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I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
It. has been suggested that, in view of another Bill relating to joint self-government for Scotland and Wales which has been introduced into this House, that the Bill now before us might have been deferred. I think, however, we should take every opportunity of ventilating this very important subject in the House, and in addition to that fact the privilege of debating exclusively Scottish subjects is so rare that it is not to be lightly sacrificed. I hope that ere long hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench will have among them a representative from Scotland who will be able to speak for the Government on this Bill. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland is unavoidably absent in Edinburgh, but had he been here he would to-day have been one of my most enthusiastic supporters in the proposal I am now making to the House. I am aware that Scottish Members are not quite unanimous on this subject. I can, however, claim that the majority of Scottish Members in this House are not only in principle favourable to Home Rule for Scotland but are definitely pledged on the question to their constituents. I can assure the House that behind the Scottish Home Rule movement there is a rising tide of well-informed and resolute Scottish opinion. I feel sure that at the next General Election—let that interesting event come when it may—the test question for all Parliamentary candidates in Scotland will be the question of Home Rule. This subject, I feel sure, has assumed much greater importance since 1914 than it had in pre War days. It is no longer a party question. Before the War in any Debate on Scottish Home Rule in this House Conservatives voted against the Measure while all Liberals voted in its favour. To-day, whether it is the benign influence of Coalition principles or whether we have advanced in political wisdom, that cleavage no longer exists, and we have now Members of this House who are Conservative in principle but who also are in favour of the principle of Scottish Home Rule. Our demand belongs to no particular class and to no particular party. It is the demand of a great body of people to-day in Scotland.
What are the governing considerations behind this question? There are two. We demand a Scottish Parliament, firstly, on national grounds, and secondly, on the ground of legislative efficiency. I am aware that certain Scottish colleagues of my own are not in favour of the advocacy of nationalism in any form. They believe that the advocacy of nationalism is pernicious and has the worst possible effect from the standpoint of the interests of the nation. But surely that must depend upon the kind of nationalism you advocate, and also upon the sphere in which that nationalism desires to find expression. I am quite aware of the infinite mischief wrought on the Continent of Europe by that narrow, bigoted, nationalism of which we have heard so much. There you have not the nationalism that I have in mind. You have there the fostering of racial prejudice, you have small States with their armies and their tariff walls choking the channels of trade and commerce, and constituting a continual menace to the peace of Europe. I do not support that kind of nationalism any more than some of my hon. Friends who oppose me in this matter. But surely it will not be contended that these elements are present at all in our idea of Scottish nationalism? Some of my hon. Friends are content that the old lines of demarcation should disappear, and that political considerations alone should decide delimitation. I should be the last to decry the importance of economic considerations, but we must put them in their proper place, and I suggest that if we concentrate upon the material and ignore the political and the spiritual, we shall commit a profound blunder. It is my belief that a healthy nationalism, a healthy competition between nations, develop inherent capacities and add virility to the races of mankind. I do suggest, however, to those who oppose Scottish Home Rule, that if there is any nation under Heaven which is peculiarly fitted to govern itself it is the country that lies north of the Tweed. I am not here praising my own country; that were a work of supererogation. But I do claim that we possess in our own national ideals and characteristics the elements that go to make up good government.
In my view the nationalism of Scotland to-day, in spite of many adverse circumstances, stands out as strongly as it ever did. The Treaty of Union was passed in 1707. That Treaty was meant to be an incorporating union. It was intended to make Scotland an English province, which would gradually become Anglicized. Although 250 years have passed the nationalism of Scotland stands out to-day as pronounced, as rugged, and as indestructible as ever. Over two centuries have run their course, but all our essential national characteristics still survive and the thistle steadfastly refuses to become a rose. We still retain our own judicial system, our own marriage and land laws, our own ecclesiastical laws, and these have not the remotest chance of ever becoming assimilated to similar laws in England. Let no one imagine for a moment that I advocate the abrogation of the Treaty of Union. That Treaty brought Scotland many advantages and disadvantages, but I should be the last to question the benefits we have received from that Union.
We are poor in this world's goods, but fairly equipped with intellectual endowments, and our association with a country like England, rich beyond the dreams of avarice and with intellectual powers not to be despised, has really conferred on Scotland benefits for which we are in every way grateful. My point is that national point of view still survives, and we claim the right to govern ourselves along the lines of our own history and traditions. You cannot unify the races of mankind, and in this connection I am reminded of a quotation from a very dis-
tinguished Scotsman—Sir Walter Scott—who said:
The degree of national diversity between different countries is but an instance of that general variety which Nature seems to have adopted as a principle through all her works, as anxious, apparently, to avoid, as modern statesmen to enforce, anything like an approach to absolute uniformity.
Another well-known Scotsman, long since gone to his rest, said on this same question something which we ought to keep in our minds. John Stuart Blackie said:
As an independent kingdom, inheriting its own historic traditions, using its own laws, boasting its own Church, and marked by a distinctive type of character and culture Scotland has a right to demand that her public business shall be conducted seriously on Scottish ground, in a Scottish atmosphere, and under Scottish influences, not hustled and slurred over hastily in an Imperial Parliament.
The historical differences between the two countries still exist and they form what I regard as a firm foundation for this demand for self-government. We ask for a Scottish legislature, a Scottish Executive, administration by Scottish officials, and provision by Scottish Estimates. I do not claim that the Bill now before us is perfect. It has had a chequered career. It has passed through many vicissitudes. What I insist upon in this House to-clay is that we shall, if possible, agree to the principle and not necessarily to the provisions of the Bill. I wish also to emphasise the fact that the introduction of this Measure is not indicative of any slackening of loyalty either to the Throne or to the Empire. Our allegiance to the Throne requires no demonstration and our desire to play a worthy part in the development of the Empire cannot be questioned. Our desire in this Bill is not to sever but to strengthen and cement the bonds which unite us, and we believe that this result can best be achieved by legislative efficiency. It is a far cry to those days when Lord Rosebery adopted efficiency as his political watchword, but I recollect that he was an enthusiastic Home Ruler. I am not aware of any distinguished statesman of modern times who opposes the principle of Home Rule for Scotland. The present Prime Minister is in its favour, and I believe his three predecessors in office have all announced that they are in favour of granting self-government to Scotland. We base our claim for this
legislative efficiency as being necessary to Scotland on the ground that efficiency under present conditions is absolutely impossible in this House. If there wan any substance in that statement, and it has been made for the last fifty years, if there was any substance in it before the; War then it applies with ten-fold force to-day. For good or ill this country is becoming more deeply involved than ever in international questions, and for a long time to come our interests will be inextricably bound up with those of countries outside these islands, and there will be less time devoted here to our domestic affairs. It is surely an, elementary principle which requires no demonstration that the more perfect our internal system of legislation is, the more fitted we are to play a worthy part the council of the nations. I have referred to the fact that the present Prime Minister and his predecessors favour self-government for Scotland. If there is one right hon. Gentleman in this House who has a better right than another to speak on this subject from this point of view it is the right hon. Member the Secretary for Scotland. He has time and again informed us that it is quite impossible to have Scottish business adequately transacted in this House, and he speaks from an experience of something like ten years. As he is not here to-day I take the liberty of repeating what he said only two years ago on this subject. Speaking in the House of Commons on 16th April, 1920, he said:
I was in favour of the principle (of Home Rule for Scotland) long before I entered this House, but I am bound to say that my experience as a Member of the House has greatly strengthened my belief in the principle, and my experience as a Minister has strengthened my belief in the principle still further. The endeavour by the Minister to control a number of Boards which are situated 400 miles from London, in addition to discharging the ordinary Parliamentary and Departmental duties which fall to his lot here, involves a task of difficulty which no one who has not had actual experience of it can comprehend.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1920; col. 2069, Vol. 127.]
