House Of Commons
Tuesday, 80th May 1893.
The Irish County Magistracy
beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland when he proposes to make his statement promised on the 1st May as to the whole system of the appointment of County Magistrates in Ireland, and the action which the Lord Chancellor will be prepared to take?
The only statement which I think it useful to make is that the Lord Chancellor, acting on precedent set by some of his predecessors in Office, and confirmed by Resolution of this House of May 5, has prepared a list of additional Magistrates for counties without the recommendation of the Lieutenants of these counties. Some of these lists —including that affecting the county which the hon. Member represents—will be published in the course of a day or two.
The Analysis Of Stale Milk
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if his attention has been directed to the following paragraph in a letter addressed to Dr. Bell, the Principal of the Inland Revenue Laboratory, Somerset House, by the Society of Public Analysts, in September, 1892, and signed by 119 members of the Society, including nearly all the public analysts in the United Kingdom, in which they state that they have long observed with regret the practice of certifying, in a manner liable to be interpreted by the Court as definite, on samples of milk which have been kept for a considerable time, and which, therefore, when examined, must have been in such a condition as to preclude any trustworthy opinion being formed respecting their original composition; also that the formation of any reliable opinion is in a great many cases impossible under such circumstances owing to the very irregular character of the changes milk undergoes on keeping, and, therefore, express a hope that in future it will be clearly stated in all certificates that owing to decomposition it is impossible to obtain analytical results comparable in point of accuracy with those yielded by the milk when it was fresh; and whether there is any objection to directions being given to Dr. Bell to comply with this request, especially if the practice complained of has led in any instances to failure of justice?
I have been in communication with the Board of Inland Revenue on the subject of the question, and I am informed that the statements contained in the paragraph cited must not be accepted as representing the facts connected with the analysis of milks referred to Somerset House by directions of the Magistrates. No analysis of a sample is undertaken if found in a condition which does not allow of a trustworthy opinion being formed respecting its original composition; and there are no valid grounds whatever for believing that any instances of failure of justice have arisen through the evidence contained in the certificates of analysis furnished to Magistrates under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts by the chemical officers of the Board of Inland Revenue. In this connection it may be observed, with respect to the samples of milk referred by the Justices in disputed cases and analysed during the year ended March 31, 1893, that, of 26 alleged to contain added water, in only two instances did the Somerset House analysts come to the conclusion that no water had been added, and that, of 12 samples alleged to have been deficient in fat or cream, in only one instance were they of opinion that the fat was not deficient.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether Colonels in the Army on being placed on half-pay are at once informed if it is decided not to offer them further employment; and whether the absence of intimation to that effect indicates that they will be offered further employment?
It is optional with Colonels and Lieutenant-Colonels who have completed their period of regimental command to accept the retired pay to which they are entitled, or to go on half-pay on the Active List. If they accept the latter alternative they take their chance with others for employment as it offers. They are aware that their names are recorded for consideration, and in some instances it is intimated to them that their chances of employment are very remote.
I should like to recall to the memory of the right hon. Gentleman words used in February, 1891, by his predecessor to this effect—
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear those words in mind."We all recognise the injustice of retaining such officers on half-pay unless, in the opinion of the Authorities, they have a reasonable prospect of obtaining employment. We think it right that they should be informed of what their prospects are."
I will consider the matter, but I may point out that the words "reasonable prospect" are somewhat elastic.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, with reference to his statement to the effect that the Government have thought it desirable to make some addition to the pay of Colonels on half-pay during their period of suspended animation, he is now in a position to inform the House what addition it has been decided to make; and whether the additional payment will take effect from the commencement of the present financial year or from a prior date?
It is intended to increase the half-pay of the officers in question to £300 per annum. This increase could not take effect before April 1 of this year.
Outrages In Kerry
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the house of a widow near Currans, County Kerry, was attacked by armed and disguised moonlighters on the loth ultimo, and several shots fired into the house; that the house of a farmer named Flynn, also near Currans, County Kerry, was attacked on the night of the 14th instant by armed and disguised moonlighters, and several shots fired into the house; and that on the night of the loth instant six cows, the property of Mr. McMahon, a farmer, of Castle Farm, near Currans, County Kerry (the place at which Curtin was murdered in 1886), were brutally stabbed and mutilated; whether any persons have been made amenable for these offences; and whether, having regard to the serious crime in the locality, any special steps will be taken to assist the law?
I am informed that the house of Mrs. Cronin, of Cragg, near Currans, was entered by an armed party of four or five men on the night of April 15, and that a revolver was pointed at her by one of the party; but no shot, was fired. Two arrests have been made in connection with this outrage, and the men so arrested are under remand in custody and will come up for trial at the next Quarter Sessions. The house of James Flyun, near Currans, was fired into on the night of the 13th instant by a party of three men, one of whom was armed, but none were disguised. Flynn has fully identified two of the party, both of whom have been arrested and remanded. The motive in this case possesses no agrarian element. With regard to the outrage on the cattle of Mr. McMahon, I pointed out, in reply to a question addressed to me yesterday by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, that three cows, not six, had been maliciously out on the 8th instant, and that the cuts were merely skin deep. No person has been made amenable for this last-mentioned offence, which is not agrarian in origin. It will thus be observed that of the throe outrages referred to in the question arrests have been made by the police in connection with two cases, and these the more serious. It is quite true that there has been an increase of moonlighting outrages within the area defined by me yesterday as comprehending small portions of Kerry, Limerick, and Cork. The authorities report that there is no cause for anxiety.
May I ask whether the accused men will be tried within the disturbed area?
I cannot say. The trials will take place at the place where they usually do.
What is the proportion of the disturbed area to that of the three counties within which it lays?
Of Kerry about one-fifth; of Cork much loss—probably one-eighth; and of Limerick about one-fifth.
Civil Service Age Limit
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he will explain on what grounds the Lords of the Treasury have, in reply to a recent Memorial, removed the age limit to 50, which had previously been laid down as the maximum beyond which approval to nominations to promotion to the rank of abstractor or assistant clerk had been refused, and substituted a limit of 60 years?
The Treasury have altered the limit of age to 60 because, after consideration of representations that had been made to them, they came to the conclusion that the concession was reasonable.
The Parliamentary Debates
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Government intend to take action on the Report of the Committee on Parliamentary Debates, with special reference to the recommendation that, respecting the proofs of speeches for a record of Parliamentary Proceedings, no corrections by the Members be allowed?
It is not practicable, during the continuance of the contract for the present year, to alter the system of correction of speeches, for which the contract, provides. The whole subject will, of course, be carefully considered by the Treasury before a new contract is made.
Southampton Customs Launch
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether a new launch for Her Majesty's Customs at Southampton has been ordered from a firm at Dartmouth; and, if so, whether tenders were invited and the Dartmouth tender was the lowest; and, if not, will he state why the usual custom was departed from, and why the order was not given to a Southampton firm, one of which wrote to the collector and offered to tender?
My right hon. Friend asks me to answer this question. Tenders were invited, and the lowest, that of a firm at Dartmouth, was accepted.
Sub-Inspectors Under The Railway Regulation Acts
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any appointment of Sub-Inspectors to the Board under the Railway Regulation Acts has been made or will now be made; and whether in making such appointments those who have had practical experience of railway work will be selected?
The desirability of appointing Sub-Inspectors of Railways has engaged my careful attention; but I am advised that the existing Railway Regulation Acts do not impose duties upon the Board which could be delegated to Sub-Inspectors. When the Railway Servants (Hours of Labour) Bill is placed upon the Statute Book I shall have to re-consider the question.
Then do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that under the Railway Regulation Acts inquiries into accidents to individuals and servants of the Company might not be legally conducted by Sub-Inspectors?
I am afraid that such inquiries cannot properly be delegated to Sub-Inspectors.
Government Contracts With Foreign Firms
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether an order for upwards of £19,000 worth of armour-piercing shells has recently been given to a French firm over the head of any English tenderer; and having regard to the recent Report of the Labour Correspondent of the Board of Trade at Sheffield, that many men (in analogous branches of industry) have only done one turn a week since Christmas, and are in a most deplorable condition, if more attention will be paid in the further orders about to be placed to avoid spending the people's money out of the United Kingdom in the employment of foreign workmen?
At the same time, may I ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether a, largo contract or order for steel shells has been placed with a foreign manufacturer?
This is a case in which public interests would have suffered by the adoption of any other course. The Admiralty have been anxious to employ English manufacturers; but a heavy loss would have been involved in accepting an English tender.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give the date of the contract?
I cannot say the exact date, but it is a recent one.
The Marking Of Foreign Meat
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if the special attention of the Committee now considering the desirability of marking foreign meat to distinguish it from British will be drawn to the Report (Miscellaneous Series, No. 286) by Sir Francis Denys, Secretary of Legation at Copenhagen, recently laid on the Table, upon the successful marking by Government authority of all meat sold in that city, and of the advantages thereby accruing to both producers and consumers; and if the oral evidence and personal experience on the subject of that diplomatist will, if desired, be placed at the service of the Committee?
I have reason to know that the Chairman of the Committee to which the hon. Member refers is fully cognisant of the Report in question, and I have no doubt that the system of marking in force in Copenhagen will receive the attention of the Committee. If the Committee desire to obtain any further information on the subject, we shall be glad to do anything in our power to give effect to their wishes; but I understand that it would be contrary to precedent to call a Diplomatic Officer home to give evidence, and, of course, Sir Francis Denys is not himself an expert in regard to the matter.
The Union Jack In Ireland
I bog to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that the Police Authorities of the City of Londonderry ordered the Union Jack flags to be taken down from the hotels of that city during the recent visit of Lord Salisbury on Friday last; and if this was done under the orders of the Government?
I will, at the same time, ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by whoso authority was the order given to certain holders of licences in Londonderry to remove the Union Jack from their premises during the visit of Lord Salisbury; and on what grounds?
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, may I inquire whether the late Government did not prosecute a licensed victualler for displaying a flag from his house; and whether the late Colonel King-Harman did not state in the last Parliament that the law would be enforced and prosecutions instituted in all such cases?
I believe the circumstances alluded to by my hon. Friend did take place, and that the answer to which he refers was given. In reply to the questions on the Paper, as they have given rise to some not wholly unnatural excitement and to a great deal of wholly unfounded comment, perhaps I may be allowed to answer at some length. The true story is this. On the 26th inst. Mr. Humphrey Babington, publican, of Derry, applied to the Magistrates at Petty Sessions for permission to put up flags on his licensed premises in honour of the visit of the Marquess of Salisbury. The Mayor referred Mr. Babington to the District Inspector of Constabulary, who drew the attention of the Magistrates to Section 8 of the 6 & 7 William IV., cap. 38, and stated he could give no directions in the matter, and that any person putting up flags should act on his own responsibility, as it was against the law. The matter then dropped. The same evening a sergeant of police saw a flag displayed from the Northern Hotel. He spoke to the proprietress, and told her it was wrong. He does not know what flag it was, except that it had a "red look." The same sergeant saw flags displayed from the Imperial Hotel on the same evening. He told the proprietor, Mr. Hagan, they were not legal, and the latter replied that as they were out he would leave them out. Up to this time the sergeant had only consulted the Head Constable, and no order had been given by any person in superior authority. Next day, the 27th, an acting sergeant on duty was directed by Mr. Doherty, a local Magistrate, to warn a publican named MacIlwaine to take down the flags which he had displayed on his licensed premises. The acting sergeant obeyed the Magistrate's order. The publican, however, would not take down the flags. This was the only interference by the police; they drew attention to no par- ticular flag, and merely stated it was illegal to display "flags" from licensed premises. I need hardly say that no order was ever issued by any Central Authority, and that it had no cognizance of these transactions until after they had taken place. Under the 9th section of the 6 & 7 William IV., cap. 38, a constable authorised by a Justice of the Peace or Chief Constable may enter into licensed premises
It is clear to my mind that the Union Jack is not one of the flags contemplated under this section as a flag proper to be destroyed. That and the previous sections of the Act would seem to be prohibitive of holding in licensed premises illegal assemblies or secret societies, or hanging out or displaying from such premises party flags, emblems, or banners. I think the words used by Colonel King-Harman wise words when he said that the law would continue to be enforced wherever and whenever the preservation of the peace demanded it."To remove and take away and destroy, if he shall think proper, any banners, flags, colours, symbols, emblems, or decorations hanging out or displayed from such premises."
Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House what is the flag with regard to which a prosecution was instituted by Colonel King-Harman?
It was not the Union Jack. It was a piece of calico with the words "God save Ireland!" upon it.
I beg to give notice that on an early day I will ask leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the section of the Act of William IV. referred to, or, at any rate, to refer it to the Statute Law Revision Committee.
And I beg to give notice that I shall oppose the introduction of such a Bill.
Troops For Belfast
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if the 1st, Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry has been sent from Guernsey to Belfast; and if this increases the troops in Belfast above the normal average?
There will be no increase of the force at Belfast, The 1st Battalion King's Own Light Infantry has sailed for Belfast to relieve the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, which is under orders for the Curragh.
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland if any addition has been made to the cell accommodation in Inverness Prison since 31st March, 1892; if so, how great was the increase, and when was it made?
I have communicated with the Prison Commissioners for Scotland, who inform me that there has been no change in the cell accommodation at Inverness Prison since March, 1892.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether an employé in Her Majesty's Dockyards who is in receipt of a pension for work done in some other branch of Her Majesty's Service, e.g., the police, cannot receive the maximum wage to which his present position would otherwise entitle him; and, if so, whether Her Majesty's Government will remedy the inequality which exists in these cases?
The re-employment of Pensioned Civil Servants is governed by the Superannuation Act, 1834, and no Civil pension can be drawn by a re-employed man if his wages exceed his former pay; if re-employed upon a lower scale of pay, then only so much pension can be drawn, as will, together with his present pay, equal his former pay.
I beg to give notice that I shall bring this matter forward on the Navy Estimates.
The Army And Home Rule
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the paragraph in The Westminster Gazette of the 18th instant, as quoted from The Irish Catholic, in which it is stated that at the officers' mess at Aldershot of a regiment now quartered at the Camp, the toast of "The Queen and no Home Rule" was given a few nights since, and responded to by all the officers present; and, if so, having regard to the fact that the rank and file of the regiment in question is said to be largely composed of Irish Nationalists, the officers will be reprimanded for such conduct?
The general officer commanding at Aldershot reports that the only regiment there which could come within the conditions implied by the question is the Leinster Regiment. The officer commanding that regiment reports that, so far as it is concerned, the report is without foundation. I must add that we have no knowledge whatever of the political opinions of soldiers in any regiment.
Irregular Education Grants
I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether his attention has been called to certain irregular and illegal payments of the grants for small populations (Code, Articles 104 and 105) made during the year ended August, 1891 (Return No. 336, 1892), among which occur cases of grants paid on the population of an ecclesiastical or other district not being a school district as defined by the Education Acts, and grants paid to a school recognised as supplying more than one district, although the population of the combined districts is in excess of the statutory limit; and whether he will take any, and, if so, what, steps in order to prevent a recurrence of such payments?
My attention has been called to certain cases in which irregularities have occurred in the payment of grants under Articles 104 and 105 of the Code. But for some months past special attention has been given to the conditions under which these grants are made, and means taken to prevent any irregularity in future, by requiring fuller particulars from the school authorities, and instructing Her Majesty's Inspector to satisfy himself as to the accuracy of their figures. Directions will also be given that the new Census Returns for parishes shall be carefully considered in connection with the small population grants.
The Distribution Of Parliamentary Papers
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Orders of the Day sent to each Member each morning now amount to and even exceed one pound in weight, the whole House thereby receiving some six hundredweight of printed matter a-day; whether he is also aware that of this over 50 pages a-day sent to each Member, or about 35,000 foolscap printed pages sent to the whole House, are Amendments to the Government of Ireland Bill issued over and over again, thus rendering it almost impossible to find out which are now Amendments; and whether he can arrange that only new Amendments shall be issued daily, with a weekly edition of the whole Amendments, or some other arrangement, in order to save this large expenditure of printing and stationery and the inconvenience which the distribution of this great amount of printed matter involves on hon. Members?
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the question, may I suggest whether it would not be desirable to print the actual clause under discussion at the head of the Amendments?
The printing of the Notice Paper is under the control of the Speaker, who will, no doubt, consider the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman. As to the question of the hon. Member for North Islington, no doubt the weights of the Orders of the Day and the number of printed pages are as stated by my hon. Friend. In reply to the concluding paragraph of the hon. Member's question, it may be remarked that when a Bill does not stand for Committee upon the Notice Paper of the House for that day's Sitting, it is only-new Amendments to the Bill, of which notice has been given at the previous Sitting, which are printed and circulated with the morning delivery of the Notice Paper, but that whenever a Bill stands for Committee upon the Notice Paper, all the proposed Amendments to the Bill must be circulated in each morning's delivery of the Notice Paper, and that the cost of that circulation is only the cost of the paper on which the Amendments are printed.
Then if it is deemed necessary to issue all the Amendments each morning would it not be as well that the new Amendments should be printed in a different typo?
I hope that the hon. Member who has just sat down will, in the interests of economy, use his influence to induce hon. Members near him to refrain from putting down so many Amendments to the Government of Ireland Bill.
The Dutch Operations Against The Acheenese
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government have any information as to the progress, present aspect, and prospects of the war which has been carried on by the Dutch against the Acheenese during the last 20 years; whether, by the Treaty of Perpetual Defensive Alliance, of 22nd April, 1819, between Great Britain and Acheen, Great Britain undertook to defend the Acheenese from aggression: whether, under the rule of the Law of Nations, laid down by the Black Sea Conference of London on the 17th January, 1871, Great Britain is still bound by that Treaty, or whether she has ever been released from her obligation by Acheen; and whether Her Majesty's Government, taking into consideration the Treaty of 1819, will now either carry out the engagements of Great Britain under the Treaty, or will use its influence with the Government of Holland to bring about some accommodation whereby an end may be put to the war in Acheen?
The latest Reports do not indicate any prospect of a cessation of the chronic state of warfare which has unfortunately existed for so long. A recent Ordinance issued by the Netherlands Indian Government has, however, partially relaxed the blockade of the coast of Acheen. It appears to have been held by successive Governments, at various times, that the provisions of the Treaty of 1819 had not been uninter- ruptedly observed on either side, and could no longer be said to be in force.
Cannot the hon. Baronet give me some answer to the last three paragraphs of my question?
The last lines of my answer fully cover those questions.
"The Labour Gazette"
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state who is the proprietor of The Labour Gazette.
The proprietorship of The Labour Gazette, like that of all other Government publications, is in the hands of the Government, and the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office is registered at Stationers Hall as the owner of the copyright?
The Slaughter Of Injured Horses
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been called to a statement in The Daily News, of 29th May, of great suffering inflicted on a horse injured by a collision in Piccadilly, which, for over three hours, the police would not allow the owner to kill because the services of a licensed slaughterer could not be obtained; and will he take measures to prevent in future such delay?
The accident has been brought under the notice of the Department. The statement that the police would not allow the owner to kill the horse until the licensed slaughterer had arrived is not correct. The general subject is now under consideration.
The Revenue Of The Proposed Irish Government
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to lay upon the Table the Revised Estimate of the Revenue of the Irish Government under the Government of Ireland Bill, and of the Irish Customs Receipts, promised by him on 27th April; and, if not, whether he will fix a date for giving this information to the House?
I am unable to say when the Revised Estimates of the Revenue of the Irish Government under the Government of Ireland Bill will be laid upon the Table of the House, but I will try and get it ready as soon as possible.
Seeing the important character of these figures, cannot the right hon. Gentleman fix any date when they will be ready?
I am afraid I cannot. They shall be given as soon as possible.
Commercial Treaty With Spain
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Representative at Madrid has been able to induce the Spanish Government to commence negotiations, with a view to establish a new Treaty of Commerce between Spain and England of a character favourable to the development of trade between the two nations?
The Spanish Government have not yet formulated their proposals, but Her Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid has come to London in order to confer with Her Majesty's Government on the subject.
