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Title: Against Home Rule (1912) - The Case for the Union
Author: Various
Language: English
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Secretary & Editor.



This book, for which I have been asked to write a short preface,
presents the case against Home Rule for Ireland. The articles are
written by men who not only have a complete grasp of the subjects upon
which they write, but who in most cases, from their past experience and
from their personal influence, are well entitled to outline the Irish
policy of the Unionist Party.

Ours is not merely a policy of hostility to Home Rule, but it is, as it
has always been, a constructive policy for the regeneration of Ireland.

We are opposed to Home Rule because, in our belief, it would seriously
weaken our national position; because it would put a stop to the
remarkable increase of prosperity in Ireland which has resulted from the
Land Purchase Act; and because it would inflict intolerable injustice on
the minority in Ireland, who believe that under a Government controlled
by the men who dominate the United Irish League neither their civil nor
their religious liberty would be safe.

To create within the United Kingdom a separate Parliament with an
Executive Government responsible to that Parliament would at the best
mean a danger of friction. But if we were ever engaged in a great war,
and the men who controlled the Irish Government took the view in regard
to that war which was taken by the same men in regard to the Boer War;
if they thought the war unjust, and if, as under the last Home Rule
Bill they would have the right to do, they passed resolutions in the
Irish Parliament in condemnation of the war, and even sent embassies
carrying messages of good-will to our enemy, then this second Government
at the heart of the Empire would be a source of weakness which might be
fatal to us.

The ameliorative measures originated by Mr. Balfour when he was Chief
Secretary, and which culminated in the Wyndham Purchase Act, have
created a new Ireland. Mr. Redmond, speaking a year or two ago, said
that Ireland "was studded with the beautiful and happy homes of an
emancipated peasantry." It is a true picture, but it is a picture of the
result of Unionist policy in Ireland, a policy which Mr. Redmond and his
friends, including the present Government, have done their best to
hamper. The driving power of the agitation for Home Rule has always been
discontent with the land system of Ireland, and just in proportion as
land purchase has extended, the demand for Home Rule has died down. The
Nationalist leaders, realising this, and regarding political agitation
as their first object, have compelled the Government to put
insurmountable obstacles in the way of land purchase--not because it had
not been successful, but because it had been too successful.

The prosperity and the peace of Ireland depend upon the completion of
land purchase, and it can only be completed by the use of British
credit, which in my belief can and ought only to be freely given so long
as Ireland is in complete union with the rest of the United Kingdom. In
the present deplorable position of British credit the financing of land
purchase would be difficult; but it is not unreasonable to hope that the
return to power of a Government which would adopt sane financial
methods would restore our credit; and in any case, the object is of such
vital importance that, whatever the difficulties, it must be our policy
to complete with the utmost possible rapidity the system of land
purchase in Ireland.

It will also be our aim to help to the utmost, in the manner suggested
in different articles in this book, in the development of the resources
of Ireland. The Nationalist policy, which is imposed also on the Radical
Party, is in fact more politics and less industry. Our policy is more
industry and less politics.

The strongest objection, however, and, in my opinion, the insurmountable
obstacle to Home Rule, is the injustice of attempting to impose it
against their will upon the Unionists of Ulster. The only intelligible
ground upon which Home Rule can now be defended is the nationality of
Ireland. But Ireland is not a nation; it is two nations. It is two
nations separated from each other by lines of cleavage which cut far
deeper than those which separate Great Britain from Ireland as a whole.
Every argument which can be adduced in favour of separate treatment for
the Irish Nationalist minority as against the majority of the United
Kingdom, applies with far greater force in favour of separate treatment
for the Unionists of Ulster as against the majority of Ireland.

To the majority in Ireland Home Rule may seem to be a blessing, but to
the minority it appears as an intolerable curse. Their hostility to it
is quite as strong as that which was felt by many of the Catholics of
Ireland to Grattan's Parliament. They, too, would say, as the Catholic
Bishop of Waterford said at the time of the Union, that they "would
prefer a Union with the Beys and Mamelukes of Egypt to the iron rod of
the Mamelukes of Ireland."

The minority which holds this view is important in numbers, for it
comprises at the lowest estimate more than a fourth of the population of
Ireland. From every other point of view it is still more important, for
probably the minority pays at least half the taxes and does half the
trade of Ireland. The influence and also the power of the minority is
enormously increased by the way in which its numbers are concentrated in
Belfast and the surrounding counties.

The men who compose this minority ask no special privilege. They demand
only--and they will not demand in vain--that they should not be deprived
against their will of the protection of British law and of the rights of
British citizenship.



_By the Rt. Hon. A. Bonar Law, M.P._


_By the Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Carson, K.C., M.P._



_By the Rt. Hon. A.J. Balfour, M.P._


_By J.R. Fisher_



_By George Cave, K.C., M.P._


_By the Rt. Hon. J. Austen Chamberlain, M.P._


_By L.S. Amery, M.P._


_By the Rt. Hon. J.H. Campbell, K.C., M.P._


_By the Marquis of Londonderry, K.G._


_By the Rt. Hon. Thomas Sinclair._


_By Richard Bagwell, M.A._


_By Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, M.P._


_By the Earl Percy._


(i.) The Church View

_By the Rt. Rev. C.F. D'Arcy, Bishop of Down._

(ii.) The Nonconformist View

_By Rev. Samuel Prenter, M.A., D.D. (Dublin)._



_By the Rt. Hon. Gerald Balfour._


_By the Rt. Hon. George Wyndham, M.P._


_By Arthur Warren Samuels, K.C._


_By L.S. Amery, M.P._


_By the Rt. Hon. Walter Long, M.P._


_By John E. Healy, Editor of the "Irish Times."_


_By Godfrey Locker Lampson, M.P._


_By an Irish Railway Director._



The object of the various essays collected in this book is to set out
the case against Home Rule for Ireland, and to re-state Unionist policy
in the light of the recent changes in that country. The authors are not,
however, to be regarded as forming anything in the nature of a corporate
body, and no collective responsibility is to be ascribed to them. Each
writer is responsible for the views set out in his own article, and for
those alone. At the same time, they are all leaders of Unionist thought
and opinion, and their views in the main represent the policy which the
Unionist Government, when returned to power, will have to carry into

Among the contributors to the book are an ex-Premier, four ex-Chief
Secretaries for Ireland, an ex-Lord Lieutenant, two ex-Law officers, and
a number of men whose special study of the Irish question entitles them
to have their views most carefully considered when the time comes for
restoring to Ireland those economic advantages of which she has been
deprived by political agitation and political conspiracy. At the present
moment the discussion of the Irish question is embittered by the
pressing and urgent danger to civil and religious liberties involved in
the unconditional surrender of the Government to the intrigues of a
disloyal section of the Irish people. It is the object of writers in
this book to raise the discussions on the Home Rule question above the
bitter conflict of Irish parties, and to show that not only is Unionism
a constructive policy and a measure of hope for Ireland, but that in
Unionist policy lies the only alternative to financial ruin and
exterminating civil dissensions.

We who are Unionists believe first and foremost that the Act of Union
is required--in the words made familiar to us by the Book of Common
Prayer--"for the safety, honour and welfare, of our Sovereign and his
dominions." We are not concerned with the supposed taint which marred
the passing of that Act; we are unmoved by the fact that its terms have
undergone considerable modification. We do not believe in the plenary
inspiration of any Act of Parliament. It is not possible for the living
needs of two prosperous countries to be bound indefinitely by the "dead
hand" of an ancient statute, but we maintain that geographical and
economic reasons make a legislative Union between Great Britain and
Ireland necessary for the interests of both. We see, as Irish Ministers
saw in 1800, that there can be no permanent resting place between
complete Union and total separation. We know that Irish Nationalists
have not only proclaimed separatist principles, but that they have
received separatist money, on the understanding that they would not
oppose a movement to destroy whatever restrictions and safeguards the
Imperial Parliament might impose upon an Irish Government.

The first law of nature with nations and governments, as with
individuals, is self-preservation. It was the vital interests of
national defence that caused Pitt to undertake the difficult and
thankless task of creating the legislative union. If that union was
necessary for the salvation of England and the foundation of the British
Empire, it is assuredly no less necessary for the continued security of
the one and the maintenance and prestige of the other.

Mr. J.R. Fisher, in his historical retrospect, shows us how bitter
experience convinced successive generations of English statesmen of the
dangers that lay in an independent Ireland. One of the very earliest
conflicts between the two countries was caused by the action of the
Irish Parliament in recognising and crowning a Pretender in Dublin
Castle. Then the fact that the Reformation, which soon won the adherence
of the English Government and the majority of the English people, never
gained any great foothold in Ireland, caused the bitter religious wars
which devastated Europe to be reproduced in the relations of the two
countries. When England was fighting desperately with the Spanish
champions of the Papacy, Spanish forces twice succeeded in effecting a
landing on the Irish coast, and were welcomed by the people. Later on,
by the aid of subsidies from an Irish Parliament, Strafford raised
10,000 men in Ireland in order to support Charles I. in his conflict
with the English people. Cromwell realised that the only remedy for the
intrigues and turbulence of the Irish Parliament lay in a legislative
union. But, unfortunately, his Union Parliament was terminated by the
Restoration. Then, again, when France became the chief danger that
England had to face, Tyrconnel, with the aid of French troops and French
subsidies, endeavoured to make Ireland a base for the invasion of
England. Under the Old Pretender again, another effort was made to make
the Irish Parliament a medium for the destruction of English liberties.

In these long-continued and bitter struggles we see the excuse, if not
the justification, for the severe penal laws which were introduced in
order to curb the power of the Irish chieftains. We see also the
beginning of the feud between Ulster and the other provinces in Ireland,
which has continued in a modified form to the present day. Strafford
found that, in order to bolster up the despotism of the Stuarts, he had
not only to invade England, but to expel the Scottish settlers from the
Northern province. The Irish Parliament in the time of Tyrconnel again
began to prepare for the invasion of England by an attempt to destroy
the Ulster plantation. The settlers had their estates confiscated, the
Protestant clergy were driven out and English sympathisers outlawed by
name, in the "hugest Bill of Attainder which the world has seen."

Admiral Lord Charles Beresford points out the danger from a naval point
of view of the French attempts to use Ireland as a base for operations
against England, both under Louis XIV. and under the Republican
Directory. He quotes Admiral Mahan as saying that the movement which
designed to cut the English communications in St. George's Channel
while an invading party landed in the south of Ireland was a strictly
strategic movement and would be as dangerous to England now as it was in
1690. When Grattan extorted from England's weakness the unworkable and
impracticable constitution of 1782, the danger which had always been
present became immensely increased. In less than three years from the
period of boasted final adjustment, Ireland came to a breach with
England on the important question of trade and navigation. Then, again,
at the time of the Regency, the Irish Parliament was actually ready to
choose a person in whom to rest the sovereign executive power of the
nation, different from him whom the British Parliament were prepared to

In 1795, when the French had made themselves masters of Brabant,
Flanders, and Holland, the rebel government of United Irishmen was so
well-established in Ireland that, as Lord Clare, the Irish Chancellor,
subsequently admitted in the House of Lords, Ireland was for some weeks
in a state of actual separation from Great Britain. When the great
Rebellion of 1798 broke out, the French Directory sent assistance to the
Irish rebels in order to facilitate the greater scheme--the conquest of
England and of Europe. When we come to estimate the danger which the
grant of Home Rule to Ireland would bring to the safety of England, we
are faced with two considerations. In the first place, the movements of
the French in the past were, as we have said, strategic. Given an Irish
Parliament that was hostile to England, or at least dubious in her
loyalty to this country, the movement of a hostile fleet against our
communications would be as dangerous now as it was in the past.

When we try to estimate what would be the feelings of an Irish
Government when England was at war, we have to consider not only the
speeches of avowed enemies of the Empire like Major McBride and the
Irish Americans, but we have also to remember the attitude adopted upon
all questions of foreign policy by the more responsible Nationalists of
the type of Mr. Dillon. Not only have the Irish Nationalist party
consistently opposed every warlike operation that British Governments
have found to be necessary, but they have also fervently attacked the
Powers on the Continent of Europe that have been suspected of friendship
to England. We have only to imagine the element of weakness and disunion
which would be introduced into our foreign policy by an Irish Parliament
that passed resolutions regarding the policy of the Governments, say, of
Russia and of France, in order to realise the immense dangers of setting
up such a Parliament when we are again confronted with a mighty
Confederation of opponents in Europe. It is admitted that the next
European war will be decided by the events of the first few days. In
order to succeed, we shall have to strike and strike quickly. But in
order that there should be swift and effective action, there should be
only one Government to be consulted. The Irish Ministry that was not
actively hostile, but only unsympathetic and dilatory, might, in many
ways, fatally embarrass Ministers at Westminster.

Moreover, another complication has been introduced by the dependence of
England upon Irish food supplies. Lord Percy points out that there are
two stages in every naval war; first, the actual engagement, and then
the blockade or destruction of the ships of the defeated country. He
points out that, even after the destruction of the French Navy at
Trafalgar, the damage done to British oversea commerce was very great.
Modern conditions of warfare have made blockade an infinitely more
difficult and precarious operation, and we must therefore face the
certainty that hostile cruisers will escape and interfere with our
oversea supplies of food. Since Ireland lies directly across our trade
routes, it is probable that the majority of our food supplies will be
derived from Ireland or carried through that country. But Irish
Ministers would not have forgotten the lesson of the famine, when food
was exported from Ireland though the people starved. Curious as it may
seem, Ireland, though a great exporting country, does not under present
conditions feed herself, and therefore an Irish Ministry would
certainly lay in a large stock of the imported food supplies before they
were brought to England, in order first of all absolutely to secure the
food of their own people. It would be open for them at any time, by
cutting off our supplies, our horses and our recruits, to extract any
terms they liked out of the English people or bring this country to its
knees. "England's difficulty" would once again become "Ireland's
opportunity." The experience of 1782 would be repeated. Resistance to
Ireland's demands for extended powers would bring about war between the
two countries. In the striking phrase of Mr. Balfour's arresting
article, "The battle of the two Parliaments would become the battle of
the two peoples." It is only necessary to refer briefly to the fact that
the active section of the Nationalist party has continually and
consistently opposed recruiting for the British Army. It is perfectly
certain that, under Home Rule, this policy would be accentuated rather
than reversed. We now draw recruits from Ireland out of all proportion
to its population. Under Home Rule, the difficulties of maintaining a
proper standard of men and efficiency must be immensely increased.

If there were no other arguments against Home Rule, the paramount
necessities of Imperial defence would demand the maintenance of the
Union. But the opposition to the proposed revolution in Ireland is based
not only on the considerations of Imperial safety, but also on those of
national honour. The historical bases of Irish nationalism have been
destroyed by the arguments summarised in this book by Mr. Fisher and Mr.
Amery. It was the existence of a separate Parliament in Dublin that made
Ireland, for so many centuries, alike a menace to English liberty and
the victim of English reprisals. Miss A.E. Murray has pointed out[1]
that experience seemed to show to British statesmen that Irish
prosperity was dangerous to English liberty. It was the absence of
direct authority over Ireland which made England so nervously anxious
to restrict Irish resources in every direction in which they might, even
indirectly, interfere with the growth of English power. Irish industries
were penalised and crippled, not from any innate perversity on the part
of English statesmen, or from any deliberate desire to ruin Ireland, but
as a natural consequence of exclusion from the Union under the economic
policy of the age. The very poverty of Ireland, as expressed in the
lowness of Irish wages, was a convenient and perfectly justifiable
argument for exclusion. Mr. Amery shows that the Protestant settlers of
Ulster were penalised even more severely than the intriguing Irish
chieftains against whom they were primarily directed.

It was the consciousness of the natural result of separation that caused
the Irish Parliament, upon two separate occasions, to petition for that
union with England which was delayed for over a century. The action of
Grattan and his supporters in wresting the impossible Constitution of
1782, from the harassed and desperate English Government, began that
fatal policy of substituting political agitation for economic reform
which has ever since marred the Irish Nationalist movement. John
Fitzgibbon[2] pointed out in the Irish House of Commons that only two
alternatives lay before his country--Separation or Union. Under
Separation an Irish Parliament might be able to pursue an economic
policy of its own; under Union the common economic policy of the two
countries might be adjusted to the peculiar interests of each.

Pitt, undoubtedly, looked forward to a Customs Union with internal free
trade as the ultimate solution of the difficulty, but a Customs Union
was impossible without the fullest kind of legislative unity. It is true
that the closing years of the eighteenth century were years of
prosperity to certain classes and districts in Ireland, but Mr. Fisher
has shown beyond dispute that this prosperity neither commenced with
Grattan's Parliament nor ended with its fall. It was based upon the
peculiar economic conditions which years of war and preparations for
war had fostered in England; it was bound in any case to disappear with
the growing concentration of industrial interests which followed the
general introduction of machinery. The immediate result of the passing
of the Act of Union was to increase the Irish population and Irish

But to a certain extent that prosperity was fictitious and doomed to
failure so soon as peace and the introduction of scientific methods of
industry had caused the concentration of the great manufactures. Then
came the great economic disaster for Ireland--the adoption of free trade
by England. The Irish famine of 1849 was not more severe than others
that had preceded it, but its evil effects were accentuated by the
policy of the English Government. The economists decided that the State
ought to do nothing to interfere with private enterprise in feeding the
starving people, and as there was no private enterprise in the country,
where all classes were involved in the common ruin, the people were left
to die of hunger by the roadside. The lands the potato blight spared
were desolated by the adoption of free trade. The exploitation of the
virgin lands of the American West gradually threw the fertile midlands
of Ireland from tillage into grass. A series of bad harvests aggravated
the evil. The landlords and the farmers of Ireland were divided into two
political camps, and, instead of uniting for their common welfare, each
attempted to cast upon the other the burden of the economic catastrophe.
To sum up in the words of Mr. Amery--

     "The evils of economic Separatism, aggravated by social evils
     surviving from the Separatism of an earlier age, united to revive a
     demand for the extension and renewal of the very cause of those

The political demand for the repeal of the Act of Union, which had lain
dormant for so many years, was revived by the energies of Isaac Butt. He
found in the Irish landlords, smarting under the disestablishment of the
Irish Church, a certain amount of sympathy and assistance, but the
"engine" for which Finton Lalor had asked in order to draw the "repeal
train," was not discovered until Parnell linked the growing agrarian
unrest to the Home Rule Campaign. This is not the place to tell again
the weary story of the land war or to show how the Irish Nationalists
exploited the grievances of the Irish tenants in order to encourage
crime and foment disloyalty in the country. It is sufficient to say that
this conflict--the conduct of which reflects little credit either upon
the Irish protagonists or the British Government which alternately
pampered and opposed it--was ended, for the time at least, by the
passing of Mr. Wyndham's Land Act. We look forward in perfect confidence
to the time when that great measure shall achieve its full result in
wiping out the memory of many centuries of discord and hatred. But the
Separatist movement, which has always been the evil genius of Irish
politics, has not yet been completely exorcised. The memory of those
past years when the minority in Ireland constituted the only bulwark of
Irish freedom and of English liberty, has not yet passed away. The Irish
Nationalist party since Parnell have spared no exertions to impress more
deeply upon the imaginations of a sentimental race the memory of those
"ancient weeping years." They have preached a social and a civil war
upon all those in Ireland who would not submit their opinions and
consciences to the uncontrolled domination of secret societies and

The articles upon the Ulster question by Lord Londonderry and Mr.
Sinclair show that the Northern province still maintains her historic
opposition to Irish Separatism and Irish intrigue. She stands firmly by
the same economic principles which have enabled her, in spite of
persecution and natural disadvantages, to build up so great a
prosperity. She knows well that the only chance for the rest of Ireland
to attain to the standard of education, enlightenment and independence
which she has reached, is to free itself from the sinister domination
under which it lies, and to assert its right to political and religious
liberty. Ulster sees in Irish Nationalism a dark conspiracy, buttressed
upon crime and incitement to outrage, maintained by ignorance and
pandering to superstition. Even at this moment the Nationalist leagues
have succeeded in superseding the law of the land by the law of the
league. We need only point to the remarks which the Lord Chief Justice
of Ireland and Mr. Justice Kenny have been compelled to make to the
Grand Juries quite recently, to show what Nationalist rule means to the
helpless peasants in a great part of the country.

But the differences which still sever the two great parties in Ireland
are not only economic but religious. The general slackening of
theological dispute which followed the weary years of religious warfare
after the Reformation, has never brought peace to Ireland. In England
the very completeness of the defeat of Roman Catholicism has rendered
the people oblivious to the dangers of its aggression. The Irish
Unionists are not monsters of inhuman frame; they are men of like
passions with Englishmen. Though they hold their religious views with
vigour and determination, there is nothing that they would like more
than to be able to forget their points of difference from those who are
their fellow Christians. It is perhaps necessary to point out once again
that the Roman Catholic Church is a political, as well as a religious,
institution, and to remind Englishmen that it is by the first law of its
being an intolerant and aggressive organisation. All Protestants in
Ireland feel deep respect for much of the work which is carried on by
the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. They gladly acknowledge the
influence of its priesthood in maintaining and upholding the traditional
morality and purity of the Irish race. They venerate the memories of
those brave Irish priests who defied persecution in order to bring
succour to their flocks in time of need. But they are bound to deal with
the present political situation as they find it. They are determined
that no Church, however admirable, and no creed, however lofty, should
be forced upon them against their wills. There is a dark side to the
picture, on which it is unnecessary to dwell. We have only to ask the
Nonconformists of England what would be their feelings were a Roman
Catholic majority returned to the British House of Commons.

In most of the articles in this book which deal with the religious
question; special stress is laid upon recent Papal legislation. The _Ne
Temere_ and the _Motu Proprio_ decrees have constituted an invasion of
the rights hitherto enjoyed by the minority in Ireland, and they are
even more significant as an illustration of the policy of the Roman
curia. Those who have watched the steady increase of Roman aggression in
every Roman Catholic country, followed as it has been by passionate
protest and determined action by the civil Governments, must realise the
danger which Home Rule would bring to the faith and liberty of the
people of Ireland. It is not inconsistent to urge, as many of us have
urged, that Home Rule would mean alike a danger to the Protestant faith
and a menace to Catholic power. The immediate result of successful Papal
interference with civil liberties in every land has been a sweeping
movement among the people which has been, not Protestant, but
anti-Christian in its nature. If we fear the tyranny which the Roman
Catholic Church has established under British rule in Malta and in
Quebec, may we not fear also the reaction from such tyranny which has
already taken place in France and Portugal.

But we are told that there are to be in the new Home Rule Bill
safeguards which will protect the minority from any interference with
their civil and religious liberties. It is not necessary for me to go
over again in detail the ground which is so admirably covered by Mr.
George Cave and Mr. James Campbell. They show clearly that the existence
of restrictions and limitations upon the activities of a Dublin
Parliament, whether they are primarily intended to safeguard the British
connection or to protect the liberties of minorities, cannot be worth
the paper on which they are printed. Let us take, for instance, an
attempt to prevent the marriages of Irish Protestants from being
invalidated by an Irish Parliament. We may point out that an amendment
to the 1893 Home Rule Bill, designed to safeguard such marriages, was
rejected by the vote of the Irish Nationalist party. But even were
legislation affecting the marriage laws of the minority to be placed
outside the control of a Dublin Parliament, the effect would not be to
reassure the Protestant community. Mr. James Campbell mentions a case
which has profoundly stirred the Puritan feelings of Irish
Protestantism. A man charged with bigamy has been released without
punishment because the first marriage, although in conformity with the
law of the land, was not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church.
However justifiable that course may have been in the exceptional
circumstances of that particular case, the precedent obviously prepares
the way for a practical reversal of the law by executive or judicial
action. We must remember that, since the _Ne Temere_ decree has come
into force, the marriages of Protestants and Roman Catholics are held by
the Roman Catholic Church to be absolutely null and void unless they are
celebrated in a Roman Catholic Church. We have also to bear in mind that
these marriages will not be permitted by the priesthood except under
conditions which many Irish Protestants consider humiliating and
impossible. No more deadly attack upon the faith of the Protestant
minority in the three provinces in Ireland can be imagined than to make
a denial of their faith the essential condition to the enjoyment of the
highest happiness for which they may look upon this earth.

The second decree prohibits, under pain of excommunication, any Roman
Catholic from bringing an ecclesiastical officer before a Court of
Justice. Even under the Union Government this decree is a danger to the
liberty of the subject. Under an independent Irish Government, nothing
except that vast anti-clerical revolution which some people foresee
could possibly reassure the people as to the attitude of the Executive
Government in dealing with a large and privileged class. These
considerations make one more reason for refusing the Colonial analogy
which is so ingeniously pressed by such apologists for Home Rule as Mr.
Erskine Childers. Mr. Amery analyses the confusion of thought between
Home Rule as meaning responsible Government and Home Rule as meaning
separate government which underlies the arguments of Liberal Home
Rulers. Ireland has Home Rule in the sense of having free representative
institutions. She is prevented by geographical and economic conditions
from enjoying separate government under the same terms on which the
Colonies possess it. As Mr. Amery points out, the United Kingdom is
geographically a single island group. No part of Ireland is so
inaccessible from the political centre of British power as the remoter
parts of the Highlands, while racially no less than physically Ireland
is an integral part of the United Kingdom. Economically also the two
countries are bound together in a way which makes a common physical
policy absolutely necessary for the welfare of both countries. The
financial arguments which might have made it possible to permit an
independent fiscal policy for Ireland under free trade, have disappeared
with the certain approach of a revision of the tariff policies of
England. There can be no separate tariffs for the two countries, or even
a common tariff, without a common Government to negotiate and enforce
it. If there were no other objection to the establishment of a separate
Government in Dublin, it would be impossible because legislative
autonomy can only be coupled with financial independence.

The financial difficulties in the way of any grant of Home Rule are
fully explained by Mr. Austen Chamberlain. Three attempts at framing
schemes for financing Home Rule were made by Mr. Gladstone in the past.
All the powers of this great and resourceful dialectician were employed
in defending these various schemes in turn. He was not deterred from
pressing any scheme by the fact that in important details it was
inconsistent with or even opposed to what had been previously
recommended. But if there was one principle on which Mr. Gladstone never
turned his back it was in demanding a contribution from Ireland for
Imperial services. At one time he demanded a cash payment, at another
the assignment of the Customs, and on yet another occasion the payment
to the Imperial Exchequer of a quota--one-third--of the tax-revenue in

The effect of recent social legislation, such as Old Age Pensions,
Labour Exchanges, and Sickness and Unemployment Insurance has been to
confer on Ireland benefits much greater in value than the Irish
contribution in respect of the new taxation imposed. In consequence of
this change the present Irish revenue falls short of the expenditure
incurred for Irish purposes in Ireland. Mr. Chamberlain shows that if
any scheme even remotely resembling any of those put forward on previous
occasions by Mr. Gladstone is embodied in the new Bill, and if a
moderate contribution for Imperial services is included, the Irish
deficit must range from £2,500,000 to £3,500,000. If by any process of
juggling with the figures the Irish Parliament is again to be started
with a surplus the deficit must have been made good by charging it
against the Imperial taxpayer. But again there is no permanence in such
a surplus. It must disappear if the ameliorative measures which are long
overdue in Ireland are undertaken by an Irish Parliament; and previous
experience has already illustrated that even without the adoption of any
such new schemes surpluses would long ago have made room for deficits.
It will be the duty of the Nationalists party to say definitely what are
the fiscal reserves upon which they can draw in order to establish
permanent equilibrium between revenue and expenditure in Ireland.

Not only does Unionist policy for Ireland involve considerations of
national safety and national honour, but it is also necessary for the
economic welfare of both countries. The remarkable success which has
attended Mr. Wyndham's Land Act of 1903 has alarmed the political party
in Ireland, which depends for its influence on the poverty and
discontent of the rural population of Ireland. Mr. Wyndham in his
article upon Irish Land Purchase shows clearly the blessings which have
followed wherever his Act has been given fair play, and the evils which
have resulted in the suppression of Land Purchase by Mr. Birrell's Act
of 1909. The dual ownership created by Mr. Gladstone's ill-advised and
reckless legislation led to Ireland being starved both in capital and
industry and brought the whole of Irish agriculture to the brink of
ruin, and under these circumstances, Conservative statesmen determined,
in accordance with the principles of the Act of Union, to use a joint
exchequer for the purpose of relieving Irish distress. Credit of the
State was employed to convert the occupiers of Irish farms into the
owners of the soil. The policy of the Ashbourne Acts was briefly that
any landlord could agree with any tenant on the purchase price of his
holding. The State then advanced the credit sum to the landlord in cash,
while the tenant paid an instalment of 4 per cent. for forty-nine years.
It is important to notice that the landlord received cash and that the
tenants paid interest at the then existing rate of interest on Consols,
namely, 3 per cent. The great defect in these Acts was that they applied
only to separate holdings and not to estates as a whole; but their
success can be estimated by the fact that under them twenty-seven
thousand tenants became owners by virtue of advances which amounted to
over ten million pounds. Under Mr. Balfour's Acts of 1891 and 1896, the
landlord was paid in stock instead of cash, and the tenants still paid 4
per cent., the interest being reduced to the then rate on Consols--2-3/4
per cent.--and the Sinking Fund being proportionately increased. It will
be noticed that these Acts began the practise of paying the landlord in
stock, though at that time Irish Land Stock with a face value of £100
became worth as much as £114. The exchequer was, moreover, permitted to
retain grants due for various purposes in Ireland and to recoup itself
out of them in case of any combined refusal to repay on the part of

The Irish Land Act of 1903 was the product of the experience gained
during eighteen years of the operation of the preceding Purchase Acts.
It was founded upon an agreement made in 1902 between representatives of
Irish landlords and tenants. Cash payments were resumed to the
landlords, the tenants' instalments were reduced to 3-1/4 per cent., and
a bonus, as it was called, of twelve millions of money was made
available to bridge the gap between the landlords and the tenants at the
rate of 12 per cent, on the amount advanced. That Act possessed the
additional advantage of dealing with the estates as a whole instead of
with individual holdings, and it substituted the principle of speedy
purchase for that of dilatory litigation. This remarkable and generous
measure initiated a great and beneficent revolution, but every popular
and useful feature of the Act of 1903 was distorted or destroyed in the
Land Act which the present Government passed at the instigation of the
Irish Nationalist Party in 1909. In Mr. Wyndham's words "a solemn treaty
framed in the interest of Ireland was torn up to deck with its tatters
the triumph of Mr. Dillon's unholy alliance with the British Treasury."
Under the Act of 1909, landlords, instead of cash payments, are to
receive stock at 3 per cent. issued on a falling market. This stock
cannot possibly appreciate because owing to the embarrassment of Irish
estates a large proportion of each issue is thrown back upon the market
at the redemption of mortgages. The tenant's annuity is raised from
3-1/4 per cent, to 3-1/2 per cent., a precedent not to be found in any
previous experiment under Irish Land Purchase finance. The bonus is
destroyed and litigation is substituted for security and speed. The
results of the two Acts are instructive. Under the 1903 Act the
potential purchasers amounted to nearly a quarter of a million; under
the 1909 Act the applications in respect of direct sales being less than
nine thousand. It is hardly necessary to go into the reasons advanced
for this disastrous change. It has been brought about not in order to
relieve the British Treasury, but in order to rescue from final
destruction the waning influence of Irish Nationalism. Mr. Wyndham has
the authority of the leader of the Unionist Party for his statement that
the first constructive work of the Unionist Party in Ireland must be to
resume the Land policy of 1903 and to pursue the same objects by the
best methods until they have all been fully and expeditiously achieved.
Unionist policy cannot, however, be confined to the restoration of Land
Purchase. The ruin which Free Trade finance has inflicted upon Irish
agriculture can only be remedied, as Mr. Childers saw at the time of the
Financial Relations Commission in 1895, by a readjustment of the fiscal
system of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Gerald Balfour shows us in one of the most able papers in the book
the extraordinary development which has been seen in recent years in
Irish agricultural methods. The revival of Irish rural industries dates
from Mr. Balfour's chief-secretaryship. The Parliament which set up in
Ireland the Congested Districts Board and sanctioned the building of
light railways at the public expense, also witnessed the formation in
Ireland of a Society which was destined to work great changes in the
social conditions of the country. The Irish Agricultural Organisation
Society represents the fruit of a work begun in the face of incredible
difficulties and remorseless opposition by Sir Horace Plunkett in 1889.
"Better farming, better business, better living"--these were the
principles which he and Mr. Anderson set out to establish in Ireland.
Their representatives were described as monsters in human shape, and
they were adjured to cease their "hellish work." Now the branches of the
Society number nearly 1000, with an annual turnover of upwards of 2-1/2
millions, and they include creameries, village banks, and societies for
the purchase of seeds and manure and for the marketing of eggs. It is
not necessary to tell again the story of the Recess Committee and the
formation of the Department of Agriculture. The result of its work,
crowned as it was by Mr. Wyndham's Purchase Act, is shown by the fact
that Irish trade has increased from 103 millions in 1904 to 130 millions
in 1910. The steady object which Sir Horace Plunkett has set before him
is to counteract the demoralising effect of paternal legislation on the
part of the Government, by reviving and stimulating a policy of
self-help. The I.A.O.S. has done valuable work in enabling the Irish
farmers, by co-operating, to secure a more stable position in the
English market, to secure themselves against illegitimate and fraudulent
competition and to standardise the quality of their product, but even
more important has been the work of the Society in releasing the farmers
from the bondage of the "Gombeen" man who has for so many years been the
curse of Irish agriculture. The "Gombeen" man is alike trader, publican,
and money-lender, and he is the backbone of official Nationalist
influence. By lending money to the peasant proprietors at exorbitant
rates, by selling inferior seeds and manures and by carrying on his
transactions with the farmers chiefly in kind, the "Gombeen" man has
grown fat upon the poverty and despair of the farmer. It is not
surprising that he views the liberating work of the I.A.O.S. with the
bitterest hostility--an hostility which has been translated into
effective action by the Nationalist Party in Parliament.

Sir Horace Plunkett was driven from office on the pretext that it should
be held by a member of Parliament. His successor, Mr. T.W. Russell, lost
his seat in the General Election of 1910, but he was retained in power
since he was willing to lend himself to the destructive intrigues of the
"Molly Maguires." The Unionist Party does not intend to interfere with
the independence of the I.A.O.S. which constitutes in their eyes its
greatest feature, but they are determined that it shall have fair play,
and that the hundred thousand Irish farmers which constitutes its
membership shall be enabled to increase their prosperity by co-operative
action. The Unionist Party will also have to undertake more active
measures in order to restore to Irish agriculture the position of
supremacy for which it is naturally fitted. Mr. Amery and Mr. Samuels
both discuss in outline the effects of Tariff Reform upon the future of

I do not intend at the present moment to go further into the details of
the policy which the Unionist Government will be likely to adopt on this
question. I think, however, it would be desirable to point out that in
dairy produce and poultry, in barley and oats, in hops, tobacco,
sugar-beet, vegetables and fruit, in all of which Ireland is especially
interested, Irish products would have free entry into the protected
markets of Great Britain, Canadian and Australian products would of
course have such a preference over foreign competitors as a Home Rule
Ireland might claim, but it is only under the Union that Ireland could
expect complete freedom of access to our markets. Mr. Amery sees in the
train ferry a possible bridge over the St. George's Channel and looks
forward to the time when the west coast of Ireland will be the starting
point of all our fast mail and passenger steamers across the Atlantic.
Two schemes with this object have received the attention of Parliament.
How far the present practical difficulties can be surmounted it is not
very easy to say, but it is certain that if Home Rule were granted the
Blacksod Bay and the Galway Bay Atlantic routes would have to be

These conditions naturally raise the whole transport problem in Ireland.
Mr. Arthur Samuels suggests a scheme of State assistance to a cheap
transport which may require attention later on, though it can only form
part of a larger scheme of traffic reorganisation. The Nationalist Party
seems definitely to have pledged itself to a scheme of nationalisation.
This policy has been urged in season and out of season upon an apathetic
Ireland by the _Freeman's Journal._ The cost of the nationalisation of
Irish railways could not be less than fifty millions, while the annual
charge on the Exchequer was assessed by the Irish Railways Commission at
£250,000, and it was anticipated that a further recourse to Irish rates
might be required. It would be obviously impossible to ask the British
Treasury to advance such an enormous sum of money to an independent
Irish Government.

At what rate could an Irish government raise the money? The present
return on Irish Railway capital is 3.77 per cent., and thus, to borrow
fifty millions at 4 per cent, will involve an annual loss of over
£300,000 a year, even without a sinking fund. It is extremely doubtful
whether the credit of an Irish Government would be better than that of
Hungary or Argentina. If anything more surely led an Irish Government
to financial disaster it would be the working of railways. As the
Majority Report of the Railway Commission recommended on other than
commercial lines, the 25 per cent. reduction in rates and fares
suggested by Nationalist witnesses would involve a loss of more than
half a million a year. We see, therefore, immediately, that if anything
is to be done at all to improve Irish transport it must be done by a
Government that has the confidence of the money market. The railway
director who contributes the principal article on this subject in the
book calculates that a public grant of two millions, and a guaranteed
loan of eight millions would suffice to carry out all the reforms that
are necessary in order to place Irish railways in a thoroughly sound

It is obvious that with the development of trade which will follow on
the adoption of Tariff Reform by England, Irish companies will be in a
better position to help themselves, and the increase in the wealth and
prosperity of Ireland must soon enable the railways to carry out
constructive works which they all admit to be necessary.

Mr. Locker Lampson's article on education undoubtedly shows the Irish
Government in its less favourable light. The neglect and starvation of
Irish education has been a reproach to the intelligence and humanity of
successive Irish administrations. Mr. Locker Lampson shows, however,
that financially and politically it would be impossible for any Irish
administration to carry out the great and sweeping reforms in Irish
education as are still necessary. The mischievous principle of paying
fees by results, although it has disappeared from the National schools,
still clings to intermediate education in Ireland. Before any other kind
of reform is even considered the intermediate system in Ireland should
be placed upon a proper foundation. The secondary system is also
deficient because--what Mr. Dillon called "gaps in the law"--there is no
co-ordination between the primary and the secondary schools. The
establishment of higher grade schools in large centres and the
institution of advanced departments in connection with selected primary
schools in rural districts would only cost about £25,000 a year, and
would go far to meet the disastrous effects of the present system. But
no system of education can possibly be successful that does not place
the teachers in a position of dignity and comfort. At the present moment
the salaries of the secondary teachers are miserable; lay assistants in
secondary schools are paid about £80 a year. They have no security of
tenure; they have no register of teachers as a guarantee of efficiency.

The other problems which immediately confront the Irish government are
the establishment of a private bill legislation and a reform of the
Irish Poor Law. With regard to the private bill legislation I will say
no more than that it has always formed part of the Unionist policy for
Ireland, and that I agree fully with the arguments by which Mr. Walter
Long shows the necessity and justice for such a reform.

Finally, having given to the Irish farmers the security of a freehold in
their holdings at home, and a free entrance into the protected markets
of Great Britain; having assisted the development of rural industries of
the country; having placed Irish education on a sound and intelligible
basis, it would be necessary for the Unionist Party to undertake a
reform of the Poor Law in Ireland. Whether this reform will be
undertaken the same time as the larger social problems of England, with
which the party is pledged to deal, may be a matter of political
expediency, but there is no reason why the reform which is so urgently
required in Ireland should have to await the adoption of a scheme for
England. In outlining the problems, the supreme necessity is the
abolition of the present workhouse system. The Vice-Regal Commission and
the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws are in agreement as to the guiding
principles of reform. They recommend classification by institutions of
all the present inmates of the workhouses; the sick in the hospital, the
aged and infirm in alms-houses; the mentally defective in asylums. They
suggest the bringing together into one institution of all the inmates of
one class from a number of neighbouring workhouses. The sick should be
sent to existing Poor Law or County hospitals, strengthened by the
addition of cottage hospitals in certain districts, while children must
be boarded out. The able-bodied paupers, if well conducted, might be
placed in labour colonies; if ill conducted, in detention colonies. If
these are established, they must be controlled by the State and not by
County authorities. Of course, the resources of the existing Unions are
much too limited to undertake such sweeping reforms, and the county must
be substituted for the Union as the area of charge. The establishment of
the Public Assistance authority will relieve us from the greatest
scandal which now mars the administration of the Poor Law reform in
Ireland--the corrupt appointment of officers in the Poor Law medical
service. If we cannot have a State medical service, we can at all events
ensure that appointments under the Poor Law shall be placed in
incorruptible hands.

It is not to be assumed that this short sketch of policy is exhaustive,
or that it touches even in outline upon all that the Unionist Party
might fairly hope to do in Ireland. It is designed to show only that
financially and politically, every step which can be taken to relieve
the poverty and oppression which has too long continued in Ireland must
be taken by a Unionist Parliament and a Government pledged to secure the
administration of law and order in Ireland.

I desire on behalf of the Committee under whose auspices this work has
been prepared to thank Mr. S. Rosenbaum for the ability and zeal he has
shown in editing the book and in preparing it for publication. I wish
also to acknowledge my personal debt to Mr. G. Locker Lampson, M.P.,
who, as Vice-Chairman of the Committee, has shown so much zeal and
assiduity in connection with this important work.


[Footnote 1: "Commercial Relations Between England and Ireland." By Miss
A.E. Murray (P.S. King & Sons).]