I shall not give any more quotations, although I could read them for hours. The testimony is all along the same line. It is quite impossible under present conditions adequately to deal with Scottish affairs or, indeed, with any affairs connected with the United Kingdom. It is
sometimes said that if we pass a Measure of Home Rule for Scotland we shall create a huge bureaucracy. I do not believe there is the slightest foundation for that statement. We have our administrative offices at the present time. We have our Board of Education, our Board of Agriculture, our Fisheries Board, our Board of Health, our Board of Control and several other Boards. We have all the administrative offices we require, and we believe they are managed by highly qualified men, but the trouble is that they are all legislatively controlled through the narrow bottle-neck of Westminster. Acts of Parliament which originally were never meant to apply to Scotland, and which were drafted for English requirements, are simply extended to Scotland by an application Clause. This House will never get at the realities of the question until they thoroughly understand that the ideas and requirements of Scotland are not on parallel lines with those of England. If they are parallel, then how comes it that there is so much confusion and trouble which is so strongly resented in Scotland to-day? It is only when the Scottish Estimates are on that we can get a discussion on Scottish affairs. We suggest that if we had a Scottish Parliament we should not only have our business done better but, if I may say so, with all respect, it would be done by better men than those we have representing Scotland to-day. The area of choice would be considerably enlarged, because there are hundreds of patriotic, able and brilliant Scotsmen, and, if necessary, Scotswomen, who would regard it as a high privilege to sit in a Scottish Parliament, but who find it quite impossible to attend the Imperial Parliament here. My case can be very easily summed up. We say that on the combined grounds of our nationalism and legislative efficiency our demand is urgent, just, and irresistible. We wish to be governed along the lines of our own traditions and our own native genius, and we contend that that can only be achieved by the setting up of a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. You would there have men whom it is impossible to have in the House of Commons as it is now constituted, and we should have Scottish business transacted in something like a worthy manner.
I am glad to have the approval of my right hon. Friend. We have urgent national problems which can only be solved by ourselves, and I contend that not only in Scotland's interest but in the highest Imperial interests self-government should be conferred upon our country. I have purposely refrained from any exposition of the provisions of the Bill and for a very good reason. My right hon. Friend who professes a benign ignorance on this subject—
He knows perfectly well the history of the Bill now before us, and I have refrained from examining its provisions deliberately on this occasion because my one desire Le-day is to take advantage of this opportunity to have the principle of home rule for Scotland discussed, and not the provisions of a private Member's Bill which my right hon. Friend knows perfectly well cannot be adopted by the Government.
I have said that Scotsmen are loyal to King and Empire, and I might add that this demand for Scottish Home Rule will proceed on constitutional lines. We feel that we have a just case, and we are also convinced there is a strong volume of Scottish opinion, continually increasing, which I am quite sure will gain strength, in spite of the opposition of hon. Members, who, like the right hon. Gentleman—I do not wish to say a word of which he will not approve—I may say are somewhat reactionary politicians so far as modern democratic ideas are concerned. I feel that the elements of justice in our cause will hasten the granting of that self-government so necessary but so long delayed.
I have great pleasure in seconding the motion and particular pleasure because I feel that in doing so I am interpreting the wishes of the Government. Scotland is represented in the Government by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, and this Bill, I beg to remind him, through the Lord Advocate, is his Bill. Therefore, I think, we may with some confidence look to the adoption of this Bill by His Majesty's Government at no distant date as a Measure which they pro- pose to carry through this House, in spite of the reactionary opposition confined to certain small although vocal sections, with all the means at their disposal. I regret that the Secretary for Scotland is unable for public reasons which we all know to be present to-day. We are glad that the Lord Advocate has done us the honour of being present, and thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), whose record and sympathy in this cause are so well known, for sacrificing his lunch in order to be present. A great many supporters of the Prime Minister are necessarily otherwise engaged, and that no doubt explains the depleted condition of the benches on this side of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley is absent on grounds which will be explained to my right hon. Friend if he seeks to make any party capital out of it. The sympathy of my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley in this matter has been publicly expressed and has never been doubted. A great deal of nonsense has lately been talked on this subject of Scottish Home Rule. I am glad my hon. Friend took the line that he did. There is no desire in Scotland, except on the part of half a dozen hot-heads, for separation, and there is no idea of interfering with the smooth operation of common services. Although my hon. Friend has not referred to the details of the Bill, hon. Members should know that the Post Office, the currency and exchange and lighthouses remain common services. Trade marks, collection of Imperial taxes, Customs and Excise and all external trade relations remain, in fact, under the control of this House, as I think they ought to do.
The Memorandum says exactly the opposite. It says:
The power of varying Imperial taxes, excepting Customs and Excise, is conferred upon the Scots Parliament, which will, in addition, have the exclusive power of levying the existing Imperial taxes on heritable property in Scotland. Provision is made for the payment by the Imperial Exchequer to the Scottish Exchequer, out of the proceeds of Scottish taxes, of an annual sum towards defraying the cost of Scottish services. A
joint Exchequer Board is established to determine all questions arising under the financial provisions.
If my right hon. Friend will study the Bill, and if he will listen to the actual words, he will know that lie is misrepresenting this Measure, and also misrepresenting the clear words which I used. The Bill bears out the statement that the collection of Imperial taxes remains in the same hands as at the present time. It it true that there are certain powers of variation, and that some adjustment may be necessary, but the machinery for collection remains the same. After all, my right hon. Friend belongs to a small class of excellent, but somewhat reactionary, politicians, but I would remind him that his predecessors were those who agreed to the union. I desire to pay the right hon. Gentleman due respect. and courtesy, but perhaps I may be permitted to apply to him the words used by our national poet of those gentlemen who, for reasons of their own, acquiesced in a union which has proved partly calamitous and partly beneficial:
Farweel to a' our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory,
Fareweel even to the Scottish name
Sae famed in martial story!
Now Sark rins o'er the Solway sands,
And Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England's province stands—
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
I think the modification would be found in the word "rogues," and I would rather wish to substitute for that word "political reactionaries." I think, however, that there are some other modifications. The poet proceeds:
What force or guile could not subdue,
Through many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitors' wages.
—I do not for a moment suggest that the motives of my right hon. Friend are mercenary—
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But English gold has been our bane—
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
That seems to be the real danger, which is two-fold in Scotland itself. Firstly, from extremists, whose wild vapourings have been heard even in Scotland:
and secondly, from a small benighted section of political reactionaries, who throw cold water upon this Bill, and upon Scottish home rule, and who try to count out the House of Commons on all possible occasions in order to prevent Scottish business being transacted. This Bill proposes a single House of Representatives for Scotland consisting of 148 members, sitting with the same qualifications for membership as are required in the Imperial Parliament. It provides the same constituency, except that in each there will be two Members instead of one, and in Dundee, instead of two there will be four Members. The Scottish representatives in the Imperial Parliament will, of course, remain the same, because in Scotland we do not want to cut ourselves off from the Empire, and therefore when Imperial legislation is going forward, it is only right and necessary that Scotland should be represented. That single House of Representatives follows the Scottish precedent which had beneficial results before in legislation while it lasted. Here I would like to quote the words of that great Conservative historian, Sir Archibald Alison, who, writing in 1834, and speaking of the work done by the Scottish Parliament, says:
The whole Scottish Acts of Parliament, clown to the Union, are contained in three duo-decimo volumes. And yet in these little volumes, we hesitate not to say, is to be found more of the spirit of real freedom, more wise resolution and practically beneficent legislation, better provision for the liberty of the subject, than is to be found in the whole 30 quarto volumes of the Statutes at large, and all the efforts of English freedom, from Magna Charta to the Reform Bill. If the English legislators shall continue the course of wise and practical legal improvement, they will perhaps obtain by the year 1900 mast of those advantages which the old Scottish Parliament had secured for their country two centuries before.