Science And Art Schools Under Home Rule
I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education if he will state under what section of the Government of Ireland Bill provision is made in respect of Science and Art schools and Technical Education in Ireland?
The expenditure on Science and Art schools in Ireland will be one of the Civil charges of the Government in Ireland, which under Clause 12, Sub-section 2, of the Bill are to be borne after the appointed day by Ireland—in other words, the expenditure will be provided by the Irish Legislature out of the Irish Votes. Technical Instruction can be provided by Local Authorities in Ireland at the present time under the Technical Instruction Act, 1889.
Floating Grog Shops In The North Sea
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government of the French Republic declined in 1892 to continue their concurrence in the North Sea Liquor Traffic Convention of 1887, because of their disagreement with us in regard to the occupation of Egypt; and, if so, whether he can indicate, and present to the House, any official Correspondence containing any such declaration on the part of the French Government?
The French Government have never based their refusal to ratify the North Sea Liquor Traffic Convention of 1887 on the ground of a disagreement with this country with regard to the occupation of Egypt. On the contrary, they submitted the Convention to the Chamber of Deputies for confirmation. But the members of that Body appointed a Commission to report upon the question, and the Commission recommended the rejection of the Bill. The arguments they used were mainly directed against Great Britain, and they referred to an alleged opposition to French influence in Egypt. The hon. Member will find the reference at page 39 of the Correspondence recently presented.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that the reference to Egypt to which he has just alluded is a reference to the affairs of Egypt before 1842?
I cannot say that.
Is it not a fact that the objection of the Commission to the Convention was based not on English intervention in Egypt, but on the idea that England would dominate the sea?
[No answer was given.]
I wish to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has seen a report that two "coopers" are causing wholesale demoralisation among the North Sea Fishing Fleet; and whether this does not render it especially desirable that he should use his influence to secure that the Bill now before Parliament be passed through the House of Lords as soon as possible?
I have seen a telegram to the effect stated, and I hope we shall be able to pass the Bill dealing with this subject through the House as promptly as possible, and put it into operation without delay.
How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to deal with "coopers" sailing under the French flag?
There never have been, and there are not any, and we have no reason to believe that there ever will be any, "coopers" under the French flag. When the question arises we shall know how to deal with it.
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, with a view to securing harmonious action in the Committee on the Government of Ireland Bill, he will consider the advisability of using his influence in order that the conduct of the Bill may be left in the hands of a responsible Minister with regard to the Motion for Closure?
I do not exactly gather the intention of the right hon. Member who has put this question, or what he intends to recommend: but I must say, as a substantial answer to it, that when the Government of Ireland Bill is in Committee responsible Ministers of the Crown who are present and taking part in the discussion upon all occasions when proposals of first-class importance or of serious interest are before the Committee on which the Government think it their duty to bring their minds to bear are prepared to make proposals for the Closure at a time when it appears to them that it is proper to do so. But I am bound to say that it would be impossible for the Government to take upon themselves to interfere with the general liberty of hon. Members in reference to the subject.
On a point of Order, Sir, may I ask whether the Rules of Procedure do not permit the humblest Representative of the people to move the Closure when he deems that the Rules of the House are being abused by flagrant obstruction of the Public Business?
According to the Standing Order, it is open to any hon. Member to move the Closure.
The Labour Arbitration Bill
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will set down the Labour Arbitration Bill at some hour before midnight, when after a moderate discussion the matters connected with this Bill can be determined?
I am aware that a considerable number of hon. Members are interested in the passage of the Bill; but I am afraid that I cannot undertake to say at present that any arrangement can be made as suggested.
How To Save Time
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, with the view of saving the time of the House at Question time, a Member, on being called upon by Mr. Speaker, may simply respond by giving the number of the question which stands in his name on the Paper instead of the usual introductory form of words?
My opinion is that the humblest economies of time are not to be despised. That which the hon. Member suggests is one I should be glad to see adopted; but, at the same time, I do not think that the proposed innovation would be a good basis for the Government to work upon in amending the Standing Orders.
The Property Qualification Under Home Rule
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he proposes to adhere to the property qualification, as stated in Clause 6 of the Bill for the Better Government of Ireland, for electors who vote at elections of the Legislative Council?
The question about qualification, and particularly the qualification proposed in the Bill for electors of the Council of the Second Chamber in Ireland, is one which the Government have put frankly before the House, and have laid open to discussion. They have never stated that in their view the matter was so stereotyped as not to be open to modification, after discussion in this House. I am not prepared to say more than that at present, because I think we ought to avail ourselves of any light which may be thrown upon the subject during the discussion which will take place upon it.
The Blocking Of Bills
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the inconvenience caused repeatedly recently by the objection after 12 o'clock of a single Member to particular business when the House is universally desirous of proceeding with it; and whether he will facilitate the adoption of some such alteration of Standing Order No. 1 as suggested by the Motion on to-day's Order Paper?
The proposal referred to is one of great importance, and I should be inclined to agree that some such alteration as that suggested is desirable. It is, however, a serious matter, as it is in the nature of a restriction of the liberty of action of hon. Members, and no steps ought to be taken without mature deliberation and consultation with the authorities.
Places Of Worship Enfranchisement Bill
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Places of Worship Enfranchisement Bill, which has precedence on Wednesday next under the Standing Orders, will be taken as the first Order on that day; and, if not, what facilities will be given to proceed with the remaining stages of the Bill. having regard to the statement made by him with reference to the Bill on the 30th March last?
May I inquire whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that, owing to the action of the Chairman of the Standing Committee on this Bill, it has assumed a very controversial character; and whether he is aware that if the Bill wore proceeded with on Wednesday it would necessarily lead to prolonged discussion?
I have not heard that. In answer to the question of my hon. and learned Friend, I cannot hold out any hope that it will have precedence of the Government of Ireland Bill to-morrow.
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that on March 30 he said that the "usual facilities" would be given to all Bills which had already passed the Committee stage; and whether this did not imply that the Places of Worship Enfranchisement Bill, which has passed through Committee, will have precedence to-morrow over the Government of Ireland Bill, which has not passed that stage?
I am unable to speak to the exact words which I used upon the occasion referred to; but I do not remember that I stated that the main business of the House would be set aside as in the case of the Eight Hours (Mines) Bill. Still, the hon. Member may rely on it that the Government are not at all disposed to lose sight of the importance of the Bill to which he refers.
Business Of The House
I beg to ask the Prime Minister a question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether he will be so very kind as to adjourn the Debate on the Government of Ireland Bill to-day a little before midnight, so as to allow time for a brief discussion on the Vote on Account?
That is a very reasonable request, and we shall propose, about 11 o'clock, to report Progress.
The Irtsh Railway Accident
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements have been made by the Board of Trade to inquire into the recent railway accident in Ireland?
As soon as I heard of this sad accident I telegraphed authorising a special inquiry which would involve an Assessor in addition to one of the Inspectors of the Board, and I desired that some Irish barrister should be appointed as Assessor. The result is that Major Marindin will represent the Board of Trade, and Mr. Adams, Q.C., will be his legal Assessor.
Sittings Of The House (Derby Day)
said, he desired to move, "That the House, at its rising, do adjourn till Thursday, June 1." In so doing he was not actuated by any interested or personal considerations. He had put this Motion down at the request of some of his hon. Friends, and also on broad public and partly philanthropic grounds. When he first handed in the Motion he was informed that it ought to have come from the Prime Minister; and from 1860 to 1878 this duty was, in fact, discharged by the Leader of the House, from the Treasury Bench. He believed that it was a Liberal Prime Minister (Lord Palmerston) who started the practice, and that it was a Conservative Leader (Sir Stafford North cote) who first departed from it. In any case, he might be allowed to express the deep regret he felt that the Prime Minister's sense of duty did not permit him to-day to bring this proposal forward himself, and that his inclinations would not permit him to-morrow to avail himself of the leisure which he would thus secure. He was quite certain that however much the right hon. Gentleman might give offence to some of his sterner supporters, like the hon. Member who had given notice of an Amendment—which he understood was out of Order—he would certainly gain popularity among the masses of the country. It was not for him to offer any advice to hon. Gentlemen who chose to oppose the Motion; but he might suggest that they were under a misapprehension upon two important points. They were mistaken if they supposed that the British Democracy— Conservative, Liberal, Radical, or Irish Home Rule—were not passionately devoted to the national sport of horse-racing; and he thought they were labouring under a still greater mistake if they thought that their example of abstention from, of non-participation in, this particular race would have the smallest effect upon any man, woman, or child in the country. Hon. Members would recollect, perhaps, the words of the great essayist, who used once to sit upon the Bench opposite, about the attitude of the old Liberal Party, the Puritans, towards a much grosser and less defensible sport than horse-racing. "The Puritans," said Lord Macaulay, "hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." That was, he submitted, a concise description of what they would be doing if they refused to adjourn for this great Democratic festival to-morrow. If they assumed a sour and fanatical posture towards this great event, the public would be entitled to say that they were not so much distressed about the injury that would be done to the morals of the people as at the notion of Members of the House being allowed to enjoy themselves with the people, and of sharing in their amusement. How often had hon. Members informed their constituents that the greatest pleasure they enjoyed was being in their company? What better opportunity could they have of proving that, for once in a way, they were in earnest than by venturing upon the Downs at Epsom to-morrow in company with the masses as well as the classes? He thought that, on a question of this sort, that House was more liable than any other body of men to assume an attitude that was open to the charge of being hypocritical. Who were they? Who were they that they should have the right to take up this very censorious and conceited attitude on the subject of horse-racing? He did not know that they had in that House as many owners of race-horses as were to be found in another place; but he believed they had a few, and that some of them occupied high places in the confidence of the Crown. And, if they were to gauge the real tastes of hon. Members of that House by humbler indications than the possession of race-horses, he would point to the fact that, not only within the gilded saloons of the Carlton Club, but also within the more chaste retirement of a rival establishment close by, there was maintained a thing called a Derby sweep, which, if it were publicly indulged in in an open space, would bring all the participators within the grasp of the law. He believed that the sincerity of Members of this House on the subject of gambling would best be proved to the world, not by resisting this Motion, but by empowering the Police Authorities occasionally to make what was called a betting raid upon the great establish- ments in Pall Mall, as well as upon some of the humbler institutions in other quarters of the town. But he could go a little further in proof of his contention that the)' had no right to take up this particular attitude on the question of the Adjournment for the Derby Day. He believed it was a melancholy truth that some amount of betting actually went on within the Avails of that House. The only case which he would venture to bring under the notice of the House was one which occurred not very long ago, when he saw just outside those doors, in the inner Lobby, a Member of the fraternity known as bookmakers, with his pocket book in his hand, plying his ordinary vocation. The matter was apparently such au everyday occurrence that nobody took any notice of it. Now he saw the bookmaker doing a little business, as he would have said, with au hon. Member of this House, and, strange to say, that hon. Member was not one of those thoughtless, stupid reactionaries—he was a Member of the Liberal Party, and now a distinguished Member of Her Majesty's Government. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Name!"] Hon. Members below the Gangway asked for the name of this Member of the Government. He could only tell them that if they thought he was saying anything that was unwarranted, or of a slanderous nature, the simplest course would be to consult the senior Law Officer of the Crown on the subject. There were a great number of considerations—[Interrupion. Dr. Macgregor rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put "; but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
*MR. RROOKFIELD, continuing, said, he wished that the Question might not only be put, but carried without any further delay. He had said that there were many other considerations which he could put before the House. He might remind hon. Members below the Gangway that it was an Irish Parliamentary Whip who used to undertake the duty of seconding this Motion. Now, by consenting to an Adjournment to-morrow, they would add a whole day to their political existence. But there was one argument which, he was sure, would secure a hushed respect from all quarters of the House. He had observed that sentimental arguments always had the greatest weight in that Assembly, and there was one sentimental argument which was invariably introduced into Motions for the Adjournment of the House, and that was consideration for the feelings of the officers of the House. Most of the officials of the House, he was informed, were very much interested in the event that was to take place to-morrow, and on their behalf he thought this proposal ought to be well received. Looking at the business view of this proposal, he would ask hon. Members what satisfaction did they derive from the experience of last year? Last year, for the first time for a great number of years, a similar Motion to the one be was now submitting was defeated by a majority of 14, and when the Speaker took the Chair at 12 o'clock on Derby Day he found 12 Members present. At 1 o'clock there were 19, at 4 o'clock there were only 35 hon. Gentlemen in attendance, and at five minutes past 4 the House adjourned without having transacted any business whatever. By assenting to the present Motion the House would give a most refreshing and conclusive answer to those accusations of hypocrisy which were so constantly and, he must say, so justly levelled against it, and would take a course which he fully believed would be at once wise and pleasant, at the same time expedient and popular. He begged to move the Motion.
said, as he moved this Resolution last year and seconded it the year before, possibly hon. Members would permit him to say half-a-dozen words on the subject in seconding the Motion now before the House. He ventured to appeal to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite, and to ask them to consider whether, with bad seasons, swine fever, and wheat at 23s. a quarter, it would not be an act of common charity to allow hon. Members representing agricultural constituencies to go down to the Derby, possibly for the last time? He felt morally certain that in 12 months time many of them would not be in a sufficiently strong condition financially to pay for their return tickets, unless, of course, the Prime Minister brought within the region of practical politics his measure for paying them l5s. a day, with third-class return tickets. That measure might possibly put a different face on the situation. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that there was no plethora of capital in the agricultural districts, whatever might be the case in Ireland. It might possibly be a question of time, and Ministers might be unwilling to tear hon. Members from the contemplation of the great measure in which they all took such a warm interest, and in reference to which he saw that some misguided person had been commenting on and counting their Divisions, which he ventured to consider was a most reprehensible thing. But if the Government could not spare the time, surely with their solid majority of 40—which was occasionally a little more—they could, by suspending the Twelve o'Clock Rule for a fortnight, make up for the time that would be lost by adjourning to-morrow? he looked forward with the greatest interest to the speech of the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. J. E. Ellis). Nobody who had sat opposite to the hon. Member could doubt his virtues; but because he was virtuous that was no reason why others should have no more cakes and ale. He did not know whether the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich (Lord Elcho) was in his place that afternoon. He believed that on these occasions the noble Lord usually made his annual visit to the House of Commons. He need not say how much they all admired his flexibility of adaptation; and if the noble Lord were present, considering he voted for the Resolution two years ago, and against the Resolution last year, he would ask him to consider whether, in the words of hon. Gentlemen opposite, he might not find salvation and please his constituents and those who supported this Motion by again turning his coat and voting with them on this occasion?
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House, at its rising, do adjourn till Thursday 1st June."—( Mr. Brookfield.)
in rising to oppose the Motion, said he should have regard to the fact that discussions on this question had generally been extremely brief. As mentioned in the Amendment he had placed on the Paper, this was a comparatively recent Motion. It was first made by Lord George Bentinck in 1847. It passed unopposed at that time largely from the circumstance that it came on unexpectedly. But in the following year it was only carried by a majority of 13. It was quite true that Lord Palmerston in 1860, as head of the Government, took up the Motion; but in 1878 Sir Stafford Northcote dropped it as a Government Motion on the very good good ground that it had become an opposed Motion, and that it was not fitting that the Government should use their authority and influence to pass a Motion which had then become opposed. Since that time the Motion had had uniform success in that House until last year. He noticed sitting below the Gangway the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich, and those of them who were in the last Parliament would have missed his advocacy of the Motion that day. When this Motion was made by the noble Lord, whose sparkling humour and perfect taste and tone compelled the admiration of those who dissented from him, it was successful; but directly the noble Lord joined with the hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth in opposing it it was defeated. He did not stand there to oppose that Motion and then not be prepared to appear in the House at 12 o'clock on the following day. He took it that those who opposed the Motion on the present occasion bound themselves to attend in their places and make a House to-morrow. Speaking on this subject in 1848, Mr. John Bright said—
That was the ground on which he now opposed the Motion. Coining there, as they did, with the earnest purpose of passing legislative measures which they believed were for the benefit of the nation, it was unworthy of them to set aside their whole proceedings because of a certain race meeting in the County of Surrey."It was below the dignity of this House to make the fact of certain races being held within a few miles of the Metropolis a pretext for a holiday."
said, he rose for the purpose of supporting the Motion made by the hon. Member for Rye; but in doing so he was actuated by considerations very different from those which had influenced the Mover. That hon. Member had spoken on behalf of the aristocracy, but he ventured to speak for the democracy. Those lion. Members who, like himself, represented some portion of the large population of this great city dwelling South of the Thames were aware that throughout that wide area the Derby Day was looked upon almost in the light of a national holiday, and there were thousands of them who would as soon think of being absent from Epsom to-morrow as the Spanish workman would think of missing the first bull-fight of the season. The rough Radicals were not all cast in the same Puritanical mould. Many of them looked with a very lenient eye upon the foibles and follies of mankind, and even made allowance for those honourable aristocrats who felt that for one day out of the 365 they would be better employed at Epsom than in wandering, like dismal spirits, round the Division Lobbies of that House. The result of the Division on the Eight Hours for Miners Bill gave him great satisfaction. He was one of those who wished to see the hours of labour curtailed, not only for those who worked in mines, but also for the many who toiled upon the surface. But his deepest sympathy was reserved for those who passed the first portion of the day in dealing with a mass of Correspondence, and the second part of the day and all the night in dealing with an amount of Public Business fully sufficient to occupy two Legislative Assemblies, if not four, with the result that they were deprived of their fair share of Nature's great restorer. He hoped the hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth (Sir W. Lawson) would not think he was referring to fiery alcohol. He was alluding to balmy sleep, which when it did come to weary legislators came in a long series of night-mares. He supported the Motion.
only wished to observe that if any hon. Member would get up and declare on his honour that he had something new to say on the subject the House would, no doubt, listen to him; but, in the absence of any such declaration, he begged to move that the Question be now put.
for whom there had been calls), rose to continue the Debate—
The House seems desirous to hear the noble Lord.
said, that the hon. Member (Mr. Macfarlane) asked if there was anybody who could get up and say anything new about this matter. It was not his intention to accept that challenge. To a certain extent he might claim to have an interest in this question that did not pertain to anybody else in the House—he might say it was almost a personal matter. He had read—and he agreed with it—that the best way to secure the holiday was not to take up a long time discussing it that day. He could address no fresh arguments to the House, and Heaven forbid that he should try to make a fresh joke! As to the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich (Lord Elcho), this occasion seemed in years past to have been a sort of jocular benefit for him. The year before last the noble Lord proposed the Adjournment for the holiday, and last year he opposed it; and in that respect the noble Lord seemed to have done within the year what some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen also had done — namely, changed their minds, and been able to sec and vote in diametrically opposite ways. The hon. Member who opposed this Motion seemed to him to put the whole case in a nutshell. He apparently looked upon the noble Lord the Member for Ipswich as a sort of standpoint by which the House should go, so that whatever way the noble Lord spoke and voted the House ought at once to follow [Cries of "Divide!"] He would not stand longer between the House and the noble Lord, and felt certain that if his noble Friend voted for the Motion they would be able to do what they had done in times past and carry the Adjournment.
The House divided:—Ayes 169; Noes 281.—(Division List, No. 100.)
Orders Of The Day
Government Of Ireland Bill (No 209)
COMMITTEE. [ Progress, 17th May.]
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 3 (Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature).