[Footnote 2: Attorney General in the Irish Parliament, and later Earl of





The greater part of the present volume is devoted to showing why this
country should not adopt Home Rule; but it is perhaps worth while for
the ordinary British citizen to ask himself a preliminary question,
namely, why he should be pressed even to consider it. That the
establishment of an Irish Parliament must involve doubtful and
far-reaching consequences is denied by no one. What then is the _primâ
facie_ case which has induced many Englishmen and Scotchmen to think
that it ought to be seriously debated? If we could erase the past and
approach the problem of framing representative institutions in their
most practicable shape for the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, who
would think it wise to crowd into these small Islands two, or, as some
would have it, three, four, or five separate Parliaments, with their
separate elections, their separate sets of ministers and Offices, their
separate party systems, their divergent policies? Distances are, under
modern conditions, so small, our population is so compact, the interests
of its component parts are so intimately fused together, that any device
at all resembling Home Rule would seem at the best cumbersome, costly,
and ineffective; at the worst, perilous to the rights of minorities, the
peace of the country, and the unity of the Kingdom. If, then, these
common-sense considerations are thrust on one side by so many
well-meaning persons, it must surely be because they think that for the
destruction of our existing system there is to be found a compelling
justification in the history of the past:

I am well aware that many of the persons of whom I am thinking profess
to base their approval of Home Rule on purely administrative grounds.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom, they say, is overweighted; it has
more to do than it can manage; we must diminish its excessive burdens;
and we can only do so by throwing them in part upon other and
subordinate assemblies. But this, if it be a reason at all, is certainly
a most insufficient one. Would any human being, anxious merely to give
relief to the House of Commons, adopt so illogical a scheme as one which
involves a provincial Parliament in Ireland, and no provincial
Parliaments anywhere else; which puts Ireland under two Parliaments, and
left the rest of the country under one; which, if Irishmen are to be
admitted to the Imperial Parliament, would give Ireland privileges and
powers denied to England and Scotland, and, if they are to be excluded
from the Imperial Parliament, would deprive Ireland of rights which
surely she ought to possess?

Again, if the "administrative" argument was really more than an ornament
of debate, would any one select Ireland as the administrative district
in which to make trial of the new system? Would any one, in his desire
to relieve the Imperial Parliament of some of its functions, select as
an area of self-government a region where one part is divided against
another by passions, and, if you will, by prejudices, more violent, and
more deeply-rooted than those which afflict any other fraction of the
United Kingdom, choose that other fraction where, and how, you will?

I take it, then, as certain that in the mind of the ordinary British
Home Ruler the justification for Home Rule is not administrative but
historical. He pictures Ireland before the English invasion as an
organised and independent State, happy in the possession of a native
polity which Englishmen have ruthlessly destroyed, now suffering under
laws and institutions forced upon her by the conquerors, suitable it may
be to men of Anglo-Saxon descent, but utterly alien to the genius and
temper of a Celtic population. To him, therefore, Home Rule presents
itself as an act of National restitution.

Personally, I believe this to be a complete misreading of history. It is
not denied--at least I do not deny--that both the English and British
Governments, in their dealings with Ireland have done many things that
were stupid, and some things that were abominable. But among their
follies or their crimes is not to be counted the destruction of any such
State as I have described; for no such State existed. They did not
uproot one type of civilisation in order to plant another. The Ireland
with which England had to deal had not acquired a national organisation,
and when controversialists talk of "restoring" this or that institution
to Ireland, the only institutions that can possibly be "restored" are in
their origin importations from England.

This does not, of course, mean that the English were a superior race
dealing with an inferior one. Indeed, there is, in my view, no sharp
division of race at all. In the veins of the inhabitants of these
Islands runs more than one strain of blood. The English are not simply
Teutonic--still less are the Irish Celtic. We must conceive the
pre-historic inhabitants both of Britain and of Ireland as subject to
repeated waves of invasion from the wandering peoples of the Continent.
The Celt preceded the Teuton; and in certain regions his language still
survives. The Teuton followed him in (as I suppose) far greater numbers,
and his language has become that of a large fraction of the civilised
world. But in no part of the United Kingdom is the Teutonic strain free
from either the Celtic or pre-Celtic strain; nor do I believe that the
Celtic strain has anywhere a predominance such as that which, speaking
very roughly, the Teutonic strain possesses in the East of these
Islands, or the pre-Celtic strain in the West.

There is, therefore, no race frontier to be considered, still less is
there any question of inferiority or superiority. The Irish difficulty,
historically considered, arises in the main from two circumstances. The
first of these, to which I have just referred, is that when England
began to intervene in the welter of Irish inter-tribal warfare, she was
already an organised State, slowly working its way through feudal
monarchy to constitutional freedom. The second is that while the
religious revolution of the sixteenth century profoundly and permanently
affected the larger Island, it left the smaller Island untouched. The
result of the first of these has been that Irish institutions, Irish
laws, Irish forms of local government, and Irish forms of parliamentary
government are necessarily of the English type. The result of the second
has been that while no sharp divisions of race exist, divisions of
religion have too often taken their place; that in the constitutional
struggles of the seventeenth century Ireland was not the partner but the
victim of English factions; and that civil war in its most brutal form,
with the confiscations and penal laws which followed in its train, have
fed, have indeed created, the bitter fiction that Ireland was once a
"nation" whose national life has been destroyed by its more powerful

To all this it will perhaps be replied that even if the general accuracy
of the foregoing statement be admitted (and nothing about Ireland ever
_is_ admitted), it is quite irrelevant to the question of Home Rule;
because what is of importance to practical statesmanship is not what did
actually happen in the past, but what those who live in the present
suppose to have happened. If, therefore, to the imagination of
contemporary Irishmen, Ireland appears a second Poland, statesmen must
act as if the dream were fact.

In such a contention there is some element of truth. But it must be
observed in the first place that dreams, however vivid, are not eternal;
and, in the second place, that while this particular dream endures it
supplies a practical argument against Home Rule, the full force of which
is commonly under-rated. For what are the main constitutional dangers of
creating rival Parliaments in the same State? They are--friction,
collision of jurisdiction, and, in the end, national disintegration. Of
these, friction is scarcely to be avoided. I doubt whether it has been
wholly avoided in any State where the system, either of co-equal or of
subordinate Parliaments, has been thoroughly tried. It certainly was not
avoided in the days past when Ireland had a Parliament of its own. It is
incredible that it should be avoided in the future, however elaborate be
the safeguards which the draughtsman's ingenuity can devise. But
friction, in any case inevitable, becomes a peril to every community
where the rival assemblies can appeal to nationalist sentiment. The sore
gets poisoned. What under happier conditions might be no more than a
passing storm of rhetoric, forgotten as soon as ended, will gather
strength with time. The appetite for self-assertion, inherent in every
assembly, and not likely to be absent from one composed of orators so
brilliantly gifted as the Irish, will take the menacing form of an
international quarrel. The appeal will no longer be to precedents and
statutes, but to patriotism and nationality, and the quarrel of two
Parliaments will become the quarrel of two peoples. What will it avail,
when that time comes, that in 1912 the Irish leaders declared themselves
content with a subordinate legislature? It is their earlier speeches of
a very different tenour that will be remembered; and it will be asked,
with a logic that may well seem irresistible, by what right Irish
"nationality" was ever abandoned by Irish representatives.

On these dangers I do not in this brief note propose to dwell, though it
seems to me insane either to ignore them or to belittle them. The point
on which I desire to insist is that they arise not from the
establishment of a subordinate Parliament alone, nor from the existence
of a "nationalist" sentiment alone, but from the action and reaction of
the sentiment upon the institution, and of the institution upon the

Let me conclude by asking whether Irish history does not support to the
full these gloomy prognostications. The Parliament that came to an end
at the Union was a Parliament utterly antagonistic to anything that now
goes by the name of Irish Nationalism. In every sphere, except the
economic sphere, it represented the forces, political and religious,
which the Irish Nationalist now regards as English and alien, and
against which, for many years, he has been waging bitter warfare. Yet
this Parliament, representing only a small minority of the inhabitants
of Ireland, found its position of subordination intolerable. It chose a
moment of national disaster to assert complete equality, and so used its
powers that at last the Union became inevitable. It is surely no remedy
for the ancient wrongs of Ireland--real, alas! though they were--that we
should compel her again to tread the weary round of constitutional
experiment, and that, in the name of Irish Nationalism, we should again
make her the victim of an outworn English scheme, which has been tried,
which has failed, which has been discarded, and which, in my judgment,
ought never to be revived.




(Author of "The End of the Irish Parliament"; Editor of the _Northern

When Pitt commended his proposals for the Union to "the dispassionate
and sober judgment of the Parliament of Ireland," he argued that such a
measure was at once "transcendently important" to the Empire, and
"eminently useful" to the true interests of Ireland. Lord Clare, as an
Irishman, naturally reversed the order, but his compelling points were
the same:--To Ireland the Union was a "vital interest," which at the
same time "intimately affected the strength and prosperity of the
British Empire." From that day to this the two fundamental arguments for
the Union of Great Britain and Ireland have remained unchanged, and they
apply with ever-growing force to the existing situation at home and
abroad. But the argument from history has, perhaps, been a little
neglected of late, and calls for at least a passing notice.

Popular oratory will have it that England has always been keen and
aggressive in regard to the incorporation of Ireland within the Empire,
but as a matter of fact, the very opposite has been the case. From the
time of Pope Adrian's Bull, _Laudabiliter_, in 1154, which granted to
Henry II. the Lordship of Ireland, but which Henry left unemployed for
seventeen years, to that of the Irish petition for a legislative Union
in 1703, which remained unanswered for nearly a century, vacillation and
hesitation rather than eagerness for aggression have been the
characteristic marks of English policy in Ireland. Far-sighted statesmen
could point out the benefits to Ireland from such a connection, but as
a rule it was the presence of actual foreign danger that forced the
British Parliament to act. For four centuries the Lordship of the
English Kings over Ireland was largely nominal. It was only when the
religious quarrels of the sixteenth century became acute that the
Tudors--already alarmed at the action of the Irish Parliament in
recognising and crowning a pretender in Dublin Castle--found themselves
compelled to assert direct Kingship.

From that time till the legislative Union every enemy of England could
safely count on finding a foothold and active friends in Ireland. It is
much too late in the day to indulge in any recriminations on this score.
The issues were the most tremendous that have divided Europe; each side
was passionately convinced of the rightness and justice of its cause.
There were, in Pitt's words relating to a later day, "dreadful and
inexcusable cruelties" on the one side, and "lamentable severities" upon
the other, just as there were all over Europe. But in the case of
Ireland every evil was exaggerated and every danger intensified by the
system of dualism which encouraged resistance from within and invited
interference from without. For England and English liberty it was more
than once a question of existence or extinction, and the knowledge of
the constant danger from the immediate west did not tend to sweeten the

In Elizabeth's time the menace was from Spain; Spanish forces twice
succeeded in effecting a landing on the Irish coast, and were welcomed
by the inhabitants. Spain was then the most powerful enemy of England
and of civil and religious liberty all the world over; Elizabeth was
declared by the Pope to have forfeited the crown of England, and if the
Armada had been successful at sea, the Spanish army in England would
have found enthusiastic supporters in Ireland. Later on it was in
Ireland, and by the aid of subsidies from an Irish Parliament, that
Strafford raised 10,000 men to invade Scotland and England in support of
Charles I. against his Parliament, and, incidentally, to drive the
Scottish settlers out of Ulster. As the Articles of Impeachment put it,
his object in raising the Irish army was "for the ruin and destruction
of England and of his Majesty's subjects, and altering and subverting
the fundamental laws and established Government of this Kingdom."
Strafford fell, but the insurrection and massacre of 1641 were the
natural result of his intrigues with the Irish Parliament and the Irish
chiefs. It was under the impression of this manifest danger that
Cromwell--a century and a half before his time--abolished the Dublin
Parliament and summoned Irish representatives to the first United
Parliament at Westminster.

As the power of Spain declined, France came to be the chief menace to
England and to the peace of Europe. Again Ireland instinctively allied
herself with the enemy. Tyrconnel now played the part of Strafford, and
with the aid of French troops and French subsidies, and a sympathetic
Irish Parliament, endeavoured to destroy the Ulster Plantation, and make
Ireland a jumping-off place for the invasion of England. The Irish
Parliament, in the meantime, did its part by confiscating the estates of
the settlers, driving out the Protestant clergy, and outlawing English
sympathisers by name in "the hugest Bill of Attainder which the world
has seen."[3] It was the successful defence of Derry and Enniskillen by
the Scotch and English colonists that saved Ireland and gave King
William and his troops the foothold that enabled them to save England,
too, in the Irish campaign of the following year.

Not the least remarkable instance of the use to which separate
Parliaments within the Kingdom could be put for the ruin of England
occurred during the activity of James the Second's son, the so-called
"Old Pretender." In 1723 his chief adviser, the Earl of Mar, presented
to the Regent of France a memorial setting out in detail a project for
betraying Britain into the power of France by dismembering the British
Parliament.[4] The Irish Parliament, in close alliance with a restored
Scottish Parliament, was to be used to curb the power of England. "The
people of Ireland and Scotland," according to Mar, "are of the same
blood and possess similar interests," and they should thus always be
allied against England and oppose their "united strength"--backed, of
course, by that of France--to any undue growth of the English power. The
scheme came to nothing, but if the Pretender had possessed a little more
energy and capacity; if the French Court had been in earnest, and if
Ireland and Scotland had each possessed a separate Parliament, "with an
executive responsible to it," and with the control of a national
militia, the story of 1745 might have ended differently.

It is necessary that these facts should be kept in mind when complaint
is made of the oppressive and demoralising Irish Penal Code. That Code
no one defends now, although it was lauded at the time by Swift as a
bulwark of the Church against the Catholics on the one hand, and the
Presbyterians on the other. It was the product of a cruel and bigoted
age, and at its worst it was less severe than similar laws prevailing
against Protestants in those parts of the Continent where the Roman
Church held sway.[5] Spain and France were at that time vastly more
powerful, populous, and wealthy countries than England: England was
never free from the dread of foreign invasion, and to the would-be
invader Ireland always held a guiding light and an open door.

Finally, it must also be remembered that at a time when the chances
seemed fairly even, as between William and England on the one hand, and
James and France on the other, the Prince of Orange, accustomed to the
German way of settling such differences, had made formal offer to
Tyrconnel of a working compromise--the free exercise of their religion
to the Irish Catholics: half the Churches of the Kingdom: half the
employments, civil and military, if they pleased, and even the moiety of
their ancient properties. "These proposals," says the Chevalier Wogan,
Tyrconnel's nephew and confidant, who is our informant, "though they
were to have had an English Act of Parliament for their sanction, were
refused with universal contempt." In other words, the party which with
the assistance of France still hoped to obtain all, refused to be
content with half. It is true that Wogan, in the letter from which we
have quoted,[6] after stating that the exiles, "in the midst of their
hard usage abroad, could not be brought to repent of their obstinacy,"
justifies their refusal by the way in which the Articles of Limerick
were afterwards disregarded by the Irish Parliament. But this is
evidently an argument of retrospective invention, and it may fairly be
argued that the position would have been very different if peace on
equal terms had been made on the direct authority of the King before
Aughrim rather than by his deputies after Limerick.


And if the separatist theory has involved, as we have seen, such
external dangers to the Empire, the case for the old Irish Parliament
from the point of the "vital interests" of Ireland itself is even
weaker. By it the bulk of the Irish people were treated for a century in
a fashion described by an Irish Chief Secretary as "ingrafting absurdity
on the wisdom of England and tyranny on the religion that professes
humanity." It was conspicuous for its corruption even in a corrupt age,
and, as was inevitable, it involved Ireland in constant conflicts with
England, conflicts that were vexatious and injurious to both countries.
Swift, who, amongst those who have not read his works, passes for an
Irish patriot, is at his savagest when inveighing against this sham

Its members are, he says--

    "...three hundred brutes
    All involved in wild disputes,
    Roaring till their lungs are spent
      Privilege of Parliament'!"

And if only the Devil were some day to come "with poker fiery red,"

    "When the den of thieves is full,
    Quite destroy the harpies' nest,
    How might then our Isle be blest!"

Capable observers, from Swift to Arthur Young, bear continuous testimony
to the systematic and habitual corruption of the Irish Parliament.
Offices were multiplied and were distributed among clamorous applicants
on the ground of family or personal influence, or political
support--never by any chance on the ground of merit or capacity. Public
money was squandered for private purposes. Sir George Macartney, himself
an Irishman and a Member of Parliament, in his "Account of Ireland,"
speaking of the year 1745, says--[8]

     "The House of Commons now began to appropriate a considerable part
     of the additional duties to their own use. This was done under
     pretence of encouraging public works such as inland navigation,
     collieries, and manufactories of different kinds; but the truth is
     that most of these public works were private jobs carried on under
     the direction and for the advantage of some considerable gentlemen
     in the House of Commons."

Arthur Young, whose careful and impartial study of the state of affairs
in Ireland under the Dublin Parliament has become a classic, speaks of
the same class of transaction,[9]

     "The members of the House of Commons at the conclusion of the
     sessions met for the purpose of voting the uses to which this money
     should be applied: the greater part of it was amongst themselves,
     their friends or dependants, and though some work of apparent use
     to the public was always the plea, yet under the sanction there
     were a great number of very scandalous jobs."

Young admits that some useful public work was done, but that most of the
money was misappropriated was matter of common report. After a
reference to the construction of a certain canal he adds--

     "Some gentlemen I have talked with on this subject have replied,
     'It is a job: 'twas meant as a job: you are not to consider it as a
     canal of trade, but as a canal for public money!' ... Sorry I am to
     say that a history of public works in Ireland would be a history of

Money was voted, he says elsewhere, for--

     "Collieries where there is no coal, for bridges where there are no
     rivers, navigable cuts where there is no water, harbours where
     there are no ships, and churches where there are no congregations."

And when the Union was finally on its way, Hamilton Rowan, one of the
founders of the United Irishmen, then in exile in America, wrote home to
his father: "I congratulate you on the report which spreads here that a
Union is intended. In that measure I see the downfall of one of the most
corrupt assemblies, I believe, that ever existed."[10]

It is little wonder that men of good will in Ireland prayed to be
delivered from such a Parliament. Molyneux, the first of the Irish
Parliamentary patriots, whose book, "The Case of Ireland's being
Governed by Laws made in England Stated," was burnt by the common
hangman, pleaded indeed for a reformed and independent Parliament, but
only because fair representation in the English Parliament was at the
time "a happiness they could hardly hope for." And a few years later the
Irish House, in congratulating Queen Anne on the Union of England and
Scotland, added, "May God put it into your royal heart to add greater
strength and lustre to your Crown by a yet more comprehensive Union."

The English Parliament, through sheer lethargy and carelessness, missed
at this time an opportunity which would have peacefully launched Ireland
on her career on an equality with Scotland and England, and must have
profoundly modified the relations of the two countries. Immediate
prosperity, in the case of a land wasted by a century of strife and
bloodshed, was not indeed to be hoped for any more than in the case of
Scotland, which had still two armed rebellions, and much bickering and
jealousy in store before settling down to peaceful development. But if
Ireland had been granted her petitions for Union in 1703 and 1707, and
had thus secured equal laws and equal trading privileges, she would at
any rate have emerged from her period of trial and discord not later
than Scotland, and would have anticipated the economic and social
advantages predicted by Adam Smith,[11] when he says--

     "By a union with Great Britain, Ireland would gain, besides the
     freedom of trade, other advantages much more important, and which
     would much more than compensate any increase of taxes that might
     accompany that union. By the union with England, the middling and
     inferior ranks of people in Scotland gained a complete deliverance
     from the power of an aristocracy which had always before oppressed
     them. By a union with Great Britain, the greater part of the people
     of all ranks in Ireland would gain an equally complete deliverance
     from a much more oppressive aristocracy, an aristocracy not
     founded, like that of Scotland, in the natural and respectable
     distinctions of birth and fortune, but in the most odious of all
     distinctions, those of religious and political prejudices....
     Without a union with Great Britain, the inhabitants of Ireland are
     not likely, for many ages, to consider themselves as one people."

Pitt, who was proud to proclaim himself the pupil of Adam Smith in
politics and in economics, found himself, a quarter of a century after
these words were written, in a position to carry out, in face of great
difficulties and dangers at home and abroad, the beneficent reform
advocated by his great master--a reform which, as we have seen, could
have been carried a century earlier without any difficulty whatever. But
the century that had been wasted involved many concurrent miseries and
misfortunes: social and economic stagnation, an intensification of
religious and racial bitterness, conspiracy, and invasion; savage
outbreaks savagely repressed. When the time comes to measure up the
rights and wrongs of those dark days, the judgment on England will
assuredly be that her fault was not the carrying of the Union, but the
delaying of that great measure of reform and emancipation until it was
almost too late.

The story of the Union has been told and retold in the utmost detail
throughout the century. The present writer has attempted quite recently
to summarise it,[12] and there is little to add. The charge that it was
carried by corruption is simply another way of saying that it had,
constitutionally, to be passed through the Dublin Parliament, that body
which, from the days of Swift's invective to those of its final
condemnation, lived and moved and had its being solely in and by
corruption. As Lord Castlereagh, who had charge of the Bill in the Irish
House of Commons, put it, the Government was forced to recognise the
situation and its task was "to buy out and secure to the Crown forever
the fee simple of Irish corruption, which has so long enfeebled the
power of Government and endangered the connection."


The Irish Parliament had run its course, and had involved the unhappy
country in chaos, bankruptcy, revolution, and bloodshed. Lord Clare--a
late and reluctant convert to the policy of the Union--said in the Irish
House of Lords (Feb. 10, 1800)--

     "We have not three years of redemption from bankruptcy, intolerable
     taxation, nor one hour's security against the renewal exterminating
     civil war. Session after session have you been compelled to enact
     laws of unexampled rigour and novelty to repress the horrible
     excesses of the mass of your people: and the fury of murder and
     pillage and desolation have so outrun all legislative exertions
     that you have been at length driven to the hard necessity of
     breaking down the pale of municipal law, and putting your courage
     under the ban of military government--and in every little circle of
     dignity and independence we hear whispers of discontent at the
     temperate discretion with which it is administered.... Look to your
     civil and religious dissensions. Look to the fury of political
     faction and the torrents of human blood that stain the face of your
     country, and of what materials is that man composed who will not
     listen with patience and good will to any proposition that can be
     made to him for composing the distractions and healing the wounds
     and alleviating the miseries of this devoted nation?"

Lord Clare's words--unanswered and unanswerable then and now--constitute
a sufficient comment on the foolish fable of later invention, that
Ireland was a land of peace and harmony, of orderly government and
abounding prosperity, when a wicked English minister came and "stole
away the Parliament House"--since which all has been decay and
desolation. The halcyon period is generally made to coincide with that
of "Grattan's Parliament"--of the semi-independent and quite unworkable
Constitution of 1782, which had been extorted from England's weakness
when Ireland was denuded of regular troops, and at the mercy of a
Volunteer National Guard, when Cornwallis had just surrendered at
Yorktown, and Spain and France were once more leagued with half Europe
for the destruction of the British Empire.

It is quite true that the latter part of the eighteenth century was, on
the whole, a time of considerable prosperity to certain classes in
Ireland--a prosperity varied by periods of acute depression and
distress. But that prosperity, such as it was, neither began with
Grattan's Parliament nor ended with it--had, indeed, no more connection
with the Irish Parliament in any of its phases than had the Goodwin
Sands with Tenterden steeple. With the exception of the respite between
the Treaty of Versailles and the outbreak of the French Revolution,
England was almost constantly at war, or feverishly preparing for war.
Simultaneously came the unprecedented increase of urban industry,
following on the invention of the steam-engine and spinning machinery.
The result was an enormous and growing demand for corn, beef, and pork,
sailcloth, stores of all kinds for our armies and fleets, a demand which
England, owing to the growth of her town population and the consequent
growth of the home demand, was unable adequately to meet.

Ireland reaped the benefit. As a largely agricultural country, she was
as yet little influenced by the discoveries of Watt, of Hargreaves, of
Arkwright, or of Crompton. But her long-rested soil could produce in
apparently unlimited quantities those very products of which the British
forces stood most in need. The fleets were victualled and fitted out at
Cork, and they carried thence a constant stream of supplies of all sorts
for our armies in the field. Indeed, so keen was the demand that it was
soon discovered that not only our own troops, but those of the enemy,
were receiving Irish supplies, and smugglers on the south and west
coasts reaped a rich harvest.

The result was obvious. Cattle graziers and middlemen made enormous
profits, rents were doubled and trebled. Dublin, Cork, Waterford,
Limerick and Belfast flourished exceedingly on war prices and war
profits. But there is no evidence that the mass of the people in their
degraded and debased condition shared to any extent in this prosperity.
It was at this very period that Arthur O'Connor spoke of them as "the
worst clad, the worst fed, the worst housed people in Europe."
Whiteboyism, outrage and lawlessness spread over the face of the
country, and, as Lord Clare reminded Parliament, "session after session
have you been compelled to enact laws of unexampled rigour and novelty
to repress the horrible excesses of the mass of your people." It has
been made a charge against the Union that during some disturbed periods
of the nineteenth century the United Parliament had to pass "Coercion"
Acts at the rate of nearly one every session. The complainants should
look nearer home and they would find from the records of the Irish
Legislature that during the "halcyon" days of "Grattan's
Parliament"--the eighteen years between 1782 and the Union--no less than
fifty-four Coercion Acts were passed, some of them of a thoroughness and
ferocity quite unknown in later legislation. The close of the nineteenth
century and the opening of the twentieth were, in reality, in spite of a
certain amount of agrarian crime, organised and subsidised from abroad,
a period of much greater peace and more widespread prosperity than the
bloodstained years that marked the close of the eighteenth century--and
of the Irish Parliament.

Another fiction regarding the Union may perhaps be worth notice. It has
sometimes been suggested that it was carried by a venal oligarchy in
opposition to the will of the great mass of the population, of the Roman
Catholic population in particular. This is precisely the reverse of the
truth. The oligarchy controlled the Parliament, and it therefore
followed that the uniformly corrupt traditions of the Irish Parliament
had to be observed in carrying the Union as in carrying every other
Government Bill throughout the century. But, so far from the Act of
Union being carried by landowners and Protestants against the will of
the Catholics, it was, as a matter of fact, carried with the ardent and
unanimous assent and support of the Catholic hierarchy, and against the
embittered opposition of the old ascendancy leaders, who feared the loss
of their influence of power.

The evidence on this point is documentary and precise. Indeed, no one
thought of doubting or challenging it at the time; Grattan contented
himself with denouncing the Catholic Bishops as "a band of prostituted
men." Dr. Troy, Archbishop of Dublin, was, as his correspondence shows,
a warm, consistent and active supporter of the Union. Dr. Dillon,
Archbishop of Tuam, wrote in September, 1799, that he had had an
opportunity during his recent visitation "of acquiring the strongest
conviction that this measure alone can restore harmony and happiness to
our unhappy country." His neighbour, Dr. Bodkin, Bishop Galway, wrote
that the Union was the only measure to save "poor infatuated Ireland"
from "ruin and destruction." Dr. Moylan, Bishop of Cork, was equally
emphatic. "I am perfectly satisfied," he says, "that it is impossible to
extinguish the feuds and animosities which disgrace this Kingdom, nor
give it the advantages of its natural local situation, without a Union
with Great Britain. God grant that it may soon take place!"

As for the feeling of the rank and file of the electors--under a very
widely extended franchise--two examples will suffice. In two cases--in
the County of Kerry and the borough of Newry--both open
constituencies--by-elections occurred during the passing of the Union
legislation. In both instances the Roman Catholic vote predominated, and
in both the feeling was so strong in favour of the Union that no
opponent dared to face the poll. In after years Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald,
the Knight of Kerry, recounted his experiences. "Having accepted
office," he says, "as a supporter of the Union, I went to two elections
pending the measure and was returned without opposition in a county
where the Roman Catholic interest greatly preponderated, and a
declaration almost unanimous in favour of the Union proceeded from the
County of Kerry. One of my most strenuous supporters in bringing forward
that declaration was Mr. Maurice O'Connell, uncle of Mr. Daniel
O'Connell, and my most active partisan was Mr. John O'Connell, brother
of Mr. Daniel O'Connell."

In Newry an attempt was made to put up an anti-Unionist candidate, but
the Roman Catholic Bishop, Dr. Lennan, met and repulsed the intruder in
militant fashion. "Mr. Bell," he reports to Archbishop Troy, "declined
the poll, and surrendered yesterday. The Catholics stuck together like
the Macedonian phalanx, and with ease were able to turn the scale in
favour of the Chancellor of the Exchequer."

To the Irish Catholic at the time of the Union, the Dublin legislature
was, indeed, in the words of Mr. Denys Scully, a leading Catholic
layman, "not our Parliament, for we had no share in it, but their

The summing up of the whole matter is perhaps best expressed in the
measured judgment of Mr. John Morley in his study of the life of Edmund
Burke. Burke, in an evil moment for himself and for Ireland, had lent
himself in 1785 to what Mr. Morley called the "factious" and
"detestable" course of Fox and the English Whig leaders in destroying
Pitt's Commercial Propositions.

     "Had it not been for what he himself called the delirium of the
     preceding session" (writes Burke's biographer)[13] "he would have
     seen that Pitt was in truth taking his first measures for the
     emancipation of Ireland from an unjust and oppressive subordination
     and for her installation as a corporate member of the Empire--the
     only position permanently possible for her.... A substantial boon
     was sacrificed amid bonfires and candles to the phantom of Irish
     Legislative Independence. The result must have convinced Pitt more
     firmly than ever that his great master, Adam Smith, was right in
     predicting that nothing short of the Union of the two countries
     would deliver Ireland out of the hands of her fatuous chiefs and of
     their too worthy followers."

What would Mr. John Morley, the historian who wrote those words in the
prime of his intellectual strength and judgment, have said if any one
had told him that in his old age Lord Morley, the politician, would have
been actively engaged in assisting another generation of "fatuous
chiefs" and still more worthy followers to sacrifice the true interests
of Ireland in the pursuit of "the phantom of Irish Legislative


That the Union to some extent failed in the beneficent effects which it
was calculated to produce in Ireland is only another instance of the
working of the "curse of mis-chance" which has so often, before and
since, interposed to thwart the intentions of statesmen in their
dealings with the two countries. Pitt, Castlereagh, and Cornwallis, the
three men chiefly concerned in planning the change, were all agreed in
explaining that the Union was not a policy complete in itself, but was
only the necessary foundation upon which a true remedial policy was to
be based. As Lord Cornwallis said at the time, "the word 'Union' will
not cure the ills of this wretched country. It is a necessary
preliminary, but a great deal more remains to be done." Catholic
Emancipation, a series of parliamentary, educational, financial, and
economic reforms, and the abolition of the Viceroyalty, the visible
symbol of separatism and dependence, were all essential portions of
Pitt's scheme. But Pitt was destined to sink into an early grave without
seeing any of them materially furthered. Treacherous colleagues and the
threatened insanity of the King blocked the way of some of them:
England's prolonged struggle for existence against the power of
Napoleon, involving as it did financial embarrassment and a generation
of political reaction, accounted for the rest.

Pitt and Castlereagh resigned on the King's refusal to accept their
advice, "and so," as Lord Rosebery says,[14] "all went wrong." It was
"like cutting the face out of a portrait and leaving the picture in the
frame. The fragment of policy flapped forlornly on the deserted mansions
of the capital." A generation of agitation, strife, and discontent was
to pass before Emancipation was carried, and the reforms had to wait
still longer. Meanwhile a wonderful change of front had taken place. The
leading opponents of the Union--Plunket, Foster, Beresford--even Grattan
himself--came to accept it, and, in some cases, figured as its warmest
defenders. And the Catholic Party, whom we have seen so strongly
supporting the Union, gradually grew into opponents. Daniel O'Connell,
whose brother and uncle were the leading supporters of the Union
candidate for Kerry, started a formidable agitation first for
Emancipation and then for Repeal of the Union. In the former he
succeeded because enlightened public opinion in both countries was on
his side: in the latter he failed utterly, both parties in Great Britain
and a large section in Ireland being inflexibly opposed to any such
reactionary experiment. In the end O'Connell died disillusioned and
broken-hearted, and the Repeal movement disappeared from the field of
Irish politics till revived many years later in the form of Home Rule.

But whilst recognising the fact that the Union, owing to the causes
stated, failed partially, and for a time, to respond to all the
anticipations of its authors, readers must be warned against accepting
the wild and woeful tales of decay and ruin that were recklessly
circulated for propagandist purposes by O'Connell and the Repealers.
Many people who are content to take their facts at second hand have thus
come to believe that the legislative Union changed a smiling and
prosperous Kingdom into a blighted province where manufactures and
agriculture, commerce and population fell into rapid and hopeless
decline. Needless to say, things do not happen in that way: economic
changes, for better or for worse, are slow and gradual and depend on
natural causes, not on artificial. Ireland has not, as a whole, kept in
line with nineteenth-century progress, and her population, after a
striking increase for over forty years, showed under peculiar causes an
equally striking decrease; but to assert that her course has been one of
universal decay and of decay dating from the Union is to say what is
demonstrably untrue.

It was inevitable that a city of very limited industry like Dublin
should suffer from the disappearance of its Parliament, which brought
into residence for some months in every year some hundreds of persons of
wealth and distinction. It was also inevitable that the mechanical
inventions to which we have already alluded--the steam-engine, the
"spinning jenny," and the "mule"--which revolutionised the world's
industry, should have their effect in Ireland also. Under primitive
conditions, with lands almost roadless and communications slow,
difficult and costly, the various districts of any country had of
necessity to produce articles of food and clothing to satisfy their
requirements, or they had to go without. With the progress of invention,
and with the opening up of the world by roads and canals, a totally
different state of things presents itself. Industries tend to become
centralised--the fittest survive and grow, the unfit wither away. This
is what occurred in many districts of England and Scotland, and the
course of events was naturally the same in Ireland.

When we read of small towns now lying idle, which in the eighteenth
century produced woollen cloth, linen, cotton, fustian, boots, hats,
glass, beer, and food products, it simply means that a more highly
organised system of industry has in its progress left such districts
behind in the race. The woollen manufacture has centred in Yorkshire,
cotton in Lancashire, linen in Belfast, and so forth--one district
dwindled as others advanced and tended to monopolise production, without
the legislature having anything to say to it. To say that this or that
manufacture is not so prosperous in Ireland as it was a century ago
before power looms, spindles, steamships, and railways came to
revolutionise industry, is simply to say that Ireland, like other
countries, has had its part, for better or for worse, in the great
world-movement of nineteenth-century industry.

The figures of Irish exports and imports lend no countenance to the
story of decay setting in with the Union. Taking the two decennial
periods, before and after the Union, the figures are as follows:--[15]

                      Total value      Total value
                      of imports.      of exports.

1790-1801  ...   ...  £49,000,000      £51,000,000
1802-1813  ...   ...  £74,000,000      £63,000,000
                      -----------      -----------
        Increase ...  £25,000,000      £12.000,000

an increase of over fifty per cent. in imports, and over twenty-three
per cent. in exports in the ten years after the Union as compared with
the ten years before it.

Taking single years the result is similar. The amalgamation of the two
Exchequers and the financial re-arrangements that followed, put an end
to the accurate record of exports and imports until quite recently, but
the increase during the early years of the Union and also over the whole
country is unmistakable. The average annual value of Irish exports at
the time of the Union was, according to Mr. Chart.[16] £4,000,000. In
1826 they had increased to £8,000,000, a corresponding increase being
recorded in imports. Coming down to the period of the Financial
Relations Commission (1895), that very cautious and painstaking
statistician, the late Sir Robert Giffen,[17] roughly estimated Irish
imports at £25,000,000 and exports at £20,000,000. Since that time the
Irish Agricultural Department has been created, and has undertaken the
collection and tabulation of such statistics. Turning to their latest
report we find that the imports had in 1910 attained the relatively
enormous figure of £65,000,000, and the exports £65,800,000, a total of
over £130,000,000 in place of nine or ten millions, at the very outside,
of the time of the Union. And it is worth noting in addition that, for
the first time in these recorded tables, Ireland's exports exceed her

But we are assured with triumphant and invincible despondency that
population has decreased alarmingly. The movements of population since
the time of the Union have been, it may be admitted, very remarkable,
but the figures are double-edged and require a more careful handling
than they generally receive. If we are to assume, as the prophets of
gloom will have it, that increase and decrease of population are an
infallible test of a country's growth or decay, then Ireland for nearly
half a century after the Union must have been the most prosperous
country in Europe. The population of Ireland, which in 1792 was
estimated at 4,088,226, had increased in 1814 to 5,937,856, in 1821 to
6,801,827, and in 1841 to 8,196,597. In other words, the population,
like the trade, of the doomed island had more than doubled since the
Union. We doubt if any European country could say as much.

Then came the great disaster, the potato famine of 1846-47, which,
undoubtedly, dealt a stunning blow to Irish agriculture. It was not the
first, nor the worst, of Irish famines--there is evidence that the
famines of 1729 and 1740 were, proportionately, more widespread and more
appalling in their effects. But, occurring as it did, in the middle of
the nineteenth century, with the press of the world as witnesses, it
attracted immense attention, and the nations, whom England, then high
and mighty in the undisputed supremacy of the doctrines of _laissez
faire_ and free trade, were not slow in retorting on their mentor. The
State, it was laid down dogmatically by the economists, must not do
anything to feed the starving people, because that would interfere with
the principle of private enterprise; and as there was naturally no
private enterprise in wide stretches of country where landlord and
tenant, shopkeeper and labourer, were involved in common ruin, the
people starved. For the same reason, the sufferers must not be paid to
do useful work, so they were set to make roads that led to nowhere--and
that have been grass-grown ever since--and to build walls that had to be
pulled down again.

It was a ghastly specimen of doctrinaire dogmatism run mad, and though
it was not the fault of the Government so much as of the arid doctrines
of ill-understood economics which then prevailed in the schools, it did
more than anything to embitter the relations between the Irish people
and the Imperial Government. The death-rate from famine and famine-fever
was appalling. The poor law system--then a new experiment in
Ireland--broke down hopelessly, and agitators were not slow to improve
the occasion by denouncing the "callousness" of the Imperial Government.

Nations, as a rule, recover from such calamities as famine, war, and
pestilence with surprising quickness; but there were certain incidents
connected with the famine of 1846-47 that intensified and perpetuated
the evil in the case of Ireland. We have already referred to the
high-and-dry doctrines of _laissez faire_ then in the ascendant, and any
real or permanent recovery of Irish agriculture was rendered practically
impossible by England's adhesion to the doctrine of free imports, by the
abolition of the Corn Laws, and by the crushing increase of taxation
under Mr Gladstone's budgets of 1853 and the succeeding years.

Ireland was entitled under the Act of Union to "special exemptions and
abatements" in taxation, in consideration of her backward economic
condition. All Chancellors of the Exchequer till Mr. Gladstone's time
respected these exemptions, and although no one could suggest, in view
of Ireland's recent progress, that she could have been permanently
exempted from the burdens imposed on the British taxpayer, it will be
admitted that the time chosen by Mr. Gladstone for abruptly raising the
taxation of Ireland from 14_s._ 9_d._ per head to 26_s._ 7_d._ was
inopportune, not to say ungenerous.

Sir David Barbour, in his minority report on the Financial Relations
Commission, perhaps the most carefully thought out and the most
practical of all the many reports emanating from that heterogeneous
body, gives a table of the "estimated true revenue" extracted from Great
Britain and Ireland respectively from 1819 to 1894. This table shows
that the revenue raised from Ireland was increased between 1849-50 and
1859-60 from £4,861,465 to £7,700,334, and he adds: "It will be observed
that a great and rapid rise took place in the taxation of Ireland during
the decade 1850-1860. This great increase was due to the equalisation of
the spirit duties in the two countries, and the extension of the Income
Tax to Ireland. The special circumstances of Ireland do not appear to
have received due consideration at this time. Many arguments of a
general character might be employed to justify the equalisation of the
spirit duties, and the imposition of an Income Tax, but Ireland was
entitled under the Act of Union to such exemptions and abatements as her
circumstances might require, and the time was not opportune for imposing
additional burdens upon her."

Irish Agriculture was thus almost simultaneously struck down by the
greatest famine of the century, which swept away two million of the
population, disabled for resuming the competition by the free admission
of foreign grain, which in the long run rendered successful corn-growing
in Ireland impossible, and saddled with an additional two and a quarter
millions of taxation. When remonstrated with, Mr. Gladstone retorted
flippantly that he could not see that it was any part of the rights of
man that an Irishman should be able to make himself drunk more cheaply
than the inhabitant of Great Britain. The taunt would have possessed
more relevance if whisky had been an article of importation. Seeing,
however, that it was an article of manufacture and export, employing
directly or indirectly much capital and labour, the injury to Irish
industry was very serious, many distilleries and breweries being obliged
to close their doors.

As Miss Murray says in her masterly work on Irish commerce[18]:--

     "Just as the country was thoroughly exhausted from the effects of
     the famine, the whole financial policy adopted towards Ireland
     changed, and Irish taxation began to be rapidly assimilated to
     British at a time when great prosperity had come to Great Britain,
     and the reverse to Ireland. The repeal of the Corn Laws had
     stimulated the commercial prosperity of Britain; large cities were
     expanding, railways were developing, and the foreign trade of the
     country was increasing by leaps and bounds. But Ireland had just
     passed through the awful ordeal of famine: her population had
     suddenly diminished by one fourth, there had been a universal
     decline in Irish manufactures, the repeal of the Corn Laws had
     begun the destruction of the Irish export trade in cereals, and
     the extension of the Poor Law system to Ireland had greatly
     increased the local rates. Just as the famine subsided the results
     of free trade began to take effect. Wheat-growing decayed; local
     industries were destroyed by the competition of large
     manufacturing towns in Great Britain; every class of Irish
     producers saw ruin staring him in the face, while landlords and
     farmers were further impoverished by the huge poor-rates, which
     sometimes reached 20_s._ in the £. The misery and poverty of the
     country could hardly have been greater, and to us at the present
     day it seems extraordinary that just at this inopportune time the
     Government should have thought fit to go back from the
     conciliatory fiscal policy which had existed since 1817."

It is not to be wondered at that Gladstonian finance was ever after
looked at with well-grounded suspicion in Ireland.

Another circumstance that has had a serious and lasting effect on Irish
population has still to be mentioned. At first the emigration movement
was largely a flight from starvation, a movement that would have come to
an end under normal circumstances with the end of the famine crisis. But
as we have seen, the conditions were not normal; the crisis was
artificially protracted by injurious financial legislation. And, in
addition, although many of them perished by the way owing to the
abominably insanitary conditions of the coffin ships employed for the
journey, the emigrants arriving at New York or Boston soon found
conditions unexpectedly favourable for the class of labour which they
were best qualified to supply. America was just then opening up and
turning to the new West, and the demand for unskilled labour for railway
work was unlimited. The Irish emigrant seldom or never takes to the land
when he goes to America, and navvy work just suited him. To a man
accustomed to sixpence a day the wages offered seemed to represent
unbounded wealth, and as the news spread in Ireland the move to America,
which at the first seemed hopeless exile, presented itself as a highly
desirable step towards social betterment. Emigration is now the result
of attraction from America rather than of repulsion from Ireland, a fact
which explains the failure of more than one well-meant attempt to check
the movement by action on this side of the Atlantic.