It is one of the tragedies of history that in the endeavour to prevent the abuses which were creeping in, and the imminent dangers to the United Kingdom in 1707, there was swept away from Scotland the right of looking after purely Scottish affairs. Now the course of succeeding years has shown how we can maintain the indivisible control of the Crown, and it has brought into being all sorts of ideas of federal union, and swept away the danger which then existed of Customs barriers between the two nations. I will allude to some of
the wild talk that has been going on in Scotland, notably in Glasgow, on this subject. There is the purely sentimental talk. Some people talk as if Scotland is an oppressed and down-trodden country and even talk as if Scotland were Ireland, or Armenia, quite oblivious of the fact that Scotland is not an oppressed nation. It is very deplorable that we should have a slavish copying of the language and ideas of Sinn Fein. I assure the House there is no real response to talk of that kind amongst Scottish people.
The whole history of Scotland differs from the history of Ireland. Scotland is not a conquered country. It was not Scotland that was annexed to England but it was Scotland which annexed England, and the results were most disastrous, because our very distinguished line of Stuart kings in the person of James VI. came here. That very fine and distinguished line of monarchs came south to England and became corrupted—corruptio optimi pessima. Unfortunately, you had to cut off his son's head. He lost his head, and his son, again, was in the habit of losing his heart. Since that time the relations between the two countries have Very greatly altered, and my right hon. Friend will, I think, have difficulty in convincing the House of Commons that a moderate Measure for enabling Scotland to look after its purely Scottish concerns is not a busines proposition of a very practical kind. There is also going on in Scotland a certain amount of wild and revolutionary talk about confiscation, and that is what is really at the back of ray right hon. Friend's objection to this Bill. He assents to that proposition. He is afraid, because some very advanced politicians talk rather wildly of what they will do in the Scottish Parliament, that the Scottish Parliament will be a dangerous thing. As he assented to the former proposition, I suppose he will also assent to that. An attempt is being made by certain wild men to make their public platform respectable by trying to get hold of a monopoly on this subject of Scottish Home Rule. I have no doubt that their opinions would be repudiated by Scotland, and that Scotland will give a lead in legislation, not in the direction of wild and socialistic experiments, but in the direction of sound reform based on Scottish experience and dictated by cautious Scottish common sense. My right hon. Friend, therefore, need not be afraid to entrust the destinies of his fellow countrymen to his fellow countrymen themselves.
We approach this Bill, not from the point of view of sentiment, although we do urge the House to consider that. We believe that through Scottish legislative machinery the historic genius of the Scottish nation can make its best contribution to the common stock of the Empire. We approach it from that point of view, and not from the Irish point of view at all. We believe that if you give us our own legislative machinery, we shall be able to set a good example to England. It is true that we may go on in advance of England in 'many particulars, but I believe that in all those particulars we shall be guided by Scottish experience as to the conditions, and also, as I have said, by Scottish common sense. May I give the House just one practical example of the sort of thing which Scottish Members in this House have to put up with? We advocate this Bill as a Measure of justice to England, as well as to Scotland—as a Measure of justice to this Imperial Parliament. Business here is too congested, and, until you can have some measure of devolution—you may not agree with this, but you will be driven to it—neither English business nor Imperial business will obtain a proper amount of attention. But what of Scottish business? We see the condition of the benches to-day, and we know the slender chances that Scottish Bills have. We know the exiguous chances of any Scottish question having an opportunity of being discussed in this House.
What happened only last year, at the close of the Session of Parliament? There were fired at our heads at the last moment two Scottish Measures of great importance, one of them a Measure which revolutionised in some respects the criminal procedure of Scotland. There were provisions in that Bill to which almost every Scottish Member objected—provisions of a very serious kind. We discussed the matter in the Scottish Grand Committee upstairs, and what were we told? We were told, "Oh, you may be quite right about this, and the Bill may be quite wrong, but if you insert an Amendment in the Bill, then you will have to have a Report stage." I think they were wrong about that, because there had to be a Report stage in any case, but that is what we were told by the late Lord Advocate, for whom the House had great respect. That was not said to us by the present Lord Advocate, who would not have made the same slip. We were told, "If you insist on amending this Bill, you will wreck it, because we are in the closing days of the Session. In that case you will have Scottish opinion to face, and you will have this sin to answer for." We were told that almost in the language of menace, both in public and in private. We were dared to amend the Bill in this most vital and necessary particular, because, if we did so, owing to the shortness of the time available for Scottish business, the Bill would be wrecked and lost altogether. In a Scottish Parliament that Bill would have been considered and thoroughly discussed, and would never have passed into law in the highly unsatisfactory and highly dangerous condition in which it remains on the Statute Book to-day. In saying that, which I most sincerely believe, I should like to acknowledge that the learned Lord Advocate had no part in the transactions which resulted in that Bill leaving this House and the House of Lords in so objectionable a form. There is no doubt in our minds that in this matter we are placing before the British House of Commons a business proposition. We approach it entirely from that point of view, and not from the point of view of washy sentiment; not from the point of view of ill-treatment by the predominant partner, but from the point of view of practical business men who desire to create practical business machinery for attending to our Scottish interests, and who desire, above all, some means of giving to the general stock that full contribution flowing from the character and historic genius of the Scottish race which we believe can well be given through this Bill.
It is somewhat instructive, having listened to these two speeches, delivered in the very best and most genial tone possible, that it was only in the last sentences of the speech of my Lon Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw) that his voice seemed to quiver with excitement and indignation at a real wrong that had been done to Scotland. That wrong was that the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill had been passed in the Committee upstairs.
Yes, but that was the only time when my hon. Friend roused himself to serious indignation and felt that a wrong had been done. One comes down here rather disposed to be out of temper at being brought here, when there are other attractions on a sunny afternoon, in order to cudgel one's brains for arguments that have been used over and over again to meet Bills of this kind. The hon. Member who moved the Second Reading said that no doubt I knew all about the history of these Bills. I do know it, and it is because know the history of these Bills that I am not disposed to be too hard upon this poor Bill now. It will follow its many predecessors into oblivion, and it will not be regretted. There has been a long history of these Bills, which almost reminds one of the catalogue of the deaths of kings in Richard II. Some have been slain in war—those are they which were defeated in a plain Debate. Some have been deposed—they have been set aside and others have been taken in their place as substitutes. Some have been haunted by the ghosts they have deposed, and if you read these various Bills you will find wandering disembodied spectres from Bills which have been brought in in previous years and then have disappeared into space. Some have been, sleeping, killed—that has been when a drowsy and weary House, utterly apathetic, allowed itself to be counted out. They were all murdered, and have gone to their fate, as I have said, without the slightest lamentation. It would, therefore, be rather hard to treat them too seriously and work oneself up into indignation about them.
I wanted to know what the provisions of this special sample of Home Rule were, but my hon. Friend would not enter upon that and the hon. Member who seconded accused me of not having understood the Bill. The Memorandum says the power of varying Imperial taxes is conferred upon the Scots Parliament, which will in addition have the exclusive power of levying the existing Imperial taxes. I think before we were told we knew nothing about it we might have had seine explanation from the Mover and Seconder of the sample of Home Rule which they are now offering. The hon. Member tells me that being a reactionary, as I am told I am—he does not mean it in an uncomplimentary sense—I know nothing about the real feeling of Scotland. What an expression of the real feeling of Scotland and Scottish Members is exhibited by these benches. Here we have the aspiration of a nation, that which is to redress the wrongs of centuries, that which is to wipe away all these evils. We have this fight going on and we have about as many Members from Scotland as I could count upon one hand. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Rogge) was not present during the speeches of the Mover and Seconder.