Question again proposed, "That Clause 3 be postponed."
said, he rose to resume his speech in support of the proposal to postpone the consideration of Clause 3, and the postponement, if allowed to Clause 3, must extend to Clause A. In speaking to the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Colchester (Captain Naylor-Leyland), it would be necessary for him to refer to other clauses than that which was now before them; but he would do so as briefly as he could, and he hoped he would not go beyond the bounds of Order in any remark he might make. The postponement of that clause would involve the postponement of Clause 4 also. The Prime Minister, he understood, agreed that the Amendment was not unreasonable.
said, he did not agree.
said, at all events the contention was that the Constitution of the new Legislature ought to be definitely settled before they dealt in detail with the powers to be entrusted to it. He admitted that such powers must be settled in the main before they came to the constitution. This had been done in Clauses 1 and 2. Now, however, they were corning' to particularities—that was, to restrictions. And even with those restrictions they learnt from the foregoing Debates that the new Legislature might, deal with many subjects not anticipated— such as divorce, female suffrage, currency, Merchant Shipping Laws, bills of ex- change, and an infinitude of other things. Hence the importance of Clauses 3 and 4. By the postponement of Clauses 3 and 4 the Committee would come at once to the consideration of Clauses 5, 6, 7, and 8. In Clause 5 they were face to face with the Executive power!; and if the Unionist Party knew what that power was to be, and were satisfied with regard to it, they would be less nervous about the exceptions and restrictions in Clauses 3 and 4, and they would be more willing to grant concessions. One would suppose, on reading Clause 5, that the functions and position of the Lord Lieutenant would remain as they were at present; that the whole Executive would be under the control of the Lord Lieutenant, and that he would be under the control of the Imperial Parliament; but the very opposite would appear to be the intention of the Government. That matter of doubt could only be settled after Clause o was discussed in Committee; and if it were decided that the Executive in Ireland remained under the supreme authority Clauses 3 and 4 would be less alarming. Again, with regard to Clause 6, which constituted the Irish Legislative Council, it was conceivable that they might succeed in inducing the House to create a Second Chamber such as was proposed by the Prime Minister in the Bill of 1886. If that were done there would not be the same alarm about Clauses 3 and 4. Then came Clause 8, dealing with the Irish Legislative Assembly, and it could hardly be supposed that that Assembly would be constituted otherwise than as appeared in the clause. Then followed the clause which proposed, in the event of a disagreement between the two Chambers, to place the Second Chamber entirely at the mercy of the first—to place the Irish Upper House under the heel of the Irish Lower House. If the Opposition succeeded in obtaining real power for the Second Chamber, such as the Second Chamber in this Parliament had, that would affect their opinion with regard to the whole Bill. Supposing these later clauses wore passed as they stood, the Second Chamber would practically be composed of the same class as the first, and would be subservient to it; and, consequently, measures for the abolition of rent and property in laud and for the expropriation of landlords might, conceivably, be passed, notwithstanding any exception in general terms dealing with these matters in Clauses 3 and 4. Under those circumstances, he and his hon. Friends would have to press for some amendment of those clauses, so as to take the land altogether out of the power of the new Irish Legislature, instead of for three years only, as was proposed by the Bill. And supposing that the Irish Assembly, free from all real control of any Second Chamber, and entirely consisting of the peasant interest, were to turn round and no longer acknowledge liability for the advances made to them by the British taxpayer for Land Purchase and other works of utility in Ireland, there would be no check on such proceedings except by the insertion of express words in Clauses 3 and 4. The Unionists were, therefore, anxious to pass at once to the consideration of the clauses dealing in detail with the Constitution of the new Irish Legislature before they proceeded to consider further its powers in detail. These were their arguments, and he hoped they would have the support of the House, which he thanked for the patience with which it had listened to him.
said, he did not think the Government had any ground for complaint with regard to the resumption of the Debate on the Amendment now before the Committee, because the Recess had given the Government an opportunity of making up their minds on questions of the highest importance still before the Committee. He was afraid they could not be certain that the Government had made up their minds on all points, because only that afternoon the Prime Minister had announced that his mind was completely open with regard to the franchise of the Upper Chamber. The Government might well be expected now to make some announcement with respect to the important subjects of finance and the retention of the Irish Members, for it was almost impossible to discuss Clauses 3 and 4 without knowing how these subjects were to be dealt with. The enormous number of questions that arose upon Clause 3 would be determined in a totally different manner, according to the decision to which the Government might come as to the inclusion or exclusion of the Irish Mem- bers. He knew it would not be in Order to go into many matters dealt with in the clauses; but he would refer to one of the most important sub-sections of Clause 3, Sub-section 7, excluding external trade from the cognisance of the Irish Parliament. How could they expect that the Irish Members would consent to cut themselves off from all discussion of trade outside Ireland, when, possibly, after Clause 9 had been dealt with, they might find themselves excluded from the Imperial Parliament? Then, again, with regard to the question of coinage, how could they possibly cut off that matter from the Irish Legislature if they had no representation in the Imperial Parliament? The same observation applied to trade marks, merchandise marks, patent rights, and copyright. These questions could not be excluded from the cognisance of the Irish Parliament unless Ireland retained her representation at Westminster in some form or another. And the Government might produce a great change of feeling on their own side of the House. Many hon. Members on the Ministerial side would think that if the Irish Members were to be admitted to the Imperial Parliament on all subjects there were many matters in regard to which the Imperial Parliament ought to retain the fullest control. There were a great number of Amendments on this clause proposing to increase the restrictions of the section which ought to be admitted even from the Gladstonian point of view if the Irish Members were to be admitted into the Imperial Parliament for all purposes. He failed to see how they could go into this clause before they knew the mind of the Government on that important question. There were Amendments on the Paper to include amongst the restrictions Factory Legislation, Merchant Shipping, Joint Stock Companies, Currency Banks, Internal as well as External Trade, Land Administration, and the Marriage Laws. He thought that all these things ought to be included amongst the exceptions in any case; but every fair-minded man, on whichever side of the House he sat, would agree that they should be included if the Irish Members were to be retained at Westminster on all subjects. He had dealt shortly with the bearing of the 9th clause on the Amendments before the Committee; but the Finance Clauses were in exactly the same position. The Committee did not know in the least what financial proposals the Government were going to place before the Committee except this—that they were going to be very different to what appeared on the face of the Bill, The uncertainty as to the Financial Clauses made it impossible to discuss Sub-section 7 of this clause. What would they know in regard to restrictions on trade by the Irish Legislature if they were not aware of the policy of Her Majesty's Government as to the financial portion of the Bill? It was grotesque to ask the Committee to determine the restrictions to he imposed upon the Irish Parliament if they did not know what powers the electors of Ireland were to have in the Imperial Parliament, and if they did not know the initial financial arrangements to be made between this country and Ireland. The Government had had 10 days or a fortnight to think all these difficult questions over. He had no doubt they had applied their minds to them. He invited the Chief Secretary for Ireland to make a clean breast of it—he would get on a great deal quicker if he would—and tell them what he proposed to do as to the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster and as to the financial part of the Bill.
wished to call attention to the particular ground on which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister refused to assent to the Amendment proposed by the hon. and gallant Member. The Prime Minister first of all made the statement that he had on his side the custom and precedent of Parliament in dealing with this matter. Well, he (Mr. Macartney) would show that, instead of the custom and precedent of Parliament being on the side of the Prime Minister, the arrangement of the clauses in this Bill was diametrically opposite to the course followed in the establishment of our Colonial Legislatures. The Prime Minister had gone on to say that it would not only be inconvenient, but absolutely anomalous, to assent to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member. It seemed to him (Mr. Macartney), on the contrary, that it would be a much more convenient course for the Committee to pursue to discuss the matters contained in Clauses 3 and 4 before the very important matters contained in Clauses 5 and 6 had been arranged to the full knowledge of the Committee. They knew, at the present moment, that there was nothing stereotyped in the 6th clause; they knew that the 9th clause was in a practically unsettled condition, and they knew that the Financial Clauses were to be postponed to the end of the measure; therefore, instead of its being inconvenient, it seemed to him that it would be convenient to the Committee if it had the proposals contained in the 5th, 6th, and 7th clauses settled before dealing with the 3rd clause, because those clauses were of the highest importance, bearing on what the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster called the other day—
The relation of those clauses to the rest of the Bill would throw the largest amount of light on the sincerity of the declarations that the Government had made with regard to Imperial supremacy and the protection of the minority in Ireland. The Prime Minister had said that the proposal was an anomalous one. Not only was it not anomalous, but, it actually proposed to deal with the present clause in the way in which similar clauses had always been dealt with by that House and Parliament, when constituting other Assemblies of the character of the one it was proposed to set up in Ireland. To take the earliest precedent of all— namely, the Act which granted a representative Constitution to New Zealand— he found that the 32ml section of that Act established the General Assembly, consisting of a Governor, a Legislative Council, and a House of Representatives, and that the next 20 sections, instead of dealing with the powers of that Assembly, dealt with the election or qualification of the Members who were to form the Legislative Council or the House of Representatives. It was not until the 53rd section was reached that any attempt was made to deal with the powers or restriction of the powers of the General Assembly. The same course was followed in the Act constituting the New South Wales Legislature and in the Act dealing with Victoria, and these precedents were observed in the most important measure of all—namely, the British North America Act. So that the precedents were all against the argument urged the other night by the Prime Minister. The course Parliament had already adopted amply justified the proposal now made, and the Prime Minister had given no adequate reason for refusing its adoption. The arguments used by the noble Lord who preceded him(Viscount Cranborne) and by the hon. Baronet the Member for Kingston (Sir Richard Temple) showed conclusively that the demand which was being made by the Unionist Members was a reasonable one, to which the Government, if they desired to meet the arguments of their opponents, ought to accede. He did not know whether, even at this moment, they could make any impression upon the hostility of the Prime Minister; but surely when the right hon. Gentleman found himself divested of the ground upon which he had based himself previously, he would see the reasonableness of meeting the wishes of those who supported the Amendment."The large and solid guarantees to the minority against the abuse of either executive or legislative power by the Irish Government."
said, that the Government, during the past few days, had had an opportunity of reviewing their position. The Unionist Members contended that they ought to know how the Irish House was going to be constituted and what powers it ought to possess before they considered what restrictions should be placed on it when constituted. The Government had had pointed out to them, in a way which required an answer, that some of the restrictions proposed in Clause 3 would be unreasonable, or excessive, or insufficient, just in proportion as the Irish Members retained their full powers or unlimited powers only in the Imperial Parliament. Many of the subsections dealt with restrictions that it might be unreasonable, under certain circumstances, to impose on an Irish Parliament, and he understood from the speeches of the Irish Members that they already considered them unreasonable. They certainly would so consider them if those Members were only to have a limited power in the Imperial Parliament. The! clause under discussion certainly would not clothe the Irish Parliament with the dignity and powers of our Colonial Legislatures. If the Bill were passed with the proposed restrictions it would only constitute an additional source of irritation as between this country and the Irish Parliament; and surely it was grotesque to ask the Committee to enter on the consideration of the restrictions which were to he imposed upon the Irish Parliament before they knew what voice Ireland was to have in the Imperial Parliament. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had been invited to make a clean breast of it; but he (Mr. Foster) gathered from the way in which the right hon. Gentleman met the suggestion that the same policy was to be pursued after the Whitsuntide Recess as was pursued before. He was confirmed in that impression by the empty state of the Government Benches. All that the supporters of the Government were asked to do was not to meet argument by argument, but to give their silent "Votes, Votes, Votes"—which the Prime Minister stilted at an early period was the great duty of the Party that supported him—'
I altogether decline to acknowledge that statement.
said, he was bound to accept the right hon. Gentleman's disclaimer. He could not contradict him, not having the quotation at his hand. The declaration was in the recollection of the House, and, at any rate, the right hon. Gentleman uttered the memorable words, "Vote, Vote, Vote."
An hon. MEMBER: It was Churchill.
The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington taunted the Members of the Government with their sense of duty being confined to "Vote, Vote, Vote," and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister accepted that challenge.
said, that what he had been about to say was that it was true the Government, in voting down Amendments, might succeed in securing a Parliamentary victory, because they had the battallions behind them; but whether that was a proceeding which would commend itself to the judgment of the country was another matter. So far as the Opposition wore concerned, they would be perfectly content to see the Government continue what they considered their present suicidal policy. If they continued to vote down Amend- ments without taking part in discussion, or answering arguments reasonably brought forward, those arguments would go to the country, and the country would come to the conclusion that no answers had been given to them because there were no answers to give.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 240; Noes 273.—(Division List, No. 101.)
said, he desired to make a personal explanation to the Committee, and he, therefore, took the earliest opportunity of doing so. In supporting the Motion upon which the Committee had just divided, he had ventured to ([note a statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in which he had advised his supporters to "Vote, Vote, Vote." The right hon. Gentleman had challenged the accuracy of his (Mr. Foster's) statement. He had had an opportunity during the Division, through the assistance of an hon. Member, of verifying the quotation, and he held in his hand a copy of Hansard for February 23, 1893, containing the Debate on the Welsh Suspensory Bill. In the course of that Debate the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) said—
In reply to that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said—"Sir, to carry that Irish policy nothing must be spared; never such a trifle as the Established Church in Wales! Votes! Votes! Votes! That is the great cry of the right hon. Gentleman, and that is the political morality which he preaches. Votes at any cost; votes at any price."
He (Mr. Foster) hoped he had made good the point he had stated."It is impossible for me to traverse the wide field of the speech of the noble Lord; but this I will do—I will accept the challenge of the noble Lord, and I will say that the arts and resources of the present Government consist, in this — in bringing forward while in Office measures which they approved in Opposition, in endeavouring to redeem the pledges which they have given to the country; and while the noble Lord tries to play Welsh Disestablishment against Irish Home Rule and Irish Home Rule against Welsh Disestablishment, I tell him plainly that I am not ashamed either of the one or of the other proposition, and I am quite prepared to adopt, his monosyllabic exclamation, and to say Vote, Vote, Vote—Vote for both Welsh Disestablishment and for Home Rule."
It appears to me that the hon. Member has entirely failed to make good his ease. The hon. Member was speaking about Debates on the Irish Bill and on the Government having adopted a system of silence on that Bill, and in support of that he now goes off to another subject, when these words of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington were adopted in a totally different manner for a totally different purpose. When the noble Lord said that we were going to sacrifice everything for the Irish measure, I did answer that we would not flinch from the fulfilment of our English, Scotch, and Welsh pledges, and that in order to carry them out we were ready to say "Vote! Vote! Vote!"
The first two Amendments are as follows:—
In Clause 3, page 1, line 19, leave out 'Legislature," and insert "Parliament."— (Mr. Parker Smith.)
These are out of Order. The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Somerset (Mr. H. Hobhouse), is—In Clause 3, page 1, line 19, leave out ''Legislature," and insert "Assembly."— (Mr. Heneage.)
That is out of Order on this clause, and ought to be moved on Clause 5. The first in Order stands in the name of the noble Lord the Member for West Edinburgh (Viscount Wolmer).In Clause 3, page 1, line 10, after "Irish," insert "Government shall not (except so far as may be authorised by this Act) have power to do any executive act, and the Irish."
On the point of Order—[Loud cries of "Order!"] I dare say, Sir, you will allow me to submit to you what I intended by my Amendment. [Cries of "Order!"] I wish to explain the object of my Amendment. [Continued cries of "Order!"] I do not wish in any way to anticipate Clause 5, which constitutes the Executive, but to deal with the excepted subjects as a whole, and put them entirely outside the purview of the Executive as well as of the Parliament. May I submit—[Cries of "Order!"
The hon. Member is at liberty to move this on Clause 5; but I am clear that it is out of Order on this clause.
rose to Order. He begged to submit that all the Amendments on the first page of the Notice Paper were out of Order. [Cries of "Order!"] He must state his reasons. [Cries of "Order!"] He wished to point out—[Cries of"Order!"]
I rige to a point of Order. [Cries of "Order!"]
The hon. Member for North Kerry is in possession of the Committee.
again rose. [Loud cries of "Order!" and "Name!"]
The hon. Member for North Kerry rose to a point of Order.
Yes; but I am—[Interruption, and renewed cries of "Order!"]
said, that Clause 2, which the Committee had already passed, said—
and so on. Clause 3 proceeded to say—"With the exceptions and subject to the restrictions in this Act mentioned, there shall be granted to the Irish Legislature power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland in respect of matters exclusively relating to Ireland,"
and then recited the exceptions. he understood, therefore, that Clause 3 was limited to the question of power of the Irish Legislature to make laws, and that any exception to be introduced in the provision must be as to the making of laws. He submitted that the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for West Edinburgh, which related to the passing j of Resolutions and not to the making of laws, and the second Amendment, which related to Votes in Supply, and the various other Amendments on the page should be moved as new clauses, or as Amendments to Clause 5."The Irish Legislature shall not have power to make laws in respect of the following matters or any of them;"
said, the Chairman had distinctly ruled the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for West Edinburgh in Order.
I have carefully considered the matter, and have come to the conclusion that the noble Lord's Amendments are in Order. It may be said to be part of the ordinary business of a Legislature to pass Resolutions of this kind.
said, he had to propose the insertion in the clause of the words "to discuss or pass Resolutions or to." He thought the Committee had a right to ask what was in the minds of the Government when they framed this clause. There was no reason why the Committee should be in any doubt in the matter whatever, as it was only necessary to refer to the speech of the Prime Minister to ascertain what that right hon. Gentleman had in view. Speaking in the House of Commons on the 13th February in the present year, the Prime Minister, referring to the power to be given to the Irish Legislature to
said—"Make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, in respect of matters exclusively relating to Ireland, or to some part thereof,"
That this had always been the right hon. Gentleman's purpose was clear from the speech he made in introducing his Home Rule Bill in 1886. On the 8th April in that year he said—"That power is subject to a double limitation, which I will describe. First of all it is subject to the necessary and obvious limitation that certain heads are reserved to Parliament— not reserved as given to Parliament, but reserved by way of excluding the new Irish Legislature from doing any act in relation to them."
