; therefore, under whose instructions did he accept the address? He pressed for an answer to this question. Did the Cabinet know in October that the Lord Lieutenant was going to refuse addresses from the representatives of loyalty, industry, and commerce in Ireland; and did the Cabinet know that the Lord Lieutenant in the following July was going to receive addresses in which matters of a most controversial and contentious character, such as the release of the dynamiters and the reinstatement of the evicted tenants, were introduced? He had had, when acting as Lord Lieutenant, two Members of the Cabinet as his Colleagues; and he never took an important action of any kind— such as that under discussion—without consulting with the Minister who was virtually responsible for the government of Ireland. It was impossible to conceal this fact, that, when Lord Houghton refused addresses in October last and received others in July, though the voice was the voice of Lord Houghton, the hand was the baud of Mr. Morley in the one case and of Mr. Gladstone in the other. It was known that the Govern- 291 ment could not remain in Office without the support of the Party which insisted on the release of the dynamite prisoners; and Mr. Morley had not hesitated for one moment to throw, he would not say insult, but slight on every sentiment and demonstration of loyalty. He had a right to an answer to the question whether, in receiving the addresses referred to, Lord Houghton had acted on his own responsibility or on the responsibility of the Government?
* THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The Earl of KIMBERLEY)
My answer to that is that I do not know it, and never heard anything about it. I have to say that I never heard of them.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am not surprised at that policy of reticence on the part of the Government to which my noble Friend has adverted. It seems to be suitable and congenial to Her Majesty's Government, and especially to their distinguished Chief. He has great qualification and inclination to adopt the position of a despot, and we know that there is no agency which a despot likes better than a well-drilled company of mutes. Therefore, I fear the well-intentioned efforts of my noble Friend behind me will not be successful in drawing Her Majesty's Government in this House from a policy which I doubt not is imposed on them. With regard to the Constitutional question which has been raised, in the first place I am very much surprised at the idea which seems to be attached to the act of addressing or petitioning the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. I gather that the Lord Lieutenant, in going over, thought, it the most natural thing in the world to refuse to receive any Petition or any address which did not in every respect agree with his own opinions. That is not the Constitutional aspect of petitioning. Petitioning is said to be one of the most precious rights of the subject; it is to be found in every Constitutional text-book; but if that meant that the petitioner must agree with the Sovereign in all respects, then the right of petition would be an 292 exceedingly valueless prerogative. The Lord Lieutenant is the Representative of the Sovereign, and ought to act as though the Sovereign were in his place. Therefore, as long as the Petition is respectful and not disloyal, the Lord Lieutenant ought to receive a Petition whether it agrees with his opinions or not; therefore, what I blame Lord Houghton for is not so much that he received Petitions with which he afterwards disagreed, but that he took a standpoint of most pronounced partisanship by refusing to receive the Petitions of his political opponents with which he did not agree. In that I think he prostituted his honourable office. Apparently, in the judgment of noble Lords opposite that office is inconsistent with the slightest taint or suspicion of any political opinion. The Lord Lieutenant will not soil the purity of his robe by taking any part in these discussions. He is so pure and refined a being, so absolutely removed from all political controversies, that he cannot come here to defend his conduct. And yet he goes back to Ireland and acts the part of a Political Agent. One character or the other must be maintained. If the office is compatible with ostentatiously repelling one set of opinions and ostentatiously accepting another set of opinions, surely the Lord Lieutenant would be fitted to come to this House to defend his opinions Constitutionally when they are challenged. I utterly repudiate the doctrine laid down by Lord Spencer. It is a pure invention of the latter time. It has not been practised by the best Lord Lieutenants. Again and again they have appeared and defended their policy or their action in this House. I will put it to the test. Why are they Members of this House at all? Why should they be Members of Parliament if they are not responsible to Parliament? They are Members of Parliament in order that they may appear here and defend their conduct. If the doctrine of Earl Spencer were correct, there would be nothing un-Constitutional in appointing a man who had not a seat in either House of Parliament. That has never been done in recent times—never, I believe, since the Revolution. That seems to me to be the test and touchstone of this doctrine of the irresponsibility of the Lord Lieutenant. It is no assistance to us that he can communicate his budget of defence to some Colleague. That is 293 not the same thing. The very essence of Parliamentary government is that Ministers should meet Parliament face to face, and should in the face of Parliament defend their actions when they are controverted or attacked. I feel that this is a new doctrine which has been laid down, and that it is necessary to protest against it. I do not suppose that anyone would seriously defend Lord Houghton in receiving addresses of one political colour and refusing those of another. It is an impossible position. It is all very well to say that he is acting on his discretion as Lord Lieutenant; but, it is a Party-coloured discretion which follows the instructions of the Parliamentary Whip. I certainly join Lord Spencer in regretting that the actions of the Lord Lieutenant should be the subject of Parliamentary debate. I admit, with him, that it has not very often taken place in the experience of either House. But I say that the reason why it has not is that the Lords Lieutenant have, as a rule, been singularly careful of the decorum and impartiality of their office; and until that good tradition returns, there is great danger that such Debates may become frequent. And I must say it is a question which is likely to trouble us a little in the future. I think that Ireland and Irish controversies are likely to be with us for some time. If I can forecast the future aright, my impression is that from time to time, from live years to five years, there will always be a Lord Lieutenant who differs profoundly from the North or from the South of Ireland; and if the Lord Lieutenant cannot put a, bridle on the expression of his own opinions, and cannot imitate the extreme impartiality of the Sovereign, he will expose his office to much obloquy, and will lose a great part of its influence and utility. It is in times of trouble like these that all the impartiality of the office should come out. It is in the first time of trial that Lord Houghton has failed in this respect.
* THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
After what the noble Marquess has said, I will, with your Lordships' permission, say a few words. I thought my noble Friend (Earl Spencer) bad answered the immediate question. The noble Marquess takes exception to the opinion expressed by my noble Friend, that it is undesirable the Lord Lieutenant should come over from Ireland and take part in our dis- 294 cussions. I share entirely the opinion of my noble Friend beside me. I perfectly admit that there have been cases in which Lords Lieutenant have come over to defend themselves; but this I can say most positively: that I have always heard it said in discussions I have had with Members of various Cabinets that it was highly undesirable that a Lord Lieutenant should come over to defend his conduct in Parliament. And, more than that, the action of Lord Clarendon in coming over for that purpose was very severely criticised at the time. I think the noble Marquess himself has adduced a strong argument why the Lord Lieutenant should not come over and take part in our Debates. He said, first of all, that the Lord Lieutenant was always either a Member of Parliament or a Member of the House of Lords, in order that he might be responsible to Parliament, and might come over and defend himself for his conduct, and the noble Marquess went on to lay down what he considered, and quite rightly, to be the proper function of the Lord Lieutenant. He said it would be a matter for great regret if the Representative of the Crown in Ireland did not imitate the impartiality of the Crown. That is precisely the ground on which I stand. The Lord Lieutenant is bound to display the impartiality of the Sovereign, and it is because he occupies that position and because it is most desirable that he should occupy that position—it is precisely for that reason that it is very undesirable, in my opinion, that the Lord Lieutenant should come over here and take part in our Debates.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I did not say come over and take part in our Debates, but that he should defend himself if his action was impugned.
* THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
Precisely so; taking part in our Debates to defend himself. The Lord Lieutenant is an Executive officer, and as such he, in some cases, has to be responsible for the whole conduct of the Executive Government of Ireland. I was, perhaps, in a peculiar position, as my Chief Secretaries were not in the Cabinet. To show your Lordships how it sometimes works, I may say that the whole conduct of the Executive in Ireland was in my hands; and if I had responded in Parliament for the acts of the Government, I should, in point of fact, have had to respond for all 295 the acts of the Government upon every subject. The charge made against my noble Friend is that he has taken a line which favours one political Party more than another, and I believe that one noble Lord went so far as to say that he had acted as a Political Agent. I entirely agree that if the Lord Lieutenant acts as a Political Agent he is not acting as he should act. That is the reason why he should not come over here and take part in our discussions, and it is much better that when the proceedings of the Irish Government are criticised we should be defended by the Chief Secretary in the other House and in this House by his Colleagues. Of course, there may be personal accusations which he would be bound to answer. I am not speaking of them. But this is a charge that, in the performance of his duties, my noble Friend has shown the temper of a partisan. On that I will only say one or two words. I think my noble Friend was placed in a position of considerable difficulty; but it seems to mo very clear that his desire was to separate himself from this great political controversy with regard to Home Rule. You cannot compare this controversy with any others, and my noble Friend is right in calling it acute. It is one which arouses strong passions, especially in Ireland, and he was well-advised in wishing to dissociate himself, as far as possible, from that controversy. But the accusation against him that, after refusing to receive certain loyal addresses against Home Rule, he received several addresses expressing opinions of a contrary nature, I admit there was a certain inconsistency in this; but, on the other hand, my noble Friend laid down in his answer to the address at Mullingar his wish that there should be no mention of Home Rule in the addresses, and that he desired to keep himself, as far as possible, free from all these political controversies. With regard to the Cork case, that was one of a very delicate nature; but I agree with my noble Friend. If I had been placed in that position I should have acted as Lord Houghton did; but that is a matter on which people might differ. If there had been any expression of disloyalty in it no one could possibly have received such an address. At the same time, it is not necessary to go behind the document itself. There is the document, and if it contains nothing which is disloyal you cannot refuse to receive 296 the address. If you are to refuse addresses or Petitions on account of want of compliance with certain forms, you must prescribe some common form just as you would reject Petitions in this House for failure to express humility. I do not think that my noble Friend is open to such condemnation as noble Lords opposite think, nor do I think that the subject of these addresses is of such extreme importance as has been attached to it to-night. I say frankly if I had been in the same position in the exercise of my discretion, I should, on the whole, have done as my noble Friend did, and received the address. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Londonderry) called upon me in strong terms to answer whether this matter had been before the Cabinet. To that I answer, No. Of course it was not before the Cabinet. This is a matter which is properly left to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant. I do not think anything serious has happened, and, on the whole, I am entirely confident in my conviction that Lord Houghton had not the smallest desire to show himself a mere political partisan. I am sure he had every desire to perform the duties of his office and to hold a strict impartiality between the two Parties in the country, while not, of course, disguising those particular principles which we profess.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, the noble Earl had contended that it was not right that the Lord Lieutenant should appear in the House to defend his conduct. If that was so, surely it was the duty of the Government to defend him. But the noble Earl said the Government knew nothing about the matter—that they were absolutely ignorant of it, and yet at the same time they declared in that House their absolute responsibility for these things. Therefore, the House was in this position: the Lord Lieutenant was not to come to defend himself, and those who ought to defend him knew nothing about the matter with which he was charged, but were apparently prepared to defend him in any circumstances.