Whether there are six or seven or 12, it shows how their bosoms thrill with patriotic enthusiasm for what is to wipe away the stains inflicted upon our country. Do you think we are not as proud of our country as the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace)? Do you think we have not loved it as much'? Do you think Scottish patriotism and enthusiasm are centred in a demand to he represented by a provincial Parliament meeting in Edinburgh? Do you think we depend upon a Parliamentary Committee drawing up rules as to the precise division of functions for maintaining our nationality? I should like to tell the House how it is that so many Members, even those who, I suppose, are reactionary like myself, dropped into it. A Member goes down with the ambition of serving Parliament for a particular locality. He finds the best thing possible is to let an election meeting go through as smoothly as possible without any opposition. There is sure to be a back bench at these meetings. The village crank generally finds the most attractive subject in politics is this question of Scottish. Home Rule. He asks the aspiring candidate if he is in favour of Scottish Home Rule. There are loud cheers in order to encourage the village crank, and the Member finds it easiest to say, "Yes, I am altogether in favour of Scottish Home Rule."
I am sure whatever action the bon. Member takes during an election, when he has his representative here he will stand up for him. I am rather struck by the fact that both the Mover and the Seconder are a little hard on their supporters. You must not mind if they are carried away a little too far. I remember when my hon. Friend the Member for Eastern Renfrew (Mr. Johnstone) introduced a Bill with this object. I referred to a speech of one of his supporters in Glasgow and he said, "The man is off his head." That is rather hard. Their Allies are carried away in an impulse of patriotism. A Noble Marquess in Scotland was lately persuaded to take the chair at a meeting. I have the greatest respect for him, though I do not know that he has much experience of politics, and for the family to which he belongs, which is intertwined with the romance of the history of Scotland. Fortunately for the Noble Lord he found out those who were to compose his platform at that meeting. He withdrew from the giddy honour of presiding and wrote a letter of apology.
I take it the right hon. Gentleman refers to the Marquess of Graham, who declined to take the chair at a particular meeting, but a fortnight later spoke on the same platform as myself in Edinburgh and made an excellent speech on Scottish Home Rule, which refutes every word my right hon. Friend is saying now.
I am very glad the Noble Marquess found himself on this occasion in good company. The meeting took place and the presiding spirit was a gentleman who bore a very distinctively South Irish name and whose sympathies may probably go far in the direction of Sinn Fein. So much for the methods and temptations which are open to ambitious candidates. The hon. Member who moved the Bill told us this would be the deciding question at the next election. A strange utterance! We are immersed in tremendous European questions, constitutional questions of the first moment, and the hon. Member says the only question of real moment at the next election is to be whether we are to have a provincial Parliament for the representation of Scotland. Is that really what the hon. Member means? I would never tamper for one moment with this absurd thing. My constituents never would elect me as a supporter of this ludicrous proposal. I am quite ready, if this is going to be a test question, to take the verdict of my constituents.
I am told that I am a reactionary, that I am in a small minority, but I am sure that on this matter I am speaking the real feelings of the people of Scotland. Do you think that Glasgow, linked as it is with Manchester, with branches of great businesses in Manchester, and branches in London, in daily communication with those great centres, with visits between Manchester and Glasgow probably once or twice a week—do you think that this enormous mart and centre of mercantile affairs is going to allow its affairs to be handed over from the Imperial Parliament to a little provincial Parliament in Edinburgh, for which it has no great respect.
As soon as this question is taken seriously, it will give rise to very different opinions from the serious people of Scotland. They think it a good joke now. They think it is a nice thing to hear about. They think it amusing to hear the wild speeches made in its favour. It. is all very well for the hon. Member who seconded the Motion to deprecate these wild speeches, but they will go on. They are a great asset to this movement. If it was supported in Scotland in the saber language used by the hon. Member the thing would be a slump. It is only the extreme speeches that bring it any attention at all. They suggest that they will find salvation in the establishment of this new Parliament. Will they? We are only a few selected people who are sent from Scotland to this House, and Scotland finds it difficult to get 74 Members of the, calibre of the present Scottish Members, yet, in addition to the 74, they are to elect 148. Do you think that so many representative Scotsmen will be attracted by the pros- pect of sitting in a small provincial Parliament?
What about the expense? The hon. Member for Dunfermline is a notable exponent of the necessity of curtailing expenditure. I suppose these 148 members are to get £400 a year each, or perhaps more. There is an expense of something like £60,000 at once. You would have to provide a House for them. You could not do that under £500,000. You would have to have a staff of officers. You must have all the paraphernalia of Parliament. What will Scotland have to say about this from the point of view of expenditure? Is this a specimen of what the hon. Member wishes to press upon this House and the Government? Is that the sort of economy which we are to adopt? The hon. Member will find that when he comes to analyse this proposal, and when he goes to his constituents to arouse them, and his colleagues go to their constituents under this great banner of Home Rule for Scotland, which is to be the one banner that they are to follow through thick and thin, regardless of all the Imperial interests, he will find that the Scottish lion will begin to turn, and it will not merely look with amusement upon the wild utterances used, not by the hon. Members who have supported this. Motion, but by their more enthusiastic followers. The people of Scotland will say that if this is a really serious business you had better put it down. It is a dying cause.
The hon. Member quoted some words used by the Prime Minister yesterday about the exaggeration of nationalistic feeling. There may be such an exaggeration. For the moment this cry of nationalism seems to be the right thing, but it is a passing phase. We have lived for more than 200 years under the benevolent influence of this Imperial Parliament, and we shall be very ill-advised if we change it. The hon. Member is very mistaken if he thinks that the calm, deliberate and sober judgment of Scotland is going to commit itself in any way to this scheme, which is nothing more than a jest, or an object of conversation on empty benches for a Friday afternoon. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion said that he hoped the example of the old Scottish Parliament would be imitated in the new Parliament, and that centuries of legislation would be summed up in three,duo decimo volumes.
I did not suggest that modern conditions would not require more legislation than would be contained, over hundreds of years, in threeduo decimo volumes, but I gave the illustration as showing the brief compass and the well-considered nature of legislation in Scotland when she had her own Parliament.
The hon. Member quoted Sir Archibald Alison, a famous historian, in support of his case. I knew Sir Archibald Alison very well. My hon. Friend was denouncing me as a reactionary. Does he know that Sir Archibald Alison has been immortalised by Disraeli as Mr. Prosy, who wrote a history in 40 volumes to prove that Providence was always on the side of the Tories? Whilst denouncing me as the most outstanding reactionary in the representation of Scotland, it is singular that he should have had to refer to the authority of that famous historian, who thought that Providence is on the side of the reactionary. I come now to another point. What would you gain? You would gain an expenditure of several million pounds. You would gain the thraldom, the trouble and the irritation of having to elect ever so many more Members of Parliament. You would gain the constant repetition of useless Debate. The Debates here are of so little importance that the Press will not report them, and it will certainly not report the speeches that will flow from a Provincial Parliament of 148 Members. Does the hon. Member think that the ambition, the energies, and the keenness of Scotland are going to be circumscribed to the area beyond the Tweed? Do you think that if you establish this little vestry, you will not be issuing a notice to England, "We are going to keep Scotland for ourselves," and will not England very likely and very naturally and reasonably say, "Very well, we shall keep England for ourselves"? We provide England at present with Prime Ministers, Lord Chancellors, Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and Scotsmen have almost a monopoly of all the highest positions.
We have filled almost all the two front benches. Are we going to be separated now and to carry on business by ourselves? I wish that hon. Members would look at these things in the face. I wonder if the business interests and the chief occupations of the hon. Member for Partick or of the hon. Baronet the Member for Morayshire (Sir A. Williamson) are in Scotland or in London?