The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to enumerate the exceptions which were to be found in this Bill. The purpose which the right hon. Gentleman indicated on both those occasions had not in any way been fulfilled in the drafting of this Bill. The governing word of this section was the word "law." The Irish Legislature were not to have power to make law. He submitted to the Committee that this was a far narrower definition, and covered a far narrower field, than that foreshadowed by the Prime Minister in either of the speeches he had just quoted. in one case the right hon. Gentleman said that these matters were to be withdrawn from the "cognisance" of the Irish Legislature, and in the other he said the Irish Legislature wore to be precluded from doing "any act" in relation to them. Laws were only part of the field which was embraced in the word "cognisance," and were only part of the "acts" referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. It was quite true that if the Bill became law in its present form the Irish Legislature would be precluded from passing laws; but it would not be precluded either from discussing and passing Resolutions on any one of the subjects enumerated in the clause. He asked the Committee to consider what a position affairs would assume if the Irish Legislature were to abuse the power it would certainly have of passing Resolutions on some of these subjects. He would, in the first instance, take the 1st sub-section, which dealt with regency. He was not going to indulge in any of those wild and unfounded prophecies which the Prime Minister had accused the Unionist Party of indulging in with respect to this Bill. He was going to deal with historical fact. It was well known that when there was a Parliament in Dublin it interfered with the question of regency. Under this Bill the Irish Legislature was to be precluded from passing any Act on the subject of regency; but what might be the position of affairs if, at a critical moment, the Party in power in the Imperial Parliament had certain views on the question of regency, and the Irish Parliament were to pass a Resolution expressing totally different views and in favour of an entirely different candidate? Although, happily, they had been free from such dangers in the past, was it not possible that they might arise in the future? The Lord Lieutenant was to occupy a double position under the Bill. He was, in the first place, to be the Queen's Representative in Ireland, and he was also to be the Minister of the Imperial Parliament for certain purposes which were specially reserved in the Bill. He was to have power to veto the Acts of the Irish Parliament, and he was also to have power—it might be in spite of the expostulations of the Irish Ministers —to order payments from the Irish Exchequer for the benefit of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. He might also be considered as mainly responsible for seeing that the decisions of the Exchequer Judges and the Privy Council were carried out. The opponents of the Bill had maintained over and over again that the supremacy proposed by the Government was a sterile supremacy, because, whatever the paper guarantees might be, there would be no Executive force with which the Imperial Parliament could carry out its will against the Irish Government. The Home Secretary, in reply to this argument, had put forward as one of the safeguards of the Imperial supremacy the fact that all the officers of the Irish Executive Government would be bound to obey the orders of the Lord Lieutenant as representing the Imperial Government just as much as, if not more than, they would be bound to obey the orders of the Irish Executive. Now what would be the position of the Lord Lieutenant if he had to carry out the views of the Imperial Parliament contrary to the wishes of the Irish Government, and in the teeth of the general Nationalist opinion? He would have great difficulties to contend with. Would the Irish Executive support his orders? They might feel doubts and difficulties as to what they should do; but how long would they hesitate if the Irish Parliament passed a Resolution condemning the Lord Lieutenant for vetoing a Bill or for giving an order for payment from the Irish Exchequer to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, or if they passed a Resolution censuring the Exchequer Judges or the Irish Privy Council for the tone of their decisions on points of Constitutional Law. As the Bill now stood, the Irish Legislature could do any one of these things, although the Prime Minister said he desired to withdraw these matters from its cognisance. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary what reliance the Lord Lieutenant could have in the officers of the Irish Government to carry out his orders if the Irish Legislature passed a Resolution condemning the Lord Lieutenant for giving those orders? Sub-section 2 forbade the Irish Legislature to make laws in respect of peace or war, or matters arising from a state of war. What effect would this Bill, if passed, have on I he position of this Empire in a great national struggle such as took place at the end of the last century? This surely was a point of paramount importance, not only to themselves, but to their descendants. Parliament in this matter was acting not on its own behalf, but as trustees for future generations; and yet this branch of the subject had not, he believed, been touched upon in these Debates by any supporter of the Bill. What would be the position of the Imperial Government if, in the middle of some critical war, the Irish Legislative Body were to pass Resolutions condemning the war and the policy which caused it, and demanding immediate peace, or expressing sympathy with the enemies of the Empire? There was nothing whatever in the Bill as it stood to prevent the Irish Legislature taking such a course. When the Prime Minister said that matters of peace and war were to be withdrawn from the cognisance of the Irish Legislature he never meant that that Body would be in a position to pass a Resolution of sympathy with our enemies. Had they no rights on this subject? It was a matter of public knowledge that in some of the wars that had occurred when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian was Prime Minister Irish Nationalist Members, both in their speeches and in their Press, had very freely expressed their sympathy with the enemy the right hon. Gentleman was attacking, and their condemnation of his policy in carrying on those wars. One Member of Parliament even plunged into poetry on the subject, belittling his own country, and praising and belauding her enemies. The Prime Minister and other right hon. Gentlemen who supported the Bill might say that those sentiments were expressed when the Irish Members were smarting under a sense of wrong. But how did the right hon. Gentleman know that Irish Members in the future would not think that they had reason for dissatisfaction with the new scheme; and, if so, why should they not use such means of extorting from the Government of this country further concessions? Again, on this subject we had had experience. When was Grattan's Parliament formed, and under what circumstances was it that it forced the Imperial Parliament to concede its demands? It was in exactly analogous circumstances to those which would obtain if this Home Rule Bill passed that the leading Mem- bers of the Irish Parliament desired to have a Parliament of greater independence, and they took the opportunity of a war and of foreign complications to demand better terms, and got them. Was it not almost certain that some Members would desire for their new Irish Parliament more independence and less restrictions, and when we were engaged in a war why should they not! again hold a pistol to our head and say— "Give us this concession, or we will pass a Resolution condemning the war and sympathising with your enemy?" If history was any guide or light, dangers which had occurred in the past must be foreseen and met; and how the Government, with their expressed desire to withdraw these subjects from the cognisance of the Irish Parliament, could be content with a barren and narrow enactment as to law, leaving the Irish Legislature free to pass such Resolutions at a critical time, the right hon. Gentleman had failed to explain. In Sub-section 3 the Irish Legislature were forbidden to make laws on the subject of Naval or Military Forces. But it was well known that there had been in Ireland a great Military Force—the Volunteers—which needed no law to call it into existence, and that Military Force; was the foundation-stone of Grattan's Parliament. No Act of the Irish Parliament was passed to create it, and no doubt a similar body without any legal status at all might, by a system of mutual co-operation and understanding, again come together. But by this Bill as it stood the Irish Parliament might pass a Resolution calling upon patriotic Irishmen voluntarily to baud themselves together and make | one of those Military Bodies which had had so great an effect on the history of Ireland, and which might enable the Irish Parliament created under this Bill to take up with greater effect that position in foreign politics which he had foreshadowed. Sub-section 4 forbade the making of laws in connection with Treaties and other relations with Foreign States. As the Bill stood, there was nothing whatever to prevent the Irish Legislature from sending an Envoy of its own to Washington or Paris without making any law whatever. The Irish Government could send an Envoy as its own separate Representative to any Foreign State at any time, and the Irish Legislature could vote money for that purpose. He need not enlarge on that point. That Envoy might take his place beside the Imperial Representative, and might put forward a scheme of policy different from that of the Representative of the Imperial Parliament, and use it as a lever to try to wring some further concession from us. What would be the position of this country in such a ease? Supposing we were passing through a critical stage in our history at the time, supposing complicated diplomatic negotiations were going on and the question of peace or war hung in the balance, would not the Foreign Minister of this country—the man on whom, perhaps, the fate of the Empire depended, and with whom rested the decision whether there should be peace or war—would he not be placed in a cruel position when he learnt that there was side by side with his Envoy an Envoy from the Irish Parliament having ulterior views of its own? There were two countries in particular with which the relations of this country were vast and complicated. Indeed, there was scarcely any part of the world in which the British Empire did not touch some French interest. We had, too, an enormous field of contact with the United States, and those were the very two countries of all others where the Irish Legislature would be most likely to send its Envoys. In the United States there was a large Irish vote. What would prevent the Irish vote in the United States, in the interest of the Party which it supported and the Irish Parliament in Dublin, for the objects of its own ambition, from using Parties in the British Empire and in the United States as a sort of battledore and shuttlecock for the promotion of their own purposes, and to extract from the Imperial Parliament those concessions which were the ambition of the Dublin Parliament? He had only touched upon the borders of a very large field which the Committee was bound to explore. It was a subject upon which not a single word had dropped from any supporter of this Bill. It was a subject on which the House had been left in complete ignorance; it was a matter of vital consequence, and yet the Leaders of the Gladstonian Party had never vouchsafed to the constituencies of the country a word to show how the Government meant to forestall those dangers. Then Subsection 6 said that the Irish Legislature should not make laws with regard to treason and treason-felony. There were historic words of the Prime Minister in introducing his first Home Rule Bill when he talked of laws coming to Ireland "in a foreign garb." Were there any laws which came to Ireland in a more foreign garb than the laws of treason and treason-felony; and would these laws assume a native aspect because they had been entirely withheld from the purview of the Irish Legislature? The whole Irish Party of both sections were united in condemning the use of these laws, and they asserted that the right hon. Gentleman himself had put men in gaol most unjustly under them, and kept them there. What would be the position of the officers of justice and the Ministers of this House if the Irish Parliament passed a Resolution of condemnation upon every conviction and imprisonment of an Irishman under the laws of treason-felony, prospective or retrospective? Lastly, he came to Subsection 7, which forbade the Irish Legislature from making laws in regard to trade with any place out of Ireland. Here, again, the governing word was "laws." The Prime Minister had told the country he desired to withdraw this subject from the cognisance of the Irish Parliament. Let the Committee consider once more what the position of the Foreign Secretary would be in his future commercial negotiations. England was the only country that had adopted a thoroughgoing Free Trade policy. Every other country almost was endeavouring to raise higher and higher a Protectionist barrier against her. What would be the position of an English Minister if, while he was trying to negotiate from a Free Trade point of view, the Irish Legislature passed Resolutions in favour of a Protectionist policy? For it was notorious to the Committee that the sympathies of the Irish Nationalist Members in matters of fiscal policy were on the side of Protection. The late Mr. Parnell openly avowed the fact. He expressed the hope that Ireland might yet be benefited by the adoption of a Protectionist policy, and all those who were once his followers were generally supposed to hold the same views. Was it to be supposed that the Irish Nationalists would not give vent to those views when the time and opportunity came? Thus the two Parliaments might be promulgating directly opposite principles, and thus any English Foreign Minister would find it a very difficult task to negotiate any Commercial Treaty of a Free Trade character with another Power. He had drawn attention to some of the dangers which were involved in this clause of the Bill—dangers which the Prime Minister and the Government evidently intended to meet. But he maintained that the clause did not carry out the avowed intentions of the Government as explained by the Prime Minister. If the Government did not accept the Amendment, or insert in the clause words to the same effect, it must be assumed either that the Prime Minister, in his statement in introducing the Bill, went beyond what his real meaning was, and thus gave the country a wholly erroneous impression, or that the point must have escaped the observation of the Government, and the words used by the Premier went further than their policy was intended to go. Either the Government meant to withdraw the subjects he had referred to from the cognisance of the Irish Legislature or they did not. If they meant that that Body should have the power to pass Resolutions condemning the foreign policy of the Empire, censuring the Lord Lieutenant, dictating what the fiscal policy of the Empire should be, and in favour of establishing Military Forces in Ireland, now was the time for them to tear off the mask and let the country know. If they did not mean this, then he could only say they had failed in the Bill to carry out their intentions, and that it would be necessary for them to insert effective words enabling them to do so."I will now tell the House—and I would beg particular attention to this—what are the functions that we propose to withdraw from the cognisance of this Legislative Body."
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 19, after the word "to," to insert the words "discuss or pass Resolutions, or to."—( Viscount Wolmer.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
I confess that the Amendment appears to me to be one of great importance, and I should have desired to discuss the question apart from those Party differences which under- lay the consideration of the Bill, and in a temperate spirit, looking straight at the real difficulties of the case—the prohibition of any proposed Irish Legislature discussing certain subjects. It must not be supposed that the prohibition is merely against the passing of Resolutions, it is a prohibition against discussion, requiring the Irish Legislature to maintain absolute silence on certain subjects. I will endeavour to discuss the question with that dryness which ought to be observed in handling questions of a delicate and serious nature. Let us consider the meaning of these words. I am unable to agree with the noble Lord that the question is to be ruled by previous expressions and previous proceedings in this House. We are speaking of a Legislative Body, and in expressing the intention to withdraw certain subjects from the cognisance of that Body, necessarily I meant, in relation to the subject, legislative cognisance. I am reminded that I used the phrase, "do not act," and undoubtedly in using those words I had in view legislative action, no act having force beyond itself, no act of a binding character. If it had been my intention to say that the Parliament of Ireland should not be allowed to discuss particular subjects, it would have been my absolute duty, in justice to the House at. large, and especially to the Representatives of Ireland, to let them know that there were certain subjects on which the mouths of the Members of that Parliament must not be opened. The noble Lord has gone through a number of instances, and here I could not but remark the bias with which he approached the subject. He spoke of the great and serious danger of the interference of the Irish Legislature with matters of foreign policy. I accept the justice of the description of such interference as serious; but what interference could there be? The noble Lord spoke of the sending of an Envoy abroad; but that is what the Irish Legislature will not be able to do. Money cannot be voted and paid in any civilised country that I know of without an Act of Parliament. There must be an Irish Act to sanction the payment of every farthing. Suppose the Irish Parliament were impassioned for evil and animated by all those unworthy and hostile motives which have been attributed to it—suppose the Members of that Parliament wore incapable of using rational powers in a rational manner for rational purposes, which is the assumption of some critics of the Bill—otherwise why should it be supposed that the Irish Legislature, appointed for domestic purposes, would send Ambassadors to a Foreign Power? The Irish Legislature would have no power to pay such an Ambassador, or to accredit such a Representative to a Foreign Court, and he could not be received at a Foreign Court without being accredited. I fully admit that if the Irish Legislature were animated by this astounding spirit which is attributed to it—if it were so impassioned for evil as seems to be sometimes assumed, it would lead to much inconvenience. We have heard of paper supremacy, and of supremacy which, though declared, must be of no value. In my opinion, no course would be more unwise for the Committee to adopt than to make it declaration of power without having adequate means to support it. That you have never done. I would ask the noble Lord whether it is wise, not for the sake of the Irish Legislature, but for our own sake, to make prohibitions which we supply no means of enforcing? This we have never done. If hon. Gentlemen opposite can show any instances in which it has been done, I will be prepared to discuss them. The noble Lord has not shown any means of enforcing the prohibitions which he proposes. I would like to put it this way:—What would be the position of this House if the prohibitions which we are now asked to impose were disregarded? Those prohibitions might be flourished in the face of this Parliament, and might be disregarded by the Irish Parliament. This House would have no means of enforcing them. It would be out of the power of this House to interfere. But this is not the whole objection. There is a still wider one. I am not now opposing the prohibition on the merits. I would have no sympathy with the Irish Legislature if it should proceed to perform acts which were manifestly inconsistent with the Act of Parliament; and I would say— "If you can stop such acts without inconvenience, stop them." The difficulty which I feel, however, is that they could not stop them; and, what is more important, we might, in the attempt to stop them, be stopping that which we ought not to stop, and which we would have no Executive means of stopping. My first proposition is that such prohibitions could have no executory or operative means. The effect of passing an Amendment of this kind would be to place Parliament in a false position, and to expose its dignity to disparagement. I now come to another question which I consider of still greater importance. I do not know whether it is what the lawyers call inter apices; but what I want to know is — Are you prepared to adopt as a principle that when you appoint a Legislative Body you should inhibit that Body, as a proper portion of their arrangement with it, from doing anything except legislating? That is a thing which, in my opinion, you cannot do. I think that every hon. Member should consider this question in some such terms as I have propounded. Take the case of Canada. Would it have been desirable to prohibit the Canadian Parliament from doing anything save legislating? If you had done so and the Parliament wished to pass a Resolution, as it did pass one on Irish Home Rule, could you have enforced your authority? This subject led me to request my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) to go and consult a book which I had made certain would be in the Library of the House, where the selections are, I may say in general, admirably made. The book I wanted to consult was The Life of Lord Sherbrooke—a most interesting book it is—in the first volume of which it is stated that the Legislative Council of New South Wales petitioned this House with regard to a matter of law—not in New South Wales, but in Great Britain. They petitioned this Parliament to allow Australian corn to be admitted on the same grounds that Canadian corn had been admitted. Is this Committee prepared to say that the Irish Legislature should be prevented from petitioning Parliament or the Crown upon any and all subjects which were excepted from its competency? Is the noble Lord prepared to prohibit the Irish Legislature from petitioning the Crown, for example, against the continuance of a war which the Irish Legislature might consider to be burdensome and unjust?
I thought the Irish Members were to continue to sit in this House for the very purpose of expressing their views on these subjects.
I had hoped the noble Lord would have given me an answer, not an argument; but I presume the noble Lord does mean to prevent the Irish people from petitioning, on the ground that they are legislatively represented in this House. How far is that principle to carry? Is the noble Lord prepared to prohibit petitioning wherever there are Legislative Representatives? What, then, would be the state of the case? In one hall in Dublin there would sit the Municipal Corporation, with very limited and purely local powers; while in another hall in Dublin would sit a subordinate, but still a legislative, Assembly. The Municipal Corporation might petition Parliament and the Crown upon any and every subject: but the same power of petition would be denied to the Legislative Assembly. I do not wish to lay down any wide and sweeping proposition; but I am inclined to say that you could hardly show mo a case, whatever subject or persons it affects, in which I am prepared to give the slightest countenance, or to assume the smallest participation in any limitation of the right of petition. Will the noble Lord and his friends say that a Resolution is one thing and a Petition another? Have they examined the law of Parliament on the subject? The inexorable rule of Parliament is against the noble Lord. (Turning to Mr. Bryce, Chancellor of the Duchy)—Would you just read the passage for me, please?
(reading from Sir Erskine May's book on Parliamentary Practice)—
"Every question when agreed to assumes the form either of an Order or a Resolution of the House. By its Orders the House directs its Committees, its Members, its Officers, the order of its own proceedings, and the acts of all persons whom they concern; by its Resolutions, the House declares its own opinions and purposes."
Thank you, Sir. Now, the question is — Do you mean to stop petitioning or not? That is a serious question. The Amendment of the noble Lord is perfectly clear, because you cannot petition without discussion, and the noble Lord would prohibit discussion. I hope I have argued the question fairly. I have not said anything impugning the character of the Amendment as one otherwise than quite worthy of discussion. I have not said that the prohibition of an abuse is an illegitimate purpose. Every abuse of power that can be prevented ought to be prevented; but I am not prepared to say that, while the mouth of every Local Authority in Ireland should be open, the mouth of the Legislative Body in that country should be closed. I need only add we are opposed to the proposition.
The right hon. Gentleman began his reply to the speech of the noble Lord by expressing the hope that this discussion—which must be important, and which can hardly be brief—should be conducted with dryness. I do not know whether, by that remark, the right hon. Gentleman intended to convey any implied censure upon the way in which the noble Lord presented his case; but I have seldom heard a speech in Committee in which there was more argument, and which was more admirably adapted to the occasion. Though the right hon. Gentleman, in the dry arguments he has laid before the Committee, has made quite clear the nature of his own objections to this proposition, he has not met, and has not attempted to meet, the arguments of the noble Lord. To not one of the noble Lord's arguments did the right hon. Gentleman reply, except the one connected with the sending of a Representative by the Irish Legislature to some Foreign Court, and of that he disposed by saying it would be impossible for the Irish Legislature to pay such a Representative, and, as they could not pay him, they would not send him.
He could not be received without credentials.
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he was once a Member of a Government which did send to a Foreign Power a Representative who was never paid out of the Votes of the House; and what was open to the right hon. Gentleman to do without the consent and without payment by the House would evidently be still more open to the Irish Legislative Body to do, because they could do it in a more open manner than suited the policy of the right hon. Gentleman when he sent Mr. Errington to Rome. The right hon. Gentleman went on to speak of a paper supremacy. This is a paper safeguard— "You have always objected to paper safeguards." He added, "How can you be so inconsistent as to suggest a safeguard which you yourselves must admit could not be effectively enforced by this House? "If this is to be a possible Bill, the Government has told us over and over again that it involves a contract between the Irish people and the English people, between the Irish Legislature and the British Legislature. Is the right hon. Gentleman now going to tell the House that if we make a contract with the Irish Legislature that contract is to be absolutely worthless because it cannot be enforced? By that one argument the right hon. Gentleman has demolished the whole fabric by which he endeavours to support his Bill. We now know from his own lips, and on his own authority, what value he attaches to these contracts between the British Parliament and the Irish Legislature. True it is that, if the Amendment is carried, it will certainly not effectively and completely restrain the powers for mischief which must necessarily be given to any new Legislature created in Ireland; but it will do something towards correcting that mischief. The right hon. Gentleman got hold of some precedent of what happened in New South Wales; but there is no parallel between the Colonial case and the Irish case. My noble Friend has taken a list of subjects on which the Government propose that the Irish Legislature should legislate, and the Government says—"As they may legislate about them, they may deal with them." Is there any similar list of prohibitions in the Colonial Acts? Is there any analogy between the Colonies and the case of Ireland? If there is such a list of similar prohibitions then they would be logical in their contention; but until there is such a list how can they bring forward the Constitution of the Colonies as an argument on which to base their action as to the list of prohibitions they introduce into the Bill? Is it not evident that the case of the Colonies and the case of Ireland are so widely different that to argue from one to the other is really wholly illusory? Then the right hon. Gentleman said— and that is the argument that appears to him conclusive against the Amendment— "Would you prohibit the Irish Parliament from petitioning the English Parliament?" Before I answer that ques- tion directly I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, not for the first time, another question—Are you going to keep the Irish Members in the House of Commons, or are you not?
I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the 9th clause, which it is our intention to propose, and to do our best to induce the House to adopt.
I confess I have never heard a more explicit statement from the right hon. Gentleman at any previous stage of our Debates. We now have it from him that the Government not only mean to propose the 9th clause, but to do their best to induce the House to accept it. These words are now on record. I am sure if they had been put on record some weeks ago a good deal of Debate would have been avoided.
They were put on record by me in introducing the Bill, when I stated our distinct intention to propose the retention of the Irish Members in deference to what we believe to be the wishes of the House.