A word should perhaps be given to the position of the industrial portion
of Ulster, which has flourished so remarkably since the Union. This of
itself affords sufficient proof that that Act, whatever its defects,
cannot be held accountable for any lack of prosperity that may still
exist in other parts of Ireland. It is sometimes stated that Ulster was
favoured at the time when the commercial jealousy of certain English
cities succeeded in securing a prohibition of the Irish woollen
industry. The southern wool, it is alleged, was checked, and the Belfast
linen was favoured--hence the prosperity of the northern capital. This
is a really curious perversion of quite modern history. The linen
industry was at the time in question in no sense confined to the North
and was by no means prominent in Belfast. It was distributed over many
districts of Ireland, for whilst Louis Crommelin was sent to Lisburn to
look after the French colony settled there, and to improve and promote
the industry, his brother William was sent on a similar errand to
Kilkenny, and stations were also started at Rathkeale, Cork and
Waterford. When, later on, the Irish Parliament distributed bounties
through the Linen Board, the seat of that Board was in Dublin, and its
operations included every county in Ireland.

At the time of the Union, indeed, the linen manufacture was almost
unknown in Belfast, the "manufacturers" or handloom weavers in the
North, as elsewhere, living mostly in the smaller country towns and
bringing their webs in for sale on certain market days. From Benn's
"History of the Town of Belfast," published early in the century, we
learn that at that time the principal manufacture of the town was
"cotton in its various branches." This industry had been introduced in
1777, we are told, to give employment in the poorhouse, but it caught on
and spread amazingly. "In many of the streets and populous roads in the
suburbs of the town, particularly at Ballymacarrett, the sound of the
loom issues almost from every house, and all, with very few exceptions,
are employed in the different branches of the cotton trade. In the year
1800 this business engaged in Belfast and its neighbourhood 27,000
persons." In 1814 there were eight cotton mills at work with steam power
driving 99,000 spindles. On the other hand, "there is very little linen
cloth woven in this town or parish. In 1807 Belfast contained 723 looms,
only four of which were for weaving linen."

The story of the sudden change from cotton to linen is an instructive
one. Cotton appears to have forced itself to the front because cotton
spinning could be carried on by machinery whilst the linen weavers were
still dependent on the spinning wheel for their yarn. It was Andrew
Mulholland, the owner of the York Street cotton mill, who first took
note of the fact that while the supply of hand-made linen yarn was quite
insufficient to justify the manufacture of linen on a large scale in
Belfast, quantities of flax were shipped from Belfast to Manchester to
be spun there and reimported as yarn. Mulholland determined to try if he
could not spin yarn as well as the Manchester people, and accordingly in
1830, "the first bundle of linen yarn produced by machinery in Belfast
was thrown off from the York Street mill." That, and not legislation nor
any system of State bounties or State favour, was the beginning of the
Belfast linen industry in which the York Street mill still maintains its
deserved pre-eminence. When the critical moment arrived, as it does in
the case of all industries, when manufacturers must adapt themselves to
new methods or succumb, the Belfast leaders of industry rose to the
occasion and secured for themselves the chief share in the linen trade.
In the rest of Ireland, it is true, the manufacture dwindled and
disappeared, but whatever may have been the cause of that disappearance,
it was certainly not the Act of Union.


The agrarian problem has caused more trouble in Ireland than any other,
and statesmen have long recognised that on its definite settlement
depends the hope of permanent peace and progress over the greater part
of the country. It is not, and never has been, the real cause of rural
depopulation, for, as we have seen, the increase of the rural population
was most rapid at the time when agrarian conditions were at their very
worst, whilst on the other hand emigration continues almost unchecked in
counties where the question has been virtually settled. And in 1881 the
late Mr. J.H. Tuke discovered by an analysis of the census returns that
the only "townlands" in which the rural population was actually
increasing were those scattered along the western seaboard of Ireland,
where the tenure and the conditions of existence seemed most hopeless.
But, as the Devon Commission announced in 1845, it was an essentially
defective system of land tenure that lay at the root of the perennial
discontent with which Ireland was troubled, and things went from bad to
worse until the Party organised for the defence of the Union and the
social betterment of Ireland took up the task of settling the question
by the transfer on fair terms of the ownership of the soil from the
large landowners to the tenants.

The system of land tenure in England has been the growth of custom
gradually hardening into law; in Ireland the traditional custom was
suddenly abolished, and English law substituted in its place. The
English law was no doubt a better law, and one more fitted to a
progressive community; but in Ireland it violently upset the traditional
law of the country, and, consequently, was met with sullen and
unremitting hostility. By Irish law, the tribe was owner; the tribesmen
were joint proprietors, and the forfeiture of the chief did not involve
the forfeiture of the land occupied by the tribesmen. By English law,
however, these latter, such of them as were not expelled or exiled,
suddenly found themselves transformed from joint-owners into tenants at
will. Further, the difficulty of dealing direct with tenants,
experienced by landlords who were in very many cases absentees, led to
the abominable "middleman" system by which the owner leased great
stretches of land to some one who undertook to "manage" it for him, and
who in turn sub-let it in smaller patches at rack-rents to those who, to
get back their money, had to sub-let again at still higher rents. The
result was, as an official report in the eighteenth century states: "It
is well known that over the most part of the country, the lands are
sub-let six deep, so that those who actually labour it are squeezed to
the very utmost." And Lord Chesterfield, when Viceroy, complained of the
oppression of the people by "deputies of deputies of deputies." The
eighteenth-century policy of checking or suppressing the industrial
enterprises of the English colony aggravated the evil until, as Lord
Dufferin expressed it: "Debarred from every other industry, the entire
nation flung itself back upon the land, with as fatal an impulse as when
a river whose current is suddenly impeded, rolls back and drowns the
valley it once fertilised."

In time the middleman tended to die out, but the evil results of the
system in preventing direct and friendly and helpful relations between
landlord and tenant remained. Here and there, even in Arthur Young's
time, enterprising and devoted landlords had established something like
the "English system" on their estates, but, as a rule, the landlord
remained a mere rent charger. The report of the Devon Commission says:--

     "It is admitted on all hands that, according to the general
     practice in Ireland, the landlord neither builds dwelling-houses
     nor farm offices, nor puts fences, gates, etc., in good order
     before he lets his land to a tenant. The cases where a landlord
     does any of these things are the exception. In most cases, whatever
     is done in the way of building or fencing is done by the tenant,
     and in the ordinary language of the country, dwelling-houses, farm
     buildings, and even the making of fences, are described by the
     general word, 'improvements,' which is thus employed to denote the
     necessary adjuncts of a farm without which in England or Scotland
     no tenant would be found to rent it."

In a word, as one who owned land both in England and in Ireland put it,
"In England we let farms, in Ireland we let land." And by law an unjust
landlord had the power at any moment to expel a tenant or a group of
tenants, although no rent was owing, and without giving any compensation
for the "improvements" which were the sole work of the tenant. Most
landlords acted reasonably and equitably in such matters, but,
especially among the new class of purely mercantile purchasers who came
in under the Landed Estates Court after the great famine of 1846, there
were too many who insisted on their extreme legal rights, thus
disturbing the peace of the country and producing the Irish Land
Question in an acute form that called for State interference.

The systems of "compensation for improvements" (1870), and of rent
fixing by itinerant tribunals (1881), were tried in turn, but each was
found to raise more difficulties than it settled, until finally Mr.
Parnell and his Land League set the whole country in a flame, and
produced a series of strikes against the payment of any rent. For some
years it is hardly too much to say that the law of the League, with its
purely revolutionary propaganda, supplanted the law of the land and
reduced large areas to a condition of chaos, the decrees of the "village
ruffians," who ruled the situation, being enforced by systematic outrage
and assassination.

The first statesman who made a really serious attempt to meet this
appalling state of things was Mr. Arthur Balfour, who, as Chief
Secretary for Ireland, resolutely took up the task, first of repressing
crime and enforcing the law, and then of recasting the whole land system
in such a way that the tenant, transformed into an owner, would for the
first time feel it his interest to range himself on the side of the law
and of orderly government. At the same time, a systematic attempt was
made to deal with the question of perennial poverty in the extreme West
of Ireland in what came to be known as the "Congested Districts." The
construction of railways and piers, the draining of land, and the
provision of instruction in agriculture, fisheries, etc., speedily gave
promise of a new era in the economic history of a hitherto helpless and
hopeless population.

All this was done by Mr. Balfour and his successors in spite of
opposition and obstruction of a kind such as no Chief Secretary had ever
before had to encounter. Formerly, all through the centuries, whenever a
Viceroy or Chief Secretary was face to face with an organised outbreak
of crime and sedition in Ireland, both British parties united in
supporting and strengthening the hands of the executive as representing
the Crown. Mr. Gladstone's extraordinary reversal of policy and
principle in the winter of 1885-86 put an end to all this, and gravely
increased the difficulties of the Irish Government.

When Mr. Gladstone was first confronted with the demand for Home Rule,
even in the mild and constitutional form advocated by Mr. Isaac Butt,
and his Home Government Association, founded in the autumn of 1870, he
promptly declared, like Mr. John Morley, that legislative Union with
Great Britain was the only position permanently possible for an island
situated as Ireland is. In a speech at Aberdeen[19] he indignantly

     "Can any sensible man, can any rational man, suppose that at this
     time of day, in this condition of the world, we are going to
     disintegrate the great capital institutions of this country for the
     purpose of making ourselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind
     and crippling any powers we possess for conferring benefits on the
     country to which we belong."

And for fifteen years, in power or in opposition, Mr. Gladstone preached
and acted upon the same doctrine. When the Land League was founded he
denounced it as an organisation whose steps were "dogged with crime,"
and whose march was "through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire."
The League was finally "proclaimed" by his Government as a criminal
conspiracy and its members, from Mr. Parnell downwards, arrested and
imprisoned without trial as being "reasonably suspected" of criminal

This continued until in an unfortunate moment for himself Mr. Gladstone
discovered, in November, 1885, that the votes of Mr. Parnell and his
eighty-six colleagues were necessary for his own return to power as
Prime Minister, whereupon he entered into negotiations which resulted,
on the one hand, in his securing the necessary votes, and on the other
in his accepting the principles and the policy of those whom until then
he had denounced and imprisoned as instigators to crime and sedition. He
rightly recognised that there was no half-way house, and that he could
not become a Home Ruler without accepting and defending the actions of
the Home Rulers. He worshipped what he had formerly burnt, and he burned
what he had hitherto worshipped. The result was that for several years
England beheld for the first time the scandalous spectacle of men who
had held high office under the Crown openly defending--and even
instigating--lawlessness and disorder, shielding and excusing criminals,
proved such before the courts, and thwarting, misrepresenting, and
obstructing those whose duty it was to restore order and legality in

Such were the difficulties that confronted Mr. Arthur Balfour as Chief
Secretary for Ireland from 1887 to 1891, difficulties which he
surmounted with such resolution and such statesmanship that he retired
from an office that has been called "the grave of reputations" with a
reputation so much enhanced as to ensure him the leadership of his party
and the gratitude of Irishmen of all classes for generations to come.
And yet his method was a supremely simple one--to reassert the supremacy
of the law, to neglect, almost ostentatiously, all merely political
cries, and to set himself seriously to deal with the real Irish
question, that of conferring some measure of security and prosperity on
a population which over wide districts had known too little of such

Occupying ownership of Irish land by means of State credit was not, of
course, a new policy in Mr. Balfour's day. The Bright clauses (1869)
had introduced the principle into the Statute-book, and Lord Ashbourne's
Act (1885) had carried it several steps further. But it was Mr. Arthur
Balfour and his successors, Mr. Gerald Balfour and Mr. George Wyndham,
who carried it by a series of boldly conceived steps almost within sight
of completion. So thorough was the success of this policy of land
purchase, and so marked was the cessation of crime and outrage and
seditious agitation in every district into which it was carried, that
those who made their living by agitation grew alarmed, and did all in
their power to stop the working of the Purchase Acts. One Nationalist
member declared that the process had gone "quite far enough," and that
he wished it could be stopped. The farmers who had purchased their
holdings were declared to have become selfish, and "as bad as the
landlords." In other words, they had become orderly and industrious, and
had ceased to subscribe for the upkeep of the United Irish League and
its salaried agitators.

The unhappy result of this outcry on the part of those whose occupation
would be gone, and who would be compelled to resort to honest industry
should Ireland become peaceful and prosperous, was the passing of Mr.
Birrell's "amending" Bill, which has practically stopped for the present
the beneficent working of the Wyndham Act of 1903. Under the various
purchase Acts over 180,000 Irish farmers have become the owners of their
holdings, thanks to over one hundred millions of public money advanced
on Imperial credit for the purpose. The first task of a Unionist
government, when again in power, must be the resumption of this policy
of State-aided land-purchase--the only completely and unquestionably
successful and pacifying piece of agrarian legislation in the history of
English rule in Ireland.

Other writers will give, later on, a more detailed account of various
branches of Unionist practical policy in Ireland. The story of the
Congested Districts Board, Mr. Arthur Balfour's special work, is a
romance in itself. So well, in fact, has it accomplished its immediate
task that the time has probably come when it could with advantage be
merged in the later-created Department of Agriculture and Technical
Instruction. This department, which has been linked up with the County
or Borough Councils, by the legislation of Mr. Gerald Balfour, has done
an immense amount of educational and practical work in connection with
agriculture in all its branches, including dairying, poultry rearing,
fruit-growing, and other rural industries, not to speak of technical
instruction in matters suited for artisans and town workers.

These remarkable achievements, the work of successive Unionist
Governments from 1896 to 1906, have revolutionised the face of the
country, and are bringing about a new Ireland. The chief danger now lies
in the intrigues of discredited politicians, whose object is to divert
the eyes of the people from practical, remedial, and constructive
legislation, and to keep them fixed upon what Mr. John Morley has called
"the phantom of Irish legislative independence."


[Footnote 3: J.R. Green, "Short History," chap. ix. sec. 8.]

[Footnote 4: "Dict. Nat. Biog.," sub.-tit. "Erskine, John, Earl of Mar,"
p. 430.]

[Footnote 5: "England," says Mr. James Bryce in his Introduction to "Two
Centuries of Irish History," "acted as conquering nations do act, and
better than some nations of that age."]

[Footnote 6: Wogan to Swift, Feb. 27th, 1732.]

[Footnote 7: Swift, "The Legion Club."]

[Footnote 8: "Life of Macartney," vol. ii, p. 136.]

[Footnote 9: "Tour in Ireland," vol. ii., p. 123 ff.]

[Footnote 10: Hamilton Rowan's "Autobiography," p. 340.]

[Footnote 11: "Wealth of Nations," Book V., Chap. III.]

[Footnote 12: "The End of the Irish Parliament," 1911, Edward Arnold.]

[Footnote 13: "Edmund Burke, a Historical Study," by John Morley, pp.
286 ff.]

[Footnote 14: "Pitt," by Lord Rosebery, p. 155.]

[Footnote 15: From the official returns embodied in "A Statement to the
Prime Minister," Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union, Dublin, 1886.]

[Footnote 16: "Ireland from the Union to Catholic Emancipation," by D.
A. Chart, M.A. A most valuable and instructive work.]

[Footnote 17: It is, I hope, no reflection on the memory of an eminent
public servant to suggest that in this, as in too many of the estimated
figures contained in his evidence before the Commission, and upon which
the Majority Report of the Commission was largely based, Sir Robert
seriously under-estimated the resources of Ireland. It is obvious when
the ascertained figures of 1910 are compared with the estimated figures
of 1895 that Sir Robert Giffen must have been several millions below the
truth. The steady nature of the growth of Irish commerce is shown by the
following figures taken from the Official Report for the year ended
December 31, 1910.

            Imports,    Exports,    Total,
            Mill. £.    Mill. £.    Mill. £.

1904          54          49          103
1905          55          51          106
1906          57          56          113
1907          61          59          120
1908          59          57          116
1909          63          61          124
1910          65          65          130

[Footnote 18: "A History of the Commercial Relations between Great
Britain and Ireland," by Alice E. Murray, D.Sc.]

[Footnote 19: Sept. 26, 1871.]






Few things are more remarkable in the Parliamentary history of the Home
Rule movement than the complete absence from the counsels of the English
advocates of Home Rule of any definite and settled policy as to the form
of self-government to be offered to Ireland, and their consequent
oscillation between proposals radically differing from one another.
Since the "new departure" initiated by Davitt and Devoy in 1878,[20] it
has been the deliberate practice of Irish Nationalists to abstain from
defining the Nationalist demand and to ask in general terms for
"self-government," doubtless with the object of attracting the support
of all who favour any change which could be described by that very
elastic term. Such a policy has its advantages. But confusion of
thought, however favourable to popular agitation, is a disadvantage when
the moment for legislation arrives; and uncertainty as to the aim goes
far to explain the vacillation in Home Rule policy.

Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill of 1886 would have given to Ireland the
substance of "responsible" or colonial self-government, subject only to
certain reservations and restrictions, the value of which will be
considered later in this chapter, and would have excluded the Irish
members and representative peers from the Parliament of the United
Kingdom. By the Bill of 1893 the reservations and restrictions were
increased, and representatives of Ireland were to be permitted to sit at
Westminster--by the Bill as introduced for some purposes, and by the
Bill as passed by the House of Commons for all purposes.

After the defeat of this second Bill, a "cold fit" appears to have
seized the Liberal Party. Lord Rosebery, in 1894, declared that before
Home Rule could be carried England, as the predominant partner, must be
convinced. Sir Edward Grey in 1905 declared that his party on its return
to power would "go on with Sir Anthony MacDonnell's policy," which he
rightly described as a policy of large administrative reforms; and Mr.
Asquith "associated himself entirely and unreservedly with every word"
of Sir Edward Grey's speech.[21] Accordingly the Irish Council Bill
proposed by Mr. Asquith's Government in 1907 was purely a measure of
devolution, certain administrative functions only being put under the
control of an Irish Council, subject to the veto of the Lord Lieutenant,
and the whole legislative power remaining in the Parliament of the
United Kingdom. This proposal, having been condemned by a National
Convention at Dublin, was incontinently withdrawn.

In the years succeeding this fiasco the Liberal policy for Ireland
appeared to be at the mercy of shifting winds. For some time Liberal
speakers contented themselves with vague declarations in favour of
Federalism or "Home Rule all round"--phrases which may mean much or
little according to the sense in which they are used. More recently an
able writer,[22] while admitting that "there is no public opinion in
Ireland as to the form of the Irish Constitution," has argued in a work
of 350 pages in favour of the grant to Ireland of full legislative,
administrative and financial autonomy; while a member of the
Government[23] declared that fiscal autonomy for all practical purposes
means separation and the disintegration of the United Kingdom. In a
publication recently issued by a committee of Liberals, comprising
several members of the present Government,[24] two views directly
contrary to one another are put forward, one writer arguing for a
devolution to an Irish body of "definite and defined powers only," and
another for the grant of the widest possible form of Home Rule and the
exclusion from Westminster of all Irish representation. The latest
official pronouncements indicate that the Government have it in their
minds to revert to the Gladstonian form of Home Rule; but even now[25]
no one outside the Cabinet, and possibly few inside that inner circle,
would venture on a confident prophecy even as to the broad lines of the
measure which in a few days may be submitted to Parliament as
representing the urgent and considered demand of public opinion.

Franklin said truly that--

     "those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not
     generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into
     execution new projects."

But surely on a question of such vital moment to the Empire as the
revision of the constitution of the United Kingdom, the bases, if not
the details, of the contemplated change are deserving of prolonged
consideration and even of some public and ordered discussion. The
British North America Act, 1867, by which the relation of the Dominion
of Canada to its provinces is regulated, was the result, not only of
years of preliminary debate in the provincial Legislatures and
elsewhere, but of a formal conference at Quebec in 1864, followed by the
appointment of delegates to confer with the Imperial Government on the
matter. In Australia the proposal for union, agitated at intervals since
1846, was canvassed in every detail at inter-colonial Conferences or
Conventions in 1883, in 1891, and in 1897-8, as well as in the several
colonial Legislatures, before it was embodied in the Australia
Constitution Act, 1900. And although in the case of South Africa, owing
to the urgency of the question of union, the time occupied in the
discussion was less than in the other great dominions, yet in the
Convention of 1908-9 the best brains in the country were occupied for
months in considering every detail of the proposal for union before it
was submitted to the Colonial and Imperial Parliaments for their
sanction.[26] And yet in the Mother Country, where centuries of military
and political conflict have given us the Union, it is considered that a
few weeks' consideration by a committee of the Cabinet, without advice
from independent constitutional experts,[27] and without formal
consultation even with the Government's own supporters outside the
Ministry, is sufficient to determine both the general form and the
details of a proposal for its dissolution.

In the confusion so engendered it may be useful to consider in some
detail the different proposals which have been or may be made under the
name of Home Rule, their special qualities and dangers, and the results
to which they may severally lead.


A proposal to give to Ireland full "responsible" government, without any
other limitations than such as are imposed on our self-governing
Colonies, would find few supporters in this country. Under such a
constitution an Irish Government would have power to forbid or restrict
recruiting for the Imperial forces in Ireland, and to raise and train a
force of its own. It might establish or subsidise a religion, make
education wholly denominational, levy customs duties on imports from
Great Britain and give fiscal advantages to a foreign power, confiscate
or transfer property without payment, and deprive individuals of
nationality, franchise, liberty, or life without process of law. However
improbable some of these contingencies may appear, it is right on a
matter of so much moment to consider possibilities and not probabilities
only. Such powers as these could not without serious risk be conceded to
any part of the kingdom, and in the case of Ireland there would be a
special danger in granting them to a popularly elected body.

In the first place, the national safety would be involved. Englishmen
were at one time too fond of saying that the great Colonies might, if
they chose, sever the link which binds them to the Mother Country.
Happily, in their case, no such catastrophe need now be considered. But
it would be folly to shut our eyes to the fact that to many Irishmen
national independence appears to be the only goal worth striving for. If
the concession of full responsible government should be followed (at
whatever interval) by an assertion of complete independence, we may
assume that Great Britain would follow the example of Federal America
and re-establish the Union by force of arms, but at how great a cost!
Those who deny the possibility of a serious movement towards separation
would do well to remember Mr. Gladstone's reference[28] to the position
of Norway and Sweden, then united under one crown:--

     "Let us look to those two countries, neither of them very large,
     but yet countries which every Englishman and every Scotchman must
     rejoice to claim his kin--I mean the Scandinavian countries of
     Sweden and Norway. Immediately after the great war the Norwegians
     were ready to take sword in hand to prevent their coming under the
     domination of Sweden. But the Powers of Europe undertook the
     settlement of that question, and they united those countries upon a
     footing of strict legislative independence and co-equality.... And
     yet with two countries so united, what has been the effect? Not
     discord, not convulsions, not danger to peace, not hatred, not
     aversion, but a constantly growing sympathy; and every man who
     knows their condition knows that I speak the truth when I say that
     in every year that passes the Norwegians and the Swedes are more
     and more feeling themselves to be the children of a common country,
     united by a tie which never is to be broken."

The tie was broken within twenty years.

It may be that the Nationalist leaders, or some of them, do not desire
separation; but it by no means follows that a concession of their
demands would not lead to that result. Franklin, in 1774, had an
interview with Chatham, in which he says--

     "I assured him that, having more than once travelled almost from
     one end of the continent (of America) to the other, and kept a
     great variety of company, eating, drinking, and conversing with
     them freely, I never had heard in any conversation from any person,
     drunk or sober, the least expression of a wish for a separation, or
     a hint that such a thing would be advantageous to America."[29]

And yet independence came within ten years.

In the case of the United Kingdom there is no need to consider in detail
how serious would be the effects--naval, military, and economic--of
separation, for the gravity of such a contingency is admitted by all.
Admiral Mahan, the American naval expert, writes that--

     "the ambition of the Irish separatists, realised, might be even
     more threatening to the national life of Great Britain than the
     secession of the South was to that of the American Union.... The
     instrument for such action in the shape of an independent
     Parliament could not safely be trusted even to avowed friends."

Some Home Rulers are able to--

     "rise superior to the philosophy, as fallacious in fact as it is
     base and cowardly in purpose, which sets the safety of a great
     nation above the happiness and prosperity of a small one,"[30]

but to less lofty souls it appears that the safety of the nation is
paramount, and that upon it depends the prosperity of each of its
component parts.

In the next place, in considering whether complete "colonial"
self-government can be conceded to Ireland, it must not be forgotten
that the island is bi-racial, that the two races differ widely in
character, in politics, and in religion, and that the differences are
apt to find vent in violent conflict or secret attacks. Further, Ireland
has for generations been the scene of a revolt against one particular
species of property, the ownership of land; and although under the
operation of the Land Purchase Acts this cause of conflict tends to
abate, it still breaks out from time to time in the form of cattle
drives and attacks on "land grabbers."[31] Hitherto we have, broadly
speaking, kept the peace. That we should now forsake this duty, and,
washing our hands of Ireland, leave the Protestant and the landowner, at
or small, to his fate is unthinkable.

In connection with the question last-mentioned it may be necessary at
some time to consider how far it is the constitutional right of this
country to impose upon the minority in Ireland the new obligations
implied in a grant to the whole island of colonial Home Rule. It may be
that the Imperial Parliament can disallow the claim of a section of the
population of Ireland to remain subject to its own control. But it is
one thing to reject the allegiance of a community, it is quite another
thing forcibly to transfer that allegiance to a practically independent
legislature; and this is especially the case when the transfer may
involve the use against a loyal population of coercion in its extreme


In every formal proposal for Home Rule in Ireland, weight has been given
to the above considerations, and attempts have been made to meet them by
qualifying the grant of responsible Government. The qualifications
suggested have taken the form of _(a)_ the reservation of certain
powers to the Imperial Parliament, or (_b_) the restriction of the
powers granted to the Irish legislature by prohibiting their exercise in
certain specific ways, or (_c_) the provision of some form of Imperial
veto or control. It is important to consider whether and how far such
checks or "safeguards" are likely to prove effective and lasting.

The "safeguards" proposed by the Government of Ireland Bill, 1886, were
somewhat extended by the Bill of 1893; and the proposals shortly to be
submitted to Parliament, so far as they can be gathered from recent
speeches of Ministers, will not in this respect differ materially from
those contained in the latter Bill. It will therefore be convenient to
take as a basis for discussion the provisions of the Bill of 1893, as
passed by the House of Commons.

The Bill of 1893, after stating in a preamble that it was "expedient
that without impairing or restricting the supreme authority of
Parliament an Irish Legislature should be created for such purposes in
Ireland as in this Act mentioned," proposed to set up in Ireland a
Legislature[32] consisting of the Sovereign and two Houses, namely a
Legislative Council of 48 members to be returned under a restricted
franchise by the Irish counties and the boroughs of Dublin and Belfast,
and a Legislative Assembly of 103 members to be returned by the existing
parliamentary constituencies in Ireland. A Bill introduced into the
Irish Legislature was to pass both Houses; but in the event of
disagreement the proposals of the Legislative Assembly were to be
submitted, after a dissolution or a delay of two years, to a joint
Session of the two Houses. The executive power was to remain in the
Crown, aided and advised by an Irish Ministry (called an Executive
Committee of the Privy Council of Ireland), and the assent of the Crown
to Irish legislation was to be given or withheld on the advice of this
Executive Committee subject to any instructions given by the Sovereign.

The specific reservations and restrictions were contained in clauses 3
and 4 of the Bill, which were as follows:--

     "3. The Irish Legislature shall not have power to make laws in
     respect of the following matters or any of them:--

     "(1) The Crown, or the succession to the Crown, or a Regency; or
     the Lord Lieutenant as representative of the Crown; or

     "(2) The making of peace or war or matters arising from a state of
     war; or the regulation of the conduct of any portion of Her
     Majesty's subjects during the existence of hostilities between
     foreign States with which Her Majesty is at peace, in respect of
     such hostilities; or

     "(3) Navy, army, militia, volunteers, and any other military
     forces, or the defence of the realm, or forts, permanent military
     camps, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful
     buildings, or any places purchased for the erection thereof; or

     "(4) Authorising either the carrying or using of arms for military
     purposes, or the formation of associations for drill or practice
     in the use of arms for military purposes; or

     "(5) Treaties or any relations with foreign States or the
     relations between different parts of Her Majesty's dominions, or
     offences connected with such treaties or relations, or procedure
     connected with the extradition of criminals under any treaty; or

     "(6) Dignities or titles of honour; or

     "(7) Treason, treason-felony, alienage, aliens as such, or
     naturalisation; or

     "(8) Trade with any place out of Ireland; or quarantine, or
     navigation, including merchant shipping (except as respects inland
     waters and local health or harbour regulations); or

     "(9) Lighthouses, buoys, or beacons within the meaning of the
     Merchant Shipping Act, 1854, and the Acts amending the same
     (except so far as they can consistently with any general Act of
     Parliament be constructed or maintained by a local harbour
     authority); or

     "(10) Coinage; legal tender; or any change in the standard of
     weights and measures; or

     "(11) Trade marks, designs, merchandise marks, copyright, or
     patent rights.

     "Provided always, that nothing in this section shall prevent the
     passing of any Irish Act to provide for any charges imposed by Act
     of Parliament, or to prescribe conditions regulating importation
     from any place outside Ireland for the sole purpose of preventing
     the introduction of any contagious disease.

     "It is hereby declared that the exceptions from the powers of the
     Irish Legislature contained in this section are set forth and
     enumerated for greater certainty, and not so as to restrict the
     generality of the limitation imposed in the previous section on
     the powers of the Irish Legislature.

     "Any law made in contravention of this section shall be void.

     "4. The powers of the Irish Legislature shall not extend to the
     making of any law--

     "(1) Respecting the establishment or endowment of religion,
     whether directly or indirectly, or prohibiting the free exercise
     thereof; or

     "(2) Imposing any disability, or conferring any privilege,
     advantage, or benefit, on account of religious belief, or raising
     or appropriating directly or indirectly, save as heretofore, any
     public revenue for any religious purpose, or for the benefit of
     the holder of any religious office as such; or

     "(3) Diverting the property, or, without its consent, altering the
     constitution of any religious body; or

     "(4) Abrogating or prejudicially affecting the right to establish
     or maintain any place of denominational education, or any
     denominational institution or charity; or

     "(5) Whereby there may be established or endowed out of public
     funds any theological professorship, or any university or college
     in which the conditions set out in the University of Dublin Tests
     Acts, 1873, are not observed; or

     "(6) Prejudicially affecting the right of any child to attend a
     school receiving public money without attending the religious
     instruction at that school; or

     "(7) Directly or indirectly imposing any disability or conferring
     any privilege, benefit, or advantage upon any subject of the Crown
     on account of his parentage or place of birth, or of the place
     where any part of his business is carried on, or upon any
     corporation or institution constituted or existing by virtue of
     the law of some part of the Queen's dominions, and carrying on
     operations in Ireland, on account of the persons by whom or in
     whose favour, or the place in which any of its operations are
     carried on; or

     "(8) Whereby any person may be deprived of life, liberty, or
     property without due process of law in accordance with settled
     principles and precedents, or may be denied the equal protection
     of the laws, or whereby private property may be taken without just
     compensation; or

     "(9) Whereby any existing corporation incorporated by Royal
     Charter or by any local or general Act of Parliament may, unless
     it consents, or the leave of Her Majesty is first obtained on
     address from the two Houses of the Irish Legislature, be deprived
     of its rights, privileges, or property without due process of law
     in accordance with settled principles and precedents, and so far
     as respects property without just compensation. Provided nothing
     in this sub-section shall prevent the Irish Legislature from
     dealing with any public department, municipal corporation, or
     local authority, or with any corporation administering for public
     purposes taxes, rates, cess, dues, or tolls, so far as concerns
     the same. Any law made in contravention of this section shall be

The power to impose taxation other than duties of custom and excise was
to be transferred, subject to a short delay as to existing taxes and to
a special provision in respect of taxes for war expenditure, to the
Irish Legislature (clause II). Two judges of the Supreme Court in
Ireland, to be called "Exchequer Judges," were to be appointed under the
Great Seal of the United Kingdom, and to be removable only on an address
from the Imperial Parliament; and proceedings relating to the reserved
powers or to the customs or excise duties were to be determined by such
judges (clause 19). Appeals from the Courts in Ireland were to lie to
the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council (clause 21); and
any question as to the powers of the Irish Legislature could be referred
to the same Committee (clause 22). The Royal Irish Constabulary and
Dublin Metropolitan Police Force were gradually to disappear, and police
matters to be regulated by the Irish Legislature and Executive (clause
29). The Irish Legislature was to be prohibited from passing land
legislation for a period of three years (clause 34).

As to these proposals the first observation that occurs is that, in
addition to the matters proposed to be reserved, there are others in
which legislative uniformity throughout the kingdom is greatly to be
desired. To mention but a few such matters, questions of status,
contract and succession, of international trade and navigation, of the
regulation of railways and of industrial labour, and of the criminal
law, should not be differently determined in different parts of the
kingdom; and as life becomes more complex, the number of subjects in
which diversity of laws is a hindrance continues to increase.

In the next place, it is to be noted that the checks proposed affect
legislation only and not administration. If the Bill of 1893 or any
similar Bill should become law, the whole executive power in Ireland
will be in an Irish Ministry responsible to an Irish Assembly; and it is
obvious that many of the wrongs against which the restrictive clauses of
the Bill were directed may be inflicted by administrative act or
omission as effectively as by legislation. To quote a work of

     "An independent Irish Executive will possess immense power. It will
     be able by mere administrative action or inaction, without passing
     a single law which infringes any restriction to be imposed by the
     Irish Government Act, 1893, to effect a revolution. Let us consider
     for a moment a few of the things which the Irish Cabinet might do
     if it chose. It might confine all political, administrative, or
     judicial appointments to Nationalists, and thus exclude Loyalists
     from all positions of public trust. It might place the bench, the
     magistracy, the police, wholly in the hands of Catholics; it might,
     by encouragement of athletic clubs where the Catholic population
     were trained to the use of arms, combined with the rigorous
     suppression of every Protestant association suspected, rightly or
     not, of preparing resistance to the Parliament at Dublin, bring
     about the arming of Catholic, and the disarming of Protestant,
     Ireland, and, at the same time, raise a force as formidable to
     England as an openly enrolled Irish army. But the mere inaction of
     the executive might in many spheres produce greater results than
     active unfairness. The refusal of the police for the enforcement of
     evictions would abolish rent throughout the country. And the same
     result might be attained by a more moderate course. Irish Ministers
     might in practice draw a distinction between 'good' landlords and
     'bad' landlords, and might grant the aid of the police for the
     collection of 'reasonable,' though refusing it for the collection
     of 'excessive,' rents."

Irish Ministers might even refuse actively to oppose the "moral claim"
of the Irish Catholics to the use of the cathedrals and of the
accumulated capital of the Irish Church.[34]

To contemplate the possibility of action or calculated inaction of the
character above described is not to attribute to Irishmen any special
measure of original sin. In every case where the executive power is
divorced from the ultimate legislative authority such divergencies are
likely to recur; and more than one instance may be found in our own
recent history. In 1859 the Canadian Government warned the Home
Government that any attempt to interfere with the customs policy of the
Dominion was inadmissible, unless the home authorities were prepared to
undertake the responsibility of administering the whole government of
Canada. The Home Government gave way.[35] In 1878 the Governor of Cape
Colony proposed to place the colonial forces under the control of the
officer commanding the Imperial forces. The Cape Government resisted,
and refused to resign; and eventually the Governor, on the advice of the
Home Government, dismissed his ministers. In this case a change of
government occurred after the general election, but in the end the claim
put forward by the Imperial authorities had to be withdrawn.[36] In 1906
the Natal Government proclaimed martial law, and ordered the execution
of twelve natives on charges of murder. The Imperial Government
intervened, and suggested the suspension of the order pending further
consideration. The Natal Ministry immediately resigned; and as there was
no chance of the formation of a new Government, the Imperial authorities
hastily withdrew.[37]

Differences have arisen even on so grave a matter as the succession to
the throne. The union of England and Scotland in 1707 was preceded and
hastened by the so-called Act of Security, by which the Scottish Estates
asserted the right to name a successor to the throne of Scotland, who
should not (except under certain specified conditions) be the person
designated as sovereign by the English law. And during the illness of
King George III. in the year 1788, Grattan, in defiance of the views of
Pitt and of the majority in both Houses of the Imperial Parliament,
carried in the Irish Parliament an address to the Prince of Wales,
calling upon him (without waiting for a Regency Bill) to assume the
Government of the Irish nation, "and to exercise and administer all
legal power, jurisdiction and prerogatives to the Crown and Government
thereof belonging"--words borrowed from the address by which in the
Revolution of 1688 William of Orange was requested to assume the Crown.
Happily, the Viceroy declined to present the address, and a deputation
sent from Ireland to present it found on their arrival that the king had
recovered; but the incident might have led to a conflict upon a matter
so important as the exercise of the royal power.

The fact is that the word "supremacy," so often used in this
controversy, is one of ambiguous meaning. Parliament is supreme in the
United Kingdom, Parliament is likewise supreme in New Zealand; but the
two supremacies are of widely different kinds. Supremacy consists of two
ingredients--authority to enact and power to enforce; and without the
latter the former is little more than a legal figment, which may have no
more practical importance than the theoretical right of veto which is
retained by the Crown. Mr. Balfour, speaking on the second reading
debate of the 1893 Bill, referred to this matter as follows:--

     "Legally, of course, the Imperial Parliament would be supreme: no
     one has doubted it. But what layman takes the slightest interest
     in these paper supremacies? For my part I take no more interest in
     the question of whether the Imperial Parliament is on paper
     superior to the Irish Parliament, than I do as to the order of
     precedence at a London dinner party. The thing is of no public
     interest or importance whatever. What we want to know is where the
     power lies. Who is going to exercise supremacy? Who is going to be
     the _de facto_ ruler of Ireland?"

Special importance attaches to these considerations owing to the heavy
liabilities undertaken by this country in respect of land purchase in
Ireland. At the present time many millions of British money are sunk in
Irish land, and the amount may increase to a sum approaching two hundred
millions. The tenants now pay their annuities because, in the last
resort, the Government can turn them out. Under Home Rule the powers of
Government would rest with men who have led "no rent" agitations in the
past, and who would be dependent upon the votes of those personally
interested in repudiating the debt. The British Treasury can hardly run
such a risk; and some sort of concurrent control, with all its evils and
risks, seems to be necessary. And yet financial independence is the
first essential to genuine autonomy.

But, it may be said, if the Irish Government go beyond the law, the
Irish Courts may be asked to interfere; and in the event of their
refusal, the Bill provides an appeal to the Judicial Committee in
London. No doubt it does, but in practice the person aggrieved might
have very great difficulty in making the remedy effective. He must
obtain a decision in his favour from the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council, at no small cost of money and personal odium; and the decision
of that "alien" tribunal (as it would be called) must then be enforced
under the jurisdiction of a Government which (on the hypothesis which we
are considering) would be unfriendly, by judges and executive officers
appointed and perhaps removable by that authority, and in the midst of a
population hostile to "foreign" interference. Is it extravagant to
suppose that the complainant would not gain much by his appeal to

And even if we suppose the Irish Legislature and Executive to confine
themselves within the letter of the Act, are the checks of any real
value? The Irish Parliament might still interfere with contracts, or
might validate contracts now held to be void as contrary to public
policy. They might defeat the Mortmain Acts. They might deal as they
thought fit with internal trade; and the great industries of Belfast and
its neighbourhood might find their views on trade questions of no avail.
The Irish Legislature might create new offences and institute new
tribunals; and the reference in the Bill to "due process of law" would
not necessarily secure trial by jury or by an impartial tribunal.[38]

It is said that legislation of this character would be subject to the
veto of the Crown. But that veto is to be exercised on the advice of the
Irish Ministry subject to any instructions given by the Sovereign; and
so long as an Irish Legislature is entitled to withhold Irish supply, a
veto against the advice of the Irish ministry would surely tend to
become impossible.

Again, it is said that an unjust law passed by the Irish Parliament
might be repealed by the Imperial Parliament. Doubtless the technical
right would exist, as in the case of the Colonies; but no one dreams
that, with "responsible" government existing in Ireland and Irish
representatives at Westminster, it would in practice be used. The
Imperial Government has never been known to interfere with the
legislation of a self-governing colony except where Imperial interests
are concerned, or where a fraud on the colony can be established;[39]
and the same rule would obtain in the case of Ireland.

Lastly, it is said that in the last resort there is the British Army.
But if the civil power in Ireland does not call in the military force,
how can the latter be used to enforce the law? Are the forces to be
controlled from England, and what is this but a counter revolution? It
is hardly worth while to liberate Ireland from the peaceful rule of the
Imperial Government in order to govern her by military force.

But in fact the so-called "safeguards" would not last. Professor
Dicey[40] and Professor Morgan,[41] writing from opposite sides of the
controversy, agree in holding that no colony would tolerate them for a
moment; and it is incredible that Ireland, with a Parliament of her own,
would submit to them for more than a few years.[42] Suppose the majority
of the Irish Legislature to grow weary of the "safeguards," and to
demand their repeal. The Imperial ministry might refuse, but the reply
of the Irish ministry (if in command of a majority in the Irish House of
Commons) would be to resign and to make the government of Ireland
impossible except by force. And if Ireland were still represented in the
Imperial Parliament, the new "sorrows of Ireland" would find eloquent
and insistent expression there. What, then, would England do? What could
she do, except, after a futile struggle, to give way? The truth is, that
if you part with the executive power, all checks and "safeguards" are
futile. Mr. Redmond[43] eagerly "accepts every one of them," and will
accept others if desired; for he knows that they must prove ineffective.
"If," said Lord Derby in 1887, "Ireland and England are not to be one,
Ireland must be treated like Canada or Australia. All between is
delusion or fraud."