Or take the case of the hon. Member for Banffshire (Sir C. Barrie). They are men of business, patriotic Scotsmen, but with enormous interests of their own in London, attracted to and living in London, and doing good to their country from the fact that they have these interests. If such men did not occupy these positions you would lose an enormous deal. I would ask the House to give a little more consideration to the more serious aspect of the question. You are arousing by artificial and, as I think, by camouflaged methods a cry in Scotland, which is really not understood, for Home Rule. Have you considered what that is likely to lead to? You will arouse in Scotland some of that dread, pernicious, fatal feeling which Home Rule has aroused in Ireland. Do you want to see the same bitterness of feeling, the same tragedy, the same destruction of life and property springing up in Scotland as you have in Ireland? Do not think because you are merely making moderate speeches here, and deprecate exaggerated feeling in Scotland, that. you can limit the extent to which this feeling once aroused must go. You may be guilty, and you may realise your guilt too late, when you have aroused ruthless anger, and provoked people who will be glad to take this great opportunity of fighting for anarchical purposes. You are sowing seeds that may yield a deadly fruit. I hope that Scotland, too indulgent as she has been to the phantasies and figments of home rulers who claim to represent that country, will, while laughing at their vagaries, also turn a very earnest eye to the great evil which they are preparing to bring about.
The debate this afternoon has been conducted with large unoccupied spaces in the House. The reason is that in Parliament the unexpected always happens. Nobody who looked at the Order Paper two or three days ago, and saw three important Measures in front of this Bill would have thought it could have been taken to-day.
I usually hear what is going on in these matters. That fact is accountable for the absence of all Members of the Government who ought to be here to-day and of the Secretary for Scotland himself. Why did not my right hon. Friend impart the most important information to the Secretary for Scotland that this Bill was in all probability likely to be the second Order of the day. It must have been a very dark secret. Otherwise, in discharge of his duty, he would have been here. I make no complaint of his absence. We have listened to three very excellent speeches, of which Members of all parties in Scotland are capable at the shortest moment. My right hon. Friend in speaking of the non-necessity of Home Rule for Scotland said that Scotsmen achieved positions of distinction and power in all parts of the world, particularly in England. I attended a meeting not long ago at which this question of Home Rule was the subject of a resolution. It was moved in an excellent speech and supported in an admirable oration by a gentleman who had a thorough grasp of his subject. But he wound up his address by telling me—I was in the Chair—
Nobody knows what may be the scope of the Measure which will ultimately be granted, but we will never give up our domination of England.
The Measure before us has very wide and sweeping powers, which would have to be subjected to careful scrutiny in Committee. I agree that the extreme positions which are taken up in Scotland with regard to Home Rule are doing the movement no good. They are frightening away from it moderate-minded people, people, who hitherto have taken a very decided position in its favour. But the proposal is one which is necessary if Scottish interests are to receive anything approaching adequate legislative and administrative consideration. Anyone who has had experience in this House cannot help being impressed by the Fact that Scottish business is hurried through and is not effectively debated. I agree that within its limits the Scottish Grand Committee has a sufficient oppor-
tunity for discussion. But that is by no means enough. The Committee work should be accompanied, as it is accompanied here, by the presence of those assisting Members engaged in the Debate—those who have first-hand knowledge of the subject. Take a Scottish Bill in Grand Committee. Various interests are affected by it. In our complex society to-day you can scarcely make any legislative proposal which does not affect very large number of interests. It is only when you get into close examination of a proposal, that you understand how wide, and, indeed, sometimes injurious, the effects of legislation can be. If any Scottish interest be effected, whether it be an individual interest or a public interest, it means that by way of helping Members people have to travel down from Scotland and spend days in London at great expense.
There is the example of the Housing Bill for Scotland. Among the representatives of Scotland here there were the clerks of the county councils and the chairmen of the county councils, and I imagine that there must have been very little short of fifty or sixty of the most highly-placed officials in Scotland in attendance at Westminster. There were the town clerks of places like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee staying here week after week. Such a Bill as that ought to have been considered in Edinburgh, where you could have brought to bear not only the experience of the Members of a Scottish legislative House, but Scottish opinion could have been brought to bear in a way that would have been much more efficiently and economically expressed. Then there are the Bills which from time to time are brought to this House and have some reference to Scotland. Scotland is brought in by a Clause at the end which says, "This Bill shall apply to Scotland with certain emendations." They are often carried out in a way that Scottish Members have no control over at all. It is done from the Scottish Office. On the whole it is done with considerable efficiency but it is not done as well as it might be done.
Take the discussions on the Estimates for Scotland Sometimes they take place in a comparatively empty House. Take education. By the time the Secretary for Scotland has finished his opening state-me it of an hour, and two or three other Members with special knowledge of the subject have spoken, the time has gone and the ordinary Scottish Member has very little chance of getting into the Debate at all. Then on the same night we may have the question of the Board of Agriculture or the Fisheries and the whole range of Scottish interests has to be completed in one day in Committee of Supply. The thing is frankly ridiculous. The marvel is that on the whole things proceed as well as they do. There is no doubt that the general feeling in Scotland, irrespective of party, is in favour of devolution of parliamentary powers to Scotland, where the work can be done by Scotsmen in the Parliament House of Edinburgh.
That must be matter of opinion. If anyone cares to look through the election addresses at the last General Election, or will bear in mind the election addresses which will be issued at the coming election, it will be found that there is a very remarkable expression of opinion by candidates of all parties that the time has arrived for legislative and administrative devolution to Scotland. I am reminded that the right hon. Gentleman who has interrupted me has six or seven constituents in this House. I ask him, is one of them opposed to the proposal1 There is no doubt that there has been a very remarkable change in public opinion in Scotland in favour of the principle of the proposal now before the House. The time has come, and Parliament has recognised it in the case of Ireland, when this Parliament must be relieved of its ever growing burden.
When the bon. and gallant Gentleman has had time to consider these things calmly, he, will perhaps realise that the real cause of the difficulty in Ireland is that we did not give Home Rule to Ireland years ago. It is the delayed recognition of what statesmanship demanded that has caused most of our troubles there. Hon. Members should reflect that they may be causing a situation in Scotland with which at no distant date it will be very difficult to deal. I will give hon. Members an example. There have been, within the last year, three or four instances of men seizing land in Scotland. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if there had been a legislative assembly in Scotland to deal with the land question it would have been settled long ago. I ask the House to take warning in time.
There you have a bureaucratic body which is not in touch with the real public opinion of the country. The only way in which we can deal with these matters here, is by putting down questions and getting answers and then living in the hope that a month or six weeks, or perhaps two months afterwards, we may have half-an-hour or an hour to discuss these questions on the day set apart for Scottish Estimates. There could not be a clearer example than that which I have given of the evils of repressing the expression of public opinion on matters of this kind in the place where the trouble arises. Take the question of education. Education was a matter of national interest in Scotland long before it became a real national question of deep and wide general interest in England. It has been a tradition of the country for centuries. Questions with regard to teachers and their superannuation, and all the wide range of interests connected with education, are dealt with, as far as Scotland is concerned, by putting down from time to time, questions addressed, not to a Minister for Education, but to an over-worked and overburdened Secretary for Scotland, who answers questions on every subject, legislative and administrative. Such questions should be dealt with in Scotland, and they would be much more efficiently handled. There has been an administrative change lately, and one of the chief officials of the Education Department is in Edinburgh, but the people of Scotland—
Does the right hon. Gentleman not know that to separate the administration of education from this House and to make it independent is the worst blunder that has been made for a long time?