The distinct intention of the right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Bill seemed to be so worn away by the subsequent utterances of his Colleagues, and I must add of himself, in reference to the Amendment spoken to by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), that I confess I had not understood it was the intention of the Government to do their best to pass the clause in its present shape.
I said to pass the clause which retained the Irish Members.
I admit that is what the right hon. Gentleman said; but I think I was justified in interpreting that as meaning the clause in its present shape, because the right hon. Gentleman, if he refers to his speech in introducing the Bill, will see that the only method of retaining the Irish Members other than that contained in the clause was one which he deliberately rejected when he introduced the Bill. But it is only necessary for my argument to know that the right hon. Gentleman means to do his best to retain the Irish Members; and if they are retained I do not see what function in the way of petitioning the Irish Parliament need have at all. The proper organ of the Irish people in Imperial matters will be their Representatives returned to this House as representing Ireland, and there is no conceivable reason why the liberty of petitioning should be left to the Irish Legislature with regard to the list of prohibited matters. Therefore, by the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that he means to retain the Irish Members, it appears to me he has finally disposed of the one argument which he appeared to think unanswerable. If the right hon. Gentleman's arguments against the Amendment appeared to be singularly weak and almost self-destructive, the strongest argument in its favour was to be drawn from the right hon. Gentleman's silence. He had to admit—and his silence was a most eloquent admission—that the noble Lord had not gone beyond the bounds of truth when he pointed out what injury might be done, not to Ireland alone, but to the whole Empire, by giving this power to the Irish Legislature. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE dissented.] If the right hon. Gentleman did not admit the argument he did not reply to it. Has he an answer which he has withheld? If the right hon. Gentleman has, I hope he will communicate it to some of the eloquent gentlemen who sit around him, and that at some later stage we may hear the un-uttered part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. For the present I am content to assume that, as the right hon. Gentleman has left nine-tenths of the noble Lord's speech unanswered, an answer did not occur to him at the moment. If that be so, is it not obvious that in every matter of internal administration and of external policy, in time of peace and in time of Avar, if there were any cause of difference between the Irish nation and the English nation, between the Irish Legislature and the British Legislature, we should, if we left the Irish Legislature with full powers of passing Resolutions, put into their hands a weapon which they would not be slow to use, and which, if used, would shatter the unity and organisation of the whole fabric of your Government? The right hon. Gentleman must know well enough— for no lesson stands out more clearly upon the face of political history—that the possession of an organised and admitted mouthpiece of public opinion, or of any form of opinion, adds enormously to the value and weight and strength of that opinion; and if it should so turn out that in any great crisis of our national history the minority of the citizens of the United Kingdom who live in Ireland should not agree with the majority of those citizens who live in Great Britain, then you put it in the power of that minority to thwart the Imperial policy of this country, perhaps at a most critical moment of its history, and, by doing so, increase ten-thousand-fold the dangers of this most dangerous measure.
was surprised that no Member had risen on the Government side to reply to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister had admitted that this was a most important Amendment, which ought to be considered and discussed; but that opinion did not seem to be shared by the Party of the right hon. Gentleman, for not one of its Members had risen to take part in the discussion. The Prime Minister had given four reasons why this Amendment should not be accepted. In the first place, he laid stress upon the point that if this Amendment was accepted the Irish Legislature would not be able to petition this Parliament. It seemed to him that that was a most extraordinary confusion, and that no such argument could be sustained. Every Member knew the difference between a Resolution of that House and a Petition to that House. Every Member of the Irish Legislature would still be able to petition the House of Commons; all its Members could join in signing any Petition; but what he understood his noble Friend to mean by his Amendment was that when that House took certain subjects away from the Irish Legislature it desired that that Legislature should not indulge in impotent discussions on those subjects. The intention of this Statute was that the Irish Legislature should not legislate upon the matters mentioned in Section 3, and what he understood was the Prime Minister's view was that with reference to other subjects the Irish Legislature could legislate, but with reference to these subjects it should be a Debating Society, and that these excepted subjects might be proper matters for discussion by a Debating Society in Dublin, although they might not be matters of actual legislation by that Body. It seemed to him that the first argument of the Prime Minister about Petitions fell completely to the ground. Every man in Ireland, including the Members of the Irish Legislature, would be able to petition the House as now. All the people would be able to bring their grievances before the House as at present, and all the Amendment sought to do was to provide that the Irish Legislature should not be permitted to render the subject of fruitless discussions matters which were by this Statute removed from their jurisdiction. Another argument of the Prime Minister was that this Amendment would be impossible of enforcement. That, again, he contended, was an argument that could not be supported. If anything in the Bill would be enforceable, the Amendment would be no less enforceable. There were certain Resolutions in that House which were irregular, but the Speaker did not put them from the Chair: and just it as was within the jurisdiction of the Speaker in that House not to put such a Resolution, so it would be the duty of the Speaker of the Irish Legislature not to put a Resolution which was within these excepted subjects. Again, that House could not make an Address relating to a pending Bill, and it was no more a slight to the Irish Legislature or unenforcable to say they should not pass a Resolution with reference to these excepted subjects than it was to say that that House should be prevented by Orders and Rules from making an Address and passing Resolutions on certain subjects; and if that House could not pass Addresses and Resolutions on certain subjects, and if the Speaker could refuse to put them if brought before the House, could it be any indignity to the Irish Legislature to tell them there were certain subjects on which they should not move Resolutions or pass Addresses; and if there were such subjects, what better subjects could they be than those which that House said they were not to deal with? The third argument of the Prime Minister was that if this Amendment were adopted it would interfere with the freedom of discussion. But what did that 3rd clause do? It interfered with the freedom of legislation; and if they interfered with the freedom of legislation on certain points, why should they not interfere with discussion on these points? Public meetings could be held in Ireland just as before on those questions, but they would, in effect, say to the Irish Legislature, "We prohibit you from freedom of legislation in reference to these particular matters, and we do not think it unwise or unnecessary to add that we prohibit you from freedom of discussion on these particular matters." Therefore, instead of there being any interference with freedom and liberty of discussion, it came to this: that the limitation of the freedom of discussion in reference to certain matters was the natural corollary, and ought to be the sequence, of the prohibition with reference to legislation. The fourth point of the Prime Minister with reference to this matter of resolution was that it was not an act. He had said he would prevent the Irish Legislature from doing acts with reference to these matters, but he said that did not cover the question of Resolutions. But the right hon. Gentleman and his Government had taught that House that Resolutions were serious matters, and were to be treated seriously, because, as he understood, the principle laid down by him and his Party—was that when that House passed a Resolution the Government ought to take some opportunity of giving effect to it. Were they, then, to understand this: that while a Resolution of that House was to be treated as a matter of importance to which the Government would give effect if it could, the Irish Parliament was to pass Resolutions with reference to naval and military matters and Treaties, which were to be of no importance, or disregarded? If, however, they were to be of importance, then the argument of the Prime Minister fell to the ground, because he would be permitting important and serious matters to be taken up by the Irish Legislature—only one degree less in importance than legislation. But there was a still more serious argument in favour of this Amendment. The history of Grattan's Parliament would teach the right hon. Gentleman that Resolutions had in that Assembly been a greater source of danger to Imperial interests than legislation. The Regency (one of the matters excepted by this clause from the legislative powers of the Irish Legislature) was actually the subject of dispute between the Imperial Parliament and the Irish Parliament during the time of Grattan's Parliament in 1789. The Irish Parliament at that time asserted the right of differing from the Imperial Parliament on the question of appointing a Regent during the mental incapacity of George the Third. Accordingly the Irish Parliament proceeded to invest the Regent with powers differing altogether from those granted by the British Parliament, and they asserted that right not by Bill or legislation. On the contrary, Mr. Grattan said he would not proceed by Bill with reference to the matter. He well knew that if he had done so he would have had to get the Great Seal of England to an Irish Bill—even in Grattan's Parliament; therefore, he did the very thing which the Irish Legislature would do if they wanted to make themselves disagreeable to the Imperial Parliament—and proceeded by Address, which, as Sir Erskine May points out, is a particular kind of Resolution. If, therefore, they wore to take lessons from history, they would not for a moment admit that there was no danger in Resolutions, because it was on account of this very power of passing Resolutions that a great danger occurred in the last century, under Grattan's Parliament, with reference to one of these very excepted subjects—namely, the Regency. These were matters which called for some reply from Members of the Government, and he appealed to the Chancellor of the Duchy, or some of his Colleagues, to make some reply to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. They were setting up in Ireland a subordinate Parliament, and they found that in Grattan's Parliament the power of passing Resolutions was a great danger, which nearly brought the two countries into collision, and which did bring the two Parliaments into collision; that the point which caused this danger was the subject of the Regency, which was one of the matters excepted in this very clause; and how, therefore, could it be contended that there was not likely to be any danger in reference to Resolutions as to the Regency and other matters of that sort? The House ought to pause before it incurred the danger which history showed confronted the Imperial Parliament in the past. If the Government were really determined to keep these matters outside the Irish Parliament—if they were sincere in that desire—now was the time to test it. If they meant that the Irish Legislature was not to deal with all these great topics which were excluded by the clause, let them show their sincerity by also telling the Irish Legislature that they should not have the power of moving Resolutions on them and of rendering them subjects of serious discussion. Was it the intention of the Government that the Irish Legislature should be permitted to play with these subjects without doing any work with reference to them? He believed his noble Friend had performed a most useful duty in showing this great danger which underlay this particular clause. Apparently it was contemplated by the Government that these Imperial questions might become the subject of fruitless discussion and dangerous agitation in an Irish Legislature.
said that, of course, the House accepted the explanation of the Prime Minister as to what was in his mind when he made use of the expressions which had been quoted by the noble Lord. He explained that his phrase as to allowing no act of the Irish Legislature was intended to mean no legislative act. Here wore the words in the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made on the 13th February last—
That seemed to him most decidedly to mean from doing anything of any sort, and it appeared to him a somewhat forced construction to say that by "act" the technical words "Act of Parliament" was signified. He should have thought it would have included the power of passing Resolutions. He thought the other passage in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman delivered in 1886 was almost stronger. In his speech on the First Reading of the Home Rule Bill of that year the right hon. Gentleman said—"That power is subject to a double limitation, which I will describe. First of all, it is subject to the necessary and obvious limitation that certain heads are reserved to Parliament—not reserved as given to Parliament, but reserved by way of excluding the new Irish Legislature from doing any act in relation to them,"
Surely that signified an absolute and complete withdrawal. But the right hon. Gentleman now said it meant simply the withdrawal of the power of legislating. This Bill would create not only a Legislature, but an Executive for Ireland, and the acts of that Executive would be influenced not only by the legislation, but also by the Resolutions of the Legislature. If there was one thing more certain than another it would be that the Irish Executive Officers would be far more ready to carry out measures which lay on the doubtful line of the Irish Legislative Assembly if they were covered by the broad shield of a Resolution of the Irish Lower House. His noble Friend gave a large number of examples in which the various Resolutions carried by an Irish Parliament might have a very grave and deleterious effect upon this country. There was one other matter on which he should like to say a few words, and that was the question of foreign enlistment. He was puzzled to know whether that question was intended to be dealt with by this clause. They knew that any Resolution dealing with that matter might have the effect of forcing a fresh Alabama question upon the country, and he should certainly have thought they had learned a sufficient lesson from one Alaboma not to desire to open the door for another similar question in the future. At any rate, it was clear that any Resolution the Irish Assembly might take in regard to that question at a critical moment would very largely affect the action of the Executive. They had heard no answer to the arguments brought forward in support of that Amendment, except that everything was to be trusted to go right, and that to suggest that things could possibly go wrong was to suggest that Irishmen in the past and future were fiends in human form. Without people being fiends, or destitute of every scrap of human virtue, they had a way of differing in opinions and taking different sides, especially with regard to great foreign questions. This difference on the part of an Irish Parliament, if it had freedom of action, might lead to disastrous consequences, and to obviate such ill effects they asked for the adop- tion of this Amendment. As to the question of petitioning, he pointed out that the Irish people would have Irish Members there to represent their views and the right to petition would in no way be interfered with. He denied that by supporting such an Amendment hon. Members were expressing unworthy distrust of the Irish people. He felt just as much confidence in Irish gentlemen as anybody else. He felt, as the Chancellor of the Duchy said in a recent speech, that they were neither saints nor devils. They had, perhaps, rather more of human nature in them than other people. When they gave powers to a man he used those powers not in any spirit of malice or wickedness, but he would naturally use those powers for the purpose of obtaining what he believed to be his rights. This Bill was to give to the Irish Nationalists one-half of the loaf they desired. It gave them certain powers subject to very large and definite restrictions. What the Irish Nationalists had contended all along was that Ireland was a nation. They found that their claim to he a nation was acknowledged by the Front Bench; but, all the same, their rights were not the rights of a nation, but wore subject to all kinds of embarrassing restrictions. If history could teach them anything, it seemed to him to teach them this: that when they put men into that position they would feel themselves bound to use the powers that had been given to them for the purpose of getting what they (the Liberals) have acknowledged to be their rights, and what they would think was wrongfully and weakly withheld as a concession to the prejudices of the British people. The supporters of the Amendment were justified in demanding that the British people should be safeguarded against the consequences of such a use of the measure, and he trusted that the Amendment would be accepted."I will now tell the House, and I would beg particular attention to this, what are the functions we propose to withdraw from the cognisance of this Legislative Body."
said, for the third time they had no attempt on the part of Her Majesty's Government to answer the objections and arguments of Members on the Opposition side. Nor did any Member of the Nationalist Party rise to support the views entertained on this question by the Prime Minister. He was rather surprised at the silence on the Ministerial Benches. He doubted whether this silence was duo to the fact that the Government and their Irish friends were in a desperate hurry to get this Bill through somehow.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present.
said, as he had already declared, his view was that it might be doubted whether the Government were anxious to hurry through the Bill. However, he thought it would be admitted that no rational grounds had been advanced to show why this Amendment should not be accepted. At the General Election the country certainly understood the Prime Minister to say that the Irish Legislature should not have power to discuss and pass Resolutions on the subject it was precluded from legislating upon; and the opinions of some of those who supported Home Rule would certainly be changed when they found that, by the non-acceptance of this Amendment, the Irish Legislature would be able, by discussing and passing Resolutions, to obtain further concessions. The power of passing Resolutions, as exercised by Grattan's Parliament, was used to the detriment of the Imperial Parliament and of Imperial interests; and it would be dangerous to have an Irish Legislature passing Resolutions on subjects upon which they were forbidden to legislate. If, as the Prime Minister said, they could not restrain the Irish Legislature from discussing and passing Resolutions, how could they enforce prohibitions against legislation upon excepted subjects? How could they enforce any prohibitive sentence in this Bill? How could they enforce the declaration that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was not to be impaired? To say that the Amendment could not, be enforced was to give away the whole of the declared intention of the Government. The Amendment would stand precisely upon the same footing as the exceptions in the clause. If it was impossible to prevent the Irish Parliament from passing Resolutions, it would be equally impossible to prevent their passing laws. Had the power of Local Bodies to pass Resolutions been beneficially exercised? The Boards of Guardians in Ireland had neglected their proper business in order to discuss evictions and the tyranny of landlords, with which they had nothing to do——
How about the Grand Juries?
said, there could be no doubt that the Bodies he referred to had wasted time in discussing questions that did not come within their business cognisance, and that to the neglect of the regular business which they were appointed to discharge. It was very difficult, owing to the action of these Bodies, for the authorities to enforce the law. But they had examples nearly as flagrant nearer home. During the tithe agitation in Wales the County Councils could not proceed to their proper business without first discussing whether there ought to be an Established Church in Wales and whether the police ought to be allowed to attend distraint sales. At every meeting resolutions were passed in favour of Disestablishment and against the police attending tithe distraint sales, which were necessary to the carrying out of the law; and then the regular business was done in a hurry at the end of the meeting. It never entered into the head of anybody who voted for Home Rule that the Irish Legislature would be allowed even to discuss such matters as Foreign Treaties, such matters as the Crown or a Regency; and without this Amendment the clause would leave a dangerous power in the hands of the Legislature; and, when England might happen to be in difficulty, the working of such a clause might lead to Imperial disaster. He should support the Amendment.
said, one of the remarkable features of that Debate was that all the argument was on one side; but perhaps the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. J. Morley) would redress the balance when he came to address the House——
said, the Prime Minister, in the speech which he had delivered early in the evening, had shown a full sense of the importance of the Amendment and of the extreme difficulty of meeting it. The right hon. Gentleman adduced two arguments—the first dealing with the power to discuss and pass Resolutions; and the second with reference to the right of Petition. It was an ominous reflection that the Prime Minister had admitted that he proposed to create a Parliament, the action of which he could not control to the extent of preventing it from discussing and passing Resolutions. He had told them that in his view the Irish Legislature should be the organ of the general voice of the Irish people. If that was the view of the Prime Minister and the Government, they ought not to have introduced this clause into the Bill at all. There was no doubt that over and over again, in the clause, subjects were mentioned in which the people of Ireland would be most legitimately interested, but which, nevertheless, the Government asked the Committee to prevent the Irish Legislature from legislating upon. These arguments, if they were valid at all, went a great deal too far. They were directed not only against the power of passing Resolutions, but also against the power of making laws. Some of these Resolutions might have an extremely important bearing on the action of the Irish Government. There had recently been a very striking illustration in that House of how the action of a Government might be affected not by passing laws, but by passing a Resolution—he referred to the Resolution passed after a very short discussion a fortnight ago, on which the Lord Chancellor was pledged to act in creating Justices of the Peace throughout the United Kingdom. That would reverse what had been the established practice time out, of mind. The natural way of reversing such a practice in a Constitutional country would be by passing a law with the consent of the two Houses of the Legislature and of the Crown. That course, however, was not taken, and it was, at least, possible to conceive that there might be similar action on the part of the Irish Government in the future. There would be a much more potent reason for such action actuating a new Irish Government, for they, instead of representing the majority in a Sovereign Parliament, would be "cribbed, cabined, and confined" by a law imposed from without—the alien law of the Imperial Parliament coming in, what the Prime Minister had once called, a "foreign garb." Under those circumstances, the Irish Administration might be disposed to take the Resolution either of one House or, if they liked it better, of both Houses of the new Legislature, and act on it to the best of their ability. And yet they were told that the intention and wish of Her Majesty's Government was to prevent the Irish Legislature from passing any Act which would be binding in respect of the various matters mentioned in the section. He would allude to a few things which might be done in this way by Resolution. His noble Friend had suggested that in the case of a Regency the Irish Government, acting on Resolution, might proclaim a different Regent from that recognised by this country. Then, the Irish Parliament might release an Alabama, acting on a Resolution of the Legislative Assembly—an act which might very well involve not the Irish Government, but the Imperial Government, either in a foreign war, or in compensation to the tune of several millions of money. Surely that was a matter which concerned the taxpayers of Great Britain. It was not a matter of small importance, and he ventured to think that an Irish Government who refused to act on a Resolution of this character passed in deference to the feeling of the American friends of the majority in the Irish Parliament would incur great danger of being hurled from power by that majority. They might establish a Volunteer Force, conclude a secret Treaty with America or any foreign country, or extradite political prisoners without the protection of the Extradition Laws. They might release treason-felony prisoners whom the majority of the Irish Parliament might think unjustly sacrificed to the law of the Imperial Parliament. In fact, a very large number of instances might be mentioned in which the most serious acts of policy might be taken on the strength of a Resolution, and would be taken, because the Irish Government would depend for their power on the very majority which passed the Resolution. It was an important fact that a large part of the clause was concerned with things that could naturally be done without any legislative action whatever on the part of the Legislature. They (the Unionist Party) had been accused, and not for the first time, of attributing to the proposed new Legislature improper motives, because they suggested that the Members of that Legislature might not only be willing but anxious to go beyond the functions conferred upon them by the Bill and enter into relations with Foreign Powers. Surely, considering the remarkable relations which existed at this very moment between one of the Parliamentary Parties in the House and the large body of their friends and relatives in America, it was not beyond the bounds of ordinary expectation to expect that they would wish to show their gratitude and make an adequate return for the favours they had received and the favours they undoubtedly would continue to receive from the other side of the Atlantic. Nothing, to his mind, was more probable than that action would be taken to enter into closer relations with some Foreign Powers—with Rome, for instance, seeing that the majority of the Representatives would be, to a great extent, controlled by the Catholic priests. Money could not be voted for the purpose, but it would only be necessary to pass a Resolution on the subject, and the Government would be bound to find the means for establishing these diplomatic relations. With America and Rome an Irish Parliament would be almost certain to establish close relations. It had been pointed out that elective bodies in Ireland at present discussed and passed resolutions on political questions. That was true, and, if he remembered rightly, some Irish Boards of Guardians had been suspended for neglecting their proper business for matters outside their proper functions—matters such as the evicted tenants and the Coercion Act. He did not suppose his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary would be willing to suspend the Irish Parliament for such neglect of duty, as he had ridiculed the suspension even of a County Council that did not perform its duty. But in creating a brand new Body with brand new functions they were bound to take into consideration the possibility of their not confining themselves to their proper duties and sacrificing the interests of the public by discussing and passing Resolutions on subjects with which they had nothing to do. It was said that the proposed prohibition could not be enforced. But should the Irish Legislature be as orderly as it was always represented to the Committee that it would be, there would be no difficulty in enforcing this proposed prohibition; because when a Resolution on a forbidden subject was proposed, all that the Speaker or Chairman would have to do would be to call the Member proposing it to Order. Judging from the respect for order now exhibited by Nationalist Members when Unionists were attempting to depart from the strict ruling of the Chair, they might rest satisfied that if this prohibition were introduced it would meet, with ready acceptance from the Members of the Irish Legislature. He ventured to commend the Amendment from two points of view—first, that of those who thought that the new Body was very likely indeed to exceed its functions and to be disorderly; and, secondly, from the point of view that nothing was likely to be more businesslike or orderly than the new Body. From whatever point of view the matter was regarded, the Committee would see that if they inserted a clause for the purpose of prohibiting the Irish Legislature from passing laws on particular subjects it was only reasonable and logical and consequential to forbid them from passing Resolutions on similar subjects—Resolutions on which a Government would be bound to act if it wished to continue a Government.