The hybrid form of government proposed in the Home Rule Bills of 1886
and 1893 gave rise to a further difficulty, and one which went far
towards wrecking them both. Should Ireland under Home Rule be
represented at Westminster by its members and representative peers?
Under a system of Gladstonian Home Rule there appear to be only three
possible answers to this question. The Irish representatives may be
excluded altogether, they may be retained altogether, or they may be
retained in diminished numbers and with some limitation on their voting

The total exclusion clause in the Bill of 1886 was one of the most
unpopular parts of an unpopular Bill. It was immediately urged that this
arrangement was virtually equivalent to separation, and Mr. Gladstone
admitted[44] that the argument had force. Since 1886 public sentiment
has advanced in the direction of a closer Imperial unity, and it is
unlikely that the country will recur in 1912 to a proposal which in 1886
was admitted to be intolerable. Moreover, if the British Parliament is
to retain control of the whole foreign policy of the kingdom, and--what
is likely to be of enormous importance in the future--of its whole
fiscal policy, it would be manifestly unjust to deny to Ireland a voice
and vote in such matters. How would it be possible, for instance, to
discuss the effect upon agriculture of a Tariff Reform Budget in the
absence of competent representatives of the Irish farmers, or to
consider the yearly grant to be made (as it is said) in aid of Irish
finance without the assistance of any representatives of Ireland?

A recognition of the difficulties in the way of total exclusion led Mr.
Gladstone to propose, in 1893, what was known as the "popping-in-and-out
clause," under which Irish members would have sat at Westminster, but
would have voted only on Imperial measures. The best criticism of this
attempt to distinguish between local and Imperial matters was supplied
on another occasion by Mr. Gladstone himself:--

     "I have thought much, reasoned much, and inquired much with regard
     to that distinction, but I have arrived at the conclusion that it
     cannot be drawn. I believe it passes the wit of man."

To distinguish between matters which might and those which could not
affect Ireland was impossible to the ordinary man, and the device of
committing all matters of special difficulty to the decision of Mr.
Speaker had not then its present vogue. Further, it was obvious that
under such a system a British Ministry might have on one day, when
English or Scottish affairs were under discussion, a commanding
majority; but on the next, when a vote possibly affecting the sister
island was in question, might find itself labouring in the trough of the
sea; while on the third day, that vote having been disposed of and the
Irish members having taken their leave, it might rise once more on the
crest of the wave. The proposal was too ludicrous to be long defended.
The sense of humour of the House prevailed over Mr. Gladstone's
earnestness, and he fell back on inclusion for all purposes.

But inclusion for all purposes had its own difficulties. Under the
Gladstonian system the Imperial Parliament would have considered, not
only matters affecting the whole kingdom, but also purely English or
purely Scottish affairs; and to give to the Irish representatives the
control in their own Parliament of purely Irish affairs, and also a
voice at Westminster on matters affecting England or Scotland only, was
obviously unjust. Such a power would have been used, not for the benefit
of England or Scotland, but as an instrument for wresting further
concessions for Ireland.

     "I will never be a party," said Mr. Gladstone at one time, "to
     allowing the Irish members to manage their own affairs in Dublin,
     and at the same time to come over here and manage British affairs.
     Such an arrangement would not be a Bill to grant self-government to
     Ireland, but one to remove self-government from England; it would
     create a subordinate Parliament indeed, but it would be the one at
     Westminster, and not that in Dublin."[45]

The problem seems insoluble because, under a hybrid (or Gladstonian)
system of Home Rule, it is insoluble. If a clear line is taken, there
is no difficulty under this head. If full "responsible" or colonial
government is granted, clearly representation in the Imperial Parliament
(I do not now speak of a federal assembly) is an anomaly. On the other
hand, if nothing more is in question than the extension of local
government generally known as Devolution, then adequate representation
in the Imperial Parliament is a matter of course. If a federal
government is established, each member of the Federation must needs be
represented in the federal Parliament; but in that case there must be no
attempt to entrust to the same assembly both the duties of the federal
Parliament and those of a Legislature for one of the federating states.
It was this attempt to treat the Imperial Parliament as the local or
state Legislature for Great Britain, and also as the federal Parliament
for Great Britain and Ireland, which was fatal to Mr. Gladstone's


These considerations bring us face to face with Federalism, or, to use
the phrase which to so many perplexed Liberals has seemed to point the
way to safety, "Home Rule all round." The expression covers a wide
field, and before any opinion can be pronounced upon the proposal, it is
essential to know what its advocates in fact desire.

To some the phrase means nothing less than Gladstonian Home Rule "all
round," in other words that we should meet the objections to dissolving
the legislative and executive Union with Ireland by dissolving also the
older Union with Scotland, and even (for some do not shrink from the
_reductio ad absurdum_) the yet older unity of England and Wales.
Consider what this means. For more than two hundred years the English
and Scottish races have been united by a constitutional bond
strengthened by mutual respect and good feeling, and Scotsmen, like
Englishmen, have taken their part in the government of these islands. If
in the division of labour and of honours there has been a balance of
advantage, it has not been against the virile Scottish race, from which
have sprung so many of our great soldiers and administrators, so many
leaders of the nation. And such a combination is to be broken up, and
Scotland to become a colony, because Ireland, unwilling to bear her
share in the duties of government, desires to be reduced to that status!
To such a proposal Mr. Gladstone's phrase about Home Rule applies in all
its force:--

     "Can any sensible man, can any rational man, suppose that at this
     time of day, in this condition of the world, we are going to
     disintegrate the great capital institutions of this country for the
     purpose of making ourselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind,
     and crippling any power we possess for bestowing benefits through
     legislation on the country to which we belong?"

The proposal would be incredibly stupid, if it were not recklessly

But to most advocates of the federal system the word means less than
this; and the conception, usually vaguely expressed, is that the
relations of England, Scotland, and Ireland, should be something like
those of the communities which make up (to quote instances commonly
given) the German Empire, the Swiss Federation, the United States of
America, or the British self-governing dominions of Canada, Australia,
and South Africa. So expressed, the aspiration for a federal union
deserves respectful consideration.

In the first place, it must not be forgotten that no proposal of this
nature has yet been put forward, even in general terms, by any English
or Irish Party. Mr. John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Nationalists,
has indeed said that he and his friends "were only asking what had
already been given in twenty-eight different portions of the
Empire:"[46] and a speaker usually more careful in his language[47]
lately suggested to his audience that they should

     "ask the twenty-eight Home Rule Parliaments if the Empire would be
     split in pieces if there were a twenty-ninth."

But in order to make up the number of Parliaments and Legislatures
within the Empire to twenty-eight it is necessary to include in one
category the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the colonial Parliaments
of Newfoundland and New Zealand, the federal Parliaments of Canada and
Australia, the provincial or state Legislatures (widely differing from
one another in their constitution and powers) comprised in those
Federations, the Union of South Africa and its constituent provinces,
and the tiny assemblies surviving in the Channel Islands and the Isle of
Man. From a reference so vague and confused no inference as to the real
meaning or desire of either speaker can safely be drawn.[48]

But let us put aside, with the foreign confederacies (which have in most
cases been achieved or maintained by armed conflict), the practically
independent Parliaments within the British Empire, and confine ourselves
to the Federations of Canada and Australia, and to the Union (sometimes
incorrectly called a Federation) of South Africa.

In the first place, it is not immaterial to observe that each of the
Legislatures here referred to resulted, not from the dissolution of an
existing union, but from the voluntary assumption by communities
formerly independent of one another of a closer bond. In other words,
there was in each case a real _Jædus_ or treaty, not imposed by the
Imperial power, but having a local origin and springing from the need of
common action. The operative force was centripetal; and as the force
continues to operate, the tendency of the mass is towards a chemical in
lieu of a mechanical fusion.[49] But in the case of the United Kingdom a
change from organic union to Federation would be the beginning of
dissolution; and the centrifugal force, once set in motion, might lead
further in the same direction.

Again, there can be no true federation without (1) provincial
legislatures and executives, (2) a central Parliament and executive, (3)
a careful definition of the powers of each, and (4) a federal court to
which should be entrusted the duty of determining questions arising
between the federal and provincial governments and legislatures. If,
therefore, provincial or state Governments are created for Ireland and
for Scotland, a like Government should logically be created for England.
Are we prepared to see four (or, if Wales be added, five) legislatures,
and four (or five) executives, in these islands? Have we considered the
possible effect on our whole system of government, on the theory of
Cabinet responsibility to Parliament, on the powers of the House of
Commons over grievance and supply? Must not each unit in a Federation be
put as regards financial matters upon a like footing; and, if so, can
Ireland bear her share? Is federation consistent with the predominance
of one state, England, in wealth and population? These questions are
vital, and none of them have received consideration. By declaring in
general terms for Federalism you go but a little way.

And if we treat the proposal for Federation as indicating a desire to
adopt a constitution under which the relations of the United Kingdom to
each of its constituent parts would be as the relation of some one of
the three self-governing Dominions to the states or provinces of which
it is composed, the question remains, which of those Dominions should be
adopted as a model? For they differ not only in form but in essence.

Under the British North America Act, 1867, and the amending statutes,
there is "one Parliament for Canada" (sect. 17), while each province has
its Legislature. Each provincial Legislature is empowered exclusively to
make laws in relation to certain specified subjects (including property
and civil rights and the administration of justice), and also in
relation to "all matters of a merely local or private nature in the
province"; while the Dominion Parliament may "make laws for the peace,
order, and good government of Canada in relation to all matters not
coming within" the classes of subjects assigned exclusively to the
provincial Legislatures. The division of functions has given rise to
much confusion and litigation; but, speaking generally, the trend of
judicial decision has been towards a wide interpretation of the
provincial powers. The "residuary powers" are in the Dominion

The constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, as defined by the
Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900, is of a different
character. The Federal Parliament is entrusted with power to make laws
with respect to a number of subjects divided into no less than 39
classes (sect. 51); the State Legislatures have concurrent powers of
legislation, but in case of conflict the law of the Commonwealth is to
prevail over the State law (sect. 109). The "residuary powers" are in
this case left to the States. There is power to alter the Constitution
with the consent of a majority of the electors in a majority of the
States and of a majority of the electors of the Commonwealth (sect.
123)--a power which has been freely used.

The case of South Africa is sometimes cited as a precedent for loosening
the bonds in the United Kingdom. It is a strong precedent for closer
union. The South Africa Act, 1909, created in fact as well as in name,
not a Federation but a true Legislative Union. Under the Act, the South
African colonies were "united in a legislative union under one
government under the name of the Union of South Africa" (sect. 4). The
legislative power is vested in the Parliament of the Union (sect. 19),
which has full power to make laws for the peace, order, and good
government of the Union (sect. 59). In each province (formerly a colony)
there is an administrator appointed by the Governor-General of the Union
in Council (sect. 68), and a Provincial Council (sect. 70); but the
powers of the Provincial Councils are confined within narrow limits
(sect. 85), and their ordinances (they are not called laws) have effect
within the province as long as and so far as they are not repugnant to
any Act of the Union Parliament (sect. 86). The Supreme Courts of the
old colonies become provincial divisions of the Supreme Court of South
Africa (sect. 98), and the colonial property and debts are transferred
to the Union (sects. 121-124). In fact, in South Africa, where, as in
Ireland, the distinction in the past has been racial and not
territorial, Union and not Federation has gained the day. It is safe to
prophesy that the coming proposals of the Government will not follow the
South African plan.


The South African precedent leads naturally to a few observations on the
proposals for the extension of local self-government, usually classified
under the head of Devolution. These proposals differ, not in degree only
but in kind, from schemes for the granting of responsible government, or
Gladstonian Home Rule. Under all devolutionary schemes, properly
so-called, the central Parliament and executive remain the ultimate
depositaries of power; and the powers entrusted to local bodies are
administrative only, and can be resumed at will. The Acts by which
County Councils were set up, first in Great Britain and afterwards in
Ireland, were steps in this direction. The Welsh Intermediate Education
Act, 1889, was another. The establishment by the Agriculture and
Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 1899, of a Council of Agriculture,
as Agricultural Board, and a Board of Technical Instruction, was a
third. By these statutes wide powers are delegated to representative
bodies directly or indirectly elected by popular vote; but in each case
the delegated powers are strictly defined, their exercise is made
subject to central control, and the right of Parliament to modify or
withdraw any of them is absolute and unquestioned. The appointment by
the House of Commons of a Grand Committee for Scottish Bills is another
experiment of a similar character, though on different lines. Such
delegations of power are consistent with the maintenance in its entirety
of the Union of the Kingdom, and there is no reason whatever why
further progress should not be made in the same direction. The events of
1907 are evidence that Devolution, regarded merely as a means of
satisfying the political cry for Home Rule, is indeed "dead." But when
the din of political battle has once more passed by, it may be possible
to obtain consideration for a moderate and clearly defined scheme of
delegation which, if applied not exclusively to Ireland, but to the
whole country, might relieve the House of Commons of much of its work,
and strengthen the habit of local self-government throughout the United


[Footnote 20: See "_Times_ Special Commission," vol. v. p. 175, and
"Home Rule. What is it?" by A.W. Samuels, K.C. (Simpkin Marshall, 1911),
p. 60.]

[Footnote 21: See No. 213 of the Liberal League publications.]

[Footnote 22: Erskine Childers, "The Framework of Home Rule" (Arnold,

[Footnote 23: See speech of J.M. Robertson, M.P., London, January 11,

[Footnote 24: "Home Rule Problems" (P.S. King & Son, 1911).]

[Footnote 25: Written in March, 1912.]

[Footnote 26: See Egerton, "Federations and Unions in the British
Empire" (Clarendon Press, 1911). Introduction.]

[Footnote 27: On the financial questions involved the Government have
been advised by a Committee containing financial experts; but the Report
of this Committee is withheld from publication, and it is believed that
its advice will not be followed.]

[Footnote 28: House of Commons, April 8, 1886.]

[Footnote 29: Quoted in "The True History of the American Revolution,"
by S.G. Fisher (Lippincott, 1903).]

[Footnote 30: Childers, p. 340.]

[Footnote 31: See Cambray, "Irish Affairs and the Irish Question"
(Murray, 1911), p. 146.]

[Footnote 32: Mr. Gladstone always declined to call it a "Parliament,"
but some Ministers of to-day are less scrupulous.]

[Footnote 33: Dicey, "A Leap in the Dark" (Murray, 1911), p. 71.]

[Footnote 34: See "The Church of Ireland and Home Rule," by J.H.
Bernard, D.D., Bishop of Ossory, 1911.]

[Footnote 35: House of Commons Papers, 1864, xli. 79.]

[Footnote 36: Parliamentary Papers, 2079.]

[Footnote 37: Parliamentary Papers (Cd. 2905).]

[Footnote 38: "Home Rule Problems," p. 124.]

[Footnote 39: See the Newfoundland railway case of 1898 (Parliamentary
Papers, Cd. 8867, 9137).]

[Footnote 40: "A Leap in the Dark," p. 110.]

[Footnote 41: "Home Rule Problems," p. 112.]

[Footnote 42: Mr. Redmond rejected the provisions of the 1893 Bill,
saying in the House of Commons on August 30, 1893, that "as the Bill now
stands, no man in his senses can any longer regard it as a full, final,
or satisfactory settlement of the Irish Nationalist question."]

[Footnote 43: Speech at Belfast, February 8, 1912.]

[Footnote 44: July 18, 1886, at Cockermouth.]

[Footnote 45: See "The Perils of Home Rule," by P. Kerr-Smiley (Cassell,
1911), p. 45, where Lord Morley's opinion to the same effect is quoted.]

[Footnote 46: Speech at Whitechapel (_Times_, October 11, 1911).]

[Footnote 47: Sir John Simon at Dewsbury (_Times_, February 8, 1912).]

[Footnote 48: No such charge of ambiguity applies to the forcible
letters of "Pacificus" on "Federalism and Home Rule" (Murray, 1910).]

[Footnote 49: The changes in the Australian Constitution have been in
favour of greater unity.]




The financial problems connected with the grant of Home Rule in 1912 are
among the most complicated that call for solution, and differ
fundamentally from those which faced the Governments of 1886 and 1893.
And by common consent, the problems are not merely different; they are
immensely more difficult. No clauses in the earlier Bills lent
themselves more readily to destructive criticism; and though the
provisions of the new scheme are still shrouded in mystery, it is
inherent in the conditions under which it must be framed that the
financial clauses will prove to be even less defensible on the grounds
of logic or equity than those of either of its predecessors.

Since the first Home Rule Bill was introduced the interests of
Ireland--social, economic, industrial, and political--have become
increasingly identified with those of the other parts of the United
Kingdom. The commercial, banking, and railway systems of Ireland are
intimately associated with those of the greater and more firmly
established systems of Great Britain. Irish railways are so largely
controlled at the present time by British concerns, and there exist so
many agreements and understandings between them and British companies as
to facilities and rates, that they might be regarded as part of the same
network of communications. Hardly less close are the relations which now
exist between British and Irish banks.

It is not, however, on the commercial side only that greater intimacy
and more firmly established relations exist now than formerly. Irish
industries are agricultural, dairying and manufacturing. In each of
these branches the country is increasingly dependent on the markets of
England and Scotland; while reciprocally the products of the factories
and workshops of Great Britain find in Ireland one of their most
important markets. We do not always sufficiently realise that on the
other side of the St. George's Channel lies a country whose annual
imports amount to sixty-five millions sterling. Even less do we realise
that one-half (thirty-two millions sterling) is the value of the imports
of manufactures, mainly British, into Ireland. This trade in
manufactured goods is not only already enormous; it is rapidly growing.
It has increased by more than four millions in four years. Any
ill-considered legislative measure which interfered with or disturbed
this great volume of trade would no doubt cause serious loss to Ireland;
but it would bring bankruptcy and disaster to many British firms and
their workmen.

It is, nevertheless, in respect of the political changes and the
legislative measures passed in the last quarter of a century that the
most serious obstacles will be found in the way of framing any
satisfactory scheme for financing a measure of Home Rule. The Irish
Local Government system, framed on the British model by the Act of 1898,
the Congested Districts Board, and the Department of Agriculture, have
hitherto depended financially, either wholly or in part, on Imperial
grants in aid. Local taxation payments alone from the Imperial Exchequer
amounted in 1910-11 to £1,478,000. The financial scheme under Home Rule
must obviously contemplate and provide for the continuance of those
grants. Land Purchase schemes have been enacted which have already had
the effect of converting a quarter of a million tenants into owners
under a contingent liability of 120 millions sterling guaranteed by the
Imperial Exchequer. No financial scheme can ignore the fact that the
earliest of the annuities created under the Wyndham Act will not expire
before 1972, so that the Imperial liability for the payment of the bulk
of the annuities already created will continue for at least seventy
years more.

Finally, we are faced with the fact that in the last twenty-five years
the relations of the State to its citizens have been completely
reformed and extended. Social reform is now in the programme of all
parties. Education costs several times as much as in 1885. The aged poor
have been provided with pensions by the State, and the Insurance Act of
last year will shortly call for additional subventions from the Imperial

In addition to the new duties thus undertaken by the State, the cost of
Defence and of the Civil Services has grown by leaps and bounds. We need
not look too closely into the apportionment of these charges whilst we
remain partners in a United Kingdom, but if the partnership is to be
dissolved at the suit of Irish Nationalism, a new balance must be
struck, and on any fair basis the contribution of Ireland under
present-day conditions should far exceed the amount under either of the
schemes for which Mr. Gladstone made himself responsible. Both schemes
recognised the equity of some contribution for these services from
Ireland, and it must be assumed that the same broad principles will be
applied in any scheme which may be framed hereafter.

By way of introduction to any adequate discussion of the possible
financial proposals of any Home Rule measure, it is desirable to set out
in some detail the existing financial relations of Ireland and Great
Britain. The Treasury calculations on this subject are embodied in two
White Papers which have been prepared and published annually during the
last eighteen years. It is true that doubts have from time to time been
cast on the accuracy of these calculations and of the methods by which
the materials on which they are based have been collected. As to this,
it is only necessary to say that the information in the possession of
the Treasury officials is infinitely more voluminous and likely to be
more accurate than any in the possession of private individuals; and
there is no reason to suppose the succession of eminent public servants,
who have been in turn responsible for the preparation of these returns
have been moved in one direction or the other by prepossessions or bias.
Their one attempt has been throughout to present a statement, as
accurate as it is possible to make it on the one hand of the cost of
the existing administration in Ireland and the expenditure incurred
there, and on the other of the revenue derived from persons or property
living or situated in that country. As the Prime Minister said on
November 27 of last year--

     "The utmost pains have been taken to make the estimates of 'true'
     revenue approximately correct, and it is believed that the total
     revenue as given in the revised returns approximates closely to the

So long as Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, such an
investigation has mainly an academic interest. The State is a
homogeneous entity; the taxes imposed on individuals similarly
circumstanced are the same (with some trifling exceptions--all in favour
of Ireland) in whatever quarter of the United Kingdom the individual
resides. But the case is wholly different when a proposal is made to
split up the State into its constituent parts. It then becomes necessary
to inquire if there is any prospect that the constituent parts will have
resources sufficient for the various services, commitments and
liabilities--present and contingent--which do or will belong to them.
And the beginning of any such inquiry is, as has been already said, the
present Irish revenue and expenditure.

The essential figures for such an investigation are contained in the
following statement. This shows separately the expenditure on the
various items which have been the subject of discussion or special
mention in the different financial schemes proposed in connection with
Home Rule. On the revenue side the effect of the delayed collection of
duties under the Budget of 1909-10 has been eliminated by taking the
average revenue in the two years in certain items. The figures of
expenditure relate to the year 1910-11. The corresponding figures for
both collection and contribution are set out in this table in
consequence of the suggestion made in some quarters that we should
revert to the Gladstonian proposal of 1886 and credit Ireland with the
full revenue as collected. Though any such proposal is patently absurd
it is mentioned here for the sake of completeness.

WHITE PAPERS 220 AND 221 OF 1911).

                                 As collected.  As contributed.
                                       £             £
1. Customs[A]                      2,922,000     2,866,000
2. Excise (_ex._ licences)[A]      4,872,000     2,952,000
3. Licence Duties[A]                 284,000       284,000
4. Estate, etc.[A]                   914,000       914,000
5. General Stamps[A]                 310,000       333,000
6. Income Tax[A]                   1,106,000     1,307,000
7. Postal Services                 1,155,000     1,155,000
8. Miscellaneous                     139,000       139,000

   Total                         £11,702,000    £9,950,000

[A] = Average of two years, 1909-10 and 1910-11.

1. Civil list and miscellaneous charges
  (_ex._ Lord-Lieutenant's salary)                 118,500
2. Lord-Lieutenant's salary                         20,000
3. Local Taxation Payments                       1,477,500
4. Public Works                                    415,500
5. Civil Service Departments                       289,500
6. Department of Agriculture                       415,000
7. Police                                        1,464,500
8. Judiciary, etc.                                 924,000
9. Education, etc.                               1,805,000
10. Old Age Pensions                             2,408,000
11. Superannuation, etc.                           103,000
12. Ireland Development Grant                      191,500
13. Miscellaneous                                   12,000
14. Revenue Departments                            298,000
15. Postal Services                              1,404,500

Total                                          £11,346,500

The first striking fact in the foregoing statement is the large
difference between "contributions" and "collections," _i.e._ between the
"true" revenue derived from Ireland and the sums merely collected there.
During the last two financial years this difference amounted to an
average of £1,752,000. The excise collections alone represent an excess
of £1,920,000 over the actual contribution. This, of course, arises from
the movements of duty-paid spirits and beer between different parts of
the United Kingdom. The last Report of the Commissioners of Customs and
Excise (Cd. 5827) gives the amount of home-made spirits on which duty
has been paid in Ireland at 5,209,000 proof gallons, whereas the
quantity retained for consumption was only 2,776,000 proof gallons. A
similar but smaller difference exists in the case of beer. To credit
Ireland with the full amounts of the duties collected in Ireland, as was
done by Mr. Gladstone in 1886, and as is now proposed in some quarters,
would, in effect, amount to a gift from the British Exchequer of
£1,750,000 a year. And there is obviously no security that the Irish
Exchequer could rely on this boon being continued for more than a short
time. There would be nothing to prevent the British spirit merchant from
removing his spirits to this country in bond and paying the duty here
after arrival. It is obvious that the Treasury would be compelled to
grant facilities for this course. The present system is merely one of
book-keeping and administrative convenience, but as the withdrawal of
this sum from the British Exchequer to which it properly belongs would
have to be made good from other British sources, there would be every
inducement for the British merchant to effect such slight changes of
method as would transfer the whole of this sum from the Irish to the
British Exchequer. Having regard to the fact that on the other sources
of revenue the collections in Ireland are estimated to fall short of the
actual contributions by nearly £200,000, and that these are in the main
direct taxes paid by the individuals concerned, it is not unlikely that
a scheme which gave to Ireland the full benefit of her revenues as
collected would in a short time be converted from a gain of some
£1,700,000 to a loss of £100,000 to £200,000 to the Irish taxpayer.
Stability in the tax system and reliability upon the realisation of the
estimated revenue could not be assumed if "collections" instead of
"contributions" were to be made the basis of any financial arrangements.

Turning next to the contributed revenue upon which alone an Irish
Parliament could rely, we note first the large proportion of the revenue
represented by Customs and Excise. Contrasted with the figures for Great
Britain, it is seen by the following table that whereas in Ireland the
revenue from Customs and Excise amounts to 60 per cent. of the total, in
Great Britain the proportion was not more than 36 per cent.


                              Ireland.    Great Britain.
                              Per cent.   Per cent.

Customs                        29          18-1/2
Excise (_ex._ licences)        30          17-1/2
Estate, etc., duties            9          14-1/2
Income tax                     13          23-1/2
Postal, etc.                   11          15
Other sources                   8          11
                              ---         ---
                              100         100

Exclusive of the licence duties the average yield (contribution) of
Customs and Excise in Great Britain amounted in the last two years to
£55,900,000, or at the rate of £1 7_s._ 5_d._ per head; in Ireland the
average yield was £5,800,000, or at the rate of £1 7_s._ 10_d._ per
head. The incidence of our consumption taxes is thus seen to be at the
present time practically the same in Ireland as in Great Britain; and
the much larger proportion of the Irish revenue obtained from them is
due to the smaller relative yield of direct taxes. Ireland being mainly
an agricultural country, income tax, death duties, and stamps yield much
less per head of the population there than in Great Britain. Such
conditions are highly suggestive of inelasticity. An Irish Chancellor of
the Exchequer will find no such fiscal reserves in direct taxes as does
his more fortunate British colleague. This conclusion should give pause
to those who think that if the Customs and Excise continued to be
controlled from Westminster, it would be still possible to extract the
larger revenue needed for the growing expenditure of Ireland by higher
rates of income tax and death duties. Such a course would increase the
burdens of the direct taxpayers of Ireland, but it would not fill the
Irish Treasury. On the other hand, it is clear that there is no chance
of relief being afforded to the Irish indirect taxpayer under Home Rule,
supposing Customs and Excise were handed over to the Irish Parliament.
Yet whenever a British Chancellor of the Exchequer has found it
necessary to increase any of the taxes on consumption, the protests from
the Irish benches have been invariably both loud and vehement. Irish
members have pointed to the low wages earned in Ireland, the greater
addiction of the people to tea and spirits, and the higher toll of their
earnings consequently extracted by the Exchequer. The yield of existing
taxes, therefore, whether direct or indirect, is not elastic in Ireland.
Neither of them afford sufficient resources to meet the necessities of
an Irish Parliament.

There are, of course, other reasons why there should be no delegation of
the power to impose Customs and Excise. The constitutional objections to
such a course are overwhelming. It would involve the abandonment of the
plea that Home Rule for Ireland was the prelude to Home Rule all round;
in other words, that separation was the condition precedent to
federalism. In every federal system in the world the control of Customs
and Excise has been retained by the central authority. This is true not
only of the quasi-federations within the British Empire; it is equally
true of the United States, Germany, and Switzerland. One can scarcely be
surprised at the emphatic repudiation which such a proposal received at
the hands of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. J.M.
Robertson) when, on February 7, 1912, in a speech at Lincoln, he said--

     "There was, however, just one thing that must remain one for three
     kingdoms, and that was the fiscal system, Customs and Excise. _It
     was a federal union we want, a federal state._ If they were to do
     as some of his unreflecting Home Rule friends, Irish and English,
     have done, and demand that Ireland should not only have power to
     lay taxes but to fix Customs and Excise then they had no State left
     at all."

Another obvious objection to such a course is that it necessitates the
erection of a Customs barrier between Ireland and Great Britain. Tariff
Reformers are ready to admit that the present fiscal system is at least
as injurious to Ireland as to other portions of the United Kingdom. The
power to impose Customs duties on British goods--and the proportion of
British total imports is so large that if this power were limited to
foreign goods it would be financially valueless--would no doubt provide
the Irish Exchequer with considerable funds and might be used to develop
her prosperity. But the separation of the Customs systems for the
purpose of enabling Ireland to impose tariffs in her own interests would
necessarily be followed by a demand for treaty-making powers such as
have been successfully claimed and are now enjoyed by British Dominions
overseas. Under a general tariff for the United Kingdom the same
advantages would accrue to Ireland without any corresponding damage to
British or Imperial interests.

Thus, whether Customs and Excise are handed over to the Irish Parliament
or retained by the Imperial Parliament, the consequences are equally
embarrassing. In the one case Ireland would be deprived of the control
of some 60 per cent. of her present revenue, and of all power of
expansion; in the other, British trade with Ireland might be gravely
injured by hostile legislation, and the union of the three kingdoms in
financial and commercial policy would be destroyed. But this is not
federation, nor is it a step towards it. It is separation pure and
simple. Unless we are prepared to accept separation as the end of our
policy the control of Customs and therefore of Excise, must remain an
Imperial affair.

There can, therefore, be no justification for taking the control of the
Customs and Excise from the Imperial Parliament. The Irish Parliament
would thus be left with some 40 per cent. of present revenue under her
own control. But the power to raise further revenue within the limits
legally reserved to the Irish Parliament would be even less than this
figure would imply. For of the £4,100,000 of revenue other than Customs
and Excise, nearly £1,200,000 comes from the Postal Services; and even
if these services were controlled by Ireland, it may be taken that the
rates charged will be the same as in Great Britain. Of the remaining
£2,900,000 nearly one-half comes from income tax. It has already been
pointed out that its yield cannot be materially increased. There are
only two ways by which an Irish Chancellor might attempt such a task. He
might raise the rate of income tax or he might lower the exemption
limit. The former course would almost certainly be followed by two
equally undesirable results. So far as the tax continued to be paid in
Ireland it would fall with crushing force on the already
heavily-burdened agricultural industry. Still, from the point of view of
the Exchequer, there might be some additional revenue on this account.
On the other hand, there would be a check to the investment of capital
in Ireland--and no country needs capital more--and a powerful temptation
to transfer it where the tax would be lower. It may be seriously
questioned, therefore, whether any increase in the income tax above the
British rate is practicable. The other alternative, namely, the lowering
of the exemption limit, would be so unpopular that no Irish Chancellor
is ever likely to consider it seriously.

Passing from the consideration of revenue it is necessary to examine the
relation of present revenue to present expenditure. The first table in
the present article shows that the ascertainable expenditure for Irish
purposes in 1910-11 was about £1,400,000 more than the revenue. To this
expenditure must be added about £300,000 for the State Share of the
benefits under Part I. of the National Insurance Act, about £50,000 in
respect of Part II., and about £100,000 for cost of administration of
both parts, increasing the immediate deficit to about £1,550,000. This
calculation, moreover, includes no charge against Irish revenue on
account of Imperial Services--navy and army; National Debt, interest and
management; the diplomatic services, and so forth. The equity of such
payments has been consistently recognised in the two Bills and the three
financial schemes submitted by Mr. Gladstone. However moderate the scale
of contribution it would in the present case double or treble the margin
between Irish revenue and Irish expenditure for local purposes. If, for
example, the precedent of the 1886 Bill were followed, and Ireland
charged with a contribution for Imperial services in proportion to the
estimated relative taxable capacities, the additional charges on the
Irish Exchequer would amount to not less than about £4,000,000 on the
1910-11 figures if the taxable capacity of Ireland be taken at
one-twenty-fifth, and to nearly £3,500,000 if it be taken at

It may be worth while here to refer to the amazing statement that Great
Britain has made a large "profit out of the Union." At the last meeting
of the British Association, Prof. Oldham affected to prove that Ireland
"in the course of one hundred years ... had sent across the Channel as
her contribution to the British Exchequer a clear net payment of about
330 millions sterling." The same contention has been urged by Lord
MacDonnell. This calculation ignores the fact that even the Irish
Parliament between 1782 and 1800 acknowledged its obligation to
contribute to Imperial services, and voted contributions for Imperial
purposes, besides raising and maintaining in Ireland a force of 12,000
to 15,000 men, some of whom were available for foreign service. It makes
no allowance also for the debt which Ireland brought into the Union
when the Exchequers were amalgamated in 1817. The importance of the last
item may be judged from the fact that if the whole of the so-called
contribution to Imperial services, _i.e._ the excess of true revenue
over local expenditure, had been employed since 1817 in paying interest
at 3 per cent. on the old Irish debt and the whole of any balance
remaining after payment of interest had been used for redemption of the
capital, this debt would only have been extinguished in 1886. If a
contribution of only 1 per cent. to the cost of Imperial services had
been previously charged against this excess, there would be a large
balance of the Irish debt still outstanding. As a matter of fact, in the
same period that Ireland is said to have contributed £330,000,000, Great
Britain may be shown by a precisely similar calculation to have
contributed no less than £5,800,000,000 for Imperial purposes. The
measure of "injustice to Ireland" meted out by unsympathetic Britons in
respect to the Imperial contribution extracted from Ireland may be seen
from the following comparison for different dates in the last century.


                   Ratio of British to           Ratio of British to
                   Irish Populations.            Irish Contributions.

1819-20                  2·1                             12·7
1829-30                  2·1                             10·9
1839-40                  2·3                             11·5
1849-50                  3·2                             17·6
1859-60                  4·0                              9·8
1869-70                  4·8                             12·3
1879-80                  5·7                             16·3
1889-90                  7·0                             22·6
1899-00                  8·9                             46·5
1909-10                  9·3                             [52]

The truth is that from a financial point of view Ireland has no valid
complaint to make on the score of her contributions for Imperial
purposes. Between 1820 and 1840 the Irish population was a little less
than one-half of the population of Great Britain; her contribution for
Imperial Services varied from one-eleventh to one-thirteenth. In
1899-1900 the British contribution was 46-1/2 times the Irish, though
the population was less than nine times as large. If any contribution
for Imperial Services from Ireland is justified, and Mr. Gladstone at
least acknowledged it, no one can say that the contribution actually
taken from Ireland has been excessive.

As already stated we are still without any information as to the
financial proposals to be included in the Home Rule Bill of 1912. The
Government have appointed a Committee to advise them upon this subject.
Though the cost of the Committee has been met out of public funds, and
sources of information were laid open to them which are not readily
available to the public, the Prime Minister has steadily refused to
supply to Parliament any information as to the results of their
labours.[53] The terms of reference to the Commission; the witnesses
examined by them; the information placed at their disposal; the
character of the conclusions and recommendations; these have, all alike,
been refused to the House of Commons. But while Parliament has been
denied this information, there is every reason to believe that the
leaders of the Nationalist Party have been taken fully into the
confidence of the Government. We do not know whether, for example, the
Customs or Excise or both will be imposed and collected by the future
Irish Parliament. We do not know whether any contribution will be
required for the Irish share of Imperial services. We are equally
uncertain whether any and what purely Irish services will be retained by
the Imperial Parliament, and charged on the Imperial Exchequer. And
lastly, the intentions of the Government in regard to the payment of a
subsidy from the Imperial Exchequer to the Irish Parliament, with which
rumour is busy, are as yet unrevealed.

In spite of this lamentable paucity of information as to the Government
plan, I think it can be safely said that no scheme even remotely
resembling any of those presented in connection with the two previous
Bills can be put forward now. Each of those schemes would involve the
Irish Parliament in a huge deficit from the very outset. Even if the
schemes were adapted to the changed modern conditions the same
impassable gap between available revenue and certain expenditure
remains. Those schemes presumably embodied principles which the
Governments of 1886 and 1893, and the Nationalist parties of those dates
regarded as adequate. It would be strange if it were otherwise, seeing
that an examination and comparison of the separate schemes can discover
no other consistent principles except the solitary one of juggling with
the revenues, expenditures, and contributions in such manner as would
start the Irish Parliament with a small surplus. In view of the
importance of these earlier attempts to secure an approximation to
financial equilibrium, it appears desirable to examine how Ireland would
fare in modern conditions under each of them.

The essential features of the 1886 scheme were as follows:--

1. Customs and Excise to be under the complete control of the Imperial

2. Irish Parliament to have power to levy any other taxes.

3. Ireland to contribute annually to the Consolidated Fund of the United

(_a_) £1,466,000 for interest and management of Irish share of National

(_b_) £1,466,000 for contribution to Imperial Defence.

(_c_) £110,000 for contribution to Imperial Civil Services.

(_d_) £1,000,000 for Irish Constabulary.

4. Contributions 3 (_a_) to 3 (_d_) were not to be increased for thirty
years, but might be diminished.

5. Irish share of National Debt to be reckoned at £48,000,000, and Irish
Sinking Fund to begin at £360,000, increasing by amount of interest
released on redeemed portion of debt.

6. Contribution to Imperial Defence and Civil Services not to exceed
one-fifteenth of the total cost in any year.

7. Irish contribution to be credited with receipts on account of Crown
Revenues in Ireland.

8. If expenditure on Constabulary fell below £1,000,000, contribution 3
(_d_) to be correspondingly reduced.

9. Customs and Excise _collected_ in Ireland were to be subject to
following charges:--

(_a_) Cost of collection, not more than 4 per cent.

(_b_) Contributions to Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

(_c_) Payments to National Debt Commissioners.

(_d_) Any sums required under the Land Act of that Session the balance
being paid over to the Irish Government.

10. The Lord Lieutenant's salary not to fall on the Irish Exchequer.

Broadly the scheme gave to the Irish Government credit for the Customs
and Excise _collected_ in Ireland and charged it with annual payments of
£4,502,000 in addition to the cost of collection. It is clear that Mr.
Gladstone, at the time when the Irish population was about one-eighth of
the United Kingdom, assumed Ireland to have a taxable capacity of
one-fifteenth. If such a scheme were introduced at the present moment it
is obvious that, owing to the further decline in the population of
Ireland, a smaller figure for taxable capacity must be taken. What that
figure should be it is difficult, if not impossible, to decide
satisfactorily. It is generally assumed that on the basis of the
calculations made by the Financial Relations Commission in 1896, the
present relative taxable capacity for Ireland would be about
one-twenty-fifth that of the United Kingdom. In the last two financial
years the Irish contribution to Income Tax has been one-twenty-eighth,
and the contribution to Estate Duties one-twenty-sixth of the total
collection in the United Kingdom. These proportions, taken as measures
of taxable capacity must be exceptionally favourable to Ireland, where
the proportion of Income Tax payers and of persons possessing property
paying Death Duties is relatively to the total population smaller than in
the United Kingdom as a whole. If, therefore, for the sake of the present
calculations the mean of two proportions--_i.e._ one-twenty-seventh
deducible from the Income Tax and Death Duty contributions is assumed,
we employ a figure exceptionally favourable to Ireland. The financial
statement on the next page showing the 1886 scheme applied to present
conditions has been drawn up on this basis. The revenue is here assumed
to come in at the average rate of the last two years (1909-10 and
1910-11) and the expenditure is taken as that of 1910-11.

The state of the Irish Exchequer under the foregoing scheme would be
indeed a parlous one. It would start with a deficit of £3,200,000, and
with a prospective immediate increase by about £450,000 on account of
the Insurance Act. The actual budget deficit would thus be about
£3,650,000. The Imperial Parliament would collect about £7,794,000, and
after deducting £5,346,000 would hand back to the Irish Exchequer the
difference of £2,458,000. The revenues upon which the Chancellor in the
Irish Parliament could rely would be, therefore, £6,366,000. Out of this
an expenditure of £9,562,000 would have to be met. The postal services
would probably not stand any increased charges; there is left,
therefore, only £5,211,000 of free revenue, and only £2,753,000 under
the unrestricted control of the Irish Parliament. With such resources it
would be obviously impossible to make good a deficit of £3,206,000 by
any increase of taxation. It must not be overlooked, also, that the
effect of crediting Ireland with Customs and Excise as "collected"
instead of as "contributed" is practically to make the Irish Parliament
a further free gift of nearly £2,000,000.

A totally different scheme accompanied the Home Rule Bill of 1893 as
introduced. The principal features of the new scheme were as follows:--

1. Customs, excise, and postage to be imposed by the Imperial

2. Excise and postage to be collected and managed by the Irish

3. Customs to be collected and retained by the Imperial Parliament in
view of contribution to Imperial services.

4. Excise duties collected in Ireland on articles consumed in Great
Britain to be handed over to Imperial Exchequer.

5. If Excise duties be increased the yield of the excess duties to be
handed over to the Imperial Exchequer.

6. If Excise duties be reduced and Irish revenue diminished, the
deficiency to be made good to Irish revenue.

7. Two-thirds of the cost of the Constabulary to be repaid to the
Imperial Exchequer.

Some of the provisions of this scheme are of exceptional interest. If it
had ever been in operation the plan, for example, of adjusting the
payments from one exchequer to the other in the event of changes being
enacted by the Imperial Parliament in the Excise duties must have been
fruitful of difficulties and created much friction. If the duties had
been reduced there might have been an increased consumption. Who can say
how much of the revenue lost to the Irish Exchequer in the event of a
reduction of duties would have been due to the reduced rates of duty,
and how much had been regained by increased consumption. Again, if the
Excise duties had been increased, as in the Budget of 1909, to such a
degree that the total revenue at the higher duty was less than the total
revenue from the lower duty, who could have determined whether this was
a case requiring a payment from the Irish to the British Exchequer, or
from the British to the Irish Exchequer.

Perhaps the most striking novelty of the first scheme of 1893 was the
retention of the Customs duties in lieu of Ireland's contribution to
Imperial Services. At that time the estimated value of the Customs
contributed by Ireland was £2,400,000, and seeing that in 1886 her
reasonable share of liability on account of Imperial Services was put at
£4,600,000, the very large gift to Ireland represented by this scheme
may be readily imagined. Even with the full advantage of this gift the
estimated Irish surplus was put at £500,000. During the discussions of
the Bill an error in the Excise contributions, reducing the revenue
available to the Irish Exchequer by £356,000 was discovered. The reduced
surplus of £144,000 was regarded by Mr. Gladstone as "cutting it too
fine," and the financial scheme was completely recast. Before explaining
the third scheme it might be well to examine as before how the original
scheme of 1893 would work out at the present time. This is shown in the
following balance sheet.