Scottish education should be dealt with by a representative body of Scotsmen in Scotland. You cannot get away from the force of the logic of that proposition. The idea that it can be efficiently dealt with here is a perfect delusion. This is an ever-increasing burden. Every department of Scottish national life is increasing in its interests, in its operations, and in its general ramifications. The same development is going on in Scotland as in other countries. It should not be left to occasional questions in this House; to a one-day discussion on Estimates; to a Clause appended at the back of a Bill; to a Standing Committee upstairs and to a fleeting opportunity of discussions on report or Third Reading to deal with these important matters. They should have fair, ample, sufficient and able consideration within the boundaries of the kingdom of Scotland.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD:
I make no apology whatever for intervening in the Debate this afternoon, though it applies to what is, I suppose, the kingdom of Scotland—and to the Shetlands and the Ilebrides—I presume they are all included. If one could think that Englishmen would become nationalists like Scotsmen as the result of this Debate, then I should regard it as a very fine thing, for, as has been suggested by the right. hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), while Scotsmen are claiming to exclude Englishmen from having any hand whatever in the management of Scottish affairs, they still insist that they are going to keep their hands on the throat of England so far as its public affairs are concerned. I am in favour of this Bill if an Amend-merit can be introduced to keep Scotsmen to Scottish business and keep them out of England. If a Clause of that description be inserted I will vote for the Bill as many times as is necessary to make it law. If the discussion by Scottish Members in this House, from their peculiar local and national point of view, of Scottish subjects, as apart from the rest of the Empire, can instil into the English mind a similar nationalism, so that Englishmen will begin to think of controlling England and keeping Scotsmen out of the best positions in England—if we could only get a nationalism of that description generated in England, it would be all right, but apparently Englishmen can only think of the British race. They can only think of the Empire and the whole race to which we all belong.
I will do so to please my hon. Friend, but that is my point of view, gathered from all my knowledge and reading on the subject. We are told that it is absolutely impossible for this House or for Englishmen to understand Scottish questions, and I confess there may be some subjects, purely Scottish in character, which bear no relation in any way to the ordinary affairs of England, and where it is necessary that the Scottish should have the control and management themselves. If they will only, in a Bill, make a general system of devolution, especially putting in Clauses as to who shall be the electors, that nobody except those of real Scottish origin shall vote for a Scottish Member of Parliament., and that only an Englishman shall vote for an English Member of Parliament in England, and if we can get the Welshmen to come on with the same sort of nationalism, it will be well; but they are too cute, and they will have nothing of that, we may be sure. I think we shall not suffer, but that we shall get most of the advantage out of this Bill. Take the question of education, for instance. An hon. Member who has spoken wants a more expensive system than they still have. Well, that would be delightful if the expense came out of Scottish pockets, and I should have no objection to that at all.
There is one thing that one cannot help thinking about in these discussions, and that is that Scotchmen, Welshmen, and Irishmen look at these things from an entirely different point of view from that of the ordinary Englishman. I look at them, I suppose, from as purely an English point of view as it is possible to have. We rarely speak of ourselves as Englishmen, and we rarely refer to England. We refer to the British as including all, or we refer to the British Empire as including all, and when one Englishman now and again happens, by chance, to let out, as by a slip of the tongue, that he is English, or that such and such a subject is an English subject, they immediately pounce upon him and say, "What about Wales?" or "What about Scotland?" or "What about Ireland?" We unquestionably are not nationalists in the narrow sense represented by this Bill, and I am afraid we never can be, for the idea of union, the psychology of union, is really in the blood of the English, and they can no longer look upon themselves as a separate and distinct entity among the race that goes to make up the British, and it is a surprising thing to me, as an Englishman, boy, it is that this narrow sectionalism is continued in all other parts of the Kingdom, and how men, who are otherwise apparently politically sane and reasonable, still want to go back to these old tribal feelings. I cannot understand it. I do not think it leads to the greatness of any section of the British community to be never thinking about anything except the little people to which they themselves belong. For instance, Scotland is no doubt entitled to a Parliament on the suggestion of my hon. Friends who have spoken to-day. There are something like 4,000,000 people in Scotland. There are about 7,000,000 English and others in London.
That is the whole point, and that reminds me that that seems to have been an ancient grievance as against those travelling down from the North continually to the South and dominating the affairs of the Southerner. I think it was in Boswell's "Life of Johnson" that I read some years ago that the only good thing that Scotsmen saw was the road to England, and the unfortunate part of the business is that it is not they alone who come and stay; they generally go back and get their brothers and all their friends to come as well. You come into England, on your own admission, to take part in our affairs, and you never find any ill-feeling. The English people do not care what part makes up the British race, who occupies the Prime Ministership or any other ship, so long as it is the best man. We do not care where the man comes from, but others ask, "Is he a Scotsman?" or "Is he a Welshman?" While I am in favour of the principles of the Bill, I do not agree with the way in which it is advocated. There is the pretence that an Englishman does not look after things which relate to Scotland with fairness, and that, so long as Englishmen have the slightest power to interfere in Scottish affairs, there will never be that great and personal attention applied to them that there would be if they were handed over entirely to Scotland. Do not think anything of the kind. When you come to transact our business, you take good care to interfere in all the details. We are not less intelligent than you, and when we discuss your affairs we give our best attention. Indeed, during the greater part of this Debate there have been more Englishmen than Scotsmen present. The Scotsmen numbered six during the first few speeches. There were about 14 Members present, and I was thinking of counting out the House. There were only six Scotsmen, and, as a matter of fact, the English were paying more attention to this Bill than the Scotsmen were.
All manner of excuses have been made by the right hon. Member for Peebles as to why Scotsmen could not attend. There was a lunch somewhere in the City. Then there were two or three Motions before this Bill, and it was never dreamt that the Scottish Bill would come on. The fact is, about three parts of the Scottish representatives do not believe in the principle of this Bill, and any excuse to stay away and not give a direct vote on the subject, is good enough on a Friday afternoon. I have been in favour of Home Rule, and voted for it. ever since I have been in public life, both for Ireland and Scotland; but the way in which it is here advocated, the narrow sectionalism which wants to break up all the elements into their component parts again, into warring elements, Border raids—the same as you have established in Ireland—I say is a retrograde step altogether. There cannot be any hostility between people so closely connected as the Scottish, English and Welsh. Why, therefore, try to create all these barriers? Why should the intelligent part of any of these races try to show the enormous difference there is between the character and ability of one section as compared with the other? You have not the Imperial idea. You have not the race idea. It is just a tribal idea that you have stuck to, and which, it seems, you will ever stick to. While I am quite agreeable to give my support to this Bill, I shall do it absolutely in order that, if it be carried, and finally becomes law, there will be some Clause inserted before passing to that stage by which the English once again may have control of their own affairs in their own country.
The hon. Member who moved this Bill justified his introduction of it at the present moment on the ground that it dealt with purely Scottish questions. I do not think this Bill is a purely Scottish Measure. The English Members may, perhaps, be allowed to express some interest in it. I propose to devote myself, as well as I can, to a point that has been ignored so far, namely, the Bill itself before the House. We have heard of the Scottish Home Rule movement what it proceeds from, what forces are behind it, but we have heard very little about the Bill. We have also heard from the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. A. Shaw) that this Bill is in the interest of England as well as of Scotland. I propose to oppose the Measure in the interests of Scotland as well as of England, mainly on grounds that reminds me of a somewhat regrettable incident which happened a couple of hundred years ago when the Scottish came across the border and stole—as was their custom—some very good Northumbrian sheep, which, however, had the the scab. Subsequently the Scotsmen came again, seized a Northumbrian, took him back and hanged him on the other side of the border. On his breast they pinned a notice, "That when gentlemen came across the border for sheep, they should not be 'scabbit.'"