thought that this discussion was about the most valuable that had taken place since the Bill was before the House, because it had brought to notice certain matters with a clearness that they had not attained to before. It seemed to be admitted on all hands that there was no power under the Bill to prevent the dangers which the noble Lord who moved the Amendment had so eloquently pointed out. The Prime Minister had frankly admitted it. The reality and greatness of those dangers must have struck every Member who had listened to the noble Lord's speech, for he showed that safeguards were useless—if, indeed, it was necessary to point out the fact to the House, seeing that the Ulster Members had always maintained their useless-ness, and had declared that they would rather be without them. One important point which had been gained was a deliberate statement from the Prime Minister that, if he could, the Irish Members would be retained in that House. But if the Irish Members were to be retained to the number of 80, which would be the full representation to which Ireland was entitled, it would be quite unnecessary for the Irish Parliament to indulge in petitioning. The noble Lord had called attention to several important matters which might become the subject of discussion and Resolution in an Irish Parliament. He had first called attention to Resolutions as to the Crown and the succession. He had pointed to the well-known fact that Grattan's Parliament had actually discussed the question of the Regency during the illness of George III., and had come to a Resolution as to how it should be filled up. The noble Lord had also referred to the power of the Irish Parliament to pass Resolutions with regard to making war. They had seen Resolutions of that kind before. They had had illustrations of such things so frequently that it was not wonderful that they should expect that Resolutions in this direction would be proposed in an Irish Legislature. There was a gay and festive locality called Letterkenny, which owed its notoriety to the fact that the senior Member for the City of Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) made a speech there while war was going on between this country and another during the term of Office of the Prime Minister, and the audience very largely cheered the Power with which we were at war. That being so, and the sentiments of that constituency having been expressed with great unanimity, it would not be wonderful if in the Irish Legislature the Member for that part of East Donegal in which Letterkenny was situated proposed a Resolution of sympathy with such a Foreign Power. Then, again, the noble Lord had called attention to the matter of sending Envoys and Ambassadors to foreign countries. Many Members of the House had not had their attention turned to this matter before. It. came as a surprise to most Members of the House to learn that the Irish Legislature could send Envoys or Ambassadors to a Foreign State. Could anyone imagine that the Irish Parlia- ment, composed, as it would be, mostly of Roman Catholics, would not send an Envoy Rome? He did not think they would be true to their convictions if they would not. These things had been pointed out, and the Prime Minister had risen in his place and had admitted the gravity of every one of them, and his answer was that they could not possibly be prevented. With that statement they must all agree. They did not think it would be possible to prevent those dangers; they did not believe that the Imperial Parliament could control the Irish Parliament in any possible way; and, that being so, he accepted the Prime Minister's statement most fully. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that the Canadian Parliament had passed a Resolution in favour of Home Rule, and that we should only have stultified ourselves if we had attempted to interfere. That was absolutely true. We had no power over the Canadian Parliament. Canada was, for all practical purposes, totally separated from us, except in the matter of that which was called the golden link of the Crown. Were they going to give to an Irish Parliament the same powers as the Canadian Parliament possessed? If so, the fact ought to be stated, so that Members might know where they were. If the analogy was to be taken from Canada or Victoria, or any other Colonial Parliament, the Committee should know it. The Prime Minister asked if they would prevent the Irish Parliament from exercising the right to petition—a right which every Vestry and Local Board and other small authority possessed. And if, said the right hon. Gentleman, they permitted the Irish Parliament to petition, as a necessary consequence they must allow them to discuss the subjects upon which they would petition. That was true; but, without interfering with that right, a clause could be inserted in the Bill preventing the Irish Legislature from passing Resolutions on prohibited questions, and providing that the Speaker or Chairman should not put such Resolutions from the Chair. In this respect the presiding authority in the Irish Parliament would only be following the example of the Chairman of the London County Council, who, when a resolution was moved in respect of meetings in Trafalgar Square, refused to submit it to the Council on the ground that it was ultra vires. A clause might be inserted in the Bill declaring that if the Irish Parliament and Irish Members wandered into forbidden bye-paths of discussion, nevertheless no Resolutions founded on those discussions should be put from the Chair. The Prime Minister had said that if men set themselves deliberately to do wrong and go away from their contracts there was no power to restrain them—whilst declaring it to be his desire to safeguard the minority in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman said it could not be done. He seemed to think there was only one thing to be done—namely, to trust to the majority of the Irish people. Well, he (Mr. Rentoul) did trust those who would form the majority in an Irish Parliament absolutely. He trusted them to make thorough good use of this Bill when they got it, and to do their best to bring about that which they so much desired—namely, total separation between this country and Ireland. On these points he trusted them, but on the other point, in regard to the loyal minority in Ireland, he had no trust in them whatever. For these reasons he desired to support the Amendment of the noble Lord, and to impress on the Government the duty of inserting in the Bill some clause which would prevent these Resolutions being passed in the Irish Legislature.
said, that no part of the speech of the Mover of the Amendment was more convincing than that in which he showed the possibility of the Irish Legislature establishing relations with Foreign Powers. The Prime Minister, in his reply, had raised two objections. He had objected, first, that there would be no power on the part of the Irish Legislature to pay Envoys; and, secondly, that, unless such Envoys were properly accredited and had credentials, they would not be received by any Foreign Power. His right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition dealt effectively and thoroughly with the first of these objections. He showed how Missions had been sent before now without Parliament having been called upon to vote a penny towards their support, and he had given one instance. But, in the case of Ireland, it would not be necessary for the Irish Parliament to vote any money towards the expense of a Mission that might be undertaken to make representations to, or communicate with, the enemies of England. Whenever Ireland had needed money to inflict an injury on England that money had been forthcoming without making any call upon Ireland. As regarded the question of credentials, supposing that the Irish Parliament desired to send Envoys to a Power with which England was on friendly terms, no doubt that Power, acting loyally by us, would refuse to receive Envoys from the Irish Parliament, unless they were backed by credentials from the English Government. But supposing that we were not on friendly terms with the Government to which Ireland desired to send Envoys—supposing there were strained relations, that we were even on the eve of war, that the issues of peace and war were under discussion, who could doubt that, at such a moment, Irish Envoys, coming with a message from the traitors in the camp, would be received with open arms? That would be their opportunity. England's difficulty would be, "under the blessing of Providence," as was, he believed, said by the Member for Clare, once more Ireland's opportunity; and it would be exactly when relations were in the most difficult stage that the Irish Envoys would come further to embarrass our Ambassador or Minister. That was the great danger with which they would have to contend. He was not speaking of an imaginary danger, for he had seen something of these things in the course of a tolerably long diplomatic career. He had seen men sent over by the enemies of the Government that happened to be in power in the country to which they belonged, and he had seen how they embarrassed the Ambassadors who were acting for their own country, and were alone holding full powers. There were times when friendly relations between two countries might be imperilled by these unauthorised and amateur diplomatists. That was a great and real danger. Imagine a Mission sent out to America, such as the Mission undertaken so ably by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham some time ago. Suppose that our Representative arrived at Washington to carry out difficult and delicate negotiations, but that, at the same time, the Member for Louth or the Member for North Kerry came out on behalf of the Irish Government for the express purpose of throwing sand and grit in the wheels of the coach of the English Representative. How would that act on the negotiations? Would the English Representative not be sorely impeded? He took leave to think that no diplomatist, however able, could afford to neglect the danger of such intrigues going on around him. In the case of the Mission of the Member for West Birmingham there was a friendly negotiation between two friendly Powers anxious to arrive at the solution of a difficulty which they both acknowledged. In a case like that the intrigues of unauthorised persons might not be effective, though they would always be embarrassing. But how would it be in a case of peace or war? How would it be if a Foreign Government dealing with our Minister or Ambassador at a moment when the fate of nations hung in the balance found that there were men on the scene nominally subjects of the Queen, but, in fact, traitors in the camp, who were ready to assist to the utmost of their power the nation with whom we might be in difficulties? He held that this was a most real and a most vital question in regard to the proposed Legislature. If this clause stood in its present form they would have in it—as, indeed, they had in every part of this disastrous measure—a standing danger to England. It was a danger that they could not afford to neglect, and he ventured to think that any hon. Member who would carefully consider the points which might be raised under that clause would see that it was a clause which he could not vote for without adding to the difficulties and dangers of this country precisely at moments when those difficulties and dangers might be most pressing.
said, he did not rise to go into the details of the question, because at the present moment the noble Lord the Member for Edinburgh had made a statesmanlike speech which had not been answered on any single point. The Prime Minister bad contented himself with referring to one or two matters which were, perhaps, a propos to the subject under discussion, but without dealing with the questions raised by the noble Lord, The right hon. Gentleman had mentioned Petitions, but the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had satisfactorily dealt with that point. The whole question was what, was to be the representation of the Irish Members in the House. If the Irish Members were to be retained at; Westminster, the constituencies would have the same right of presenting Petitions to this House as they had now. He thought the Committee had derived one advantage from the discussion, for they had heard something which they did not know before. They now knew, from what was said, and what was not said, by the Prime Minister, that Ireland would be represented in its full strength of 103 Members within the Imperial Parliament. It might be assumed from the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman that he fully intended to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), so that the Irish Members would not only be supreme in College Green, but at Westminster also, over English, Scotch, and Welsh concerns. He doubted whether the Government would find a great number of their supporters to vote for such a proposal; and the Scotch Members especially were pledged to the eyes against Ireland having any such representation after she had a Parliament of her own. The Prime Minister argued that if the Amendment were carried there would be no means of putting it into effect; but if that argument was a good one against the Amendment, it was equally good against the clause as it stood. If it. were impossible to prevent the Irish Parliament from passing Resolutions and voting money, it would also be impossible to prevent their making laws, except by the force of arms, and that meant nothing short of civil war. In fact, what the Prime Minister had said constituted the very strongest argument against the Bill that, had been used throughout the whole Debate. The right hon. Gentleman had thrown away the whole case for the Bill, and had admitted that there was no power in the world by which the British Parliament could effectually maintain its supremacy. It. was clear the noble Lord had not exaggerated the importance of the point with regard to Foreign Envoys. Many Envoys who had performed great service for this country had been sent out without being paid: and why should that not be done in Ireland, especially if the Executive, in sending them out, were acting on the authority of a Resolution of the Irish Parliament? This question, to his mind, was most important. He did not think that either this clause or Clause 4 would be of the slightest use so long as the Executive power in Ireland had unlimited influence. If the Irish Parliament was to have the power of passing Resolutions its hands would be materially strengthened if at any time it desired to set at defiance the power of the Imperial Parliament.
said, that when this Debate was spoken of in the future, it would be described as "the lop-sided Debate." The discussions on the Bill consisted, as a rule, of many speeches from the Opposition and one speech from the Prime Minister. The present Debate was an instance in point. The Amendment, which had been moved in a speech of such conspicuous ability, raised a question not so much of Irish as of Imperial interest. He was bound to confess that if the Bill could be shown to affect only Ireland, he believed it would have much more chance of being accepted by the country, which, as it was, it never would be. The country was beginning to see, and would see more and more as these Debates went on, that the question was not simply an Irish Question, but that Irish affairs were inextricably mixed up with Imperial affairs; and the opinion was, therefore, gaining ground that it was beyond the power of Parliament to disentangle them. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment was answered by the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman had practically taken all the rhetorical efforts out of the bauds of his Colleagues, and he supposed the reason was that none of them exactly knew what the right hon. Gentleman meant. Members had thought that evening that they had got an authoritative declaration from the right hon. Gentleman in plain English, but the right hon. Gentleman jumped up two minutes afterwards and informed the Committee that he did not mean what he had said just before. If the right hon. Gentleman did not himself know what lie meant, how could his Colleagues be expected to know. The right hon. Gentleman had only touched one of the arguments used in the noble Lord's speech, and that was the very last one he ought to have touched, for it related to sending an unpaid Envoy to represent the Government at a Foreign Court. The right hon. Gentleman forgot Mr. Errington, who was sent to represent the Government at a Foreign Court, and paid no one know how. He (Colonel Saunderson) had been glad to learn from the lips of the Prime Minister that he looked upon the speech and the Amendment as serious. By that he understood the right hon. Gentleman to mean that he did not intend to move the Closure before 10 o'clock. But, although the right hon. Gentleman looked upon it as a serious Amendment, he studiously avoided meeting a single one of the arguments brought forward by its Mover, with one single exception. Still, the right hon. Gentleman's speech was important, because it amply justified the speeches which had been made by Members of the Opposition in support of various Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman asked what power there would be of giving effect to the Amendment if it were embodied in the Bill. This was what the Opposition had been asking the Government all along with reference to their safeguards. They had pointed out that even if the Bill were saturated with supremacy, the saturation would be of no good if there was no power to give effect to it. The Prime Minister said that the Amendment, if adopted, would be an isolated statement of absolutely no value. But he (Colonel Saunderson) understood that the Amendment was to form the foundation for the introduction into future clauses of the Bill of very clear and definite legislation which would give effective power to the statement which the Committee was now asked to accept. Certainly, isolated and alone, a declaration of the kind would be of absolutely no value. ["Hear, hear!" from the Nationalist Members.] He was glad that the patriots below the Gangway agreed with him. The reason they did was that they knew that the words which were embodied in the Bill for the purpose of maintaining the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament could not be of any value. The Prime Minister said that the way we had dealt with Canada and Australia ought to give the Committee courage to pass this Bill. The suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman was that the relations of Ireland with the Imperial Parliament should be the same as those of the Australian Colonies, which were on the other side of the world, and the Dominion of Canada, which was on the other side of the ocean. He thought that very few of the supporters of the Government were returned to Parliament at the last Election on the understanding that the Home Rule Bill would be one that would place Ireland in the same position as Australia or Canada. He wished to look at the Amendment, however, not so much from an Imperial as from an Irish point of view. Any Amendment which would have the effect of restraining the authority of the Irish Parliament would, as far as it went, be an improvement. If they were to have a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland, and if that Parliament was not to be destructive of the liberties of the Irish people and ruinous to the peace and welfare of the Empire, there ought to be created by legislative enactments and restrictions a sort of legislative paddock carefully walled and restricted— a kind of legislative menagerie, in which Land League legislators might carry out their varied forms of legislation without danger to other people and only with danger to themselves. That was the only reason why he voted on any of these Amendments. The more power that was given to the Irish Parliament the worse it would be from the point of view of the Irish Loyalists, and they proved this conclusively by what their future rulers had said and done in the past. It was because the Amendment had a restrictive tendency, and because if the House had any common-sense left it would be enforced hereafter by other clauses, that he thought it deserved the support of the House. The Opposition were anxiously waiting for light on those points—not from the Radical Party, who dare not speak, but from high authorities on the Treasury Bench. It must surely have struck the Committee with sorrowful amazement that the greatest authority on Parliamentary procedure—the Chancellor of the Exchequer—had not, only been conspicuous by his absence from the Debates, but had been absolutely dumb up to the present. Knowing what they did of his past history, and the great reputation he had made as a Constitutional authority, they had surely a right to expect and hope that the right hon. Gentleman would let loose the floods of information which he had boiling up inside him, and pour it out to satisfy the thirsty Opposition. But they had utterly failed to draw a word from the right hon. Gentleman. The whole affair of defending this Bill had fallen upon the Prime Minister, although he (Colonel Saunderson) did not believe he was its author. Its author was just going out of the House. [Mr. Bryce had just risen from the Treasury Bench.] The Prime Minister, charged with the Constitutional lore which his Colleague had gathered in every corner of the earth, generally got up and answered the arguments advanced against the Bill with declamatory ridicule and contempt. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, admitted that the question raised by the present Amendment was too great to laugh at and deride in the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman, from the serious character of his speech, appeared to realise that the mind of the country was becoming awake to the fact that the dearest and deepest interests of the Empire were at stake, and that the noble Lord had pointed out dangers and difficulties that must inevitably arise when an alien Parliament and an alien Government, composed of men who now sat in this House, and who were now supported by the money of foreigners on the other side of the Atlantic——
I must recall the hon. and gallant Member's attention to the Amendment.
said, he at once bowed to the Chairman's ruling, and would allude to the speech of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman dealt at great length with the idea of sending an Ambassador to a Foreign Court, and said that he could not conceive that the Irish Government would be so impatient for evil as to adopt such a monstrous course. [An hon. MEMBER: Impassioned for evil.] Well, impassioned for evil. That was equally understandable. At all events, his compatriots had been very open in their declarations. Though they never spoke inside the House, they did outside, and they had very clearly laid it down that there was no finality in the Bill. It was because the restrictions which this Amendment proposed to place upon the Irish Parliament, followed by others, might have the effect of making this Parliament, if it over existed, less potent for evil that he supported the Amendment.