REVENUE.                      £       EXPENDITURE.                   £

1.  Excise (true revenue              1. Civil Government
        _ex._ licences)    2,952,000     charges (_ex._ Constabulary
2.  Local Taxes--                        and Lord
       (_a_) Stamps          333,000     Lieutenant's salary)     6,952,000
       (_b_) Death Duties    914,000  2. Collection of Ireland
       (_c_) Income Tax    1,307,000     Revenues, etc.             298,000
       (_d_) Excise licences 284,000  3. Postal Services          1,404,000
3. Postal Revenue          1,155,000  4. Contribution to Constabulary
4. Miscellaneous             150,000     (2/3rds of
                           ---------     £1,464,500)                976,000
   Deficit                 2,535,000
                           ---------                              ---------
                           9,630,000                              9,630,000

The narrow surplus of £144,000 has disappeared, and instead there is on
present-day figures the substantial deficit of £2,535,000. Here again it
may be observed that the Excise duties are fixed by the Imperial
Parliament, and the Postal charges are presumably also invariable. The
first Budget deficit would, as before, be not less than £3,000,000. The
taxes within the absolute control of the Irish Parliament would have
been producing a revenue of £2,838,000. It is within this range of
taxation, or by the imposition of new direct taxes, that the Irish
Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been compelled to raise an
additional £3,000,000 in order to make the two sides of his account

Owing to the mistake already referred to, Mr. Gladstone prepared and
presented a third scheme, whose principal features were as follows:--

1. Ireland's contribution to Imperial expenditure to be one-third of
the true revenue of taxes levied in Ireland.

2. Ireland to be credited with miscellaneous receipts and surplus (if
any) arising from postal services.

3. Ireland to pay out of revenues credited to her, two-thirds of the
cost of the Constabulary, all Civil Government charges and any deficit
on postal services.

4. The Customs and Inland Revenue duties and the rates for Postal
charges to be fixed and collected by Imperial Parliament.

5. After six years (1) Irish contribution to Imperial Services to be
revised; (2) the collection of Inland Revenue duties to be undertaken by
Irish Government; (3) Irish legislation to impose the stamp duties,
income tax, and excise licences. The financial clauses as thus
remodelled and simplified were expected to produce a surplus of
£512,000. The characteristic feature of this arrangement was the
provision for handing over to the Imperial Exchequer one-third of the
Irish true tax revenue as Ireland's payment on account of Imperial
Services. How matters would stand if this arrangement were applied to
the present financial situation in Ireland may be seen from the
following table.


REVENUE.                          £           EXPENDITURE            £

1. Customs                     2,866,000  1. Civil Government
2. Excise (_ex._ licence                       Charges            6,952,000
     duties)                   2,952,000  2. Constabulary (2/3rds
3. Stamps                        333,000       of £1,464,000)       976,000
4. Death duties                  914,000  3. Estimated deficit on
5. Licence duties                284,000       Postal Services      249,000
6. Income Tax                  1,307,000
7. Crown Lands, etc.              25,000
8. 2/3rds of £8,965,000        5,757,000
9. Miscellaneous Receipts
   Deficit                     2,275,000
                               ---------                          ---------
   Total                       8,177,000       Total              8,177,000
                               ---------                          ---------

The main Irish objection to a scheme of this description is that,
whatever tax be imposed, the amount taken from the Irish taxpayer would
be 50 per cent. greater than the amount going into the Irish Exchequer.
It is easy to foresee that such an arrangement would have led to much
friction and difficulty, and that it could not have lasted even the six
years for which it was provisionally fixed. If applied to the present
situation Ireland would have been contributing less than £3,000,000 for
Imperial services, although a very moderate estimate of what her
contribution should be would require her to pay at least £5,000,000. In
spite of this modest payment, however, this scheme would have confronted
the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer with a deficit of more than
£2,250,000 rising at once to £2,700,000 in consequence of the Insurance

In reviewing the three financial schemes which have previously seen the
light, the following facts stand out clearly:--

1. Some contribution was expected from Ireland for Imperial services in
each scheme.

2. The rates of customs, excise, and postage were in all cases to be
controlled by the Imperial Parliament.

3. The customs were in every case to be collected by officers of the
Imperial Exchequer.

4. In the two schemes of 1893 "true" revenue and not "collected" revenue
was the basis of the financial arrangement.

5. Each of these schemes would involve the Irish Parliament from the
outset in a huge deficit.

In view of these facts it is certain that any arrangement which
pretended to give a Budget surplus to the Irish Parliament would
involve, overtly or covertly, the payment of a large subsidy to Ireland
out of the Imperial Exchequer. Such a contingency is not likely to make
Home Rule more acceptable, or the path of any Bill through Parliament
more easy.


[Footnote 50: See Parliamentary Debates.]

[Footnote 51: Based on White Papers 233 (1910) and 220 (1911).]

[Footnote 52: No contribution from Ireland in this year; local
expenditure is estimated to have been in excess of revenue contributed.]

[Footnote 53: Since the above was written, Mr. Birrell has promised
(March 27, 1912) to publish the report "some time" after the
introduction of the Home Rule Bill.]




There is no argument in favour of Home Rule for Ireland which is more
frequently used to-day than that which is based on the analogy of our
Colonial experience. In the history of every one of our Colonies--so
runs one variant of the argument--from Lord Durham's report on Canada
down to the grant of responsible government to the Transvaal, "Home
Rule" has turned disaffection into loyalty, and has inaugurated a career
of prosperity. Why should we then hesitate to apply to Irish discontent
the "freedom" which has proved so sovereign a remedy elsewhere? Again,
if our Dominions have been able to combine local Home Rule with national
unity--so runs another variant--why should a policy which works
successfully in Canada or Australia not work in the United Kingdom?
Another suggestion freely thrown out is that Home Rule is only the
beginning of a process of federalisation which is to bring us to the
goal of Imperial Federation. In one form or another the Colonial Analogy
occupies the foreground of almost every speech or article in favour of
Irish Home Rule. The ablest, as well as the most courageous, piece of
Home Rule advocacy which has so far appeared, Mr. Erskine Childers's
"Framework of Home Rule," is based from first to last on this analogy
and on little else.

That the argument is effective cannot be gainsaid. It is the argument
which appeals most strongly to the great body of thoughtful Liberals who
from every other point of view look upon the project with unconcealed
misgiving. It is the argument which has appealed to public opinion in
the Dominions, and has there secured public resolutions and private
subscriptions for the Nationalist cause. In one of its forms it appealed
to the imagination of an Imperialist like Cecil Rhodes. In another it
has, undoubtedly, in recent years attracted not a few Unionists who have
been prepared to approach with, at any rate, an open mind the
consideration of a federal constitution for the United Kingdom. And,
indeed, if the analogy really applied, it would be difficult to resist
the conclusion. If Ireland has really been denied something which has
proved the secret of Colonial loyalty and prosperity, what Englishman
would be so short-sighted as to wish to deprive her of it for the mere
sake of domination? If Home Rule were really a stepping-stone towards
Imperial Federation, how insincere our professions of "thinking
Imperially," if we are not prepared to sacrifice a merely local
sentiment of union for a great all-embracing ideal!

But, as a matter of fact, there is no such analogy bearing on the
question which, here and now, is at issue. On the contrary the whole
trend of Colonial experience confirms, in the most striking fashion, the
essential soundness of the position which Unionists have maintained
throughout, that the material, social and moral interests, alike of
Ireland and of Great Britain, demand that they should remain members of
one effective, undivided legislative and administrative organisation.

The whole argument, indeed, plausible as it is, is based on a series of
confusions, due, in part, to deliberate obscuring of the issue, in part
to the vagueness of the phrase "Home Rule," and to the general ignorance
of the origin and real nature of the British Colonial system. There are,
indeed, three main confusions of thought. There is, first of all, the
confusion between "free" or "self-governing" institutions, as contrasted
with unrepresentative or autocratic rule, and separate government,
whether for all or for specified purposes, as contrasted with a common
government. In the next place there is the confusion between the status
of a self-governing Dominion, in its relations to the Imperial
Government, and the status of a Colonial state or provincial government
towards the Dominion of which it forms a part. A truly inimitable
instance of this confusion has been provided by Mr. Redmond in a
declaration made on more than one occasion that all that Ireland asks
for, is, "What has already been given to twenty-eight different portions
of the Empire."[54] Considering that the "portions" thus enumerated
include practically sovereign nation states like Canada, provinces like
those of the South African Union, with little more than county council
powers, and stray survivals, like the Isle of Man, of an earlier system
of government, based on the same principle of ascendency and
interference as the government of Ireland under Poynings's Act, it is
difficult to know which to admire most, Mr. Redmond's assurance, or his
cynical appreciation of the ignorance or capacity for deliberate
self-deception of those with whom he has to deal. The third confusion is
that between Imperial functions and national or Dominion functions, due
to the fact that the two are combined in the United Kingdom Parliament,
which is also, under present conditions, the Imperial Parliament, and to
the consequent habitual use of the word "Imperial" in two quite
different senses. It is this last confusion which makes such a
declaration as Mr. Asquith's about safeguarding "the indefeasible
authority of the Imperial Parliament" a mere equivocation, for it
affords no indication as to whether the supremacy retained is the
effective and direct control maintained by Canada over Ontario, or the
much slighter and vaguer supremacy exercised by the United Kingdom over
the Dominions. It is this same confusion, too, which is responsible for
the notion that the problem of creating a true Imperial Parliament or
Council by a federation of the Dominions would be assisted, either by
creating an additional Dominion in the shape of Ireland, or by
arranging the internal constitution of the United Kingdom, as one of the
federating Dominions, on a federal rather than on a unitary basis.

The confusion of ideas between self-government and separate government
pervades the whole argument that the granting of "Home Rule" to Ireland
would be analogous to the grant of responsible institutions to the
Colonies. The essence of Home Rule is the creation of a separate
government for Ireland. The essence of our Colonial policy has been the
establishment of popular self-government in the Colonies. That this
self-government has been effected through local parliaments and local
executives, and not by representation in a common parliament, is a
consequence of the immense distances and the profound differences in
local conditions separating the Dominions from the Mother Country. It is
an adaptation of the policy to peculiar conditions, and not an essential
principle of the policy itself.

This is obvious from any consideration of the circumstances under which
the policy of Colonial self-government originated. Under the old
Colonial system which preceded it, the Governor not only controlled the
executive government, whose members were simply his official
subordinates, but also controlled legislation through a nominated Upper
Chamber or Legislative Council. The object of this restrictive policy
was not interference with local affairs, but the supposed necessity of
safeguarding general Imperial interests. Local affairs were, in the
main, left to the local government. But the peculiar constitution of
that government rendered it almost inevitable that the practical control
of those affairs should fall into the hands of a narrowly limited class,
clustering round the Governor and his circle, and by its privileges and
prejudices creating in those excluded from that class a spirit of
opposition, which extended from its members to the whole Imperial system
which they were supposed to personify. In each of the North American
Colonies a small oligarchy, generally known as the "Family Compact,"
was able to "monopolise the Executive Council, the Legislative Council,
the Bench, the Bar, and all offices of profit." It was against this
system, and not against the Imperial connection or even against undue
interference from England, that the Canadian rebellion of 1837 was
directed. In 1838 Lord Durham made his famous report in which he
attributed the troubles to their true cause, the disregard of public
opinion, and proposed that the Governor should in future govern, in
local affairs, in accordance with the advice given by Colonial Ministers
enjoying the confidence of the popular Assembly. A few years later his
policy was put into execution by Lord Elgin in Canada, and rapidly
extended to other Colonies. Five years ago the same system of government
was applied to the Transvaal and to the Orange River Colony.[55]

From the foregoing brief summary, it is sufficiently clear that the
really vital feature of the policy inaugurated by Lord Durham was the
acceptance of responsible popular government in local affairs, and not
the separation of Colonial government from Imperial control. The policy
did not involve the setting up of new legislative machinery or a new
definition of Imperial relations. For an existing system of separate
government in local affairs, which created friction and discontent, it
simply substituted a new system which has, in the main, worked smoothly
up to the present. From the success of this policy, what possible direct
inference can be drawn as to the effect of setting up in Ireland, not a
similar system of government, for Ireland already enjoys political
institutions as fully representative as those of any Colony, or of any
other portion of the United Kingdom, but a separate centre of

At the same time the success of responsible government in the Colonies
is, on closer examination, by no means without bearing on the problem of
Ireland. That system of Colonial responsible government which seems to
us so simple and obvious is, on the contrary, one of the most artificial
systems the world has ever known, based as it is upon conditions which
have never been present before in the world's history, and which are now
rapidly disappearing, never, perhaps, to recur. That a popular assembly
in complete control of the executive, should respect an unwritten
convention limiting its powers and rights to purely local affairs, and
submit to a purely external control of its wider interests and
destinies, seemed to most of Lord Durham's contemporaries almost
unthinkable. Not only those who opposed the policy, but many of those
who advocated it, were convinced that it would lead to complete
separation. Nor were their fears or hopes by any means ill-grounded.
That they were not justified by the event was due to an altogether
exceptional combination of factors. The first of these was the
overwhelming supremacy of the United Kingdom in commerce and naval
power, and its practical monopoly of political influence in the outer
world. Sheltered by an invincible navy, far removed from the sound of
international conflict, the Colonies had no practical motive for
concerning themselves with foreign affairs, or with any but purely local
measures of defence. Even when, as in 1854, they were technically
involved by the United Kingdom in war with a great Power, they were not
so much as inconvenienced. The United Kingdom, on the other hand,
incurred no serious expenditure for their defence beyond what was in any
case required for the defence of its sea-borne commerce, nor was its
foreign policy at any time seriously deflected by regard for Colonial
considerations. Even when the Colonies encroached on the original limits
set them, and began to establish protectionist tariffs against the
Mother Country, British manufacturers could afford to disregard a
handicap of which they were at first scarcely sensible, while British
statesmen smiled condescendingly at the harmless aberrations of Colonial
inexperience. Another factor was the very fact that it was colonies that
the United Kingdom was dealing with, new countries where every other
interest was secondary to that of opening up and developing the untamed
wilderness, to creating the material framework which, in fulness of
time, might support a complete national life. There was consequently
little real interest in external policy in the Colonial assemblies,
little leisure for criticism of the Imperial authorities, little desire
to assert any particular point of view. Last, but not least, was the
factor of distance, interposing a veil of obscurity between the
different communities in the Empire; mitigating minor causes of
friction, keeping Colonial politics free from being entangled in the
British Party system.

The British system of Colonial self-government has so far proved
workable because of the exceptional circumstances in which it
originated. But its success cannot be regarded as wholly unqualified.
The failure to provide any direct representation of Colonial interests
and aspirations in the Imperial Parliament may not have mattered as far
as foreign policy and defence were concerned. But it did affect the
colonies most seriously from the economic point of view, for it
precluded them from pressing with any effect for the development of
inter-Imperial communications, or from resisting the abolition of the
system of preferential trade which meant so much to their prosperity.
Under the influence of a narrowly selfish and short-sighted policy,
inspired by English manufacturing interests, Canada saw the stream of
commerce and population pass by her shores on its way to the United
States. The relative progress of the British Colonies and of the United
States since the abolition of preference is some measure of the economic
weakness of a political system which has no common trade policy. In any
case the British Colonial system, as we have known it is inevitably
moving towards its crisis. The conditions under which it originated are
fast disappearing. The commercial and political expansion of Europe, of
America, of Asia, are bringing the Dominions more and more into the
arena of international conflict. The growth of foreign navies is forcing
them to realise the necessity of taking a larger part in their own
defence. Their growing national self-consciousness demands not only that
they should cease to be dependent on the Mother Country for their
safety, but also that they should exercise control over the foreign
policy of which defence is merely the instrument. There are only two
possible solutions to the problem which is now developing: the one is
complete separation, the other is partnership in an Imperial Union in
which British subjects in the Dominions shall stand on exactly the same
footing, and enjoy the same powers and privileges in Imperial affairs,
as British subjects in the United Kingdom.

The conditions--geographical, economic, political--which, in the
Colonies, made the grant of free institutions, unaccompanied by some
form of political federation or union, even a temporary success, were,
indeed, exceptional. None of them were present in the circumstances of
Ireland before the Union. They are not present to-day. Geographically
the United Kingdom is a single compact island group, of which Ireland is
by no means the most outlying portion. No part of Ireland is to-day, or
ever was, as inaccessible from the political centre of British power as
the remoter parts of the Highlands, not to speak of the Shetlands or
Hebrides. Racially, no less than physically, Ireland is an integral part
of the United Kingdom, peopled as it is with the same mixture of racial
elements as the main island of the group. The blend of Celt with Dane,
with Normans and English of the Pale, with English citizens of the
seaports and Cromwellian settlers, which constitutes Celtic Ireland,
so-called, is less Celtic both in speech and in blood than either Wales
or the Highlands. Religion alone has maintained a difference between a
predominantly Celtic and a predominantly Teutonic Ireland which would
otherwise have disappeared far more completely than the difference
between Celtic and Teutonic Scotland. Economically, the connection
between Ireland and Great Britain, always close, has become such that
to-day Ireland subsists almost wholly upon the English market. In these
respects, at least, there is no resemblance between the conditions of
Ireland and that of any of the Colonies.

On the other hand, politically, Ireland was for centuries treated as a
colony--"the first and nearest of the Colonies," as Mr. Childers puts
it. The difficulties and defects of early Colonial government were
intensified by the great conflict of the Reformation, which made Ireland
a centre of foreign intrigue, and by the long religious and
constitutional struggle of the seventeenth century, which fell with
terrible severity upon a population which had throughout espoused the
losing cause. Cromwell; realising that "if there is to be a prosperous,
strong and United Kingdom there must be one Parliament and one
Parliament only," freed Ireland from the Colonial status. Unfortunately,
his policy was reversed in 1660, and for over a century Ireland endured
the position of "least favoured Colony"--least favoured, partly because,
with the possible exception of linen, all her industries were
competitive with, and not complementary to English industries, and so
were deliberately crushed in accordance with the common economic policy
of the time, partly because the memories of past struggles kept England
suspicious and jealous of Irish prosperity. Every evil under which the
old colonial system laboured in Canada before the rebellion was
intensified in Ireland by the religious and racial feud between the mass
of the people and the ascendant caste. The same solvent of free
government that Durham recommended was needed by Ireland. In view of the
geographical and economic position of Ireland, and in the political
circumstances of the time, it could only be applied through union with
Great Britain. Union had been vainly prayed for by the Irish Parliament
at the time of the Scottish Union. Most thoughtful students, not least
among them Adam Smith,[56] had seen in it the only cure for the evils
which afflicted the hapless island.

Meanwhile, in 1782, the dominant caste utilised the Ulster volunteer
movement to wrest from Great Britain, then in the last throes of the war
against France, Spain, and America, the independence of the Irish
Parliament. Theoretically co-equal with the British Parliament,
Grattan's Parliament was, in practice, kept by bribery in a position
differing very little from that of Canada before the rebellion. Still
the new system in Ireland might, under conditions resembling those of
Canada in 1840, have gradually evolved into a workable scheme of
self-government. But the conditions were too different. A temporary
economic revival, indeed, followed the removal of the crippling
restrictions upon Irish trade. But, politically, the new system began to
break down almost from the start. Its entanglement in English party
politics, which geography made inevitable, lead to deadlocks over trade
and over the regency question, the latter practically involving the
right to choose a separate sovereign. The same geographical conditions
made it impossible for Ireland to escape the influence of the French
Revolution. The factious spirit and the oppression of the ruling caste
did the rest. There is no need to dwell here on the horrors of the
rising of 1798, and of its repression, or on the political and financial
chaos that marked the collapse of an ill-starred experiment. England,
struggling for her existence, had had enough of French invasion, civil
war, and general anarchy on her flank. The Irish Parliament died, as it
had lived, by corruption, and Castlereagh and Pitt conferred upon
Ireland the too long delayed boon of equal partnership in the United

The mistakes which, for a century, deprived the Union of much of its
effect--the delay in granting Catholic emancipation, the folly of Free
Trade, acquiesced in by Irish members, by which agrarian strife was
intensified, and through which Ireland again lost the increase of
population which she had gained in the first half century of Union--need
not be discussed here. The fact remains that to-day Ireland is
prosperous, and on the eve of far greater prosperity under a sane
system of national economic policy. What is more, Ireland is in the
enjoyment of practically every liberty and every privilege that is
enjoyed by any other part of the United Kingdom, of greater liberty and
privilege than is enjoyed by Dominions which have no control of Imperial
affairs. The principle which in the case of the Colonies was applied
through separate governments has, in her case, been applied through
Union. It could only have been applied through Union in 1800. It can
only be applied through Union to-day. Railways and steamships have
strengthened the geographical and economic reasons for union;
train-ferries and aircraft will intensify them still further. Meanwhile
the political and strategical conditions of these islands in the near
future are far more likely to resemble those of the great Napoleonic
struggle than those of the Colonial Empire in its halcyon period.

In one aspect, then, the Union was the only feasible way of carrying out
the principle which underlay the successful establishment of Colonial
self-government. In another aspect it was the last step of a natural
and, indeed, inevitable process for which the history of the British
Colonies since the grant of self-government has furnished analogies in
abundance. It has furnished none for the reversal of that process. It is
only necessary to consider the reasons which, in various degrees,
influenced the several groups of independent Colonies in North America,
Australia, and South Africa to unite under a single government, whether
federal or unitary, thus wholly or partially surrendering the "Home
Rule" previously enjoyed by them, in order to see how close is the
parallel. The weak and scattered North American Colonies were at a
serious disadvantage in all political and commercial negotiations with
their powerful neighbour, the United States, a fact very clearly
emphasised by the termination of Lord Elgin's reciprocity treaty in
1864. None of them was in a position to deal with the vast territories
of the North-West, undeveloped by the Hudson's Bay Company, and in
imminent danger of American occupation. A common trade policy, a common
railway policy, and a common banking system were essential to a rapid
development of their great resources, and only a common government could
provide them. In Australia the chief factor in bringing about federation
was the weakness and want of influence of the separate Colonies in
dealing with problems of defence and external policy, impressed upon
them by German and French colonial expansion in the Pacific, and by the
growth of Japan. In South Africa, on the other hand, the factors were
mainly internal. The constant friction over railway and customs
agreements, continually on the verge of breaking down, embittered the
relations of the different Colonies and maintained an atmosphere of
uncertainty discouraging to commercial enterprise. Four different
governments dealt with a labour supply mainly required in one colony.
Four agricultural departments dealt with locusts and cattle plagues,
which knew no political boundaries, and which could only be stamped out
by the most prompt and determined action. Four systems of law and four
organisations for defence secured, as Lord Selborne pointed out in a
striking Memorandum (Blue Book Cd. 3564) a minimum of return for a
maximum of expense. A native rising in Natal warned South Africans that
the mistake of a single Colony might at any moment set the whole of
South Africa ablaze with rebellion. In the absence of larger issues
local politics in each Colony turned almost exclusively on the racial
feud. A comprehensive union alone could bring commercial stability and
progressive development, mitigate race hatred, and pave the way to a
true South African nationality.

All the weakness in external relations, all the internal friction and
impediment to progress, all the bitterness and pettiness of local
politics, which marked the absence of union among neighbouring colonies,
also characterised the relations of Great Britain and Ireland in the
eighteenth century. But there was this difference: the immense
disproportion in wealth and power, and the political control exercised
by the greater state, caused all the evils of disunion to concentrate
with intensified force upon the smaller state. To undo the mischief of
eighteenth century disunion required at least a generation. A series of
political mistakes and mischances, and a disastrous economic policy,
have left the healing task of union incomplete after a century. But
renewed disunion to-day would only mean a renewal of old local feuds to
the point of civil war, a renewal of old economic friction, in which
most of the injury would be suffered by the weaker combatant, the
indefinite postponing for Ireland of the prospect, now so hopeful, of
national development and social amelioration, a weakening of the whole
United Kingdom for diplomacy or for defence. It is a policy which no
Dominion in the Empire would dream of adopting--a policy which every
Dominion would most certainly resist by force, just as the United States
resisted it when attempted, with more than a mere pretext of
constitutional justification, by the Southern States.

Now for the "exception which proves the rule": there is one Colonial
analogy for what would be the position of Ireland under Home Rule,
namely, the position of Newfoundland outside the confederation of the
other North American Colonies.[57] The analogy is only partial, for this
reason, that whereas Ireland is almost wholly dependent economically on
Great Britain, Newfoundland has little direct trade with Canada, and
moreover enjoys a virtual monopoly of one particular commodity, namely
codfish, by which it manages to support its small population.
Nevertheless, no one can doubt that with its favoured geographical
position, and with its great natural resources, Newfoundland would have
been developed in a very different fashion if for the last forty years
it had been an integral part of the Dominion. Nor is the loss all on the
side of Newfoundland, as the history of even the last few years has
shown. In 1902, Newfoundland negotiated a commercial Convention with the
United States which, in return for a free entry for Newfoundland fish
into the United States, practically gave the Newfoundland market to
American manufacturers, and explicitly forbade the granting of any trade
preference to the United Kingdom or to Canada. When, fortunately, the
American Senate rejected the Convention, Newfoundland embarked on a
course of legislative reprisal against American fishing. But this
involved the Imperial Government in a diplomatic conflict which, but for
the excellent relations subsisting with the United States, might easily
have led to a grave crisis. The inconveniences and dangers which Irish
trade policy might lead to under Home Rule can easily be inferred from
this single example, all the more if Irish policy should be influenced,
as Newfoundland's policy certainly was not, by a bias of hostility to
the Empire.

So much for the first confusion, that which would base the case for a
_separate government_ in Ireland on the success of _free institutions_
in the Colonies, entirely ignoring the whole movement for union, which
has made every geographical group of Colonies follow the example of the
Mother Country. We must now deal with the second confusion, that which
is based on a hazy notion that Home Rule is only a preliminary step to
endowing the United Kingdom as a whole with a working federal
constitution like that of Canada or Australia. Ireland, in fact, so runs
the pleasing delusion, is to be set up as an experimental Quebec, and
the other provinces will follow suit shortly. Not all Home Rulers,
indeed, are obsessed by this confusion. Mr. Childers, for instance,
makes short work of what he calls the "federal chimera," dismissing the
idea as "wholly impracticable," and pointing out that Home Rule must be
"not merely non-federal, but anti-federal." But the great majority of
Liberals to-day are busy deluding themselves or each other, and the
Nationalists are, naturally, not unwilling to help them in that task,
with the idea of Home Rule for Ireland followed by "Home Rule all

The new Home Rule Bill has not yet appeared, but certain main features
of it can be taken for granted. It will be a Bill which, save possibly
for a pious expression of hope in the preamble, will deal with Ireland
only. It will set up in Ireland an Irish legislature and executive
responsible for the "peace, order, and good government" of Ireland,
subject to certain restrictions and limitations. It will assign to
Ireland the whole of the Irish revenues, though probably retaining the
control of customs and excise, and in that case retaining some Irish
representatives at Westminster. So far from fixing any contribution to
Imperial expenditure from Ireland, it will, apparently, include the
provision of an Imperial grant in aid towards Land Purchase and Old Age
Pensions. Any such measure is wholly incompatible with even the loosest
federal system. A federal scheme postulates the existence over the whole
confederation of two concurrent systems of government, each exercising
direct control over the citizens within its own sphere, each having its
legislative and executive functions, and its sources of revenue, clearly
defined. The Home Rule Bill will certainly not set up any such division
of government and its functions in Great Britain. Nor will it, in
reality, set up any such effective double system of government in
Ireland. What it will set up will be a national or Dominion government
in Ireland, separate and exclusive, but subject to certain restrictions
and interferences which it will be the first business of the Irish
representatives, in Dublin or Westminster, to get rid of. Long before
Scotland or Wales, let alone England, get any consideration of their
demand for Home Rule, if demand there be, the last traces of any
quasi-federal element the Bill may contain will have been got rid of.

In a federation every citizen, in whatever state or province he resides,
is as fully a citizen of the federation as every other citizen. He not
only has the same federal vote, and pays the same federal taxes, but he
has the same access to the federal courts, and the same right to the
direct protection of the federal executive. In what sense are any of
these conditions likely to be true of, let us say, an Irish landlord
under this Home Rule Bill? Again, federalism implies that all the
subordinate units are in an equal position relatively to the federal
authority. Is this Bill likely to be so framed that its provisions can
be adapted unchanged to Scotland, Wales, or England? And if they could,
what sort of a residuum of a United Kingdom government would be left
over? Take finance alone: if every unit under "Home Rule all round" is
to receive the whole product of its taxation, what becomes of the
revenue on which the general government of the United Kingdom will have
to subsist? The fact is that the creation of a federal state, whether by
confederation or by devolution of powers, must be, in the main, a
simultaneous act. Additional subordinate units may subsequently join the
confederation under the conditions of the federal constitution. Backward
areas which are unable to provide for an efficient provincial
expenditure, over and above their contribution to federal expenditure,
may be held back as territories directly controlled by the federal
authorities till they are financially and in other respects ripe for the
grant of provincial powers. If a federal scheme were really seriously
contemplated by the present Government they would have to adopt one of
two courses. They would either have to establish it simultaneously for
the whole United Kingdom, and in that case limit the powers and
functions of the provinces so narrowly as to make it possible for
Ireland to raise its provincial revenue without undue difficulty, the
rest of Ireland's needs being met by a substantial federal expenditure
carried out by federal officials. Or else they might begin by the
creation of a federal constitution with considerable provincial powers
for England, Scotland, and Wales, keeping back Ireland as a federal
territory till its economic and social conditions justified the
establishment of provincial institutions. The converse policy of
treating the case of Ireland as "prior in point of time and
urgency,"[58] of giving the poorest and most backward portion of the
United Kingdom the whole of its revenue and a practically unfettered
control of its territory, is, indeed, "not merely non-federal, but

The truth is that the federal element in this Home Rule Bill, as in that
of 1893, will be merely a pretence, designed to keep timid and
hesitating Home Rulers in line--a tactical manoeuvre of much the same
character as the talk about a reformed Second Chamber which preceded the
Parliament Act, and found due burial in the preamble to that Act. In
essence the Bill will set up Ireland as an entirely separate state
subject to certain restrictions which the Government have no serious
intention of enforcing, and the Irish every intention of disregarding,
or abolishing as the outcome of further agitation. For this policy of
pretence there is one admirable parallel in our Colonial history--the
policy by which "Home Rule" was "given" to the Transvaal after Majuba.
It was the same policy of avoiding expense and trouble, political or
military--the policy, in fact, of "cutting the loss"--tricked out with
the same humbug about "magnanimity" and "conciliation," about trust in
Boer (or Nationalist) moderation when in power, the same contemptuous
passing over of the loyalists as persons of "too pronounced" views, or
as "interested contractors and stock-jobbers."[59] It was embodied in a
Convention by which the "inhabitants of the Transvaal territory" were
"accorded complete self-government, subject to the suzerainty of Her
Majesty" under a series of limitations which, if enforced, would have
implied a measure of British control in many respects greater than that
exercised over a self-governing Colony, and with a number of guarantees
to protect the loyalists. The Government was able to "save its face,"
while its hesitating followers were able to quiet their consciences, by
the reassuring phrases of the Convention. The Boer Volksraad frankly
declared itself still dissatisfied, but ratified the Convention,
"maintaining all objections to the Convention ... and for the purpose of
showing to everybody that the love of peace and unity inspires it, for
the time being, and provisionally submitting the articles of the
Convention to a practical test." If any Nationalist Convention in Dublin
should accept the new Home Rule Bill, we can take it for granted that it
will be in exactly the same spirit, and possibly in almost the same

From the first the limitations of the Convention were disregarded. Short
of armed intervention there was no machinery for enforcing them, and the
Boers knew perfectly well that there was no real desire on the part of
an embarrassed Government to raise a hornet's nest by making the
attempt. The British resident, with his nominally autocratic powers, was
a mere impotent laughing stock. The ruined loyalists left the country,
or remained to become the most embittered enemies of the British
Government. In three years a new Convention was drafted--an even greater
masterpiece of make-believe than the first--which could be expounded to
Parliament as a mere modification of certain unworkable provisions, but
which the Boers took as a definite surrender of all claims to
suzerainty, and as a definite recognition of their position as an
"independent sovereign state," bound temporarily by the provisions of a
treaty, which could have no permanent force in "fixing the boundary to
the march of a nation." So far from being reconciled they were only
emboldened to embark on a policy of aggression, which in 1885 involved
the British Government in military measures costing nearly as much as
would have been required to suppress the whole rising in 1881. For the
time being the stagnation and chronic bankruptcy which followed the
removal of British rule and the exodus of the loyalists limited
Transvaal ambitions. The gold discoveries both increased that ambition
by furnishing it with revenue, and at the same time brought about a
close economic intercourse with the neighbouring colonies which, under
the political conditions of disunion, was bound to create friction. In
the end the policy of make-believe and "cutting the loss" had to be
redeemed at the cost of 20,000 lives and of £200,000,000.
Reconciliation, in large measure, has come since. But it has only come
because British statesmen showed, firstly, in the war, their inflexible
resolution to stamp out the policy of separation, and secondly, after
the war, their devotion to the real welfare of South Africa in a policy
of economic reconstruction, and in the establishment of those free and
equal British institutions under which--by the final dying out of a
spurious nationalism based on racial prejudice and garbled
history--South Africa may become a real, living nation.

The reservations and guarantees which this Home Rule Bill may contain
cannot possibly constitute the framework of a federal constitution. All
they can guarantee is a period of friction and agitation which will
continue till Ireland has secured a position of complete separation from
the United Kingdom. At the best the Home Rule experiment would then
reduce Ireland to the position of another Newfoundland; at the worst it
might repeat all the most disastrous features of the history of "Home
Rule" in the Transvaal. At the same time it may be worth inquiring how
far there would really be any valid Colonial analogy for the
introduction of a federal system of "Home Rule all round" if such a
scheme had been honestly contemplated. The first thing to keep in mind
is that the internal constitution of the Dominions presents a whole
gradation of constitutional types. There is the loose federal system of
Australia, in which the Commonwealth powers are strictly limited and
defined, and all residuary powers left to the States. There is the close
confederation of Canada in which all residuary powers are vested in the
Dominion. There is the non-federal unitary government of South Africa
with a system of provincial local governments with somewhat wide county
council powers. There is, lastly, the purely unitary government of the
two islands of New Zealand. Each of these types is the outcome of
peculiar geographical, economic, and historical conditions. To
understand the federal system of Australia it is essential to remember
that till comparatively recent times Australia consisted, to all
intents, of four or five seaport towns, each with its own tributary
agricultural and mining area, strung out, at distances varying from 500
to 1300 miles, along the southern and eastern third of a coast line of
nearly 9000 miles looped round an unexplored and reputedly uninhabitable
interior. Each of these seaports traded directly with the United Kingdom
and Europe in competition with the others. With economic motives for
union practically non-existent, with external factors awakening a
general apprehension rather than confronting Australia with any
immediate danger, it was impossible to find the driving power to
overcome local jealousies sufficiently to secure more than a minimum of
union. The Commonwealth Constitution is a makeshift which, as the
internal trade of Australia grows and as railway communications are
developed, will inevitably be amended in the direction of increasing the
power of the Commonwealth and diminishing that of the States. In Canada
the economic link between Canada proper and the Maritime Provinces was,
before Confederation, almost as weak as that of Australia. British
Columbia, which it was hoped to include in the Confederation, was then
separated by a journey of months from Eastern Canada, and was, indeed,
much nearer to Australia or New Zealand. Quebec, with its racial and
religious peculiarities, added another problem. That the Confederation
was nevertheless such a close and strong one was due both to the menace
of American power in the south, and to the terrible example of the
weakness of the American constitution as made manifest by the Civil War.
Yet even so, Sir John Macdonald, the father of Confederation, frankly
declared the federal constitution a necessary evil--

     "As regards the comparative advantages of a Legislative and a
     Federal Union I have never hesitated to state my own opinions....
     I have always contended that if we could agree to have one
     government and one Parliament ... it would be the best, the
     cheapest, the most vigorous, the strongest system of government we
     could adopt."

This also was the view of the framers of the South African Union. The
circumstances of South Africa enabled them to carry it into effect. For
all its extent, South Africa is geographically a single, homogeneous
country with no marked internal boundaries. It is peopled by two white
races everywhere intermixed in varying proportions and nowhere separated
into large compact blocks. The immense preponderance and central
position of the Rand mining industry makes South Africa practically a
single economic system. The very bitterness of the long political and
racial struggle which had preceded intensified the argument for really
effective union.

If we compare the conditions in the United Kingdom with those of the
Dominions it is obvious at once that there is no possible analogy with
the conditions of Canada or Australia, but a considerable analogy with
South Africa and New Zealand. The British Isles are but little larger
than the New Zealand group, and much more compact and homogeneous. Their
close economic intercourse, the presence of two races with a history of
strife behind them, but compelled by their inextricable geographical
blending to confront the necessity of union, are reproduced in the
conditions of South Africa. In so far then as the Colonial analogy bears
upon the question at all, it cannot be said to be in favour of Federal
Home Rule any more than of Separatist Home Rule. The most it can fairly
be said to warrant is the establishment of provincial councils with
powers akin to those of the South African Councils. For such councils,
built up by the federation of adjoining counties and county boroughs,
carrying out more effectively some of the existing powers of those
bodies, and adding to them such other powers, legislative or
administrative, as it may be convenient to bestow on them, a very strong
case may be made on the grounds of the congestion of Parliamentary
business. But that has nothing to do with Home Rule, either Separatist
or Federal.

But if the congestion of Parliamentary business might be appreciably
relieved by some such provincial bodies--larger "national" bodies would
only duplicate work, not relieve it--the true remedy for the confusion
of principles and objectives which, rather than the mere waste of time,
is the chief defect of our Parliamentary system, lies in a proper
separation of the local affairs of the United Kingdom from the general
work of the Empire, in other words, in some form of Imperial federation.
What is needed is not the creation of separate parliaments _within_ the
United Kingdom, but the creation of a separate Parliament _for_ the
United Kingdom, a Parliament which should deal with the affairs of the
United Kingdom considered as one of the Dominions, leaving the general
problems of Imperial policy to a common Imperial Parliament or Council
equally representative of the citizens of every Dominion. No form of
Home Rule can in any sense advance that desirable solution of our
Imperial problems. The creation of an additional Dominion in the shape
of Ireland would merely add one to the number of units to be considered,
and would be contrary to the spirit of the resolution passed at the 1897
Conference, that it was desirable "wherever and whenever practicable, to
group together under a federal union those Colonies which are
geographically united." The problem would be no more affected by the
setting up of a federal constitution for the United Kingdom, than it
would be if South Africa decided, after all, to give her provinces
federal powers, or Australia carried unification by a referendum. The
notion that the Dominions could simply come inside the United Kingdom
federation, though it sometimes figures in Home Rule speeches, is merely
a product of the third form of confusion of ideas previously referred
to, and is a sheer absurdity. The terms and conditions of a United
Kingdom federation would necessarily differ in almost every respect from
those of an Imperial Federation, and a constitution framed for the one
object would be unworkable for the other. Nor would it ever be
acceptable to the Dominions, which regard themselves as potentially, if
not actually, the equals of the United Kingdom as a whole. From their
point of view the United Kingdom might almost as well be asked to step
inside the Australian Commonwealth on the footing of Tasmania, as that
they should be asked to join in, in the capacity of an additional
Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, under any scheme of "Home Rule all round."

It should be sufficiently clear from the foregoing analysis that the
vague and confused claim that the success of British Colonial policy is
an argument for the Home Rule Bill has no shadow of justification. It
has been shown, first of all, that the factor of success in our Colonial
policy was not the factor of separatism implied in Home Rule, but the
factor of responsible government already secured for Ireland by the
Union. It has been shown, secondly, that the experience of the Colonies
since the establishment of responsible government has in every case
forced union upon them, and union in the closest form which the facts of
trade and geography permitted of. Colonial experience is thus no
argument even for a federal scheme of "Home Rule all round," if such a
scheme could possibly result from an Irish Home Rule Bill, which it
cannot. The disadvantages and dangers of the contrary policy of disunion
have been shown, in their least noxious form in the case of
Newfoundland, which has simply remained outside the adjoining Dominion,
and in their deadliest form in the case of the Transvaal, where "Home
Rule" was given in 1881, as it would be given to Ireland to-day, if the
Government succeeded, not from conviction and whole-heartedly, but as a
mean-spirited concession, made to save trouble, and under the most
disingenuous and least workable provisions. Lastly, it has been made
clear that Home Rule cannot possibly assist, but can only obscure and
confuse, the movement for the establishment of a true Imperial Union.
Unionists and Imperialists can choose no better ground for their
resistance to Home Rule than the wide and varied field of Colonial

But Colonial experience can give us more than that. It can provide us
not only with an immense mass of arguments and instances against
disruption, but with invaluable instances of what can be done to
strengthen and build up the Union against all possible future danger of
disruptive tendencies. The confederation of Canada was accomplished in
the teeth of all the geographical and economic conditions of the time.
Canadian statesmanship thereupon set itself to transform geography, and
to divert the course of trade in order to make the Union a reality. The
Intercolonial Railway, the Canadian Pacific, the Grand Trunk Pacific,
the proposed Hudson Bay Railway, and the Georgian Bay Canal schemes, all
these have been deliberate instruments of policy, aiming, first of all,
at bridging the wilderness between practically isolated settlements
scattered across a continent, and creating a continuous Canada, east and
west; and, secondly, at giving that continuous strip depth as well as
extension. Hand in hand with the policy of constructing the internal
framework of transportation, which is the skeleton of the economic and
social life of a nation, went the policy of maintaining a national
tariff to clothe that skeleton with the flesh and blood of production
and exchange, and, as far as possible, to clothe it evenly. Australia,
too, is waking, though somewhat hesitatingly, to the need of
transcontinental railways, for the protection of new industries and for
the even development and filling up of all her territories. In South
Africa the economic process preceded the political. It was the dread of
the breakdown of a temporary customs union already in existence that
precipitated the discussion of union. And it was the development of the
Rand as the great internal market of South Africa, and the competitive
construction of railway lines from the coast, that really decided the
question of legislative union against federation. All three instances
lead to the same conclusion that union to be really effective and stable
needs three things: firstly, a developed system of internal
communications reducing all natural barriers to social, political, and
commercial intercourse to the very minimum; secondly, a national tariff,
protective or otherwise, sufficient at least to encourage the fullest
flow of trade along those communications rather than outside of them;
thirdly, a deliberate use of the tariff and of the national expenditure
to secure, as far as possible, the even development of every portion of
the national territory.