When Scottish gentlemen come to London with a Home Rule Bill it is important the document they bring with them should not be imperfect. I am afraid this document is. The Bill has been put forward for Scotland as a slavish imitation of ourselves, but this Bill seems to me to be a mere slavish imitation of the Home Rule Bill of 1914. This is not the place to discuss the merits of the Home Rule Bill of 1914, as applied to Ireland. There were special conditions there. There was a special history. There were special claims. But to take the Government of Ireland Bill as a general precedent for the establishment of what the Mover and Seconder want, a Federal Constitution, betrays the most extraordinary idea of our Constitution. The Government of Ireland Bill, purely as a principle and as a constitutional Measure, as an attempt at a Federal Constitution, was a monster. It looked very nice, but it reminds me of the lady of classical times—Scylla, who was a woman upwards from the waist and a fish downwards. The Home Rule Bill of 1914 might have looked very beautiful in some parts, but it was extremely fishy in its constitutional limbs. What is just the defect of that Government of Ireland Act and of this Bill, looked at from the point of view of constitutional principle, and of the setting up of a sound Federal Constitution? It sets up a provincial Parliament and it provides no sort of constitutional connection between that provincial Parliament and the Imperial Parliament, of which it is supposed to be in some way a limb or member—no connection whatever. Under every sound Federal constitution the province or State is represented corporally in some special way in the Senate of the United States, in the Bundcrsrath of Germany, and so on. Under this Bill you are to have a Federal Parliament with no sort of connection whatsoever with the Imperial Parliament. The hon. Member opposite could not see the relevance of a question of mine as to whether the election of an Imperial Parliament and the provincial Parliament in Scotland would take, place at the same time, but I think it has very great relevance. If you have these elections simultaneously you will find the electors voting all in one direction, but the experience of every federal constitution is that, if you have the provincial elections at a different time from the federal elections, it is almost certain that the electors will send to the Imperial Parliament a strong conservative majority, while the provincial elections will go strongly radical. How is this difficulty to be solved? This Bill provides the most incoherent system it is possible to conceive, which is absolutely inapplicable to any scheme such as the Mover and Seconder of this Bill professed to desire of Home Rule all round. That is one of the reasons why I shall vote against this Bill.
I feel, however, that it is most important that this House should not regard this recurring question of Scottish Home Rule entirely as a joke. It is not a joke, because it is serious from two points of view. One of those points of view has been put forward by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), and it is not a joke from the point of view that the Bill tends to stir up an increasing agitation which is not really wanted. The other point is that nobody can possibly say that the Constitution of the United Kingdom, as it exists, is adequate in all ways for the efficient discharge of business, and no one who has listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) will be prepared to say that Scottish Members and Scottish interests do not suffer in many ways by the way in which Scottish business is presented to this House. I am sure that English Members suffer from the way in which English business is done here. I confess that, in principle, I am a Home Euler all round if you can get a practical and possible scheme. Scotland at the present moment—I speak humbly in the presence of Welshmen—is the touchstone of a workable and efficient scheme, and until the Government get down to a real consideration of what is needed in the way of practical devolution, so long shall we have thrown at us Bills of which kind, which repesent no constitutional knowledge and no deep thought on the difficulty and the problem of founding a new Constitution.
I have no doubt that great legal knowledge was devoted to drawing it up and that it may be legally watertight, but my point is that from the point of view of historical and constitutional experience it is an absolutely impossible and unworkable system. My hon. Friend, I think, was not here at the beginning of my speech when I said that, as the basis for a general federal constitution, it sinned against every principle on which any sound federal constitution has ever been based in the past. We shall continue to have Bills of this kind presented to us until we really get down to a serious consideration of devolution on these business lines to which the Mover and Seconder attach so much importance. I would press that point; because, unless we do, it will, I believe, be impossible to check the growing agitation which will find expression in ways, if possible, even more undesirable than those of the present Bill.
I am glad to acknowledge the moderation of the opposition of the Noble Lord. If I may say so, he has made a most interesting contribution to the Debate, because I should have expected from him a little traditional, hereditary opposition to anything favouring Scotland in view of the quarrel between the border robbers on one side or the other. Now that question about sheep has been settled long ago. I am glad that the Noble Lord has not carried that hereditary opposition to a great extent, because I realise that he is prepared to support a big all-round Home Rule scheme. I should like to reassure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward), and may I say that the most interesting speeches on this question have been made by English Members, including the hon. and gallant Member. He wanted to make sure that in the provisions of this Bill we should have some guarantee that Scotsmen, to put it bluntly, would keep their own side of the border. Scotsmen are said to be a hard and cruel people, but I do not believe that they would be so cruel as to leave the English people to themselves. We have been trying to train them in the art of government for the last 300 years, but I should be quite prepared, if I could be assured that they could govern themselves without our help, to try the experiment for a while, and I should have no objection to a proviso of that sort in the Bill. I quite agree with the main burden of the hon. and gallant Member's speech. The English are a great and hospitable people. They do not worry themselves where people come from. Some of us who come from the other side of the Border have acknowledged the fact. It is from no narrow spirit, and it is not that we object to English people, that we want Scottish affairs managed by ourselves, but it is largely from a practical point of view. I admit that there is a sentimental element in it, but that national sentiment is quite consistent with a catholicity of spirit. If my hon. and gallant Friend had continued his historical researches he would have discovered that Scotsmen were the pioneers as well as the successful leaders of men in the cases of all our Colonies, whereas Englishmen came in to reap the reward of the work of the pioneers.
I got up, however, chiefly to refer to one of the points raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), in a speech which made me more proud than ever that I am one of his constituents, although I do not agree with everything he said. The right hon. Gentleman's strongest point against this Bill was that there was not at the back of it any strong public feeling or agitation. I rather think that one of the reasons why we should pass the Bill is that the atmosphere is so calm. It is better for the House to pass it now than to be coerced into passing it later on. Evidently my right hon. Friend will not think there is any good reason for this Measure until our ancient castles in Scotland are being burned down, as in Ireland, until the people are up in arms, until they are burning each other's houses, and until they are shooting each other all over the place. Evidently that is the only kind of evidence which my right hon. Friend will admit would justify this House in passing a Home Rule Bill for Scotland. It reminds me of an Irish story. There was an Englishman who, while travelling in Ireland, was overtaken by a shower of rain and sought shelter in an Irish tavern. He saw an Irishman smoking in a corner of the room. Rain was pouring through the roof and he asked the man: "Is this your house?" The reply was in the affirmative, and he then inquired: "Why don't you thatch your roof?" The answer was: "You would not expect a man to work in this sort of weather, would you?" He rejoined: "Why not do it when the weather is fine?" and the Irishman's answer to that was, "It is not required then." That seems to be the philosophy of my right hon. Friend. The weather is fair and dry. To my mind that is a good reason for passing this Bill. I say, "Don't wait until the rain comes. Don't wait until bombs are being thrown and torches are being applied to the ancient castles of Scotland; don't wait until you are absolutely compelled to pass the Bill, but do it now while the weather is dry."
I rise to make an appeal to my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate. There are two classes of people in this country who advocate Home Rule. There is one class who advocate it on separatist grounds; they are dissatisfied with the Union. There is another class, to which I have the honour to belong, the business class in this country, who advocate devolution on the ground that, to carry on the business of this great country of ours, it is necessary to have devolution in our domestic affairs, in order to relieve congestion in the Imperial Parliament. We have no quarrel with the Union. We believe that the Union is essential for the safety and the progress of the British Empire. We do not belong to the first class to which I have referred. There is another class, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Gould) belongs, who do not believe in devolution on any ground whatever. My hon. Friend believes it to be a danger to the State. I differ from him also. I am sufficiently democratic to trust the good common sense of the majority of the people of Scotland and of Wales to avoid or to overthrow any extremist elements that there may be in either the one country or the other. My hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline (Mr. J. Wallace) has introduced a Bill on his own account. I introduced a Bill a few weeks ago on behalf of the Welsh National party, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London—the arch-destructor of all private Members' Bills—talked that little Bill of mine out.