I think that those who have listened to the Debate, opened as it was by the noble Lord the Member for West Edinburgh in a speech of great merit and ability, will acknowledge that on the whole it has been extremely instructive, and has thrown considerable light upon the spirit in which the Government have entered upon their great undertaking. I will also say that it contains a lesson to those rather impatient Members of the House who desire to see a Bill of this importance disposed of in a few days. Here we are on a very early stage of the Bill, and a discussion has been raised the importance of which cannot be denied. It would, therefore, be a monstrous thing if such discussions, tending as they do to enlighten the public as to the character of the Bill, wore to be shut out by anything like a ruthless application of the Closure. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has any sympathy whatever with those ardent spirits. He has proposed and carried many Bills in this House, and he knows that it is a part of the traditions of the House to give Bills of importance a fail- consideration. But when the Government propose a Bill to create a now Constitution and to destroy an old one, we must expect rather more than the ordinary time for consideration. Anyone who doubts the importance of the Debate that has been raised would have had those doubts-removed had he listened to the speech of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman did not deny the importance of the question. On the contrary, he put it in a category by itself as one of those subjects which he himself desired to treat with dryness, and he recommended that others should treat it in the same way. There are many subjects brought forward in this House which my right hon. Friend never treats with dryness, and, therefore, it must be a subject of an altogether exceptional character which requires that exceptional treatment. If this matter is to be treated with dryness because it is a proposal for limiting freedom of discussion in a Parliament which has yet to be created, then I would only say in passing how much more dry must be the treatment of any proposal to limit discussion in a Parliament which already exists. I now come to the proposition which my right hon. Friend has shown to be of great importance. Let us see what the position of matters really is. My right hon. Friend proposes to pass a Bill to give to Irishmen the management of exclusively Irish affairs. How many hon. Members are there behind him who have pledged themselves in the country that that is all they intend to do—that they will not go one atom beyond it—that they will not allow the Irish Parliament to meddle, even by one jot or tittle, in affairs that are Imperial? Unity of the Empire is to be preserved, and that is to be attended to by the Imperial Parliament. The Irish Parliament, a subordinate Parliament, is to deal only with exclusively Irish affairs. My right hon. Friend, as has been explained by the Mover of the Resolution, proposes to secure that result by refusing to the Irish Parliament cognisance of any affairs which are not exclusively Irish. My right hon. Friend has attempted to-night, I think without sufficient consideration, to minimise the importance of his statement, because he has said that when he spoke of not allowing the Irish Parliament to take cognisance of matters other than those which are purely Irish, he only meant by Act. That would be playing with the House, and, what is more important, it would be playing with the country. To allow an Irish Parliament to deal with Imperial affairs by Resolution, when you pretend that they shall not deal with them by Act of Parliament, is to allow this interference with Imperial affairs to come in by a side door when you refuse to allow it to come in by the front door. It is absolutely impossible that the Prime Minister can keep faith with the public, and establish a Parliament in Ireland dealing exclusively with Irish affairs, if it can be shown that by his proposal this Irish Parliament can—and, of course, pro- bably will—deal with Imperial affairs. My noble Friend the Member for West Edinburgh has shown, under almost every head of the excluded subjects, that the Irish Parliament will be able to deal by Resolution with those matters with which it cannot deal by Act of Parliament. One would have thought, under those circumstances, that the Prime Minister would at once have accepted the Amendment, or that if he objected to its terms he would have suggested a variation of them. He might have suggested such an alteration as would have provided that the Irish Parliament should not deal with these forbidden matters either by Resolution or Act of Parliament. That would have been more consistent than the position occupied at present by the Government. But how did my right hon. Friend meet the noble Lord who moved the Amendment? The noble Lord showed on half-a-dozen different points that it would lie possible, on critical and important occasions, for the Irish Parliament to interfere by Resolution, to the great disadvantage of British interests, in Imperial matters. The Prime Minister, however, referred to only one of those matters, and that was the suggestion that if the Irish Parliament was so disposed it might send Envoys to foreign countries, though it would be prohibited from making Treaties, and would thus hamper and embarrass British diplomacy. What was the answer of the Prime Minister? He simply said that those Envoys could not be paid, and could not be accredited. Permit me to say that that was a purely technical answer. There are many indirect ways in which payment could be found, and many Envoys have been rewarded in one way or another—in this country by Baronetcies. But in Ireland some good fat office may no doubt be the indirect reward for such services, although, of course, it is perfectly well-known that every patriotic Irishman is willing to serve his country for nothing. But my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister fays that the Envoys would not be accredited. Let me remind him, however, that Mason and Slidell were not accredited, and yet if they had not been taken en route, their presence in this country would have been extremely in convent to the Northern States of American at that time. I will take another case. What about Franklin and our Colonies? Franklin was not accedited "when he went to France, before that country recognised the United States, and yet he was successful in obtaining the recognition of his country and of at length getting himself accredited, and in procuring an alliance between France and the United States against this country. I merely refer to these facts for the purpose of showing how very weak the argument of my right hon. Friend is even as regards the one point out of the six which the noble Lord put forward, that my right hon. Friend selected to deal with. My right hon. Friend suggested that another answer to the arguments of the noble Lord—an answer the spirit of which we have heard of before, and of which, doubtless, we shall hear again. My hon. and gallant Friend opposite quoted the words of the Prime Minister, in which he said, "You assume that the Irish are impassioned for evil." My right hon. Friend admitted that if the Irish Parliament were inclined to do perverse things, if they were going to use their rights for improper purposes, no doubt they might make themselves extremely inconvenient. This is a point upon which the throwing of a little dry light may be very useful and necessary. Why does my right hon. Friend say that we believe that the Irish Parliament will be impassioned for evil if they adopt a foreign policy which may be opposed to the foreign policy of this country? I wish that my right hon. Friend would sometimes look at these matters from the point of view of a patriotic Irishman. Why should the Irish Parliament he impassioned for evil, if, hereafter, when we get into some trouble with a foreign country, they sympathise with that country rather than with ourselves? My right hon. Friend must not forget that the iron has entered into their souls for the last 700 years. Does my right hon. Friend believe that he can pull that iron out in the course of seven years? on the contrary, my right hon. Friend has himself done something to drive the iron in still deeper. Is it not possible that, after my right hon. Friend, some Body may arise who may have difference; with the Irish Parliament, and who may treat that Body in regard to Imperial matters with scant respect; and how can we, in such circumstances, expect that Parliament to be in entire sympathy with our foreign policy? Would it be fair for us in that case to accuse the Irish Parliament of being impassioned for evil because they took a view of events that was opposed to our own? I accuse my right hon. Friend of acting with extraordinary levity when he proposes to place the very existence of this country at the mercy of the Irish Parliament. [Cries of "Oh!"] Hon. Members who sit upon the Ministerial Benches may ridicule my remarks, but they are not the men who made England, though they may be indifferent to the chances of its destruction. We may well be indignant at the charge of obstruction that has been brought against us when we are determined to discuss these matters. Upon what basis are you creating this Parliament for Ireland? You are doing so on the ground that Ireland is a separate nation, and therefore ought to have a separate Parliament of her own. Therefore, we ought not to have any sentimental talk about that Parliament being impassioned for evil in case they should act as though they were the Parliament of a separate nation. We do not accuse France of being impassioned for evil because she takes a different view of Siamese matters from what we may happen to do. It is not only probable—it is absolutely certain— that the Irish Parliament will, in the future, as Irish Parliaments have done in the past, take a different view of foreign policy from our own. Therefore, if the Irish Parliament is allowed to discuss and to pass Resolutions with regard to our foreign policy, it will seriously hamper and embarrass us at a time when, perhaps, we may be in a position of great difficulty. This is a real danger to us. Does any man in this House believe that, if we went to war with France, an Irish Parliament would not, if it had the power to do so, pass Resolutions in opposition to our foreign policy? This is one of the most serious questions that the House of Commons can discuss. I ask with great confidence whether any impartial man, quietly considering the possibilities and the probabilities of the case, can doubt that an Irish Parliament, influenced as they would be both by tradition and by interest, would not sympathise, in such a case, rather with Franco than with this country? Can we conceive anything; which would do more to weaken the arm of England than to have such a Parliament within our own borders passing Resolutions opposed to our policy in such a case? It is not necessary, in such an event, to accuse the Irish Parliament of being impassioned for evil, or of possessing a double dose of original sin for taking that course. On the contrary, viewed by the dry light of reason, it is the most probable thing that they would do. We have had Irish Parliaments before, and we know what course they are likely to pursue in the future. In my opinion, the answer which my right hon. Friend has attempted to make to the arguments of the noble Lord is most inadequate. My right hon. Friend said that there was no restriction in this matter upon the Colonial Legislatures. We know that the Canadian House of Commons passed a Resolution sympathising with Home Rule. But does not that raise once more the difference between our Colonies and Ireland? Our Colonies are thousands of miles away; Ireland is quite close to us. What our Colonies can do with perfect impunity may not be done by Ireland without danger to this country. I think it will be agreed that the Resolution of the Canadian House of Commons was in-pertinent. If any Foreign or Colonial Legislature passed Resolutions which are impertinent, we can afford to regard them with perfect indifference. In all these cases it must, however, be borne in mind that it is one thing to have Parliaments thousands of miles away passing such Resolutions, but it would be quite another thing to have such Resolutions passed by a Parliament within a few miles from our shores. The Prime Minister saw that this was what he would term a plausible Resolution—that is, it was one which would be difficult to explain away in the country, and he may be sure that we shall do our best to point out what light this throws on the supremacy of Parliament as provided in the Bill. The Prime Minister's argument was that if we were to say to the Irish Parliament, "You shall not pass Resolutions and shall not discuss matters which are expressly taken from your cognisance," we shall be interfering with their sacred right of petition. That is a most wonderful argument. A Board of Guardians may petition, but not the Irish House of Commons. The Irish Legislature will alone be deprived of the right of petitioning the British Parliament. The Irish Members may here break their silence. There is the hon. and learned Member for Louth bursting with eloquence. Let him get up in his place and tell us in the course of a few hours what value he attaches to the right to humbly petition this Parliament. The subjects in Ireland would, of course, continue to have their right of petition. But how long is it since the Prime Minister conceived this extraordinary opinion of Petitions? Does he know anything about the Petitions to this House? It is an ancient and venerable practice, and continues down to the present day; and I am assured that there are Petitions against this Home Rule Bill which contain over 1,000,000 signatures. Here is a case in which my right hon. Friend can give practical proof of his opinion of the value of the right of petition which he gives to the Irish Legislature. When Petitions come to this House with 1,007,793 signatures against Home Rule and with only 47 signatures in favour of it, if my right hon. Friend would thereupon drop his Bill, we should understand his appreciation of the value of Petitions. But if the Prime Minister ignores Petitions in the proportion of, roughly, 1,000,000 to 40, what value will the hon. and learned Member for North Louth attach to the right of petitioning the House of Commons? The Prime Minister asked what would be the use of prohibiting the Irish Legislature from passing Resolutions which you would be unable to enforce. Why not? Hon. Members have been satisfied when in speeches equally dry he has assured them that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was assured. He said, "You have a Navy and Army. You are in the proportion of 30,000,000 to 5,000,000. You are so tremendously powerful, and you can enforce anything you like at any time you please." Exactly the same principle applies to the proceedings of the Irish Parliament, and you can at any time send an Army to Ireland. Suppose they pass an Act which they are prohibited from passing. What then?. When the Prime Minister answers that, I will answer his question as to Low we are going to enforce the prohibitions which we now propose. I suppose he looks to the Exchequer Judges. I do not know how that is to be done, but I am quite sure, I hope, that when we come to the clause, the right hon. Gentleman will explain what it is he expects from those two unfortunate learned gentlemen. The argument cuts both ways. It absolutely destroys the argument of my right hon. Friend, who can no more enforce the supremacy, or restrictions, or safeguards which he puts forward in his Bill than he can enforce the prohibitions which we propose. If he says he has convinced himself that the safeguards in the Bill are insufficient to enable this House to exercise control over the Irish Parliament, that admission applies equally to all the other safeguards—it applies to those which he has accepted just as much as to those which he has not accepted. The securities are insufficient by the confession of the Prime Minister himself. He has said—" You cannot enforce your will upon the Irish Parliament." We agree with him, and it has been our contention all through that, in order to enforce your will upon an Irish Legislature, you must have something more than the Army and the Navy to rely upon; you want something in the nature of a Civil force, something in the nature of a permanent Executive. This Debate has gained for us a most complete and satisfactory admission from the Prime Minister, and I hope and venture to believe it will bear fruit when we come to propose our Amendments to secure a satisfactory Imperial Executive in Ireland.
I must agree that this has been a most enlightening Debate, and it has brought out most distinctly the efficacy of the safeguards which are provided in the Bill, as compared with the triviality of those which it is proposed to substitute. For instance, Clause 3, Sub-section 10, provides that no laws shall be passed by the Irish Legislature in regard to trade marks, merchandise marks, copyright, or patent rights, and it makes that clear by saying that any law passed in contravention of the section shall be null and void. That is a genuine safe- guard. [A laugh.] At all events, it is a totally different safeguard from those which are now proposed, and a far better one. No law that could be passed by the Irish Legislature would have the slightest validity so far as it was not derived from the Act of the Imperial Parliament; and waste paper, indeed, would be all laws passed through the two Houses of the Irish Legislature unless they could show their authority in an Act passed by the Imperial Parliament. Of themselves Resolutions have no validity; you cannot take anything from them, because they have nothing. The proposal of the Amendment is, first of all, to prevent discussion; but I do not think you can fairly divide discussion, Resolution, and the right of Petition. If you allow discussion, it is vain to refuse to allow Resolutions; the moral effect produced by the opinion of the Irish Legislature would be equally plain whether a Resolution followed discussion or not, and would it be possible to put an end to discussion if you attempted it? The right of Petition, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) spoke in terms so contemptuous, has, throughout the whole of our Constitutional history, been most highly prized; and, unless you shut out the right of Petition, you cannot shut out the right of resolution or the right of discussion. The safeguards in the Bill, which hon. Gentlemen say cannot be relied upon, cannot but act; they act automatically. The authority of law which gives an Act of Parliament force without bringing about civil war, without requiring the aid of the military, and, except in extreme circumstances, without even requiring the intervention of the police, will be given to the Irish Acts only so far as they are within the powers marked out for them by the Bill. Pictures have been drawn of dangers that might arise if the Irish Legislature travelled beyond its functions. It has been said that Representatives might be sent by Ireland to Foreign Powers, and the case of Franklin has been quoted. But Franklin was accredited to one of our enemies, and there is nothing to prevent that being done again. Irish rebels, if such there are, might send their Ambassador to any Power with which we were at war. I do not disguise the difficulties of the position, but I wish to show that the Bill will neither increase nor diminish them. Franklin was a rebel, and was accredited to one of our enemies, and we should have had the right, if we had got him, to have hanged him. Franklin was kindly received by our enemies; but if he had been received in the same capacity by any of our Allies, that would have given us just cause to go to war with them, because it is against the Law of Nations to receive an Ambassador from the rebels of an Ally. The position is this. An Act passed by the Irish Legislature, if beyond its powers, is null and void, and yet it is suggested there is great danger from Resolutions which have no pretence of being laws, but are mere expressions of opinion. I do not deny that the utterances, however irregular, however unauthorised, of a representative body of men in Ireland must necessarily have weight: but do right, hon. Gentlemen think it would be good policy or that it would be wise to endeavour to shut down that safety-valve for the expression of opinion by the Representatives of the people?
The Committee divided:—Ayes 238; Noes 259.—(Division List, No. 102.)
In accordance with the pledge given this afternoon, I now move, Sir, that you do report Progress.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report. Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—( Mr. W. E. Gladstone,)—put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
Resolution [29th May] reported.
Civil Services And Revenue Departments 1893–4
Further Vote On Account
"That a further sum. not exceeding £4,810,250, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charges for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 18!)4."—(see pp. 1427–9.)
Resolution read a second time.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
said, he wished to call the attention of the Vice President of the Council to a Circular which had been issued by his Department in January, lost as to the accommodation and system of education in elementary schools, which Circular had been sent to all the schools throughout the country, whether Board schools or voluntary schools. It had been alluded to in the House of Lords by one of the very best living authorities on elementary education, Lord Sandford and from the purport, of the noble Lord's remarks it seemed clear that he considered the implied requirements of the Circular were such as to make it practically impossible for the voluntary schools to comply with it; and if anything like exact conformity with the Circular was to be insisted on the voluntary system would be seriously endangered. Lord Kimberley, in replying, said—
It would be well if the Vice President would kindly confirm before them the assurances given by the President of the Council in the other House. Lord Kimberley said the Circular was merely one of inquiry; but he ventured to say that it meant something more than that. Why, the Inspectors were told to see to the rectification of any defects which the inquiries under this Circular might bring to light. But the Inspectors had been doing this all along. Why, then, was a fresh inquiry started this year? It looked as if some new departure were contemplated. The voluntary schools were entitled to know what to expect. There had been spent on them in the last generation no less a sum than £13,000,000, and they had conformed to all the requirements of the Education Department from time to time. Now, all sorts of requirements were put upon them—as to warming, lighting, the providing of certain areas for playgrounds, even in places where no ground could be got. Surely the voluntary schools were entitled to know under what new rules they were to act. Why had the Department waited until this year of grace, 1893, for all these new requirements? It really did look as if there was an intention to impose fresh liabilities on voluntary schools. Lord Kimberley stated—"It seemed to be thought, in some quarters, that there was a desire suddenly to come down on voluntary schools throughout the country and make a peremptory demand upon them to bring their accommodation, sanitary provision, and school apparatus up to the higher standard; and so, by a side wind, to convert a large number of voluntary schools into Board schools. That, in his opinion, would be a perfectly unjustifiable proceeding."
Lord Norton stated that the Code of 1890 demanded generally that all schools receiving grants should satisfy the Department as to their healthiness; but it restricted the application of any new requirements as to space to new buildings. He trusted that now no immediate pressure would be put upon the older schools beyond a general warning to all voluntary managers to set their houses in order so far as their means would allow. He hoped some consolatory assurance would now be afforded to that effect. There was no more praiseworthy, deserving, and meritorious class than those for whom he was pleading. They were the pioneers of Elementary Education; before the creation of School Boards they were prophets crying in the wilderness. They had been the means of saving the State £40,000,000, which had been raised by private subscriptions and resources. It was the buildings erected by this money it was now desired to improve by this Circular. Notwithstanding the great number of Board schools, there were 5,000 more voluntary schools than there were in 1870. He hoped that, in the circumstances, the voluntary managers would receive the kindly, gracious, and sympathetic consideration of Her Majesty's Government."The Royal Commission which reported in June, 1888, stated that the time had come when the State might well be more exact in requiring for school children a proper amount of air and space, suitable premises, and a reasonable extent of playground. That Report was the foundation of the whole matter."
said, if his hon. Friend had given notice of his intention to deal with the Circular, he would have been in a better position to answer him than he now was. The hon. Gentleman asked why the Circular, which dealt with the sanitary and healthy condition of schools, was issued in this particular year? He (Mr. Acland) only said that a large number of Inspectors, reporting upon all parts of the country, had been desiring some inquiry of this kind for a long period. They had reported again and again that the condition of many schools was such that the children suffered in health; and he drew no distiction between Board schools and voluntary schools, considering it the duty of the Department to deal equally with both classes of schools. Again and again School Inspectors had called attention to this matter, and had asked for some kind of Statistical Returns to show how the schools stood. The Commission of Lord Cross said the time had come when, in the very words of the Circular, it would be reasonable to limit the time for requiring compliance with certain conditions as to the healthiness of the buildings. The Circular asked questions of the Inspectors in order that the state of things might be ascertained. He submitted that the Circular did not ask for anything which was unreasonable. It asked, for instance, whether the site was open and airy and provided reasonable space, and whether the playground was of sufficient size and provided with gymnastic apparatus. He quite agreed there were various crowded parts where it was impossible to insist on the playgrounds being of a certain size for an old school as in the case of a new. But he considered it was a good thing they should have the information as to whether and where such schools existed. The Circular further asked whether the building was dry and in good repair, whether it was properly lighted, whether the class-rooms were of reasonable size, and the staircases properly arranged, and as to the cloak-rooms and offices. There ought to be good cloak-rooms in all our schools, whether in town or country. To have damp clothes steaming in the same room where the children were taught was most undesirable for health, as every medical man would testify. As to the offices, they ought to be disconnected from one another. The hon. Baronet said that great efforts had been made by voluntary managers as well as by Boards to bring their schools up to modern requirements. In bringing schools up to modern requirements—and he was glad to say that many clergy, landlords, and others had made admirable efforts in this direction —this Circular would not injure them in any way whatever. If the hon. Baronet inquired what action had been taken since the Department had received the answers to the Circular he would find there was no cause for great alarm; but he did not hesitate to say that in all matters relating to the warmth, light, sanitation, ventilation, equipment, and generally healthy accommodation, he, with the Department, thoroughly intended to do all he could to bring up our schools of all kinds, whether voluntary or Board schools, to a state of complete efficiency.
did not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was by any means satisfactory, and he was afraid, when the proper time came, in Committee, there would be some further observations to make upon the matter. In the meantime, he desired to point out one important subject as to which the right hon. Gentleman had said nothing. Many schools within the last few years had made great structural alterations in order to comply with the requirements of the Education Department. The managers had done this at great cost, and in the face of great difficulty, at the request of the Education Department, although they themselves did not entirely up prove of the alterations. Notwithstanding the fact that those structural alterations had been made in the case of many of these schools, the right hon. Gentleman or his Inspectors were actually calling upon the managers to reverse what they had done three or four years ago, and make further changes and incur additional expense.