In the United Kingdom all these instruments for making the Union real
are still unutilised. The system of _laisser faire_ in the matter of
internal communications has allowed St. George's Channel still to remain
a real barrier. A dozen train-ferries, carrying not only the railway
traffic between Great Britain and Ireland, but enabling the true west
coast of the United Kingdom to be used for transatlantic traffic, would
obliterate that strip of sea which a British minister recently urged as
an insuperable objection to a democratic union.[61] To construct them
would not be doing as much, relatively, as little Denmark has long since
done, by the same means, to unite her sea-divided territory. The
creation of a tariff which shall assist not only manufactures, but
agriculture and rural industries, is another essential step. In view of
Ireland's undeveloped industrial condition the giving of bounties to the
establishment in Ireland of new industries, such as the silk industry,
would be a thoroughly justifiable extension of the Unionist policy
carried out through the Congested Districts Board and the Department of
Agriculture. The diversion to Ireland of a larger part of the general
national and Imperial expenditure, whether by the establishment of a
naval base, or the giving out of battleship contracts, or even only of
contracts for Army uniforms, would also be of appreciable assistance to
Ireland and to the Union. Ireland suffers to-day economically and
politically, from the legacy of political separation in the eighteenth
century, and of economic disunion in the nineteenth. It is the business
of Unionists not only to maintain the legal framework of the Union, but
to give it a vitality and fulness of content which it has never


[Footnote 54: Speech at Whitechapel, Oct. 10, 1911. There is an almost
identical passage in Mr. Redmond's article in _McClure's Magazine_ for
October, 1910. Sir J. Simon, the Solicitor-General, has since
perpetrated the same absurdity (Dewsbury, Feb. 6, 1912).]

[Footnote 55: The usual rhetorical appeal to "What Home Rule has done in
South Africa" presents, indeed, a most perfect specimen of the confusion
of thought which it is here attempted to analyse. For no sooner had the
Transvaal received "Home Rule" (_i.e._ responsible government) than it
surrendered the "Home Rule" (_i.e._ separate government) which it had
previously enjoyed in order to enter the South African Union. Stripped
of mere verbal confusion the argument from the Transvaal analogy then
runs somewhat as follows: "The Transvaal is now contented because it
enjoys free representative institutions as an integral portion of a
United South Africa; therefore, Ireland cannot be contented until she
ceases to be a freely represented integral portion of the United

[Footnote 56: Quoted on p. 54.]

[Footnote 57: The position of New Zealand, outside the Australian
Commonwealth, is no parallel. New Zealand is almost as far from
Australia as Newfoundland is from the British Isles; it differs from
Australia in every climatic and physical feature; there is comparatively
little trade between them.]

[Footnote 58: Mr. Asquith at St. Andrews, Dec. 7, 1910.]

[Footnote 59: See "The _Times_' History of the South African War," vol.
I. pp. 67 _et seq._]

[Footnote 60: _Cf_. Mr. J. Redmond on the third reading of the Home Rule
Bill of 1893. "The word 'provisional,' so to speak, has been stamped in
red ink across every page of the Bill. I recognise that the Bill is
offered as a compromise and accepted as such.... England has no right to
ask from Irish members any guarantee of finality in its acceptance."]

[Footnote 61: Colonel Seely at Newry, December 9, 1911.]




The various forecasts, inspired and uninspired, of the new Home Rule
Bill which have been given to us, have shed little light upon the future
of the Irish Judiciary and Police. The two previous Bills contemplated
the handing over of the control of the whole administration of justice
in Ireland to the Irish Executive after an interval, in the first case
of two years, and in the later Bill, of six years. We may assume that,
whatever period of grace may be allowed to us under the coming measure,
it will propose to vest this control in the Irish Government within six
years. The interposition of any interval at all will probably be
regarded by Ministers as a concession to Unionist fears and as one of
the "safeguards" in which the minority will be urged to place its trust.
It must be realised at once that, so far from this interval making the
transition from British justice to Irish intrigue easier and more safe,
it may have precisely the contrary effect. Once the Irish police are
convinced that they are about to be delivered into the hands of the
secret organisations who have been the most successful and relentless
enemies of public order in Ireland, a paralysis must fall upon the
force. During the closing years of the transition, at all events, the
Royal Irish Constabulary will be given nominal responsibility for the
peace of the country without any opportunity effectually to preserve it.
It would be fairer and better to cast upon puppet nominees of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Irish Republican Brotherhood the
responsibility and odium of controlling the passions that they have
helped to raise. The present judges would of course continue to do
their duty without fear or favour, but it is impossible that the
sentence passed upon them and the system of law and government for which
they stand could leave their authority unimpaired. We have recently seen
in England how easy it may be to stir up popular clamour against judges
who administer the law without regard to the prejudices of any political
party. Directly the Irish Courts sought to translate the paper
safeguards of the Home Rule Bill into practical effect, they would be
faced by the violent hostility of an ignorant and excitable assembly
stimulated by an irresponsible and inexperienced executive. The result
would be recriminations and friction which must deplorably injure and
lower the reputation and prestige of both the Executive and the

The first thing necessary for securing public and private liberty in a
country like Ireland, where party feeling runs high and internal
disputes have a bitterness from which more fortunate countries are free,
is a strong independent and impartial administration of the law. This
can only be secured by freeing the Courts from any kind of interference
or control on the part of the Executive, and by ensuring that the whole
armed forces of the Executive should be at the disposal of the Courts
for executing and enforcing their decrees. Let us only assume a case to
arise after the statutory period had elapsed, such as is now of frequent
occurrence in the Irish Courts. The Land Judge, for instance, or the
Judge of the Court of Bankruptcy, finds it necessary to order the arrest
of the chairman and secretary of a local branch of the United Irish
League for interfering by gross intimidation with a sale under the order
of his Court. The case excites a good deal of local feeling and the
arrests can only be effected by the employment of a large force of armed
police. The question is raised on a motion for adjournment in the Irish
House of Commons. The majority of the members owe their seats to the
intervention of the United Irish League, many of them--perhaps
most--have themselves been in similar conflicts with the Court. The
result is that Ministers have to choose between a refusal of the police
and expulsion from office. Once the Government could decide which
decrees of the Judiciary it would enforce and which it would not, the
technical immovability of the Judges would be irrelevant, since the real
control of justice would be vested, not in the courts but in the
executive Ministers in Dublin Castle. The very existence of the
limitations and safeguards foreshadowed in the coming Home Rule Bill
would naturally tempt the Irish Government to adopt a policy which would
reduce to a minimum the effective power of these restraints upon the
popular will. The most obvious way of attaining this result would be to
keep the police, and with them the judicature, in a position of greater
dependence upon the Executive than is consistent with the supremacy of
law and the safety of private rights and individual freedom.

We must remember that the men who would have the control of the new
Irish Government would be those who have spent the greater part of their
lives in violent conflict with the attempts of the Irish Courts to
secure respect for the elementary rights of property and of personal
freedom in Ireland. Power which has been won by the open violation of
every principle of English law, is not likely either to assert the
authority it has lived by defying to maintaining the independence of the
courts and institutions which have been its deadliest opponents. The
corruption of judicial authority and prestige in Ireland will be
accomplished by entrenching the Executive behind large and shadowy
discretionary powers, and also by manipulating the personnel and
jurisdiction of the judges and magistracy throughout the country. The
most deplorable movement in modern Nationalism is the attempt to
introduce into Irish politics the worst methods of American political
corruption. There have recently sprung into prominence in Ireland two
societies which are in some respects the most sinister, the most
immoral, and the most destructive of those which have corrupted and
infected public life in the country. These two--the Ancient Order of
Hibernians and the Irish Republican Brotherhood--have in common the
secrecy of their operations and the destructiveness of their aims. Their
influence is marked not only by despotic and tyrannical government, but,
what may be even more mischievous from the point of view of the
community, by the deliberate persecution and suppression of all
independent thought. Those who have watched the proceedings of the
Dublin Corporation have felt the increasing strength of an influence
proceeding from Belfast--an influence which is threatening to control
the whole course of Nationalist politics in Dublin and the south. The
forces of influence, combination, and intimidation which forced the
Budget on a reluctant Ireland and routed the Roman Catholic Hierarchy
over the Insurance Bill will not be disbanded under Home Rule. On the
contrary, they are now being exercised so as to enable the Board of Erin
to absorb the older organisations and to place in the hands of its
leaders--or rather in those of a single man--the nomination of most, if
not all, the representatives of the Nationalist party in Ireland. Mr.
Joseph Devlin, who seeks to build this vast power, is a politician of
American ideals and sympathies, and under the guidance of his
organisation politics in Ireland would be shaped after the model of
Tammany Hall rather than that of St. Stephen's. The party which appoints
the municipal officers of Dublin in secret caucus, meeting for reasons
which are never avowed and after debates which are never published, is
only waiting to extend its operations. Even now it is notorious that the
magistrates' bench in Ireland is regularly and systematically "packed"
whenever licensing or agrarian cases are under discussion. The
scandalous inaction of the present Irish Executive in reference to
cattle driving and other forms of organised intimidation, the failure to
enforce the law and the absolute immunity which the present Chief
Secretary has persistently allowed to Nationalist Members of Parliament
and paid organisers in incitement to outrage and intimidation, have
paralysed the administration of justice and disheartened and disgusted
the Judiciary, the Magistrates, and the Police. But under Home Rule the
measure of protection which is still afforded by a strong and
independent Bench would be removed. The Resident Magistrate would be as
much under the heel of the caucus as the local justice; the Recorder's
Bench and even the High Court would be constantly subjected to
influences of a mischievous and incalculable kind. Whatever may be said
against the present occupants of the Judicial Bench, their integrity and
fairness have never been seriously questioned. Since the days when the
Irish judges issued a writ of _habeas corpus_ for the release of Wolfe
Tone, while the Irish Rebellion was actually in progress, they have
consistently held an even balance between the two parties. Their
learning, their impartiality and their wit have rightly made Irish
judges respected throughout the world. Their reputation and their
services alike demand that they shall not be set aside wantonly or
without consideration. But there is no doubt that Home Rule must mean
the end of the Irish Bench as we have seen it in history. The men who
have been proud to represent the British Crown would resent with
indignation the idea that they should become the tools of the Hibernian
caucus. They realise that the judges who oppose the lawless will of
popular ministers will have to face obloquy and perhaps direct attack in
the Irish Parliament. Even if the concurrence of both Houses in the
Irish Parliament were made necessary for the removal of judges, it would
not adequately safeguard their independence. The lower House would be
composed of the men whom Nationalist constituencies already return to
Parliament--excitable, fierce partisans, always ready to subordinate
private convictions to the exigencies of party discipline. Nor would
there be in Ireland under Home Rule any power or influence, either of
property or station, sufficiently strong to furnish a constituency which
would return a senate representing interests, opinions, or desires
substantially distinct from those of the more powerful House elected
upon the wider suffrage.

The situation has been strongly complicated by the promulgation of the
_Motu Proprio_ decree, and the refusal of the authorities of the Roman
Catholic Church to say definitely whether it applies to Ireland or not.
We may assume that, if Archbishop Walsh could have given a categorical
denial to the statement that the decree must operate in Ireland under
Home Rule, he would have done so. The decree _Motu Proprio_ forbids any
Roman Catholic to bring his priest or bishop into court under pain of
excommunication. The Roman Catholic Church has made many similar efforts
during history to oust the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts, and each
attempt has had to be sharply and sternly resisted by the civil
authorities of Roman Catholic countries. We need not discuss how much
there may be said from a theological standpoint for the decree; we are
only concerned to show that it raises pretensions which no State can
possibly permit to be recognised. There have been too many attempts,
successful and unsuccessful, to oust the jurisdiction of the King's
Courts in Ireland, for this new attempt to be viewed with equanimity.
The United Irish League has set up courts which try men for imaginary
offences committed during the exercise of their ordinary civil rights,
and pass illegal sentences and inflict illegal punishments. Under the
reign of Liberal Governments the writ of these courts runs where the
King's writ cannot run, and the law of the League has been allowed in
great measure to supersede the law of the land. We have also an
increasing force in Irish Nationalism which seeks to paralyse the
government of Ireland by means of the general or sympathetic strike.
This organisation seeks to establish courts in Ireland in opposition to
the ordinary law courts, and to enforce their decrees by means of
illegal intimidation and outrage. The people of Ireland have therefore
been familiarised with the idea of courts competing in authority with
those of the King's Government. Supposing under Home Rule the Judiciary
proved less pliable than was expected or desired, the development of
such competing authorities would be facilitated by a complaisant
Cabinet in Dublin. But of all attempts to over-ride the authority of law
this conspiracy to exempt ecclesiastical persons from its scope is the
most insidious and dangerous. The existence of a class of men answerable
for their actions, not to any domestic tribunal, but to a foreign
ecclesiastical court, cannot now be tolerated by any self-respecting
Government. Yet it is not easy to see how an Irish Cabinet could refuse
to make, by executive if not by legislative action, what is now the law
of the Church eventually the law of Ireland. Against this danger no
safeguards can be devised. If the Administration refuses to put the law
into effective operation against a certain class of offender or abuses
the prerogative of mercy in his favour, there is no power in the
constitution to coerce it. A few years ago we saw in Ireland the
extraordinary spectacle of persons being prosecuted for cattle-driving
and similar offences, while those who openly incited them to crime
escaped with impunity. We saw judges from the Bench complaining in vain
that the real offenders were not brought before them, and criticising
openly the negligence and partiality of the Crown. If the Nationalists,
whose influence then paralysed the aims of the Government, ever get
supreme control of the Executive, we are certain to see these abuses
revived on a still more shocking scale. The operation of the new decree
places the Roman Catholic minister or law officer who is called upon to
administer justice under the terms of his oath in a position of cruel
embarrassment. As a law officer it might be his duty to order the
prosecution of some clerical offender; as a Roman Catholic compliance
with his duty to the State must entail the awful consequences of
excommunication. It needs no elaboration to show that what may be a
grave embarrassment under the rule of impartial British Ministers, must
under a local Irish Government develop into a danger to the State. A
case recently tried at the Waterford Assizes establishes a precedent
which may prove most mischievous. Recent illustrations in Ireland of the
working of the _Temere_ decree have secured for it a sort of
quasi-legality and provided a great argument to those devout Churchmen
who, under Home Rule, would naturally desire to carry the process a
further step.

We have proceeded on the assumption that the Irish Parliament
would--formally, at least--confine itself within the limits prescribed
by the law of its creation. But it is necessary at least to contemplate
the possibility that it would prove less complaisant. The safeguards and
limitations inserted in any Act of the kind must of necessity be couched
in general terms. The constitutional history of the United States and
other countries is full of cases showing how difficult it is to define
in practice where the border line between _intra_ and _ultra vires_
comes. It is the custom of all Governments, if there is any possible
room for debate as to their competence to take any particular line of
action, to give themselves the fullest benefit of the doubt, and the
Irish Government is unlikely to prove any exception to the rule. When
the Judicature and all the forces of Executive Government, except the
direct command of troops, is in their hands, the laws passed by the
Irish Parliament could be put in force in Ireland. The British
Government could not intervene except by acts which would amount to open
war between the two countries. We must remember that this enforcement of
Irish laws by Irish police in spite of the decisions of a "foreign"
Government at Westminster is openly advocated and contemplated by the
large and active section of the Nationalists who have adopted as their
watchword the motto "Ourselves alone" (_Sinn Fein_). Nothing could be
more futile than the idea that the judgments of the Judicial Committee
of the Privy Council would ever be accepted as final by the Nationalist
majority, or that the royal assent could ever be withheld from an Act
constitutionally passed by the Irish Legislature, without precipitating
a crisis. The result of applying the veto of the House of Lords in
England to the measures of Liberal Ministers was the agitation for
removing the veto. The Nationalists took part in that agitation and have
learned its lesson. Directly the British Government asserts its
technical right of veto, a similar agitation to get rid of all
obnoxious restraints would arise in Ireland.

If anything could increase the danger of friction, it would be the
scheme favoured by Mr. Erskine Childers and other Liberals of submitting
constitutional questions to the decision of the British Privy Council
reinforced by Irish judges. Either these judges would concur in verdicts
given against the pretensions of the Irish Parliament or they would not.
If they did concur, there would be a fierce outcry against the right of
judges appointed under the Union Government to nullify Acts of the Irish
Legislature. But if they did not concur, the patriotic indignation with
which a decision over the heads of the Irish representatives would be
received is easy to foresee. It would be a matter of the greatest
difficulty to enforce any such decision when the Irish Government,
supported by an agitation in the country, refused to be bound by it. The
situation thus created has no parallel in the case of the colonies. In
Canada or Australia, where the legislative power is divided between
federal and provincial Parliaments, a decision that the one legislature
is incompetent affirms the competence of the other. Both legislatures
have on the spot proper means of enforcing, by judicial and executive
authority, decisions which are within their powers. The case of Ireland
is fundamentally different. There can be no half-way house between
keeping Ireland a partner in all our legislative and judicial
activities, or giving to her with a separate Executive uncontrolled and
unchecked rights of internal sovereignty.




In the Home Rule controversy to-day Ulster occupies the place of public
interest. Lord Rosebery upon one occasion committed himself to the
opinion that, before Home Rule was conceded by the Imperial Parliament,
England, as the predominant member of the partnership of the three
kingdoms, would have to be convinced of its justice.[62] He did not
foresee that the party of which he was then the leader would, under
duress, abandon even the pretence of consulting the "predominant
partner," much less be guided by its wishes. But it has come to pass:
and Ulster alone remains the stumbling-block to the successful issue of
the plot against the Constitution. By Ulster we do not mean, as Mr.
Sinclair points out, the geographical area, but the district which
historical events have made so different in every respect from the rest
of Ireland.

In the Act of Union I have a personal interest from family connection. I
am convinced that Lord Castlereagh was absolutely right on both Imperial
and Irish grounds. I feel that so far as Ireland is concerned the
conditions and position of Ulster to-day afford ample confirmation: and
of Ulster I may claim to have some knowledge. I represented County Down
in the Imperial Parliament at Westminster before it was divided into
constituencies, and in my later days I have maintained my close interest
in Ulster. At the least, then, I may say that the temperament, the
political and religious convictions, and the character of Ulster
Unionists are not unknown to me.

I often read of "the Ulster bogey;" and I believe Mr. John Redmond once
devoted an article in a Sunday paper to elaborate statistical
calculations from which he drew the deduction that there was no Ulster
question. Other Home Rulers, by an expert use of figures, show that
there is a Home Rule majority in Ulster itself. To those who know Ulster
their efforts fail to carry the slightest conviction. Figures, however
skilfully chosen, articles in the press, however cleverly written,
cannot destroy the facts of Ulster Unionist opposition to Home Rule, the
intensity and seriousness of which is, I believe, only now beginning to
be appreciated by His Majesty's Ministers.

I hear of "Ulster bigots," "Ulster deadheads," and assertions made that
the opposition only proceeds from a few aristocratic Tory landlords.
Hard words do us no harm; but abusive epithets will not lessen Ulster
opposition. Indeed the more we are reviled by our opponents, the more we
believe they recognize the futility of persuading us to accept Home

We read of the intense anxiety of Irish Nationalists on English
platforms lest even the suspicion of intolerance should cloud their
administration and legislation under Home Rule, with interest but
without respect. We do not believe in these sudden repentances, and we
have heard these professions time and again when the exigencies of the
moment demanded them.

The spirit of change has even affected the Government. At first Ulster
was to be ignored; now it is to be conciliated. There is no safeguard
that they will not insert in the Bill at our request. The First Lord of
the Admiralty has a list already prepared; and they will welcome
additions. Mr. Redmond accepts them all; and the fact that he does it
readily raises our suspicions of their worth. Has not Mr. John Dillon
said that artificial guarantees in an Act of Parliament were no real
protection,[63] and for once it is possible to agree with him.

Why should "bigots" be conciliated; or "deadheads" receive so much
consideration? Why should the opposition of aristocratic Tory landlords
be thought worthy of respect? Whenever have they been treated in this
manner before by the Government in their schemes of legislation?

That our views receive so much attention is indeed the proof of the
falsity of these hard names. Opposition to Home Rule in Ulster proceeds
not from "bigots" or "deadheads," not from "Tories," or "aristocrats,"
or "landlords" exclusively. It is neither party question, nor class
question. It has destroyed all differences between parties and classes.
I doubt if there are any more democratic organizations than those of the
Ulster Unionist Council, the Unionist Clubs, and the Orangemen. Nor are
the religious bodies less popularly organized--the Church of Ireland,
the Presbyterians, and other Protestant denominations have no class
restrictions in their government. And as for party distinctions, those
of us who took part in the old political contests before Home Rule
became an urgent danger are now side by side in this greater fight for
our very existence.

What stronger evidence that opposition to Home Rule in Ulster is no
party question is to be found than in the disappearance of the Liberal
Party. I can remember when it was powerful; but it has vanished before
the threat of Home Rule. All attempts to resuscitate the corpse have
failed, and a Liberal Party, independent of the Nationalists,
representing Ulster constituencies in the House of Commons, in spite of
repeated efforts, does not exist.

Let me impress upon the people of Great Britain that Ulster opposition
to Home Rule is no party matter. It is an uprising of a people against
tyranny and coercion; against condemnation to servitude; against
deprivation of the right of citizens to an effective voice in the
government of the country.

Mr. Birrell said recently at Bristol that Ulster would be right to fight
if it were oppressed in its religion or despoiled of its property. We
welcome his conversion. When he pleads for Ulster to wait until it is
plain that oppression has come, we recall to mind the phrase so often on
Liberal lips, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," and we say
that we should be false to ourselves and to our trust if we were
unprepared for what the future will bring under Home Rule.

For our opposition to Home Rule we are condemned by the Irish
Nationalists as the enemies of our country. We believe ourselves to be
its best friends. We believe Home Rule to be the greatest obstacle to
Irish progress and prosperity. Irish Nationalists have made Home Rule
their only idol and denounce every one who will not worship at its
shrine. Every reform, unless they thought that it tended to advance Home
Rule or magnify their powers, has received their hostility, sometimes
open and avowed, at other times secret and working through devious ways.

No one who reads the history of Ulster can doubt that its inhabitants
have not as much love of Ireland and as much wish to see her prosperous
as the Nationalists. They indeed attribute all Irish shortcomings to the
Union. Ulstermen, bearing in mind their own progress since the Union,
not unnaturally decline to accept so absurd an argument. The Union has
been no obstacle to their development: why should it have been the
barrier to the rest of Ireland? Ulstermen believe that the Union with
Great Britain has assisted the development of their commerce and
industry. They are proud of the progress of Belfast and of her position
in the industrial and shipping world. Without great natural advantages
it has been built up by energy, application, clearheadedness and hard
work. The opposition to Home Rule is the revolt of a business and
industrial community against the domination of men who have shown no
aptitude for either. The United Irish League, the official organization
of the Home Rule Party, is, as a Treasurer once confessed, remarkably
lacking in the support of business men, merchants, manufacturers,
leaders of industry, bankers, and men who compose a successful and
progressive community.[64] In the management of their party funds, their
impending bankruptcy but a few years ago, the mad scheme of New
Tipperary, and the fiasco of the Parnell Migration Company there is the
same monotonous story of failure. Can surprise be felt that Ulstermen
refuse to place the control of national affairs in the hands of those
who have shown little capacity in the direction of their own personal
concerns. What responsible statesman would suggest that the City of
London, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, or any advancing
industrial and commercial centre in Great Britain should be ruled and
governed and taxed, without the hope of effective intervention, by a
party led by Mr. Keir Hardie and Mr. Lansbury? Yet Home Rule means much
like that for Ulstermen, and the impossibility of the scheme is
emphasized in the example of Ireland by religious differences which have
their roots in Irish history.

Ulster's opposition to Home Rule is no unreasoning hate. It proceeds not
from the few; it is not the outcome of political prejudice; it is the
hostility of a progressive and advancing people who have made their
portion of their country prosperous and decline to hand it over to the
control of representatives from the most backward and unprogressive

They are actuated by love of their country. They yield to no one in
their patriotism and their desire for Ireland's welfare. They have
always given their support to movements which have had for their objects
the improvement of Irish conditions and the increase of Irish
well-being. Their sympathies are with Irish social reform--and the
sympathies of many of them with social reform of an advanced character.
Contrast their attitude with that of the Irish Nationalist Party in
respect of reforms which have proceeded from the Imperial Parliament and
movements within Ireland herself.

Take the Irish Land Act of 1903, accepted by both political parties in
Great Britain as affording the real solution of the Irish agrarian
problem. What has been the Irish Nationalist attitude? Praise for it on
platforms in the United States when it was essential to reach the
pockets of subscribers by recounting a record of results gained from
the expenditure of American donations; but in Ireland itself opposition
to its effective working. Read Nationalist speeches and there is always
running through them the fear that the Act by solving the land question
would remove the real motive power which made Home Rule a living issue.
Hence the interference to prevent landlords and tenants coming to an
agreement over sales without outside assistance. So to-day Irish
Nationalists are still endeavouring to keep alive the old bad feeling
between landlord and tenant which they so successfully created in the
seventies and eighties. What better proof of this deliberate attempt to
prevent the success of a great reform is to be found than the frank
utterance of Mr. John Dillon at Swinford.[65] "It has been said," he
declared, "that we have obstructed the smooth working of the Act. I wish
to heaven we had the power to obstruct the smooth working of the Act
more than we did. It has worked too smoothly--far too smoothly to my
mind.... Some men have complained with the past year that the Land Act
was not working fast enough. For my part I look upon it as working a
great deal too fast, and at a pace which has been ruinous to the
people." What have the Ulster people done which can compare with this
opposition to a measure that has admittedly effected a beneficial
revolution in Irish agrarian life? Yet Mr. John Dillon is acclaimed as a
true Irish patriot and we are denounced as the enemies of our country!

What greater blow to the continuance of land purchase than the Birrell
Act of 1909. Granted that some revision of the law was necessary in
respect of finance; yet, the Act of 1909 went far beyond finance. Any
one with a knowledge of land purchase law knows that the measure of 1909
contained innumerable provisions of a technical character calculated to
make the free sale between landlord and tenant difficult, and in respect
of a large portion of Ireland impossible. No wonder it was welcomed by
the Irish Nationalist Party, since it did so much to restore them to
their self-elected position of counsellors and arbiters in the affairs
of the tenants. And Ulster Unionists for declining to accede to this
re-establishment of the old supremacy of the agitators are regarded as
the opponents of liberty and freedom!

The same sad story of Nationalist opposition to Irish progress meets the
student of the co-operative movement at every period of its existence.
No one who knows Sir Horace Plunkett will believe for a moment that he
was actuated by other than the sole desire to do something for Ireland's
benefit. From the leaders of the Nationalist Party he has had no
assistance, although they claim to be the only workers for Irish
progress, and the co-operative movement was intended to complete the
agrarian revolution. In more recent times the hostility of the
Nationalist leaders has become bolder as they found a ready instrument
in Mr. T. W. Russell in his official capacity as Vice-President of the
Department of Agriculture.

The co-operative movement is flourishing in spite of the opposition of
the Nationalist leaders. From Ulster it has received considerable
support for the reason that Ulstermen believed it to be for the benefit
of Irish agriculture. Their support, unlike Nationalist hostility, has
not arisen from political motives. They do not believe that Sir Horace
Plunkett has given a moment's thought to politics in their relation to
the co-operative movement, and they have appreciated his movement either
as co-operators or as supporters and members of the Irish Agricultural
Organization Society. Contrast the Ulster welcome with the Nationalist
opposition, and ask why we should be denounced as bad Irishmen and the
Nationalists receive praise as true lovers of Ireland.

The co-operative movement has brought into existence another movement
which has for its object the prosperity of Irish industries. The
Industrial Development movement which seeks to bring before the people
of Ireland and the Irish public bodies the excellence of Irish
manufactures is as yet in its infancy. It has no political character,
yet I should hesitate to say that official Irish Nationalism gives it
hearty support. In Belfast, however, it has made great strides. It gains
its support in Ulster not for any political reason, but simply and
solely because the North of Ireland thinks that the industrial movement
is to Ireland's advantage.

Where in these instances is our "bigotry" or our hostility to Irish
progress? Does not the balance of credit when the comparison is made
with the Nationalists come on the side of Ulster? The Nationalists show
their unreasoning opposition by proclaiming that they would rather see
Ireland in rags and poverty than abate their demand for Home Rule.
Ulster Unionists desire to see Ireland prosperous and contented. For
that reason they welcome all reforms and movements from whatever quarter
which have this excellent end in view. They intend to offer the
strongest and most unrelenting opposition to Home Rule not as political
partisans for party gain, but as Irishmen determined to resist so
reactionary a measure which they firmly believe will prove of the
greatest evil to their unhappy country.


[Footnote 62: House of Lords, March 12, 1894.]

[Footnote 63: Salford, November 21, 1911.]

[Footnote 64: Mr. A.J. Kettle, _Freeman's Journal,_ July 18, 1907.]

[Footnote 65: September 10, 1906.]




By Ulster, I mean the six counties, Antrim, Down, Londonderry, Armagh,
Tyrone, Fermanagh, with the important adjacent Unionist sections of
Monaghan, Cavan, and Donegal, in all of which taken together the
Unionist population is in an unmistakable majority, and in which the
commercial and manufacturing prosperity of the province is maintained by
Unionist energy, enterprise, and industry.

The relation of Ulster to a separate Irish Parliament, with an Executive
responsible to it, is a question which demands the most serious
consideration on the part of English and Scotch electors. The Ulster
Scot is not in Ireland to-day upon the conditions of an ordinary
immigrant. His forefathers were "planted" in Ulster in the troublous
times of the seventeenth century. Although at the end of the reign of
Queen Elizabeth peace had been secured all over Ireland, war was renewed
in the Northern province early in the seventeenth century. The uprising
was speedily crushed, and the lands of several of the rebellious nobles
forfeited to the Crown. In order to prevent a repetition of lawlessness,
the forfeited estates were entrusted to undertakers, on whom the
obligation rested of peopling them with settlers from Great Britain.
This scheme was devised in the hope that through the industry,
character, and loyalty of the new population, the Northern province at
all events should enjoy peace and prosperity, and become an attached
portion of the King's dominions; and that eventually its influence would
be usefully felt throughout the rest of Ireland. This policy was carried
out under the rule of an English King, himself a Scot--James VI. of
Scotland and I. of England. Large numbers of settlers were brought over
to Ulster, many of them English, but the majority Scotch. We Ulster
Unionists who inhabit the province to-day, or at least the greater
number of us, are descendants of these settlers. The overwhelming
majority are passionately loyal to the British Throne and to the
maintenance of the integrity of the United Kingdom.

These things being so, it seems to Ulster Unionists that a grave
responsibility rests on their English and Scottish fellow-citizens, with
regard to our position, should any constitutional changes be imposed
upon our country. We are in Ireland as their trustees, having had
committed to us, through their and our forefathers, the development of
the material resources of Ulster, the preservation of its loyalty, and
the discharge of its share of Imperial obligations.

It cannot be denied, on an examination of the history of the last three
centuries, and especially of that of the one hundred and ten years since
the establishment of the Legislative Union, that, through good report
and ill report, and allowing for all our shortcomings, we have not
unsuccessfully fulfilled our trust. Our forefathers found a province,
the least favoured by nature of the four of which Ireland consists, and
it is to-day the stronghold of Irish industry and commerce. Its capital,
Belfast, stands abreast of the leading manufacturing centres in Great
Britain; it contains the foremost establishments in Europe, in respect
of such undertakings as linen manufacturing, ship-building, rope-making,
etc. It is the fourth port in the United Kingdom in respect of revenue
from Customs, its contributions thereto being £2,207,000 in 1910, as
compared with £1,065,000 from the rest of Ireland. Ulster's loyalty to
the British King and Constitution is unsurpassed anywhere in His
Majesty's dominions.

The North of Ireland has contributed to Imperial service some of its
greatest ornaments. England owes to Ulster Governors-General like Lord
Dufferin and Lord Lawrence; soldiers like John Nicholson and Sir George
White; administrators like Sir Henry Lawrence and Sir Robert Montgomery;
great judges like Lord Cairns and Lord Macnaghten. At the recent Delhi
Durbar the King decorated three Ulster men, one of them being Sir John
Jordan, British Ambassador at Pekin. Ulster produced Sir Robert Hart,
the incomparable Chinese administrator, who might also have been our
Ambassador to China had he accepted the position.

The Ulster plantation is the only one which has fulfilled the purpose
for which Irish plantations were made. The famous colonisation on both
sides of the Shannon by Cromwell entirely failed of its design, the
great proportion of its families having, through inter-marriage, become
absorbed in the surrounding population.

Ulster Unionists, therefore, having conspicuously succeeded in
maintaining the trust committed to their forefathers, and constituting
as they do a community intensely loyal to the British connection,
believe that they present a case for the unimpaired maintenance of that
connection which is impregnable on the grounds of racial sentiment,
inherent justice, social well-being, and the continued security of the
United Kingdom and of the Empire. They cannot believe that their British
fellow-citizens will, at this crisis, turn a deaf ear to this claim.
Three or four decades after the Ulster plantation, when, in the midst of
the horrors of 1641, the Scotch colony in Ulster was threatened with
extermination, it appealed for help to its motherland. It did not appeal
in vain. A collection for its benefit was made in the Scottish churches,
supplies of food and several regiments of Scottish soldiers were sent to
its aid, and its position was saved. We are confident that the
descendants of these generous helpers will be no less true to their
Ulster kith and kin to-day.

The history and present condition of Ulster throw an important light on
what is currently described as the national demand of Ireland for Home
Rule. There is no national Irish demand for Home Rule, because there
never has been and there is no homogeneous Irish nation. On the
contrary, as Mr. Chamberlain long ago pointed out, Ireland to-day
consists of two nations. These two nations are so utterly distinct in
their racial characteristics, in their practical ideals, in their
religious sanctions, and in their sense of civic and national
responsibility that they cannot live harmoniously side by side unless
under the even-handed control of a just central authority, in which at
the same time they have full co-partnership. Ireland, accordingly,
cannot make a claim for self-government on the ground that she is a
political unit. She consists of two units, which owe their distinctive
existence, not to geographical boundaries, but to inherent and
ineradicable endowments of character and aims. If, then, it is claimed
that the unit of Nationalist Ireland is to be entitled to choose its
particular relation to the British Constitution, the same choice
undoubtedly belongs to the Unionist unit.

But Mr. Birrell, for example, would tell us that the Nationalist unit in
Ireland is three times as large as the Unionist unit, and that therefore
the smaller entity should submit, because, as he has cynically observed,
"minorities must suffer, for that is the badge of their tribe." But a
minority in the United Kingdom is not to be measured by mere numbers;
its place in the Constitution is to be estimated by its contribution to
public well-being, by its relation to the industries and occupations of
its members, by its association with the upbuilding of national
character, by its fidelity to law and order, and by its sympathy with
the world mission of the British Empire in the interests of civil and
religious freedom. Tried by all these tests, Ulster is entitled to
retain her full share in every privilege of the whole realm. Tried by
the same tests the claim of 3,000,000 Irish Nationalists to break up the
constitution of the United Kingdom, of whose population they constitute
perhaps one-fifteenth, is surely unthinkable.

Other writers in this volume have discussed Home Rule as it affects
various vital interests in Ireland as a whole. It remains for me briefly
to point out its special relation to the Northern province--

1. _Home Rule, in the judgment of Ulster, would degrade the status of
Ulster citizenship by impairing its relationship to Imperial
Parliament._ This would be effected both by lessening or extinguishing
the representation of Ulster in that Parliament, and by removing the
control of Ulster rights and liberties from Imperial Parliament and
entrusting it to a hostile Parliament in Dublin. Ulstermen would thus
stand on a dangerously lower plane of civil privilege than their
fellow-citizens in Great Britain. To place them in this undeserved
inferiority, they hold to be unjust and cruel.

2. _Home Rule would gravely imperil our civil and religious liberties._
Ireland is pre-eminently a clerically controlled country, the number of
Roman Catholic priests being per head greater than that of any country
in Europe. Her staff of members of religious orders, male and female, is
also enormous, their numbers having increased during the last fifty
years 150 per cent., while the population has decreased 30 per cent. It
is undeniable, therefore, that in a Dublin Parliament, the overwhelming
majority of whose members would be adherents of the Roman Catholic
faith, the Roman ecclesiastical authority, which claims the right to
decide as to what questions come within the region of faith and morals
would be supreme. Great stress has lately been laid in Nationalist
speeches from British platforms on the tolerant spirit towards
Protestants which animates Irish Roman Catholics. We gladly acknowledge
that in most parts of Ireland Protestants and Roman Catholics, as
regards the ordinary affairs of life, live side by side on friendly
neighbourly terms. Indeed, that spirit, as a consequence of the growing
prosperity of Ireland, had been steadily increasing, till the recent
revival of the Home Rule proposal, with its attendant fears of
hierarchical ascendency, as illustrated by the promulgation of the _Ne
Temere_ decree, suddenly interrupted it. But the fundamental fact of the
case is, that in the last resort, it is not with their Roman Catholic
neighbours, or even with their hierarchy, that Irish Protestants have to
reckon; it is rather with the Vatican, the inexorable power behind them
all, whose decrees necessarily over-ride all the good-will which
neighbourly feeling might inspire in the Roman Catholic mind. The _Ne
Temere_ decree affords a significant premonition of the spirit which
would direct Home Rule legislation. It is noteworthy that no Nationalist
member has protested against the cruelties of that decree as shown in
the M'Cann case, and Mr. Devlin, M.P., even defended what was done from
his place in Parliament. This action is all the more significant in view
of the fact that during the Committee stage of the 1893 Home Rule Bill
Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Redmond, and his Irish Nationalist colleagues voted
against, and defeated, an Ulster amendment which proposed to exempt
marriage and other religious ceremonies from the legislative powers of
the Dublin Parliament. It would be intolerable that such litigation as
in the Hubert case at present in progress in Montreal, arising out of
the Marriage Law of the Province of Quebec, should be made possible in
Ireland. No paper safeguards in a Home Rule Bill could prevent it.

Again, a most serious peril has just been disclosed in the publication
of the _Motu Proprio_ Papal Decree, under which the bringing by a Roman
Catholic layman of a clergyman of his Church into any civil or criminal
procedure in a court of law, whether as defendant or witness, without
the sanction previously ob tamed of his bishop, involves to that layman
the extreme penalty of excommunication. The same penalty appears to be
incurred _ipso facto_ by any Roman Catholic Member of Parliament who
takes part in passing, and by every executive officer of the Government
who takes part in promulgating, a law or decree which is held to invade
the liberty or rights of the Church of Rome. This is a matter of supreme
importance in our civil life. It was one of the questions which, in
Reformation times, led to the breach between Henry VIII. and the Pope.
In a Dublin Parliament no power could resist the provisions of this
decree from becoming law. As a matter of fact, the liberty of speech and
voting attaching to every member of the Roman Catholic majority in a
Dublin Parliament would be under the absolute control of their
hierarchy. Each Roman Catholic member would be bound to act under the
dread of excommunication if he voted for or condoned any legislation
contrary to the asserted rights of his Church, or which conflicted with
its claims. Not only would the legislative independence of a Dublin
Parliament be thus destroyed, but the administration of justice would be
affected on every Bench in the country, from the Supreme Court of Appeal
down to ordinary petty sessions. A grievous wrong would be inflicted on
Roman Catholic judges and law officers, some of whom are unsurpassed for
integrity and legal ability. It is contrary to every principle of
justice to place these honourable men in a position in which they would
have to choose between their oath to their King and their
duty--arbitrarily imposed upon them--to their Church. Jurymen and
witnesses would be equally brought under the sinister influences of the
decree, and confidence in just administration of the law, which is at
the root of civil well-being, would be fatally destroyed.

3. _Home Rule would involve the entire denominationalising, in the
interests of the Roman Catholic Church, of Irish education in all its
branches._ To secure this result has long been the great educational aim
of the Irish hierarchy. How they have succeeded as regards higher
education Mr. Birrell's Irish Universities Act (1908) gives abundant
evidence. The National University of Ireland, created by that Act, which
on paper was represented to Nonconformists in England as having a
constitution free from religious tests, is now, according to the recent
boast of Cardinal Logue, thoroughly Roman Catholic, in spite of all
paper safeguards to the contrary. Persistent attempts have been made to
sectarianise the Irish primary National School system, founded seventy
years ago, and which now receives an annual State endowment of
£1,621,921, with the object of safeguarding the faith of the children of
minorities, on the principle of united secular and separate religious
instruction. That system worked so satisfactorily through many decades
that Lord O'Hagan, the eminent first Roman Catholic Lord Chancellor of
Ireland, declared that under it, up till his time, no case whatever of
proselytism to any Church had occurred. But gradually a sectarian system
of education under the Roman Catholic Church was developed through the
teaching order of Christian Brothers, whose schools are now to be found
all over Ireland, and which in many places now supplant the
non-sectarian schools of the National Board. The strongest efforts were
made to bring these sectarian schools into the system of the National
Board, and thus entitle them to a share of the State annual endowment.
There is no greater peril to the religious faith of Protestant
minorities in the border counties of Ulster and elsewhere in Ireland
than the sectarianising of primary schools by Roman Catholics. A few
years ago a Protestant member of a public service was transferred upon
promotion from Belfast to a Roman Catholic district, in which his boys
had no available school but that of the Christian Brothers, and his
girls none but that of the local convent. I shall never forget the
expression of that man's face or the pathos in his voice while he
pressed me to help him to obtain a transfer to a Protestant district, as
otherwise he feared his children would be lost to the faith of their
fathers. Given a Parliament in Dublin, the management of education would
be so conducted as gradually to extinguish Protestant minorities in the
border counties of Ulster and in the other provinces of Ireland. It is
here that a chief danger to Protestantism lies.