The right hon. Baronet may possibly contemplate adding another scalp to his belt to-day; I do not know; but what I wish to do to-day is to appeal to my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate to make, on behalf of the Government, a promise to the Scottish and Welsh Members that time will be given for their joint Bill. I do not wish the right hon. Gentleman to pledge himself or the Government. The Welsh Members in this House advocated a Secretaryship for Wales, and we introduced last Session a Bill to create a Secretaryship for Wales, so that Wales might be a separate entity, and so that we might have from time to time separate legislation to meet the special requirements of Wales. We had a meeting with the Prime Minister, and he advised us to drop the Bill. We had a full party meeting—
That is an unnecessary aspersion to make. I think the Prime Minister was well aware of what he was recommending to the Welsh Members on that occasion at a dinner and the Prime Minister recommended that the Secretary for Wales Bill should be dropped, and that we should concentrate, during the Recess, upon a scheme of devolution for Wales; and he advised the Welsh Members to ballot at the commencement of this Session for a place. That was done. During the, Recess the Welsh Members appointed a Committee. The Chairman was the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, and the Minister of Health, the Chairman of the Welsh National party, and the Chairman of the Welsh Liberal party, were members of that Committee. We drafted a Bill on the lines of what—
I am sorry I have transgressed. My only object was to impress upon the Lord Advocate the necessity for the appeal I am going to make to him. I want the Lord Advocate to realise that what Scottish and Welsh Members are doing is something which the Prime Minister has recommended us do. He recommended us to draw up a Bill, which we have done, and the Bill has been introduced on the lines of the Speaker's Conference. The only hope we have for that to be adequately discussed is if the Government gives us time. We think our case is sufficiently strong. Surely if the Prime Minister—
He is an adviser. I am not speaking of a dictator. You are a dictator, or you try to be. The Prime Minister has given his advice. We have acted upon that advice. Surely the House will give us time to discuss a Measure which has been brought in on the advice of the Prime Minister. That is my appeal to the Lord Advocate, and if he agrees after the Whitsun holidays to submit to the Government this strong appeal that time may be given at an early date for this joint. Measure, I am assured by my hon. Friend who introduced the Bill to-day that he is willing to withdraw it, and I have withdrawn mine in favour of the joint Bill on the same lines. I hope my right hon. Friend will give us some assurance that the Government will at an early date give us an opportunity for adequate discussion of the joint Measure.
The Debate has gone from Scotland to Wales in the last few minutes. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill said he did not propose to deal with its details, but sought the decision of the House on the principle of Scottish Home Rule, and that is the reply to the Noble Lord who commented on the fact that the purpose of the Bill had not been explained. It would be quite impossible to do justice to the Bill in the short time that is left, especially as it did not come on till after one o'clock. I know something about public opinion in Scotland. I am connected with many public bodies in Scotland. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), for whom I have the utmost admiration, is out of touch with the living forces of Scotland and is not coming into close contact with public life there. Take the Convention of Burghs in Scotland. [Interruption.] A living force. It does not come well from the mouth of Scottish Members to sneer at such a representative body as the Convention of Burghs. The Convention of Burghs has declared in favour of Scottish Home Rule. My right hon. Friend has referred to an organisation in Scotland which he says is bringing Scottish Home Rule into disrepute. I know all about that organisation. I know that there are extreme men in that organisation, and that they have expressed wild revolutionary ideas as to the basis upon which Scottish self-government should be founded; but I also know that a great many business people in Scotland, to whom the name of Home Rule is not very sweet, have come to the conclusion that the administration of Scottish affairs is so badly done, and so little attention is given to Scottish business, that the time has arrived when the Scottish people should be brought into closer association with the administration of their own affairs.
The right hon. Gentleman will find that the ordinary business and public-spirited men in Scotland desire that they should be associated more closely with the administration of Scottish affairs, that Scottish business should be done in Scottish ways, and that the Scottish people should have more control than they have at the present time. If you disregard peaceful methods of that sort and the expression of moderate opinion, you will play into the hands of the extremists, and you will teach people that the only way to get a reform which is agitating the minds of the people of Scotland is to emulate the example of the people of the sister isle. So many reforms have been got in this country by means of violence that you should not play with fire. The duty of this House, more especially having regard to the concessions of self-government given elsewhere, is to meet the Scottish demand, and do something that will bring the Scottish people more closely into contact with the administration of their own local affairs. We do not want to break away from the Union. We are as proud of the Union and the Empire as the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward), who does less than the justice due to the Scottish people if he refuses to acknowledge that Scottish people have been among the pioneers in building up the Empire, and have been proud to be associated with England in building the Empire.
I accept that. It is improper to say that it is the Scotsmen who have built up the Empire. The Scottish people have been equally associated with the great mass of generous English people in building up the British Empire. Although I have, a good deal more to say on Scottish Home Rule I will not stand between the House and the lord Advocate.
I had not intended to intervene upon the merits of this Bill, in view of the fact that a number of other Scottish Members were present and desired to speak; but two points have been put. An observation has been made about the absence of the Secretary for Scotland. Had my right hon. Friend been here present, he would have spoken as he has previously done on this subject. I am sure he would desire me to say that he regrets that he is not present, because on previous occasions he has spoken in sympathetic terms of other Bills with a similar purpose. My other object in intervening at this stage is to reply to the personal appeal made by an hon. Member. I have no authority, either on behalf of the Secretary for Scotland, with whom I have been unable to communicate to-day—and I know that the Bill was not expected to be reached, or I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend would have been present—or on behalf of the Government to give any such undertaking, and I do not know if I had such authority that my Scottish colleagues would welcome such an undertaking. Accordingly, I cannot give, either on behalf of my right hon. Friend or of the Government, any such undertaking. In the circumstances, I can do no more than undertake to represent to the Secretary for Scotland that it is desired that he should consider whether he should not approach the Government with that view. Beyond that I cannot go.
Mr. GIDEON MURRAY:
As one who has been a convinced devolutionist for Scotland for a long time I am now unfortunately in the position of being unable to support this Bill. The arguments advanced by the various hon. Members who have spoken have and always will have a great deal of substance in them, but there is a time for all things and we have to regard the situation as it at present exists in Scotland from two points of view, the point of view of our financial conditions and that of our relationship with the island across the Channel, Ireland. From the financial point of view I do not believe that Scotsmen as a whole to-day would desire to take part in instituting a form of Home Rule for Scotland which was going to cost a great deal of money. I remember that at the Speaker's Devolution Conference two years ago the question of finance was carefully considered, and it was determined that it would cost at least £1,000,000 to set up devolution in Scotland. That did not take into account the question of buildings, etc. which would require to be worthy of the dignity of a country like Scotland. Therefore it would cost £2,000,000 or even £3,000,000 to set up such a constitution.
I find moreover that in the Bill there is power to vary Imperial taxes, excepting Customs and Excise. That would give the power to impose additional Income Tax, for instance. We all know what has happened in America. In America there is a Federal Income Tax and a State Income Tax, which together operate very harshly on the taxpayer, and though I, personally, would be prepared at a suitable time to face additional Income Tax for the purpose of having our own local institutions in Scotland, it is not a time to come to Scotsmen and ask them to pay additional taxation to set up this Constitution, however desirable it may be. Then there is the question of Ireland. What is the state of Ireland to-day? This is not the time when England and Scotland should separate in any degree, because we do not know what we may have to face together in the near future. Those are the main reasons why I cannot support this Bill. Turning to the details of the Bill I see that it provides for a single-chamber Parliament. I am entirely opposed to that proposal. I hold that we ought to maintain any local Constitution for Scotland on the same lines as the Constitution of the United Kingdom, namely, on a two-chamber basis. These then are the main reasons why I cannot support this Bill.
This is by no manner of means a Scottish question only or a British question only; it is a European Question and a world question. This Bill is more of the fearful poison of nationalism which is wrecking the world just now. That a crowd of professedly liberal-minded men should come here and attempt to hurl more of these flaming torches into the world is one of the most ridiculous things that any body in a progressive nation could do. Surely we have had enough of this foolery in the past seven years. Have we not had enough of the word "self-determination"? We have had experience of the coining of phrases to lure to destruction. "Self-determination" will have ten million human lives on its head, and I do not know how many more. If you ask Scottish Members what they really want when they are talking business, do they say Home Rule? I remember when there was a chance of a Division and a discussion about Home Rule, and hon. Members opposite were offered Home Rule for their railways. With one accord every one of them said, "Never, never, will we desert Mr. Micawber." It is fantastic for the Liberal party, which refused Home Rule in the matter of railways, and for the Labour party, which refused miners' Home Rule, to come down here and force the hated subject on the country.