That has nothing to do with this Circular.
I am quite wella ware of that; but I want to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the matter, and when we go into Committee I should like to ask him a special question about it.
desired to ask the Secretary for Scotland if he could definitely state whether the Government would give its support to the Bill for amending the Crofters' Act?
intimated that it was out of Order to refer to the Bill on the Report of the Vote on Account.
desired to ask a question or two relating to the Royal Commission in the Islands and Highlands. The excuse was made that this Commission could not begin its operations until the weather had improved. In the middle of April, the weather having improved, they had commenced, and now, after a month's work, they had suspended operations for three weeks, when the days were at the longest and the weather was at its best. Why had they suspended operations at this juncture, when there was so much urgency with regard to the question of land in the Highlands? He would like to ask what remuneration was being made to the Royal Commission? He was aware that the expenses of its members were allowed; but he would like to know what that meant! The Mail Service in the Highlands and Islands was in a very unsatisfactory state, especially in the Islands, where there was great irregularity. The people complained that they could not get their letters, in some instances, more than once a week. He would ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he could not, by conference with the Postmaster General and the Treasury, make such arrangements as would effect a much-needed improvement in the Mail Service? With regard to Secondary Education in the Highlands, he would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would not act upon a hint which he had given him, and provide small annual bursaries for boys who would have to come a long way to the central school?
desired, for a few moments, to allude to a matter on which he had ventured to trouble the House on several occasions, by way of questions to the Home Secretary. He had the honour to represent a constituency in which there was a large convict prison, the warders of which had a great many grievances with respect to hours and other matters, to which the attention of the Home Office had frequently been called. He had assisted the warders to the best of his ability, and the Home Secretary had been courteous enough to give directions that he should be furnished with an elaborate Memorandum dealing with those grievances. The tone of that Memorandum, however, was very disappointing. It was the tone of an advocate defending his cause, rather than of an impartial Department deciding upon a case which had been laid before it. This Memorandum differed very seriously from the allegations made to him by his constituents; but upon many matters in the Memorandum he did not think the facts were disputed. He would venture to call the attention of the House and the Home Secretary to one or two of the facts in regard to the hours of these prison warders. They often heard in that House of the necessity for shortening the hours of labour, and he thought the House would admit that the hours of labour among the employés of the Government itself were very long. These warders were sometimes on day and sometimes on night duty. The hours of labour of those on day duty were as much as 65 per week, exclusive of meal-times. That was a very large figure. The Department, in reply to his statement on this subject, declared that he had taken the months in which the hours of labour were longest, and had not taken into account the days of leave. But the months on which the duty was longest happened to be about 10 in the year, and the days of leave were only 14 at the outside, and in speaking of the length of hours in that House they did not take into account the days of leave granted to employés. If they were to take account of the leave, they ought also to take account of the patrols necessary during meal-times. As to night duty, it would be admitted, considering the character and strain of the work, that the hours should not be long, yet the warders had to do 60 hours' night duty a week; and when the change was made from night to day duty, or the opposite, the warder had to be on service for 17 hours out of the 24. Then there was the question of a half-holiday. The warders on day duty had an occasional half-holiday on a Saturday. But those on night duty had no half-holiday, and nothing corresponding to it; and that was the principal grievance of which they complained. Night duty was far more laborious than day duty, and he urged the Home Secretary to make some mitigation in this respect. It might be asked, if these men had grievances, why did they not lay them before the Visiting Director? They had done so themselves, and also through their Governor, but apparently without success. He appealed to the Home Secretary to re-consider the whole matter, especially the point of the half-holiday. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might be willing to grant a Departmental Committee of a small character to inquire into the grievances of the warders. If the right hon. Gentleman could not see his way to do that he would ask him to receive a deputation of the warders, who might themselves lay their case before him. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to mitigate the grievances of a very deserving body of men to whom the country owed a great deal, and who were worked harder than would be allowed in most private employments.
said, he regretted that, not having had notice of the intention of the noble Lord to bring forward the subject, he had not with him the materials which would enable him to go in detail into the various points to which to which the noble Lord had referred. But he would remind him and the House that the whole question of the treatment of warders of convict prisons—their status, pay, hours of labour, and holidays—was most carefully and laboriously investigated in 1891 by a Departmental Committee presided over by Lord de Ramsay, and in consequence of the Report of that Committee very large changes and improvements were made in the positions and conditions of labour of the warders less than two years ago. He had satisfied himself, after careful inquiry, that the position of the warders in Rochester Prison did not differ in any respect from the position of the warders in other convict prisons. The rules and the system which prevailed there were those recommended by the Committee with full knowledge of the circumstances and after full inquiry. He had no responsibility in the matter, except that he had inherited the system. He could not accede to the noble Lord's suggestion to start a fresh Departmental Inquiry within so short a time of the last one; but if any well-founded case was brought before him and were proved to his satisfaction to be a real grievance he should gladly attend to it and do everything in his power to meet it. He would suggest to the noble Lord that between now and the Committee of Supply—which he admitted was a contingent and indefinite time— the noble Lord should bring before him officially any complaints he had to make, and he would promise to give them his personal attention and most careful consideration.
commented on the way in which the Votes had been closured in the attempt to rush through the Vote on Account on the previous night. He desired to know from the Minister of Agriculture what his intention was with regard to the great distress in agriculture? Nothing surprised him more than the apathy and indifference in the House generally as regarded the condition of agriculture. The agricultural industry in England was positively on its last. legs. Day after day and night after night they had interminable discussion about Ireland, whilst the most important industry of the country—that of agriculture— was positively going to the dogs. He considered that before they finally disposed of the Vote for the Hoard of Agriculture they ought to hear from the Minister of Agriculture what his views were as to some remedy for the present state of agriculture. There was the matter of swine fever, for dealing with which the President of the Board of Agriculture promised to bring forward a measure; but no such measure had as yet been laid before the House. He should like some information as to this. He desired also to put one or two questions to the President of the Local Government Board. He had very great, fault to find with the way the Annual Report of the Local Government Board was brought out, and with the tables and figures given. With reference to the lunatic and insane children, who were described as indoor paupers in the workhouses, he asked how many such cases there were, and whether the lunatic children were kept apart from the sane children? Nothing could be more harmful than to allow the two classes to be mixed up. He expressed the opinion that the agricultural localities had to support more workhouses in proportion to population than other localities, and proceeded to ask for information respecting what were described as able-bodied inmates in workhouses. As regarded children, he did not understand what an able-bodied child meant, but he supposed children under 16 were not able-bodied. One more point to which he would draw attention was that of the maintenance of paupers, and the expense of that maintenance as applied, distinctively, to indoor and outdoor patients. It. was impossible to arrive at a conclusion as to the distinction on the face of this Report. There was a number of other items, dealing with matters of expense, which might have the careful consideration of the right hon. Gentleman and his subordinates at the Local Government Office. He would only express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman would in future instruct his subordinates to draw up the Report of the Department so that the items, as affecting indoor and outdoor pauperism, would be made clearer to the public, for whose information the Report was intended.
said, it was, no doubt, very inconvenient to raise important questions at that late hour of the night (after midnight), but he would undertake not to make a speech, and not to detain the House long, in calling attention to one or two matters affecting that part of the country in which he was specially interested. He had, first of all, to call attention to the neglect of the Scotch fisheries. Much might be done to develop this important industry. Then, with regard to the Board of Supervision, its re-construction was absolutely necessary. At present this Hoard did its work very badly, and he did trust that the Secretary for Scotland (Sir G. Trevelyan) would inquire into its method of conducting public business, and apply adequate remedies? The hon. Gentleman then referred to the negligence of the Board of Supervision in the matter of the proposed fever hospital at Auchtermuchty, which town he visited during the Recess, and when there, was asked by the Provost and Burgh Authorities to help them in their efforts to get the Board of Supervision to act. With such inattention to the state of matters in the Lowlands, and this, too, in the constituency of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, what would the Board of Supervision not do in the Highlands? He wished the right hon. Gentleman, in his management of the affairs of Scotland, not to confine his purview to the mainland, and to the principal place in each of the Islands, but to extend his inquiry—or, better still, his visit—to the various districts of the Islands and the mainland, and so be better able to learn something of the requirements of the people, and of the indifference of the Board of Supervision to the wants of the population in the remote districts. The Board of Supervision had too many lawyers among its members; and it was for the Secretary for Scotland to prevail upon his Colleagues to bring about such reforms as were demanded. The number of lawyers should be reduced, and these sanitary theorists replaced by practical men. The policy evidently was at present to find work for a number——
The hon. Member is wandering from the question before the House.
said, he would bow to the ruling of the Chair, but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland would do something in the direction he had indicated. he trusted that the Fiscals would be better looked after than they were by the Lord Advocate (Mr. J. B. Balfour). Another matter upon which he had a word to say was the manner in which the business of the Board of Trade Offices was conducted. There were officials who used the offices for their own private purposes. In his opinion, all Government Departments should be above suspicion. If private firms allowed their employés to do such things as had been permitted by the Board of Trade, the result would be the Bankruptcy Court for the firms and commercial immorality amongst the employés. These officials were paid sufficiently high salaries for attending to the business of the Department, and he thought they should give their services to the Department wholly and exclusively. He hoped the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella) was in a position to assure the House that the business of his Department would be conducted on the lines of probity, honour, and honesty henceforward.
said, he was anxious that some guidance should be given to Boards of Guardians who might find it necessary or desirable to take buildings for use as cottage hospitals. The Guardians frequently had actions brought against them which were expensive to the ratepayers, and they would like their duties and liabilities to be more clearly defined. The question was, Were they entitled to take buildings, and, if they were, what arrangements had been made to safeguard them against litigation?
said, the hon. Member for' Inverness-shire spoke of the Royal Commission having made a break in its sittings. But they must remember what this Commission was, and what its labours were. It was a Commission composed of gentlemen with important avocations of their own, who could not be taken from those avocations continuously, and their labours involved great physical inconvenience and physical hardship in the very roughest and wildest parts of the United Kingdom. They never asked from the unpaid members of the Royal Commission the same sort of work that they had a right to ask from public servants with a continuous salary. The Commission had arranged its work most admirably. They had gone, first, to the important district of the Isle of Skye, where they stayed a mouth or more thoroughly examining the country. They would re-commence their labours at Beauly, in the very centre of what might be called the sensational deer forest district of the Highlands. The Chairman of the Commission, Sheriff Brand, would find during the three weeks' recess public duties which it was necessary for him to perform. This was not a paid Commission. The members received £1 1s. per day for maintenance for each day they were on service, and their travelling expenses—that was to say, nothing but a bare maintenance, so that they should not be absolutely out of pocket except for the time they were taken from those avocations by which they earned their livelihood. There was only one exception, Mr. Gordon, a surveyor, who was paid £5 5s. for each day that he was commissioned by his brother Commissioners to perform professional work. As to the bursaries, there were no bursaries given out of the funds voted by Parliament. This was a question for the localities, and if the District Committees proposed to spend the money that was given for secondary education upon providing bursaries for Highland children, he was quite sure that the Department over which lie had the honour to preside would help them in every way to carry out that intention. The hon. Member sitting below the Gangway (Mr. Weir) asked when the Board of Supervision, which he said did its work very badly, would be re-constructed. He (Sir G. Trevelyan) did not admit that it did its work badly, and more especially would he not admit that the individual members of the Board failed to apply to their work very great industry, great diligence, and great public spirit; but, as he had said, both in the House and elsewhere, he thought it was a Board faultily constructed. He was prepared to re-construct it in a manner which, when the time came, he should be glad to explain to the House; but he could only do it by legislation, and when he brought in the Local Government Bill for Scot-laud the construction of the Board of Supervision would be an interesting part of the measure. In regard to the other points brought forward by the hon. Member, he must say he thought the hon. Member was too ready to appeal to the Central Authority on matters that ought to be left to the Local Bodies who represented the public opinion of the localities; but. in all matters where the Board of Supervision ought to interfere, he could promise the hon. Gentleman that that interference should take effect.
asked if the right hon. Gentleman could inform them when the Royal Commission would finish its work?
said, he had to congratulate the Government upon the fact that they had doubled the grant to the Association which found employment for Reserve and discharged soldiers. They had a very interesting Debate on the subject of such employment last night, and he could only say that the matter was one of extreme importance. Other countries provided employment for their soldiers when discharged after long and honourable service, and it was found an excellent system, helping largely to popularise the Army and to strengthen it. France, Russia, and America provided State-aided employment. The English Government, among the Governments of the civilised nations, did not do so. They had voluntary enlistment, and voluntary enlistment would be more popular if the Government followed the examples of other Governments. It was, of course, gratifying that this grant had been made, but he would prefer that the Government should seriously consider the whole question of employing men discharged from the Army or finding employment for them.
said, he could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down that the Government were sensible of the importance of the subject, and that they were doing their best in reference to it.
said, he rose to appeal to the Government, through the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt), to postpone the Vote on Account, in order that an opportunity might be given for discussing the lawless condition of the Counties of Clare, Kerry, and Limerick. It was obvious that at 25 minutes to 1 o'clock in the morning it was impossible to raise that question. Many hon. Members were anxious that the discussion should take place, and he believed the Chief Secretary was desirous of giving his answer. [Mr. J. MORLEY dissented.] If that were so, he presumed it was because the case was as bad as some hon. Members believed it to be. He asked that the Vote should be taken as the first Order on Thursday, and he did so in the interests of order in Ireland.
said, he would explain that it was necessary that the Vote should be taken before the House rose, as payments had to be made on June 1. He regretted that the matter which the hon. Member desired to raise had not been brought forward; it would probably have better occupied the attention of the Committee than some of the topics which were discussed. He thought it a pity that some arrangement was not made for seeing that matters of real importance and not trifling subjects should be discussed on the Vote on Account. That was a matter affecting both sides of the House. In his early Parliamentary days no one ever pretended to raise the trivial questions that now occupied so much of their time. Nothing, indeed, was ever raised to matters of urgent importance. He hoped the House would not delay the Vote any longer.
said, he only wanted to say a few words in reference to what had fallen from the Member for South Londonderry. For his part, he was anxious that a Debate should take place, because he believed it would result in showing that the condition of the three counties named had steadily improved. He would point out that the condition of his county (Clare) had been discussed three or four times within as many months. He did not object to that discussion, provided something new was brought forward. They had it debated on the Address, on a special Motion for Adjournment, and again during the ordinary Business of the House. Personally, he would be glad to enter into the matter again, as, with regard to the condition of County Clare, the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Arnold-Forster) had declared him to be able to place his hands on the persons who had committed some recent shooting outrages. That was a statement which ought not to have been made by one hon. Member of the House of another. The hon. Member had widely circulated in the columns of The Times the statement that, if the hon. Member for Clare did not know who were the men who committed the outrages, which everyone deplored, he could find out for the trouble of asking; and the hon. Member declared the parish priest to be in the same position. He did not think that any hon. Gentleman would require him to place on record his denial of such a charge. He had been in the House, attending to his duties, since the beginning of the Session. The County Clare was well supplied with police, and it was a monstrous thing to maintain that it was his duty to leave the House and go to his constituency to perform police work. If the men were so well-known, how was it that the police did not know them? And how was it that, if he could find them for the trouble of asking, the hon. Member for West Belfast and his informants had not taken that trouble? It was a monstrous practice for one hon. Member to write to the newspapers because a murder had taken place in another hon. Member's constituency, and urge that it was that hon. Member's duty to track down the murderer. Everyone in the House would believe that he had not, and could not have, any knowledge, direct or indirect, of the men who fired the shots. He had repeatedly set his face against outrage of every kind, the only difference between him and the hon. Member for West Belfast being that he had impartially denounced every crime, whether on the part of the moonlighter or the landlord; whereas the hon. Member had nothing to say of the primary cause of most of the crime in Ireland—the evictions by landlords. If they were to have this Debate, his (Mr. Redmond's) conduct would be shown to be what it ought to be; but, having been allowed to make this statement, he did not care much whether the Debate on the condition of Clare was continued or not. If, however, the Debate should take place, it would be established that the condition of the county had improved, and that it was not for the general good of Ireland, or of Clare, that this matter should he talked about in that House over and over again.
said, that he could well understand that the hon. Member did not desire further debate on the condition of County Clare. But this matter was much too serious for personalities. He wished, first, to deal with the public aspect of the question. The reason that this matter of grave public importance was not pressed the previous day was that there was a ruling of the Chairman declaring it to be impossible to take any question out of the order in which it was placed on the Paper. He and his hon. Friends were then and now anxious to raise the question, because it affected the lives and liberties of subjects and was on that account most urgent. The hon. Member said that nothing had changed in Clare. A great deal had changed, and many miserable outrages had been committed since the last Debate on the subject took place. With reference to the personal matter, the hon. Member had misrepresented him in one respect. Instead of attributing to the hon. Member a knowledge of the perpetrators of these acts he deliberately disavowed such a thing in his letter; and he was willing to believe that the hon. Member had no knowledge of the perpetrators of the crime.
said, that he would quote exactly the words used by the hon. Member in his letter to The Times—
If that statement meant anything at all it meant that he was in a position to find out who the culprits were, and that he refrained from doing so. That statement he called monstrous."The men who persecute Mr. Blood are well-known. I assume for the present purposes that the Member for the division and the parish priest do not know them. If that be the case, they are the only human beings within a score of miles who do not know them, and for the trouble of asking they could find out who they are to morrow."
said, that he was obliged to the hon. Member for so correctly stating his views, and he was willing to believe that the hon. Member did not know the names of the men [cries of"Oh!"], but he asserted that the hon. Member could ascertain the names in five minutes. Let him ask the Chief Secretary for them. [Cries of "Ask him yourself!"] The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question, said that the names of the men were notorious and known to the police. If the Chief Secretary would not give the names to the hon. Member he would himself. [Cries of "The names!" and "Order!"] If the hon. Member visited his constituency he would find scores of people who could give him the names at once. When a case of this gravity occurred in an hon. Member's constituency it was his duty to make an inquiry which would put him in a position to abate what was a great public scandal. He challenged the hon. Member to ask the right hon. Gentleman, who was responsible for the peace and government of Ireland, on what information he based his answer to the question put to him the other night that these men were known to the police and himself.
I do not know the names.
said, the right hon. Gentleman, in his answer, said that these men were known; and he challenged the right hon. Gentleman to say that he could not, within two minutes after arriving at Dublin Castle, that he could not at the Irish Office— that he could not now, after two minutes' conversation with him (Mr. Arnold-Forster)—discover who the men were. Mr. Bindon Blood was living under the most damnable persecution. [Cries of "Order!"] The Chief Secretary told the House the other night that the men were known to the police. If the right hon. Gentleman had no ground for making that statement he ought not to have made it. He was certain that if the hon. Member opposite were to ask the Chief Secretary to find out who the men were he would get the names without difficulty. But if the hon. Member were to say that the Chief Secretary could not inform him, he would be very glad himself to try to put the hon. Member on the track. Hon. Members seemed to be unaware of a notorious fact —namely, that scores and scores of these men, who were perpetrators and abettors of crime, were perfectly well known to the police; but that it was difficult to get evidence on which to convict them, because witnesses and jurors had been openly threatened by hon. Members opposite. [Cries of "Oh!"] He repeated his challenge, and he asked every hon. Member in that House whether he did not feel in his heart—[Cries of "Oh!"]—that it was the duty of a Member of Parliament, as a public servant, to do all that he could, when the facts of a case like this were brought before him, to relieve a fellow-countryman from such persecution as Mr. Blood was now suffering under?