4. _Home Rule will seriously injure Ulster's material
prosperity--industrial, commercial, agricultural._ The root of the evil
will lie in the want of credit of an Irish Exchequer in the money
markets of the world. The best financial authorities agree that if
Ireland should be left to her own resources, there would be, on the
present basis of taxation, and after providing for a fair Irish
contribution towards Imperial defence, an annual deficit in the Irish
Exchequer of £3,000,000 to £4,000,000. An Irish Government in such
circumstances--consols themselves being now some £23 under par--could
not borrow money at any reasonable rate of interest. Ever; if the
British taxpayer were compelled to provide for the deficiency, either
by an annual grant or by payment of a divorce penalty of £15,000,000 to
£20,000,000, or by both, a prudent investor would fear that the annual
dole might at any moment be withdrawn should, for instance, John Bull
become irritated by the action of a Dublin Parliament, say, in declaring
enlisting in His Majesty's forces a criminal act; or that the capital
gift would soon be frittered away in the interests of agitators and
their friends. He would simply refuse to invest in Irish stock.

Now, a fundamental condition of commercial and industrial well-being is
financial confidence. If the Public Exchequer of a country lacks
confidence, it is a truism to say that consequently commercial
confidence must be gravely impaired. The magnates of Lombard Street and
Wall Street would view their Irish clients with unpleasant reserve.
Irish bankers would in turn restrict advances to their customers, and
these again would limit the credit of those with whom they transacted
business. Curtailment of industrial enterprise, the shutting down of
many manufacturing concerns, with consequent depreciation of buildings
and plant, as well as increase of unemployment, would follow. Already,
since the present Home Rule crisis has become acute, the handwriting on
the wall has been made evident in the depreciation of leading Irish
stocks to the extent of 15 to 20 per cent. Every one in trade would
suffer from the diminution of purchasing power, capital would shrink,
income and wages decrease, and the incentives to emigration, which is
already depriving our population of some of its most hopeful elements,
would be dangerously increased.

All these tendencies would be stimulated by the social disorganisation
which would certainly follow Home Rule. Unionist Ulster, from the Ulster
Convention of 1892, to the Craigavon demonstration of 1911, has been
consistent in her loyal determination that no Parliament but the
Imperial Parliament shall control her destinies. It is an ignorant
mistake to say that she is weakening in this resolve. The steadily
increasing Unionist majorities in contested Ulster seats at both
elections in 1910 conclusively prove that she is more staunch than ever
in her Unionist faith. She would certainly resist the decrees of a
Dublin Parliament and refuse to pay its taxes. The result of its passive
resistance would be civil disorder, which would certainly gravely injure
her industrial welfare, especially that of her artisan and working
population. But Ulstermen ask, What is industrial prosperity without
freedom? And if, in defence of freedom, they should suffer disaster, the
responsibility would lie with their fellow-citizens in Great Britain who
would impose a hostile yoke upon them.

Under Home Rule, agricultural Ulster would also suffer. Very many Ulster
farmers are now occupying owners. But a large number have not yet
succeeded in purchasing, and these eagerly desire the privilege of doing
so. Mr. Birrell's 1909 Act has already practically strangled further
land purchase in Ireland, and if he intends that its completion should
be the work of a Home Rule Parliament, the Ulster tenants ask where
would the £75,000,000 to £100,000,000 necessary to accomplish the
process, come from?[66] They know that the procuring of such a sum from
an Irish Government would be hopeless, for they are aware that
Englishmen have better judgment than to allow their Parliament to lend
further money to a country over which they had relinquished direct
Parliamentary authority, and whose Exchequer would be bankrupt. Home
Rule would thus permanently relegate the agricultural population, not
only of Ulster, but of Ireland generally, into two classes living side
by side with each other--one consisting of occupying owners, the other
of rent-payers without hope of ownership. The evil results in
discontent, friction, deterioration of agricultural methods and lessened
production would inflict serious injury on Ulster prosperity.

Again, Home Rule would involve Ulster industry and commerce in excessive
taxation. No one who is aware of the passionate desire amongst Irish
agitators and their friends for lucrative jobs, of the efforts that
would be made to subsidise industries with Government funds, of the
determination of the clergy to have their monastic, Christian Brothers',
monastic and convent schools largely supported by the State, and of the
impossibility, in view of the social disorder all over Ireland that
would follow Home Rule, of reducing further the police force or the
Judiciary, entertains any doubt that retrenchment in Irish expenditure
would be impossible. On the contrary, Irish taxation would increase, and
as recent legislation has placed upon Irish farmers imposts greater than
they think they can bear, the additional revenue would be sought for
mainly from the industrial North. But with business disorganised,
incomes decreased and unemployment increased, the yield of taxation
would be much reduced, and the rate must therefore be made higher. All
this would fortify Ulster in her determined refusal to pay Home Rule
taxation, and the bankruptcy of the Dublin Exchequer would be complete.

It is from having regard to considerations such as I have outlined, and
of the validity of which she is profoundly convinced, that Ulster has
registered the historic Convention declaration, "We will not have Home
Rule." Her position is plain and intelligible. She demands no separation
from her Nationalist countrymen. On the contrary, she wishes, under the
protection of the Legislative Union, to live side by side with them in
peaceful industry and neighbourly fellowship, with the desire that they
and we may in common partake of the benefits conferred on Ireland by
generous Imperial legislation and repay it by sympathetic and energetic
contribution to the service of the Empire.

But if Home Rule legislation should be passed contrary to Ulster's
earnest and patriotic pleading, then she claims--not a separate
Parliament for herself, but that she may remain as she is in the
unimpaired enjoyment of her position as an integral portion of the
United Kingdom and with unaltered representation in Imperial Parliament.
She wishes to continue as an Irish Lancashire, or an Irish Lanarkshire.
In this relationship to Great Britain she is confident she will best
preserve, not only her own interests, but also those of her fellow
loyalists, Roman Catholic as well as Protestants, whose lot is cast in
the other provinces and whose welfare will always be her responsible and
earnest concern.

But if this demand--based on loyalty to the King and Constitution, and
founded on the elementary right of British citizens to the unimpaired
protection of Imperial Parliament--be refused, then the only alternative
is the Ulster Provincial Government, which will be organised to come
into operation on the day that a Home Rule Bill should receive the Royal
Assent; and under that Provisional Government we shall continue to
support our King, and to render the same services' to the United Kingdom
and to the Empire as have characterised the history of Ulster during the
past three hundred years.


[Footnote 66: See Mr. Wyndham's article, p. 249.]




At the present moment no county or borough in the three southern
provinces of Ireland returns a Unionist member. There are substantial
minorities in many places, but very few in which there would be any
chance of a successful contest. The University of Dublin sends two
conspicuous Unionists to Parliament, who represent not only a
constituency of graduates, but the vast majority of educated and
thinking people. The bearing of the question on religious interests will
be dealt with by others, but it may be said here that the Protestant
community is Unionist. The exceptions are few, and are much more than
counter-balanced by the Roman Catholic opponents of Home Rule, who for
obvious reasons are less outspoken, but are quite as anxious to avert
the threatened revolution.

The great bone of contention has always been the land, the cause of
various wars and of ceaseless civil disputes. Parnell saw and said that
purely political Nationalism was weak by itself, and he took up the land
question to get leverage. For many years it has been evident that the
only feasible solution was to convert occupiers into owners, and a very
long step was made by the Purchase Act of 1903. Progress has now been
arrested, for the Act of 1909 does not work. The vendors or expropriated
owners, whichever is the more correct term, are expected to take a lower
price and to be paid in depreciated paper. The minorities to be most
immediately affected by legislation consist of landlords who are unable,
though willing, to sell, and of tenants who are unable but very anxious
to buy. The present deadlock is disastrous, for many tenants think they
ought not to pay more than their neighbours, and demand reductions of
rent without considering that the owner has received no part of his
capital and dares not destroy the basis on which he hopes to be
ultimately paid. It has been an essential part of the purchase policy
that the instalment due by the occupier to recoup the State advance
should be less than the rent. This has been made possible by the magic
of British credit, and if that is withheld the confusion in Ireland will
be worse than ever. The Exchequer has lost little or nothing, and even
at much greater cost it would be the cheapest money that England ever
spent. More than half the tenanted land has now passed to the occupiers,
and it would be the most cruel injustice to leave the remaining
landlords without power either to sell their property or to collect
rents judicially fixed and refixed. They would fare badly with an Irish
legislature and an Irish executive. They are, for the most part, poor
but loyal men, and have exercised a great civilising influence. Are they
to be deserted and ruined to keep an English party in place by the votes
of men who have never pretended to be anything but England's enemies?

Irish Unionists laugh at the idea of a local Parliament being kept
subordinate. It will have the power of making laws for everything Irish,
that is, for everything that immediately concerns those that live in
Ireland. There will be ceaseless efforts to enlarge its sphere of
action, and if Irish members continue to sit at Westminster they will be
as troublesome as ever there. If there are to be no Irish members
Ireland will be a separate nation. Even candid Home Rulers confess that
statutory safeguards would be of none effect. Hedged in by British
bayonets the Lord Lieutenant may exercise his veto, but upon whose
advice will he do it? If on that of an Irish Ministry the minority will
have no protection at all, and does any one suppose it possible to go
back to the practice of the seventeenth century, when all Irish Bills
were settled in the English Privy Council, and could not be altered in a
Dublin Parliament? Orators declaim about our lost legislature, but they
take good care not to say what it was. In the penultimate decade of the
eighteenth century the trammels were taken off, and a Union was soon
found necessary. During the short interval of Independence there were
two French invasions and a bloody rebellion. Protestant ascendency,
though used as a catchword, is a thing long past. Roman Catholic
ascendency would be a very real thing under Home Rule. The supremacy of
the Imperial Parliament alone makes both the one and the other

If a legislature is established it must be given the means of enforcing
its laws. We do not know what the present Government propose to do with
the Irish police, but whatever the law says in practice, they will be
under the local executive. Unpopular people will not be protected, and
many of them will be driven out of the country. Parliamentary Home
Rulers draw rosy pictures of the future Arcadia; but they will not be
able to fulfil their own prophecies. Apart from the agrarian question,
there is the party of revolutionists in Ireland whose headquarters are
in America. They have furnished the means for agitation, and will look
for their reward. The Fenian party has less power in the United States
than it used to have, but there will be congenial work to do in Ireland.
A violent faction can be kept in order where there is a strong
government, but in a Home Rule Ireland it would not be strong for any
such purpose. Appeals to cupidity and envy would find hearers, and there
could be no effective resistance. The French Jacobins were a minority
but they swept all before them. In the end better counsels might
prevail, but the mischief done would be great, and much of it

The justice dealt out by the superior courts in Ireland is as good as it
is anywhere. A judge in the last resort has the whole force of the State
behind him, and no one dreams of resistance. With an Irish Parliament
and an Irish Executive this would hardly be the case. The judges would
still be lawyers, but their power would be greatly impaired. In Ireland
popular feeling is always against creditors, and it would be very hard
indeed either to execute a writ of ejectment or a seizure of goods. If
the sanction of the law is weakened, public respect for it is lessened,
and the result will be a general relaxation of the bonds which draw
society together. There is nothing in the antecedents of the Home Rule
Party to make one suppose that it contains the materials of a good and
impartial government.

Home Rule politicians are talkative and pertinacious. As members of
Parliament they are of course listened to, while Unionists outside
Ulster make little noise; it is, therefore, constantly said that they
acquiesce in the inevitable change. Unrepresented men cannot easily make
themselves heard, but they have done what they could. An enormous
meeting has been held in Dublin, and the building, which contains some
7000, was filled in a quarter of an hour. There has since been a large
gathering of young men who wish to remain full citizens of the Empire in
which they were born, and others are to follow. In rural districts it is
almost impossible to collect people in winter. Days are short and
distances are long. Unionist farmers cannot forget the outrages that
prevailed some years ago, and are not yet unknown. In the native land of
boycotting and cattle-driving it is not surprising that they do not wish
to be conspicuous. The difficulty extends to the towns, in many of which
it would be almost impossible to hire a room for Unionist purposes.
Hotel keepers object to risking their business and their windows, for a
mob is easily excited to riot on patriotic grounds. Shopkeepers also
have to be cautious in a country which has been wittily described as a
land of liberty where no one can do as he likes, but where every one
must do exactly what everybody else likes. In the summer people can meet
in the open air, and there will, no doubt, be abundant protests from
Southern Unionists. There will then be something definite to talk about.

It is often said that the County Councils have done well, and that
therefore there is no danger in an Irish Parliament, but the two things
are different in kind. County or District Councils, or Boards of
Guardians, are constituted by Acts of the Imperial Parliament to
administer Acts of the same, and are subject to constant supervision by
the Local Government Board, and to the peremptory action of the King's
Bench. A Parliament is by nature supreme within its sphere of action,
and its constant effort would be to enlarge that field. The men who aim
at independence would have the easy part to play, for no one in or out
of Ulster, former Unionist or confirmed Nationalist, would have any
interest in opposing them. In the meantime local councils have taught us
what is likely to happen. Minorities are virtually excluded from them
and from paid places in their gift. Of Protestants holding local office
the great majority are survivals from the old Grand Jury system.
Political discussions are frequent, but they are all among Nationalists.
Intolerance of independent opinion and impatience of criticism are
everywhere noticeable, and the Corporation of Dublin does not show a
good example. It is intolerance of this kind rather than any approach to
religious persecution that Protestants suffer from in the present and
fear for the future.

Men who have something to lose dread the idea of Home Rule, including
farmers who have bought their holdings, but as yet this has not been
allowed time to work. There is a long way between not caring to support
a Nationalist and voting for a Unionist. The chief employers of labour
are mostly for the Union, but few are in a position to help the Unionist
cause effectively, for they have to deal with strike makers and possible
boycotters. When Labour troubles come, Nationalist politicians try to
make out that they are caused by English agitators, and that there would
be none under Home Rule. The probability is all the other way. There
could be nothing in the existence of an Irish Parliament to prevent
English Socialists from crossing the Channel, and some Labour leaders in
England are Irish. We have heard a great deal lately about the union of
the two democracies, and that is the point where they would unite.
Passing from labour to land, which is after all the great interest of
Southern and Western Ireland, the danger is even greater. With the loss
of British credit it would be almost impossible to carry out the plan of
occupying ownership without the grossest injustice, and the mischief
would not stop there. An Irish Government would be poor, but would be
expected to do all and more than all that the united government has
done. At first the gap might be stopped by extravagant super-income tax,
by half-compensated seizures of demesne land, and by penalising the
owners of ground rents and town property. Confiscation is not a
permanent source of wealth, for it soon kills the goose that laid the
golden egg. Then the turn of the large farmer would come.

Most Unionists, and many who call themselves Home Rulers, are satisfied
with the form of government they now have. The country has prospered
wonderfully, and it will continue to prosper if the land purchase system
is carried out to the end in a liberal spirit. The worst danger comes
from the check given to the process by the present Ministry. But the
national feelings of Ireland must not be ignored. Her far-back history,
bad in itself, but represented worse by unscrupulous writers, makes it
necessary to maintain an impartial power above the warring elements. In
a pastoral country people have much time on their hands, and are apt to
spend it in brooding over bygone wrongs. But over the past not Jove
himself hath power, and it is for the future that we are responsible.
From Wellington onwards Ireland has given many great soldiers to the
British Army, and it is the classes from which they spring that it is
now proposed to abandon. Under Home Rule the flag would be a foreign
emblem, useless to protect the weak in Ireland, and perhaps available to
oppress them. England would have cast off her friends and gained none in
exchange. Nothing will conciliate the revolutionary faction in Ireland,
and there is every reason to think that it would become the strongest.
Modern Ireland is the creation of English policy, and many wrong things
were formerly done, but for a long time amends have been making. If
England, from weariness or for the sake of Party advantage, abandons her
supporters, they will have no successors. Ireland will be more
troublesome than ever, and the crime will receive its fitting




Ireland under Home Rule must, in the event of war, be regarded as a
potentially hostile country.

In this statement resides the dominant factor of the situation viewed
from the naval and military point of view. It is not asserted that the
government of Ireland would be disloyal; but it is asserted that the
authorities charged with the defence of his Majesty's dominions cannot
afford to take risks when the safety of the country is at stake. That
such risks must exist under the circumstances indicated, is obvious to
all those who have studied the speeches of the leaders of the Irish
Nationalist party, in which they have unequivocally declared their
intention to rid Ireland of English rule, and in which they extol as
heroes such men as Theobald Wolfe Tone, who intrigued with France
against England in order to achieve Irish independence, and who took his
own life rather than receive the just reward of his deeds. That some
among the Irish Nationalist leaders have recently professed their
devotion to the British Empire cannot be regarded by serious persons as
a relevant consideration. The demand for Home Rule is in fact a demand
for separation from the United Kingdom or it is nothing. Naval officers
are accustomed to deal with facts rather than with words.

In the great sea-wars of the past, Ireland has always been regarded by
the enemy as providing the base for a flank attack upon England. Had
King Louis XIV. rightly used his opportunities, the army of King William
would have been cut off from its base in England, and would have been
destroyed by reinforcements arriving from France to assist King James
II. There is no more concise presentment of the case than the account of
it given by Admiral Mahan in "The Influence of Sea Power upon History,

     "The Irish Sea, separating the British Islands, rather resembles an
     estuary than an actual division; but history has shown the danger
     from it to the United Kingdom. In the days of Louis XIV., when the
     French navy nearly equalled the combined English and Dutch, the
     gravest complications existed in Ireland, which passed almost
     wholly under the control of the natives and the French.
     Nevertheless, the Irish Sea was rather a danger to the English--a
     weak point in their communications--than an advantage to the
     French. The latter did not venture their ships-of-the-line in its
     narrow waters, and expeditions intending to land were directed upon
     the ocean ports in the south and west. At the supreme moment the
     great French fleet was sent upon the south coast of England, where
     it decisively defeated the allies, and at the same time twenty-five
     frigates were sent to St. George's Channel, against the English
     communications. In the midst of a hostile people the English army
     in Ireland was seriously imperilled, but was saved by the battle of
     the Boyne and the flight of James II. _This movement against the
     enemy's communications was strictly strategic, and would be just as
     dangerous to England now as in 1690_[67]....

     "There can be little doubt that an effective co-operation of the
     French fleet in the summer of 1689 would have broken down all
     opposition to James in Ireland, by isolating that country from
     England, with corresponding injury to William's power....

     "The battle of the Boyne, which from its peculiar religious
     colouring has obtained a somewhat factitious celebrity, may be
     taken as the date at which the English crown was firmly fixed on
     William's head. Yet it would be more accurate to say that the
     success of William, and with it the success of Europe, against
     Louis XIV. in the war of the League of Augsburg, was due to the
     mistakes and failure of the French naval campaign in 1690; though
     in that campaign was won the most conspicuous single success the
     French have ever gained at sea over the English."

Every great naval power has gone to school to Admiral Mahan; and this
country can hardly expect again to profit by those mistakes in strategy
which the gifted American writer has so lucidly exposed.

Ireland, lying on the western flank of Great Britain, commands on the
south the approaches to the Channel, on the west the North Atlantic; and
on the east the Irish Sea, all sea-roads by which millions of pounds'
worth of supplies are brought to England. On every coast Ireland has
excellent harbours. There are Lough Swilly on the north, Blacksod Bay on
the west, Bantry Bay, Cork Harbour and Waterford Harbour on the south,
Kingstown Harbour and Belfast Lough on the east--to name but
these--besides numerous lesser inlets which can serve as shelter for
small craft and destroyers. It should here be noted that Belfast
Harbour, owing to the enterprise of the Harbour Board, now possesses a
channel and dock capable of accommodating a ship of the Dreadnought

There is no necessity to presuppose an actively hostile Ireland; but an
Ireland ruled by a disloyal faction would easily afford shelter to the
warships of the enemy in her ports, whence they could draw supplies,
where they could execute small repairs, and could coal from colliers
despatched there for the purpose or captured. Thus lodged, a fleet or a
squadron would command the main trade routes to England; and might
inflict immense damage in a short time. Intelligence of its position
could be prevented from reaching England by the simple method of
destroying wireless stations and cutting cables.

These considerations would necessarily impose upon the Navy the task of
detaching a squadron of watching cruisers charged with the duty of
keeping guard about the whole of Ireland.

Is the Admiralty prepared to discharge this office in the event of war?

If not, there falls to be considered the further danger of the invasion
of Ireland. That such a peril is not imaginary, is proved by the fact
that Ireland has been invaded in the past.

The attempt of Hoche and Grouchy to land in Bantry Bay in 1796 failed
ignominiously; and the next expedition designed to invade Ireland was
defeated at Camperdown. But in 1798, the year of the Great Rebellion in
Ireland, three French frigates evaded the British cruisers, and on
August 22 dropped anchor in Killala Bay. General of Brigade, Jean Joseph
Amable Humbert, landed with his second in command, General Sarazin,
several rebel Irish leaders, 1700 men and 82 officers.

On August 27 Humbert defeated the British troops at Castlebar "Races."
On September 8, his forces surrendered at Ballinamuck to Lord
Cornwallis. General Humbert was carried to England; and it is worth
noting that while he was on his way, Admiral Bompard set sail from Brest
with a ship of the line and three frigates, carrying 2587 men and 172
officers, commanded by General Hardy and the notorious Wolfe Tone
(called General Smith for the occasion). Bompard was turned back by an
English fleet of forty-two sail. The obvious conclusion of the whole
matter is that the fleet can stop an invasion, always provided that the
ships thereof are the right number in the right place at the right time.

The Irish Rebellion of 1798 is often discussed as though it was wholly
bred of the corruption of Ireland itself. The fact was, of course, that
it was an offshoot of the French Revolution, and that the condition of
Ireland at the time was no more than a contributory cause. My Lords
Cornwallis, Castlereagh, and Clare, in combating the forces of the
Rebellion, were actually in conflict with the vast insurrections of the
French nation. The design of the Irish rebels was to enlist the mighty
destructive force of France to serve their own ends.

Wolfe Tone and his colleague Lewens, in 1796, had succeeded in
persuading Carnot and the French Directory to embrace the cause of
Ireland. When the Rebellion of 1798 broke out, Lewens wrote to the
Directory reminding them that they had promised that France should
postulate the conferring of independence upon Ireland as the condition
of making peace with England, and specifying five thousand troops of all
arms, and thirty thousand muskets with artillery and ammunition, as
sufficient to ensure the success of the Rebellion.

The attitude of the Directory is defined in the despatch addressed to
General Hardy (upon whom the supreme command of the Humbert expedition
at first devolved) by Bruix, Minister of Marine, dated July 30, 1798.

"The executive Directory is busily engaged in arranging to send help to
the Irish who have taken up arms to sever the yoke of British rule. It
is for the French Government to second the efforts of a brave people who
have too long suffered under oppression."

In other words, the Directory regarded the achievement of her
independence by Ireland as an enterprise incidental to the greater
scheme of the conquest of England and of Europe.

It was further laid down in the despatch that "it is most important to
take every possible means to arouse the public spirit of the country,
and particularly to foster sedulously its hatred of the English name ...
There has never been an expedition whose result might more powerfully
affect the political situation in Europe, or could more advantageously
assist the Republic...."

Irish conspirators have never risen to play any part higher than the
office of cat's-paw to a foreign nation. To-day, they are content--at
present--to bribe with votes a political party in England. But it is
none the less essential to remember that, as in 1688 and as in 1798 a
great and militant foreign Power used the weapon of Irish sedition
against England, so in 1912 the same instrument lies ready to hand. For
the Home Rule conspiracy of to-day is nothing but the lees of the evil
heritage bequeathed by the French Revolution.

It is the business of the naval officer, who is not concerned with party
politics, to estimate the posture of international affairs solely in
relation to the security of the State. The condition of Ireland at this
moment, when the Home Rule issue has been wantonly revived, would, in
the event of a war occurring between Great Britain and a foreign Power,
involve the necessity of regarding Ireland as a strategic base of
essential value, a part of whose inhabitants might combine with the
hostile forces by giving them shelter and supplies, and even by inviting
them to occupy the country. Elsewhere in these pages, Lord Percy has
pointed out that the necessity of holding a disaffected Ireland by
garrisoning the country would totally disorganise our military
preparations for war--such as they are.

These considerations must materially affect strategical dispositions in
the event of war, involving the establishment and maintenance of a
separate force of cruisers charged with the duty of patrolling the sea
routes which converge upon Ireland, and of watching the harbours of her
coasts. As matters stand at present, such a force does not exist.

It may, of course, be urged that a strategical plan designed for the
double purpose of surveying the movements of a hostile battle-fleet and
of guarding the trade-routes, must of necessity cover the coasts of
Ireland, on the principle that the greater includes the less. The
argument, however, omits the essential qualification that a part of the
Irish population cannot be trusted. It is this additional difficulty
which has been introduced into the problem of naval defence by the
revival by politicians of the agitation of 1798, under another name.


[Footnote 67: The writer's italics.]

[Footnote 68: According to _The Daily Telegraph_ of January 22, 1912.]




The problems of Imperial defence have become of late years extremely
complex, owing to the rise of a great European naval power, and also to
the predominance of Japan in the Pacific. These two factors, combined
with the invention of the Dreadnought type of ship which is now being
built by other powers whose navies we could formerly afford to ignore,
have rendered our position in the world more precarious, more dependent
upon foreign alliances and _ententes_, and have rendered combination for
defence far more essential. No Home Rule scheme can be judged without
taking into consideration what its effect will be on this situation. It
is proposed to consider it first in the light of the more pressing
European danger, and next to examine how it will affect the wider
problem of the future, namely, the co-operation of all parts of the
British Empire for defence.

But first it is of course necessary to find out what Home Rule means,
and what the internal state of Ireland will be if it passes. On this
point there is at present no certainty. We can dismiss at once Mr.
Redmond's picture of a serenely contented and grateful Ireland, only
desirous of helping her benefactor, and, under a strong and
incorruptible government, engaged in setting its house in order. The
presence of a strong Protestant community, the history of the Roman
Catholic Church in all countries, and the deliberate fostering of
separatist national ideals preclude the possibility of anything but a
prolonged period of unrest, which, on the most favourable hypothesis,
can only cease altogether when the present generation has passed away.
This unrest may take two forms; either civil war, or a condition where
the rousing of old animosities, religious and otherwise, leads to
internal disturbances of all kinds. It is not proposed to deal here with
the consequences involved by the calling in of troops to suppress by
force of arms an insurrectionary movement against the Government of
Ireland. In view of the present state of affairs in Ulster, such an
event seems extremely probable, but the disastrous results of passing
Home Rule in face of it are so patent to all that it is unnecessary to
enlarge upon them here. We have, therefore, to consider a condition of
things in which old mutual hatreds have re-awakened, in which Ireland
will be governed by men who have up till now preached sedition, have
done their best to check recruiting, who have deliberately set up an
ideal of "complete separation" as their ultimate goal, and whose motto
has always been "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity."

It is conceivable, of course, though it is extremely improbable, that
these aims and ideals may be abjured in course of time, but the gravity
of these risks must be taken into account in examining Ireland's
position in any scheme of national and Imperial defence both now and in
the future.

And in this connection it may be remarked that an almost exact analogy
to the situation which will probably result from this measure may be
seen in the events which preceded the Boer war, and it seems somewhat
remarkable that those who endeavour to justify Home Rule by the supposed
Colonial analogy should overlook a warning so evident and so recent in
the history of our oversea dominions.

A Separatist party in Ireland would be enabled to work for ultimate
independence as did President Kruger, and by the same methods, the same
secret acquisition of arms and implements of war, the same building of
fortresses with a view to a declaration of independence when a suitable
opportunity arrived; and this would be all the more likely to occur if
Ulster were exempted from a Home Rule Parliament. In this case Ulstermen
would occupy exactly the same position as did the Uitlanders from 1895
to 1899. The same arguments for granting independence to Ireland are
used now, the same talk of injustice towards those who are disloyal with
equal disregard of the loyalist section, and the results will be the
same. Would independence have been granted to the Transvaal or Orange
Free State had their use of it been foreseen? Taking the factors in both
cases into account, is there anything to justify the doubt that a
repetition of that situation will occur, with the only difference that
eventual rupture will probably entail the dismemberment of the Empire?

It is universally acknowledged that this country is at present faced
with a more critical European situation than any we have experienced for
a hundred years. It has tied our fleet to home waters, and has induced a
very large and influential section of our people to advocate the
necessity of compulsory military service. Our military organisation is
on the face of it a makeshift, and the makeshift is not even complete,
for in the Territorial Army and the Special Reserve alone there is a
shortage of more than 80,000 men.

Now, our foreign policy of _ententes_ and the needs of our oversea
territories have necessitated a military organisation, the foundation of
which is readiness to undertake an oversea expedition as well as to
provide for home defence. The critical situation in Europe especially
will demand the instant despatch of our Expeditionary Force on the
outbreak of war, in which case there will be left in these islands the
following forces after deducting 10 per cent, for casualties:--

About 55,000 Regulars, of whom 30,000 will be under 20 years of age.

About 30,000 Reservists. These will be required to reinforce the
Expeditionary Force.

About 60,000 Special Reservists. Some 30,000 of these are under 20. This
force is to be used to reinforce the troops abroad.

About 245,000 Territorials. 72,000 of these are under 20.

In all there are some 400,000 men, of whom 130,000 are boys and 60,000
will leave the country soon after war breaks out. This will leave some
210,000 men to provide for the defence of England, Scotland, and
Ireland, supplemented by 130,000 boys. These troops will be deprived of
practically all Regular and even Reserve officers, and will have to
provide for coast defence, for the security of law and order, and for
the numbers required for a central field force. By means of juggling
with figures, by the registration of names in what is called the
National Reserve, but has no organisation or corporate existence, and by
similar means, the seriousness of this situation has been concealed to
some extent, but it is generally recognised as being little short of a
national scandal, and would not be tolerated were it not for the general
ignorance of our people concerning the exigencies of war and their blind
belief in the omnipotence of the navy. This defencelessness has two
dangers: firstly, the chance of a successful raid or invasion. As long
as our navy is not defeated, no invading force of more than 70,000 men
is supposed to be capable of landing. The second danger is that the mere
fear of such an event will prevent the despatch of the Expeditionary
Force and the fulfilment of our oversea obligations.

It must be obvious that in the precarious state of our national defence
anything which renders either of these dangers more probable should be
avoided at all costs. If, for instance, the condition of Ireland should
demand the maintenance of a larger garrison in that country, the whole
of our present organisation for defence falls to pieces. Looking only at
the present foreign situation, and the ever-growing menace of increasing
armaments, if the passing of Home Rule should require the retention of a
single extra soldier in Ireland, it is perfectly certain that nothing
could justify the adoption of such a measure. It is not intended to
convey the impression that there is any fear of Ireland repeating the
history of 1796 and welcoming a foreign invasion, although it is
impossible to ignore the anti-English campaign of agitation, or to say
to what length it will go; but the mere fact of internal dissension in
that country will give an enemy exactly the chance he looks for. Many of
those best qualified to judge are of opinion that Germany is only
waiting to free herself of an embarrassing situation, until one power of
the Triple Entente is for the time being too much occupied to intervene
in a Continental struggle. We have had one warning when, in September,
1911, a railway strike at home coincided with a foreign crisis. Are we
deliberately to take a step which will almost certainly involve us in a
similar dilemma?

This is the more immediate danger, but, apart from this, the strategical
value of Ireland will be profoundly affected by its separation from
England, and this constitutes a grave source of weakness, even if
internal trouble be avoided, and a comparatively loyal government be
installed. Ireland lies directly across all the trade routes by which
nearly all our supplies of food and raw material are brought, and it
covers the principal trade centres of the Midlands and the South of
Scotland. In any attack by an enemy on our commerce, Ireland will become
of supreme importance. There are two stages in every naval war: first,
the engagement between the two navies; second, the blockade or
destruction of the ships of the beaten side. This was the method by
which we fought Napoleon, but even then we could not prevent the enemy's
ships escaping from time to time; and even after we had destroyed their
navy at Trafalgar, the damage to our oversea commerce was enormous.
Nowadays, torpedoes, submarines, and floating mines have rendered
blockade infinitely more precarious, and consequently we have to take
into account the extreme probability, and indeed, certainty, of hostile
cruisers escaping and menacing our oversea supplies. This danger will be
increased tenfold if Germany has been able to defeat France, and use
French, Dutch, and Belgian ports for privateering purposes. In the
second, if not in the first, stage of European war, therefore, the
closest co-operation between the governments of Ireland and England will
be essential. In this case, Queenstown and Lough Swilly will be the
bases for our own protecting cruisers, and on their success will depend
the issues of life and death for our people. As the West of Ireland is
the nearest point in these islands to America, it is probable that
cargoes destined for English ports will reach them _via_ Ireland to
avoid the longer sea-transit. Lord Wolseley has even gone so far as to
minimise the dangers of blockade, because the Irish coast offered such
facilities for blockade-running. It is certain that in our greatest need
Ireland might well prove our salvation, provided we had not absolutely
lost command of the sea, and this advantage a Liberal Government is
prepared to jeopardise for reasons, which, compared with the interests
at stake, are little less than sordid.

But even if Ireland be less directly affected by war than in this case,
and even if its internal condition should give little anxiety, the very
nature of its resources should prevent us taking a step which may
deprive us of them in emergency or, at least, render them less readily
available. Not only do we draw a number of our soldiers from there, out
of all proportion to the quotas provided by the populations of England
and Scotland, but we are absolutely dependent for our mounted branches
on Irish horses. For our supplies in time of stress, for our horses, and
for a great and valuable recruiting area, we shall be forced to rely on
a government whose future is wrapped in the deepest obscurity, and which
at the best is hardly likely to give us enthusiastic support.

Our whole military organisation is becoming more decentralised and more
dependent on voluntary effort; it is devolving more and more upon
Territorial Associations and local bodies of all kinds. We do not
possess the reserves of horses and transport which continental nations
hold ready for use on mobilisation, and, as a substitute, we have had to
fall back on a system of registration which demands care, zeal, and
energy on the part of these civilian bodies. How will an Irish
Government and its officials fulfil a duty which will be distorted by
every Nationalist into an attempt to employ the national resources for
the sole benefit of England?

War is a stern taskmaster, demanding long years of preparation and
combination of effort for one end. The political separation of the two
countries does not alter the fact that they are, in the military sense,
one area of operations and of supply, and, at a time like the present,
when the mutual dependence of all parts of the Empire is gradually being
realised; when the dominions are building navies, and all our
dependencies are co-operating in one scheme of defence for the whole;
when the elaboration of the details of this scheme are the pressing need
of the hour, the dissolution of the Union binding together the very
heart of the Empire, is a strategic mistake, the disastrous significance
of which it is impossible to exaggerate. For it must be remembered that
here is no analogy to a federation of semi-independent provinces as in
Canada, where national defence is equally the interest of the whole.
Ireland has never recognised this community of interest with England.
Quebec, it is true, stands aloof and indifferent to the ideals of the
sister provinces; but there is no bitter religious hatred, no fierce,
anti-national aims fostered by ancient traditions, life-long feuds and
unscrupulous agitation, and every Canadian knows that Quebec would fight
to the last against American aggression, if only to preserve her
religious independence. There is no such bond here--or, at least, the
Irish Nationalist has refused to acknowledge it.

The year 1912 has opened amid signs of unrest and change, the meaning or
the end of which no man can know. In the Far East and the Near East
political and religious systems are disappearing, and chaos is steadily
increasing. In Europe the nations have set out on the march to
Armageddon, and there is no staying the progress of their armaments. In
Great Britain alone the question of preparation for war is shirked on
the plea that it is one for experts, and even soldiers and sailors,
drawn into the political vortex, make light of our necessities,
believing in the hopelessness of ever convincing the people of the truth
until "a white calamity of steel and iron, the bearing of burdens and
the hot rage of insult," fall upon us. It is for this reason that we see
the extraordinary phenomenon of men denying the necessity for becoming
a nation in arms, and yet urging our Government to contract no
friendships abroad, and to interfere on behalf of every petty princedom
oppressed by a powerful neighbour, and every downtrodden subject of some
foreign power. It is these same men who wish to dissolve the Union, and
to impose obligations at home upon an inadequate army which would leave
us powerless abroad. And the longer war delays in coming, the greater
will be the danger when it comes. With the increase in armaments, this
country must undergo a proportionate sacrifice. If compulsory service
should be adopted, it must apply to Ireland as well as the United
Kingdom. But how will an independent government in Dublin view the
compulsory enrolment of the manhood of Ireland, two-thirds of which have
been taught to regard England as the national and hereditary enemy? The
Irish are, above all, a military race. Had we been able to enforce such
service within the Union, whatever temporary opposition it might have
encountered, it might ultimately have proved an indissoluble bond of

The future is very dark, and it is all important that we should face it
with open eyes. War cannot long be delayed, and there is too little time
left to put our house in order. Even if Home Rule could be shown to be
an act of justice due to a wronged people who have proved themselves
capable of self-government, even then it could not be justified in the
present crisis abroad. But it is not so. Ulster will fight for the same
cause as did the Northern States of America, and may well show the same
self-sacrifice. It will be civil war in a country peculiarly adapted to
the movements of irregular troops, well acquainted with its features; it
will be accompanied by atrocities which will be remembered for
centuries. And this is the tremendous risk we are deliberately running,
when we only possess six divisions of regular troops to support our
allies on the continent and to safeguard the interests of the whole
British Empire.

It is for the British people to decide whether the thin red line is to
be still thinner in the day of battle, and whether those who should be
fighting side by side shall be embittered and divided, or whether they
will rather believe the words of the greatest naval expert living[69]:

     "It is impossible for a military man or a statesman with
     appreciation of military conditions, to look at the map and not
     perceive that the ambition of the Irish separatists, realised,
     would be even more threatening to the national life than the
     secession of the South was to that of the American Union."


[Footnote 69: Admiral Mahan.]





Irish Unionists are determined in their opposition to Home Rule by many
considerations. But deepest of all is the conviction that, on the
establishment of a separate legislature and executive for Ireland, the
religious difficulty, which is ever with us here, would be increased
enormously. Occasionally, in English newspapers and in Irish political
speeches, there occur phrases which imply that the Protestant
ascendency, as it was called, still exists in Ireland. Those who know
Ireland are well aware that this is not merely false: it is impossible.
Even in Belfast, as a recent controversy proved, Roman Catholics get
their full share of whatever is to be had. There are no Roman Catholic
disabilities. The majority has every means of making its power felt. At
the present moment, the most impossible of all things in Ireland is that
Roman Catholics, as such, should be oppressed or unfairly treated.

It used to be imagined that when this happy condition was attained there
would be no more religious disagreement in Ireland. But events have
shown the exact opposite to be the case. There never was a time when
there was in the minds of Irish Protestants so deep a dread of Roman
aggression, and so firm a conviction that the object of that aggression
is the complete subjection of this country to Roman domination.
Recalling very distinctly the events and discussions of 1886 and 1893,
when Home Rule for Ireland seemed so near accomplishment under Mr.
Gladstone's leadership, the writer has no hesitation in saying that the
dread of Roman tyranny is now far more vivid and, as a motive, far more
urgent than it was at those epochs. Protestants are now convinced, as
never before, that Home Rule must mean Rome Rule, and that, should it be
forced upon them, in spite of all their efforts, they will be face to
face with a struggle for liberty and conscience such as this land has
not witnessed since the year 1690. That such should be the conviction of
one-fourth of the people of Ireland, and that fourth by far the most
energetic portion of its inhabitants, is a fact which politicians may
well lay to heart.

Approaching this subject as one whose duties give him the spiritual
oversight of more than 200,000 of the Protestants of Ireland--members of
the Church of Ireland, and who has had twenty-seven years of experience
as a clergyman in Ireland, both in the north and in the south, the
writer may venture to speak with some confidence as to the mind of the
people among whom he has worked for so long. In doing so, he feels at
liberty to say that he is one who has always avoided religious
controversy, and who has ever made it his endeavour to be tolerant and
considerate of the feelings and convictions of others. He has a deep
regard for his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, and recognises to the
full their many excellent qualities and the sincerity of their religion.

It is possible to bring to a single point the reasons which make Irish
Unionists so apprehensive as regards the religious difficulty under Home
Rule. Their fears are not concerned with any of the special dogmas of
the Roman Church. But they recognise, as people in England do not, the
inevitable tendency of the consistent and immemorial policy of the
Church of Rome in relation to persons who refuse to submit to her
claims. They know that policy to be one of absolute and uncompromising
insistence on the exacting of everything which she regards as her right
as soon as she possesses the power. They know that, for her, toleration
is only a temporary expedient. They know that professions and promises
made by individual Roman Catholics and by political leaders, statements
which to English ears seem a happy augury of a good time coming, are of
no value whatever. They do not deny that such promises and guarantees
express a great deal of good intention, but they know that above the
individual, whether he be layman or ecclesiastic, there is a system
which moves on, as soon as such movement becomes possible, in utter
disregard of his statements. At the time when Catholic emancipation was
in view, high Roman authorities gave the most emphatic guarantees that
the position of the then Established Church in Ireland would never be
endangered, so far as their Church and people were concerned. But when
the time came, such promises proved absolutely worthless. Whether the
disestablishment of the Irish Church was a good thing or not, is not the
question here. The essential point, for our present purpose, is that the
guarantees of individual Roman Catholics, no matter how positively or
how confidently stated, are of no account as against the steady age-long
policy of the Roman Church.

It is well known to all students that, while other religious bodies
have, both in theory and in practice, renounced certain old methods of
persuasion, the Roman Church still formally claims the power to control
states, to depose princes, to absolve subjects from their allegiance, to
extirpate heresy. She has never accepted the modern doctrine of
toleration. But there are many who think that these ancient claims,
though not renounced, are so much out-of-date in the modern world that
they mean practically nothing. Such is the opinion of the average
Englishman, and the mild and cultivated form of Romanism which is to be
met with usually in England lends colour to the opinion. In Ireland we
know better.

The recent Papal Decree, termed _Ne Temere_, regulating the
solemnisation of marriages, has been enforced in Ireland in a manner
which must seem impossible to Englishmen.

According to this Decree, "No marriage is valid which is not contracted
in the presence of the (Roman) parish priest of the place, or of the
Ordinary, or of a priest deputed by them, and of two witnesses at
least." This rule is binding on all Roman Catholics.

It is easy to see what hardship and wrong must follow the observance of
this rule in the case of mixed marriages.

As a result, it is now the case that, in Ireland, marriages which the
law of the land declares to be valid are declared null and void by the
Church of Rome, and the children of them are pronounced illegitimate.
Nor is this a mere academic opinion: such is the power of the Roman
Church in this country that she is able to enforce her laws without
deference to the authority of the State.

The celebrated McCann case is the most notable illustration. Even in the
Protestant city of Belfast we have seen a faithful wife deserted and her
children spirited away from her, in obedience to this cruel decree. And
we have seen an executive afraid to do its duty, because Rome had spoken
and justified the outrage. Those who know intimately what is happening
here are aware of case after case in which husband or wife is living in
daily terror of similar interference, and also know that Protestants
married to Roman Catholics, and living in the districts where the latter
are in overwhelming majority, often find it impossible to stand against
the odium arising from a bigoted and hostile public opinion. Nor does
such interference stop here. Only a few weeks ago the kidnapping of a
young wife by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics was prevented only by the
brave and prompt action of her husband. In this case a sworn deposition,
made in the presence of a well-known magistrate and fully attested, has
been published, and no attempt at contradiction or explanation has been
made. Let none imagine the _Ne Temere_ question is extinct in Ireland.
It is at this moment a burning question. Under Home Rule it would create
a conflagration. And surely there is reason for the indignation of
Protestants. Here we see the most solemn contract into which a man or
woman can enter broken at the bidding of a system which claims supreme
control over all human relations, public and private; and this, not for
the maintenance of any moral principle, but to secure obedience to a
disciplinary regulation which is regarded as of so little moral value
that it is not enforced in any country in which the Government is strong
enough to protect its subjects.

As if to define with perfect clearness, in the face of the modern world,
the traditional claim of the Roman See, there has issued from the
Vatican, within the last few weeks, a Decree which sets the Roman clergy
above the law of the land. This ordinance, which is issued _motu
proprio_ by the Pope, is the re-enactment and more exact definition of
an old law. It lays down the rule that whoever, without permission from
any ecclesiastical authority, summons any ecclesiastical persons to a
lay tribunal and compels them to attend publicly such a court, incurs
instant excommunication. The excommunication is automatic, and
absolution from it is specially reserved to the Roman Pontiff. This fact
adds enormously to the terror of it, especially among a people like the
Irish Roman Catholics. Great discussion has taken place as to the
countries in which this Decree is in force. No one was surprised to hear
that Germany was exempt. Archbishop Walsh, the Roman Catholic Archbishop
of Dublin, in an elaborate discussion, gives the opinion that the Decree
is abrogated under British law by the custom of the country, which has
in the past rendered impossible the observance of the strict
ecclesiastical rule in this matter, but is careful to add that this is
only his opinion as a canonist, and is subject to the decision of the
Holy See. When this plea is examined, it is found to mean simply this,
that the law is not strictly observed in case of necessity. That this is
the meaning of Archbishop Walsh's plea is proved by a quotation which he
makes from Pope Benedict XIV. The principle laid down by Pope Benedict
is that when it became impossible to resist the encroachment of adverse
customs, the Popes shut their eyes to what was going on, and tolerated
what they had no power to prevent. It is exactly the principle of
toleration as a temporary expedient. The re-enactment of the law by the
present Pope means surely, if it means anything, that such toleration
is to cease wherever and whenever the law can be enforced. But, be it
observed, this necessity is entirely dependent on the strength of the
authority which administers the civil law. The moment the civil
authority grows weak in its assertion of its supremacy, the plea of
necessity fails, and the ecclesiastical law must be enforced. Those who
know Ireland are well aware that this is exactly what would happen under
Home Rule. Here is the crowning proof of the truth that, above all the
well-intentioned persons who give assurances of the peace and goodwill
that would flourish under Home Rule, there is a power which would bring
all their good intentions to nothing.

But what of the Church of Ireland under Home Rule? Formerly the
Established Church of the country, and as such occupying a position of
special privilege, she still enjoys something of the traditional
consideration which belonged to that position, and is more than ever
conscious of her unbroken ecclesiastical descent from the Ancient Church
of Ireland. Her adherents number 575,000, of whom 366,000 are in Ulster.
As part of her heritage she holds nearly all the ancient ecclesiastical
sites and the more important of the ancient buildings which still
survive. These possessions, thus inherited from an immemorial past, were
secured to her by the Act of Disestablishment. For the rest, the
endowments which she enjoys at the present time have been created since
1870 by the self-denial and generosity of her clergy and laity. Under
British law, her position is secure. But would she be secure under Home
Rule? Those of her advisers who have most right to speak with authority
are convinced that she would not. The Bishop of Ossory, in an able and
very moderate statement made at the meeting of the Synod of that
Diocese, last September, showed that both the principal churches and the
endowments now held by the Church of Ireland have been claimed
repeatedly by prominent representatives of the Church of Rome. It is
stated that the Church sites and buildings belong to the Roman Communion
in Ireland because, on Roman Catholic principles, that communion truly
represents the ancient Irish Church, and no lapse of time can invalidate
the Church's title; and that the endowments belong to the same communion
because they "represent moneys derived from pre-Disestablishment days,
which were, in their turn, the alienated possessions of the Roman
Church" (see Bishop of Ossory's Synod Address, p. 7). As regards this
last statement, it must be noted that the only sense in which it can be
truly said that the endowments represent moneys derived from
pre-Disestablishment days is that the foundation of the new financial
system was laid by the generosity of the clergy in office at the time.
They entrusted to the Representative Body of the Church the capitalised
value of the life-interests secured to them by the Act. The money was
their private property, and their action one which involved great
self-denial, for they gave up the security offered by the State. The
money was so calculated that the whole should be exhausted when all
payments were made. By good management, however, it yielded considerable
profit, and meanwhile formed a foundation on which to build. It was,
however, in no sense an endowment given by the State, nor was it a fund
on which any but the legal owners (_i.e._ the clergy of the time) had a
justifiable claim.

The Bishop of Ossory's statement excited much discussion, but, though
many Roman Catholic apologists endeavoured to laugh away his fears as
groundless, not one denied the validity of his argument. The fact that,
as he showed, the Church of Ireland holds her churches by exactly the
same title as that by which the English Church holds Westminster Abbey,
and that, for the Irish Church, there is the additional security of the
Act of 1869, count for nothing in the eye of Roman Canon Law.

In an Ireland ruled by a Parliament of which the vast majority would be
Roman Catholics, devout and sincere, representing constituencies peopled
by devout and sincere persons who believe that the laws of the Vatican
are the laws of God, with a clergy lifted above the civil law by the
operation of the recent _Motu Proprio_ Decree, an Ireland in which even
the school catechisms (see the "Christian Brothers' Catechism," quoted
by the Bishop of Ossory, _op. cit._ p. 8) teach that an alien Church
unlawfully excludes "the Catholics" from their own churches, how long
would it be before a movement, burning with holy zeal and pious
indignation, against the usurpers, would sweep away every barrier and
drive out "the heretics" from the ancient shrines?

Irish Churchmen who know their country are aware that even the most
stringent guarantees would be worthless in such a case, as they proved
worthless in the Act of Union, and at the time of Catholic emancipation.

Some English Liberals imagine that Home Rule would be followed by an
uprising of popular independence which would destroy the power of the
Roman Church in Ireland. Let those who think this consider that the more
independent spirits among the Irish Roman Catholics go to America, and
let them further consider what has happened in the Province of Quebec in
Canada. The immense strength of the bonds--religious, social, and
educational--by which the mass of the people in the South and West of
Ireland are held in the grip of the Roman ecclesiastical system, and the
power which would be exerted by the central authority of that system by
means of the recent decrees, make it certain that clerical domination
would, from the outset, be the ruling principle of an Irish Parliament.

There is no desire nearer to the hearts of the clergy and people who
form the Church to which the writer belongs than that they should be
enabled to live at peace with their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen,
and work in union with them, for the good of their country and the
promotion of that new prosperity which recent years have brought. They
dread Home Rule, because they know that, instead of peace, it would
bring a sword, and plunge their country once again into all the horrors
of civil and religious strife.




_Moderator of General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in Ireland in_

For obvious reasons, the Religious Difficulty under Home Rule does not
receive much attention on the political platform in Great Britain. But
in Ireland a religious problem flames at the heart of the whole
controversy. This religious problem creates the cleavage in the Irish
population, and is the real secret of the intense passion on both sides
with which Home Rule is both prosecuted and resisted. Irishmen
understand this very well; but as Home Rule, on its face value, is only
a question of a mode of civil government, it is almost impossible to
make the matter clear to British electors. They say, What has religion
got to do with Home Rule? Home Rule is a pure question of politics, and
it must be solved on exclusively political lines. Even if this were so,
might not Englishmen remember that the Nationalist Members of Parliament
have been controlled by the Church of Rome in their votes on the English
education question? I mention this to show that under the disguise of
pure politics ecclesiastical authority may stalk in perfect freedom
through the lobbies of the House of Commons. Is it, then, an absolutely
incredible thing that what has been done in the English Parliament in
the name of politics may be done openly and undisguised in the name of
politics in a Home Rule Parliament? That such will be the case I shall
now attempt to show.

Let us begin with the most elementary facts. According to the official
census of 1911 the population of Ireland is grouped as follows:--

Roman Catholics                      3,238,656
Irish Church                           575,489
Presbyterians                          439,876
Methodists                              61,806
All other Christian denominations       57,718
Jews                                     5,101
Information refused                      3,305

I beg the electors of Great Britain to look steadily into the above
figures, and to ask themselves who are the Home Rulers and who are the
Unionists in Ireland. Irish Home Rulers are almost all Roman Catholics,
and the Protestants and others are almost all stout Unionists. Does this
fact suggest nothing? How is it that the line of demarcation in Irish
politics almost exactly coincides with the line of demarcation in
religion? Quite true, there are a few Irish Roman Catholics who are
Unionists, and a few Protestants who are Home Rulers. But they are so
few and so uninfluential on both sides that the exception only serves to
prove the rule. These exceptions, no doubt, have been abundantly
exploited, and the very most has been made of them. But the great
elementary fact remains, that one-fourth of the Irish people, mostly
Protestant, are resolutely, and even passionately, opposed to Home Rule;
and the remarkable thing is that the most militant Irish Unionists for
the past twenty years have not been the members of the Irish Church who
might be suspected of Protestant Ascendency prejudices, but they are the
Presbyterians and Methodists who never belonged to the old Protestant
Ascendency party. It is of Irish Presbyterians that I can speak with the
most ultimate knowledge. Their record in Ireland requires to be made
perfectly clear. In 1829 they were the champions of Catholic
Emancipation. In 1868 they supported Mr. Gladstone in his great Irish
reforms. They have been at all times the advocates of perfect equality
in religion, and of unsectarianism in education. They stand firm and
staunch on these two principles still. But they are the sternest and
strongest opponents of Home Rule, and their reason is because Home Rule
spells for Ireland a new religious ascendency and the destruction of the
unsectarian principle in education.

I ask on these grounds that English and Scottish electors should pause
for a moment, and open their minds to the fact that there is a great
religious problem at the heart of Home Rule. Irish Presbyterians claim
that they know what they are doing, and that they are not the blind
dupes of religious prejudice and political passion. It is for a great
something that they have embarked in this conflict; they are determined
to risk everything in this resistance, and in proportion as the danger
approaches, in like proportion does their hostility to the Home Rule
claim increase.

What, then, is the secret of this determination? It lies in a nutshell.
A Parliament in Dublin would be under the control and domination of the
Church of Rome. Two facts in Irish life render this not only likely and
probable, but inevitable and certain. The first fact is that
three-fourths of the members would be Roman Catholic, and the second
fact is that the Irish people are the most devoted Roman Catholics at
present in Christendom. No one disputes the first fact, but the second
requires to be made clear to the electors of Great Britain. Let no one
suppose that I am finding fault with Irishmen for being devoted Roman
Catholics. What I wish to show is that the Church of Rome would be
supreme in the new Parliament, and that she is not a good guardian of
Protestant liberties and interests. Ireland has been for the last two
generations brought into absolute captivity to the principles of
ultramontanism. When Italy asserted her nationality, and fought for it
in 1870, Ireland sent out a brigade to fight on the side of the Pope.
When France, a few years ago, broke up in that land the bondage of
Ecclesiasticism, the streets of Dublin were filled Sunday after Sunday
for weeks with crowds of Irishmen, headed by priests, shouting for the
Pope against France. The Church first, nationality afterwards, is the
creed of the ultramontane; and it is the avowed creed of the Irish
people. But this would be changed in an Irish Parliament, British
electors affirm. Let us hear what Mr. John Dillon, M.P., says on the
point. Speaking about a year ago in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester,
Mr. Dillon said--

     "I assert, and it is the glory of our race, that we are to-day the
     right arm of the Catholic Church throughout the world ... we stand
     to-day as we have stood throughout, without abating one jot or
     tittle of that faith, the most Catholic nation on the whole earth."

What Mr. Dillon says is perfectly true. The Irish Parliament would be
constituted on the Roman model. If there were none but Roman Catholics
in Ireland, Ireland would rapidly become a "State of the Church." But
how would Protestants fare? Just as they fared in old Papal days in
Italy under the temporal rule of the Vatican. But it may still be said
that Irishmen themselves would curb the ecclesiastical power. This is
one of the delusions by which British electors conceal from themselves
the peril of Home Rule to Irish Protestants. They forget that Irishmen
are, if possible, more Roman than Rome herself. I take the following
picture of the Romanised condition of Ireland from a Roman Catholic

     "Mr. Frank Hugh O'Donnell, who 'believes in the Papal Church in
     every point, who accepts her teaching from Nicaea to Trent, and
     from Trent to the Vatican,' says, 'While the general population of
     Ireland has been going down by leaps and bounds to the abyss, the
     clerical population has been mounting by cent. per cent. during the
     same period....' A short time ago, when an Austrian Cabinet was
     being heckled by some anti-clerical opponents upon its alleged
     encouragement of an excessive number of clerical persons in
     Austria, the Minister replied, 'If you want to know what an
     excessive number of the clergy is like go to Ireland. In proportion
     to their population the Irish have got ten priests and nuns to the
     one who exists in Austria. I do not prejudge the question. They may
     be wanted in Ireland. But let not honourable members talk about
     over-clericalism in Austria until they have studied the clerical
     Statistics of Ireland.' A Jesuit visitor to Ireland, on returning
     to his English acquaintances, and being asked how did he find the
     priests in Ireland, replied, 'The priests in Ireland! There is
     nobody but priests in Ireland. Over there they are treading on one
     another's heels.' While the population of Ireland has diminished
     one-half, the population of the Presbyteries and convents has
     multiplied threefold or more. Comparisons are then instituted
     between the Sacerdotal census of Ireland, and that of the European
     Papal countries. I shall state results only. Belgium has only one
     Archbishop and five Bishops; but if it were staffed with prelates
     on the Irish scale it would have nine or ten Archbishops and some
     sixty Bishops. I suppose the main army of ecclesiastics in the two
     countries is in the same grossly incongruous proportions--ten or
     twelve priests in Ireland for every one in Belgium! The German
     Empire, with its 21,000,000 Roman Catholics, has actually fewer
     mitred prelates than Ireland with its 3,000,000 of Roman Catholics.
     The figures of Austria-Hungary with its Roman Catholic population
     of 36,000,000 are equally impressive. It has eleven Archbishops,
     but if it were staffed on the Irish scale it would have
     forty-eight. It has forty Bishops, but if it were like Ireland it
     would have 288. Mr. O'Donnell goes on: 'This enormous population of
     Churchmen, far beyond the necessities and even the luxuries of
     religious worship and service, would be a heavy tax upon the
     resources of great and wealthy lands. What must it be for Ireland
     to have to supply the Episcopal villas, the new Cathedrals, and
     handsome Presbyteries, and handsome incomes of this enormous and
     increasing host of reverend gentlemen, who, as regards five-sixths
     of their number, contribute neither to the spiritual nor temporal
     felicity of the Island? They are the despotic managers of all
     primary schools, and can exact what homage they please from the
     poor serf-teachers, whom they dominate and whom they keep eternally
     under their thumb. They absolutely own and control all the
     secondary schools, with all their private profits and all their
     Government grants. In the University what they do not dominate they
     mutilate. Every appointment, from dispensary doctors to members of
     Parliament, must acknowledge their ownership, and pay toll to their
     despotism. The County Councils must contribute patronage according
     to their indications; the parish committees of the congested
     districts supplement their pocket-money. They have annexed the
     revenues of the industrial schools. They are engaged in
     transforming the universal proprietary of Ireland in order to add
     materials for their exactions from the living and the moribund. I
     am told that not less than £5,000,000 are lifted from the Irish
     people every year by the innumerable agencies of clerical suction
     which are at work upon all parts of the Irish body, politic and
     social. Nor can it be forgotten that the material loss is only a
     portion of the injury. The brow-beaten and intimidated condition of
     the popular action and intelligence which is necessary to this
     state of things necessarily communicates its want of will and
     energy to every function of the community.'"

Of course Mr. F.H. O'Donnell has been driven out of public life in
Ireland for plain speaking like this; and so would every man be who
ventured to cross swords with his Church. It aggravates the situation
immensely when we take another fact in Irish life into account.

In quite recent months Mr. Devlin, M.P., has brought into prominence a
society called the Ancient Order of Hibernians (sometimes called the
Molly Maguires) which, according to the late Mr. Michael Davitt, is "the
most wonderful pro-Celtic organisation in the world." This is a secret
society which at one time was under the ban of the Church; but quite
recently the ban has been removed, and priests are now allowed to join
the order. The present Pope is said to be its most powerful friend. It
has branches in many lands, and it is rapidly gathering into it all the
great mass of the Irish Roman Catholic people. This is the most
wonderful political machine in Ireland.

Mr. William O'Brien, M.P., has recently given an account of this society
which has never been seriously questioned.

     "The fundamental object of the Hibernian Society is to give
     preference to its own members first and Catholics afterwards as
     against Protestants on all occasions. Whether it is a question of
     custom, office, public contracts, or positions on Public Boards,
     Molly Maguires are pledged always to support a Catholic as against
     a Protestant. If Protestants are to be robbed of their business, if
     they are to be deprived of public contracts, if they are to be shut
     out of every office of honour or emolument, what is this but
     extermination? The domination of such a society would make this
     country a hell. It would light the flame of civil war in our midst,
     and blight every hope of its future prosperity."

And now we reach the core of the question. It is perfectly clear that
Home Rule would create a Roman Catholic ascendency in Ireland, but
still it might be said that the Church of Rome would be tolerant. On
that point we had best consult the Church of Rome herself. Has she ever
said that she would practise toleration towards Protestants when she was
in power? Never; on the contrary, she declares most clearly that
toleration of error is a deadly sin. In this respect the Church of Rome
claims to differ _toto coelo_ from the churches of the Reformation. In
Ireland she has passed through all the stages of ecclesiastical
experience from the lowest form of disability to the present claim of
supremacy. In the dark days of her suffering she cried for toleration,
and as the claim was just in Protestant eyes she got it. Then as she
grew in strength she stretched forth her hands for equality, and as this
too was just, she gradually obtained it. At present she enjoys equality
in every practical right and privilege with her Protestant neighbours.
But in the demand for Home Rule there is involved the claim of exerting
an ecclesiastical ascendency not only over her own members but over
Irish Protestants, and this is the claim which is unjust and which ought
not to be granted. Green, the historian, points out that William Pitt
made the Union with England the ground of his plea for Roman Catholic
emancipation, as it would effectually prevent a Romish ascendency in
Ireland. Home Rule in practice will destroy the control of Great
Britain, and, therefore, involves the removal of the bulwark against
Roman Catholic ascendency.

The contention of the Irish Protestants is that neither their will nor
their religious liberties would be safe in the custody of Rome. In an
Irish Parliament civil allegiance to the Holy See would be the test of
membership, and would make every Roman Catholic member a civil servant
of the Vatican. That Parliament would be compelled to carry out the
behests of the Church. The Church is hostile to the liberty of the
Press, to liberty of public speech, to Modernism in science, in
literature, in philosophy; is bound to exact obedience from her own
members and to extirpate heresy and heretics; claims to be above Civil
Law, and the right to enforce Canon Law whenever she is able. There are
simply no limits even of life or property to the range of her
intolerance. This is not an indictment; it is the boast of Rome. She
plumes herself upon being an intolerant because she is an infallible
Church, and her Irish claim, symbolised by the Papal Tiara, is supremacy
over the Church, supremacy over the State, and supremacy over the
invisible world. Unquestioning obedience is her law towards her own
subjects, and intolerance tempered with prudence is her law towards
Protestants. It is a strange hallucination to find that there are
politicians to-day who think that Rome will change her principles at the
bidding of Mr. Redmond, or to please hard-driven politicians, or to make
Rome attractive to a Protestant Empire. Rome claims supremacy, and she
tells us quite candidly what she will do when she gets it.

Here is our difficulty under Home Rule. Irish Protestants see that they
must either refuse to go into an Irish Parliament, or else go into it as
a hopeless minority, and turn it into an arena for the maintenance of
their most elementary rights; in which case the Irish Parliament would
be simply a cockpit of religio-political strife. But it would be a great
mistake to suppose that the religious difficulty is confined to Irish
Protestants. It is a difficulty which would become in time a crushing
burden to Roman Catholics themselves. The yoke of Rome was found too
heavy for Italy, and in a generation or two it would be found too heavy
for Ireland. But for the creation of the Papal ascendency in Ireland,
the responsibility must rest, in the long run, on Great Britain herself.
England and Scotland, the most favoured lands of the Reformation, by
establishing Home Rule in Ireland, will do for Rome what no other
country in the world would do for her. They would entrust her with a
legislative machine which she could control without check, hand over to
her tender mercies a million of the best Protestants of the Empire, and
establish at the heart of the Empire a power altogether at variance with
her own ideals of Government, fraught with danger, and a good base of
operations for the conquest of England. Can this be done with impunity?
Can Great Britain divest herself of a religious responsibility in
dealing with Home Rule? Is there not a God in Heaven who will take note
of such national procedure? Are electors not responsible to Him for the
use they make of their votes? If they sow to the wind, must they not
reap the whirlwind?

In brief compass, I hope I have made it quite clear what the Religious
Difficulty in Ireland under Home Rule is. It is not a mere accident of
the situation; it does not spring from any question of temper, or of
prejudice, or of bigotry. The Religious Difficulty is created by the
essential and fundamental genius of Romanism. Her whole ideal of life
differs from the Protestant ideal. It is impossible to reconcile these
two ideals. It is impossible to unite them in any amalgam that would not
mean the destruction of both. Under Imperial Rule these ideals have
discovered a decently working _modus vivendi_. Mr. Pitt's contention
that the union with Great Britain would be an effectual barrier against
Romanism has held good. But if you remove Imperial Rule than you create
at a stroke the ascendency of Rome, and under that ascendency the
greatest injustice would be inflicted on the Protestant minority.
Questions of public situations and of efficient patronage are of very
subordinate importance indeed. Mr. Redmond demands that Irish
Protestants must be included in his Home Rule scheme, and threatens that
if they object they must be dealt with "by the strong hand," and his
Home Rule Parliament would be subservient to the Church of Rome. Does
any one suppose that a million of the most earnest Protestants in the
world are going to submit to such an arrangement? Neither Englishmen nor
Scotsmen would be willing themselves to enter under such a yoke, and why
should they ask Irishmen to do so?

It is contended, indeed, that the power of the priest in Ireland is on
the wane. This is partly true and partly not true. It is true that he is
not quite the political and social autocrat that he once was. But it is
not true that the Church of Rome is less powerful in Ireland than she
was. On the contrary, as an ecclesiastical organisation Rome was never
so compact in organisation, never so ably manned by both regular and
secular clergy, never so wealthy nor so full of resource, never so
obedient to the rule of the Vatican, as at the present moment. Give her
an Irish Parliament, and she will be complete; she will patiently subdue
all Ireland to her will. Emigration has drained the country of the
strong men of the laity, who might be able to resist her encroachments.
Dr. Horton truly says: "The Roman Church dominates Ireland and the Irish
as completely as Islam dominates Morocco." By Ireland and the Irish Dr.
Horton, of course, means Roman Catholic Ireland. Are you now going to
place a legislative weapon in her hand whereby she will be able to
dominate Protestants also? It is bad statesmanship; bad politics; bad
religion. For Ireland it can bring nothing but ruin; and for the Empire
nothing but terrible retribution in the future.





"_For the last two and twenty years, at first a few and now a goodly
company of rural reformers with whom I have been associated, and on
whose behalf I write, have been steadily working out a complete scheme
of rural development, their formula being better farming, better
business, better living."_--SIR H. PLUNKETT, letter to the _Times_,
December, 1911.

"_Ireland would prefer rags and poverty rather than surrender her
national spirit."_--MR. JOHN REDMOND, speech at Buffalo, September 27,

It should never be forgotten that the maintenance of the legislative
Union between Ireland and Great Britain is defended by Unionists no less
in the interests of Ireland than in that of the United Kingdom and of
the Empire. That the ills from which Ireland has admittedly suffered in
the past, and for which she still suffers, though in diminished measure,
in the present, are economic and social rather than political, is a
fundamental tenet of Unionism. Unionists also believe that economic and
social conditions in Ireland can be more effectively dealt with under
the existing political constitution than under any form of Home Rule.
Ireland is a poor country, and needs the financial resources which only
the Imperial Parliament can provide. She is, moreover, a country divided
into hostile camps marked by strong racial and religious differences. As
Sir George Trevelyan long ago pointed out, there is not one Ireland,
there are two Irelands; and only so far as Ireland continues an
integral part of a larger whole can the antagonism between the two
elements be prevented from forming a dangerous obstacle to all real

Nationalist politicians, of course, diagnose the situation very
differently. Apply suitable remedial measures, say the Unionists, to the
social and economic conditions of the country, and it is not
unreasonable to hope that political discontent--or, in other words, the
demand for Home Rule--will gradually die away of itself. Give us Home
Rule, say the Nationalists, and all other things will be added to us.

The main object of the present paper is to give a bird's eye view of
Unionist policy in relation to rural development in Ireland during the
eventful years 1885-1905. It does not pretend to deal with the larger
issue raised between Unionism and Nationalism; but incidentally, it will
be found to throw some interesting side lights upon it.

The Irish Question in its most essential aspect is a Farmers' Question.
The difficulties which it presents have their deepest roots in an
unsatisfactory system of land tenure, excessive sub-division of
holdings, and antiquated methods of agricultural economy.

Mr. Gladstone endeavoured to deal with the system of land tenure in the
two important Acts of 1870 and 1881; but the system of dual ownership
which those Acts set up introduced, perhaps, as many evils as they
removed. It became more and more evident that the only effectual remedy
lay in the complete transference of the ownership of the land from the
landlord to the occupying tenant. The successful application of this
remedy with anything like fairness to both sides absolutely demanded the
use of State credit on a large scale. The plan actually adopted in a
succession of Land Acts passed by Unionist Governments, beginning with
the Ashbourne Act of 1885, and ending with the Wyndham Act of 1903, is
broadly speaking as follows:--The State purchases the interest of the
landlord outright and vests the ownership in the occupying tenant
subject to a fixed payment for a definite term of years. These annual
payments are not in the nature of rent: they represent a low rate of
interest on the purchase money, plus such contribution to a sinking fund
as will repay the principal in the term of years for which the annual
payments are to run. The practical effect of this arrangement is that
the occupier becomes the owner of his holding, subject to a terminable
annual payment to the State of a sum less in amount than the rent he has
had to pay heretofore.

The successful working of the scheme obviously depends on the credit of
the State, in other words, its power of borrowing at a low rate of
interest. In this respect the Imperial Government has an immense
advantage over any possible Home Rule Government: indeed, it is doubtful
whether any Home Rule Government could have attempted this great reform
without wholesale confiscation of the landlords' property. Here then in
Land Purchase and the abolition of dual ownership, we have one of the
twin pillars on which, on its constructive side, the Irish policy of the
Unionist party rests. But to solve the problem of rural Ireland--which,
as I have said, is _the_ Irish problem--more is required than the
conversion of the occupying tenant into a peasant proprietor. The sense
of ownership may be counted on to do much; but it will not make it
possible for a family to live in decent comfort on an insufficient
holding; neither will it enable the small farmer to compete with those
foreign rivals who have at their command improved methods of production,
improved methods of marketing their produce, facilities for obtaining
capital adequate to their needs, and all the many advantages which
superior education and organised co-operation bring in their train.

Looking back to-day, the wide field that in these directions was open to
the beneficent action of the State, and to the equally beneficent action
of voluntary associations, seems evident and obvious. It was by no means
so evident or obvious twenty years ago. At that time the traditional
policy of _laisser faire_ had still a powerful hold over men's minds,
and to abandon it even in the case of rural Ireland was a veritable new
departure in statesmanship. The idea of establishing a voluntary
association to promote agricultural co-operation was even more remote;
and, as will be seen in the sequel, it was to the insight and devoted
persistence of a single individual that its successful realisation has
been ultimately due.

So far as State action was concerned, a beginning was naturally made
with the poorest parts of the country. Mr. Arthur Balfour led the way
with two important measures. One of these was the construction of light
railways in the most backward tracts on the western seaboard. These
railways were constructed at the public expense, but worked by existing
railway companies, and linked up with existing railway systems. The
benefits conferred on those parts of the country through which they
passed have been great and lasting.

Mr. Balfour's second contribution to Irish rural development was the
creation of the Congested Districts Board in 1891. The "congested
districts" embraced the most poverty-stricken areas in the western
counties, and the business of the Board was to devise and apply, within
those districts, schemes for the amelioration of the social and economic
condition of the population comprised in them. For this purpose, the
Board was invested with very wide powers of a paternal character, and an
annual income of upwards of £40,000 was placed at their free disposal, a
sum which has been largely increased by subsequent Acts.

The experiment was an absolutely novel one, but no one who is able to
compare the improved condition of the congested districts to-day with
the state of things that prevailed twenty years ago can doubt that it
has been amply justified by results.

Every phase of the life of the Irish peasant along the whole of the
western seaboard has been made brighter and more hopeful by the
beneficent operations of the Board. Its activities have been manifold,
including the purchase and improvement of estates prior to re-sale to
the tenants; the re-arrangement and enlargement of holdings; the
improvement of stock; the provision of pure seeds and high-class
manures; practical demonstration of various kinds, all educational in
character; drainage; the construction of roads; improvement in the
sanitary conditions of the people's dwellings; assistance to provide
proper accommodation for the livestock of the farm, which too frequently
were housed with the people themselves; the development of sea
fisheries; the encouragement of many kinds of home industries for women
and girls; the quarrying of granite; the making of kelp; the promotion
of co-operative credit; and many other schemes which had practical
regard to the needs of the people, and have contributed in a variety of
ways to raise the standard of comfort of the inhabitants of these
impoverished areas.

It will be noticed that among the other activities of the Congested
Districts Board, I have specially mentioned the work of promoting
co-operative credit by means of village banks managed on the Raffeisen
system. The actual work of organising these co-operative banking
associations has not been carried out directly by the Board, but through
the agency of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (generally
known by the shorter title of the I.A.O.S.), to which the Board has for
many years past paid a small subsidy--a subsidy which might well have
been on a more generous scale, having regard to the immense advantages
which co-operation is capable of conferring on the small farmer.

The I.A.O.S. is a voluntary association of a strictly non-political
character. "Business, not politics," has been its principle of action;
and partly, perhaps, for this very reason it may claim to have
contributed more than any other single agency towards the prosperity of
rural Ireland. To its work I now turn.


The movement which the I.A.O.S. represents was started by Sir Horace
Plunkett, and he has remained the most prominent figure in it ever
since. Sir Horace Plunkett bears an honoured name wherever the rural
problem is seriously studied; but, like other prophets, he has received
perhaps less honour in his own country than elsewhere. At all events, in
the task to which he has devoted his life, he has had to encounter the
tacit, and indeed at times the open opposition, of powerful sections of
Nationalist opinion. Happily he belongs to the stamp of men whom no
obstacles can discourage, and who find in the work itself their
sufficient reward.

Sir Horace Plunkett's leading idea was a simple one, and has become
to-day almost a commonplace. He compared the backward state of
agriculture in Ireland with the great advance that had been made in
various continental countries, where the natural conditions were not
dissimilar to those of Ireland, and asked himself the secret of the
difference. That secret he found in the word _organisation_, and he set
himself to organise. The establishment of co-operative creameries seemed
to afford the most hopeful opening, and it was to this that Sir Horace
Plunkett and a few personal friends, in the year 1889, directed their
earliest missionary efforts. The difficulties to be overcome were at
first very great. "My own diary," writes Sir Horace, "records attendance
at fifty meetings before a single society had resulted therefrom. It was
weary work for a long time. These gatherings were miserable affairs
compared with those which greeted our political speakers."

The experiences[70] of another of the little band of devoted workers,
Mr. R.A. Anderson, now Secretary of the I.A.O.S., throw an interesting
light upon the nature of some of the obstacles which the new movement
had to encounter.

     "It was hard and thankless work. There was the apathy of the
     people, and the active opposition of the Press and the politicians.
     It would be hard to say now whether the abuse of the Conservative
     _Cork Constitution_, or that of the Nationalist _Eagle_ of
     Skibbereen, was the louder. We were 'killing the calves,' we were
     'forcing the young women to emigrate,' we were 'destroying the
     industry.' Mr. Plunkett was described as a 'monster in human
     shape,' and was adjured to 'cease his hellish work.' I was
     described as his 'man Friday,' and as 'Roughrider Anderson.' Once
     when I thought I had planted a creamery within the town of
     Rathkeale, my co-operative apple-cart was upset by a local
     solicitor, who, having elicited the fact that our movement
     recognised neither political nor religious differences--that the
     Unionist-Protestant cow was as dear to us as her
     Nationalist-Catholic sister--gravely informed me that our programme
     would not suit Rathkeale. 'Rathkeale,' said he pompously, 'is a
     Nationalist town--Nationalist to the backbone--and every pound of
     butter made in this creamery must be made on Nationalist
     principles, or it shan't be made at all.' This sentiment was
     applauded loudly, and the proceedings terminated."

Eventually, however, the zeal of the preachers, coupled with the
economic soundness of the doctrine, prevailed over all difficulties. By
1894 the movement had outgrown the individual activities of the
founders, and the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society was
established in Dublin in order to promote and direct its further
progress. That progress has been rapid and continuous, and to-day the
co-operative societies connected with the I.A.O.S. number nearly 1000,
with an annual turnover of upwards of 2-1/2 millions. They extend over
the length and breadth of the land, and include creameries, agricultural
societies (whose main business is the purchase of seeds and manure for
distribution to the members), credit societies (village banks), poultry
keepers' societies (for the marketing of eggs), flax societies,
industries societies, as well as other societies of a miscellaneous

In 1892 the Liberal Party came into power. During their three years'
tenure of office a Home Rule Bill was introduced and passed through the
House of Commons, but little or nothing was attempted by the Government
for the economic regeneration of the country.

The Unionist Party came back with a large majority in 1896, and the
attention of the new Irish Government, in which the post of Lord
Lieutenant was held by Lord Cadogan and that of Chief Secretary by the
present writer, was from the first directed to the condition of the
Irish farmer. The session of 1896 was largely devoted to the passing of
a Bill for amending the Land Acts, and for further facilitating the
conversion of occupying tenants into owners of their holdings. Time,
however, was also found for a new Light Railways Act, under the
provision of which railway communication has been opened up at the
expense of the State in the poorest parts of North-West Ireland.

It was in the following year that the first attempt was made to
establish an Irish Department of Agriculture. The Bill was not carried
beyond a first reading, because it was ultimately decided that a Local
Government Act should have precedence of it. But the project was only
put aside for a time, and it was always looked upon by me as an integral
part of our legislative programme. In framing the Bill of 1897, and also
the later Bill of 1899, which passed into law, we received the greatest
assistance from the labours of a body known as the Recess Committee,
concerning which a few words must now be said.


To be the founder of agricultural co-operation in Ireland was Sir Horace
Plunkett's first great achievement; the bringing together of the Recess
Committee was his second. He conceived the idea of inviting a number of
the most prominent men in Ireland, irrespective of religious or
political differences, to join in an inquiry into the means by which the
Government could best promote the development of the agricultural and
industrial resources of Ireland. This idea he propounded in an open
letter published in August, 1895. The proposal was a bold one--how bold
no one unacquainted with Ireland will easily realise. Amongst
Nationalist politicians the majority fought shy of it. Mr. Justin
McCarthy, the leader of the party, could only see in Sir Horace's letter
"the expression of a belief that if your policy could be successfully
carried out, the Irish people would cease to desire Home Rule." "I do
not feel," he added, "that I could possibly take part in any
organisation which had for its object the seeking of a substitute for
that which I believe to be Ireland's greatest need--Home Rule."
Fortunately, then as now, the Irish party was divided into two camps,
and Mr. Redmond, at the head of a small minority of "Independents," was
at liberty to take a different line. "I am unwilling," he wrote, "to
take the responsibility of declining to aid in any effort to promote
useful legislation in Ireland."

Ultimately, Sir Horace Plunkett's strong personality, his manifest
singleness of purpose, and the intrinsic merits of his proposal carried
the day. A committee, truly representative of all that was best in Irish
life, was brought together, and commissioners were despatched to the
Continent to report upon those systems of State aid linked with
voluntary organisation which appeared to have revolutionised agriculture
in countries not otherwise more favoured than Ireland itself. A large
mass of most valuable information was collected. In less than a year the
committee reported. The substance of the recommendation was

     "That a Department of Government should be specially created, with
     a minister directly responsible to Parliament at its head. The
     Central Body was to be assisted by a Consultative Council
     representative of the interests concerned. The Department was to be
     adequately endowed from the Imperial Treasury, and was to
     administer State aid to agriculture and industries in Ireland upon
     principles which were fully described."[71]

With the general policy of these recommendations the Irish Government
were in hearty sympathy, and the Bill of 1897, already referred to, was
a first attempt to give effect to it. But in the absence of popularly
elected local authorities an important part of the machinery for
carrying out the proposals was wanting.


A reform of local government in Ireland had long been given a place in
the Unionist programme, but the magnitude of the undertaking and the
pressure of other business had hitherto stood in its way. It was now
decided to take up this task in earnest, on the understanding that other
measures relating to Ireland should be postponed in the meantime. The
Irish Local Government Bill was accordingly introduced and passed in the
following session (1898).

Of this Act, which involved not merely the creation of new popular
Authorities, but also an entire re-arrangement of local taxation, and
some important changes in the system of poor relief, I will only say
here that it must be counted as another of the great remedial measures
which Ireland owes to the Unionist Party, and which it would have been
difficult, if not impossible, to carry out in a satisfactory manner
without assistance on a generous scale from the ample resources of the
Imperial Exchequer.


The way was now open for the measure to which I had looked forward from
the first moment of my going to Ireland, and which was to constitute the
final abandonment of the old _laissez faire_ policy in connection with
Irish agriculture and industries. Great care and labour were devoted to
the framing of the new Bill, and I was in constant touch throughout with
members of the Recess Committee. It contained clauses dealing with urban
as well as rural industries, but these lie outside my present subject,
and I shall not refer to them further here. On the side of rural
development the Bill embodied a novel experiment in the art of
government--novel at all events in British or Irish experience, though
something like it had already been tried with conspicuous success in
various countries on the Continent. It was the continental example which
had inspired the Report of the Recess Committee, and it was the
recommendations of the Recess Committee which in their turn suggested
the main features of the Bill of 1899.

There was indeed one body in Ireland whose functions corresponded in
some degree with those of the Authority it was now proposed to set up.
This body was the Congested Districts Board; and it might be said with
some approximation to the truth that the object we had in view was to do
for the rest of Ireland, _mutatis mutandis_, what the Congested
Districts Board was intended to do for the poverty-stricken districts of
the West. But there was this very important difference. The operations
of the Congested Districts Board were carried out, and necessarily
carried out, on strictly "paternal" lines; the dominant note in the new
departure was to be the encouragement of self-help. This difference
carried with it an equally important difference in the constitution and
methods of the administering Authority.

Out of a total endowment of £166,000 a year, a sum of over £100,000 was
placed at the disposal of the Department to be applied to the "purposes
of agriculture and other rural industries." These "purposes" are defined
in the Act as including--

     "the aiding, improving, and developing of agriculture,
     horticulture, forestry, dairying, the breeding of horses, cattle,
     and other live stock and poultry, home and cottage industries, the
     preparation and cultivation of flax, inland fisheries, and any
     industries immediately connected with and subservient to any of the
     said matters, and any instruction relating thereto, and the
     facilitating of the carriage and distribution of produce."

This part of the Endowment Fund was, in short, a grant to the Department
to be applied to what may be described as rural development in the
widest sense of the term. As to the methods, little or no restriction
was imposed upon the scope of its powers; and in the expenditure of the
money it was to be as free from Treasury control as the Congested
Districts Board itself.

On the other hand, the Congested Districts Board was not only free from
Treasury control, it was free from any control whatever. It was an
unpaid Board, and it could spend its money where it pleased and how it
pleased, and there was nobody to say it nay. True, its members were
appointed by Government, and the Chief Secretary was _ex-officio_ a
member of the Board; but he had no greater authority given to him than
any of his colleagues, and in case of any difference of opinion the
decision was that of the majority of the Board. No single member of the
Board could be held responsible for any of its acts; and accordingly,
although the vote for the Board came annually before Parliament, of real
Parliamentary responsibility there was none.

Such an arrangement was not without its disadvantages even as regards
the Congested Districts Board itself: its adoption in the case of the
Authority to be created under the Agriculture and Industries Bill would
have been open to yet greater objection.

A further point was this. The Congested Districts Board was an unpaid
body. An unpaid body consisting of busy men cannot be in perpetual
session. The Congested Districts Board, as a matter of fact, met only
once a month; and in the intervals of its meeting there was no one with
full authority to act on its behalf.

The problem, then, in connection with the expenditure of the Endowment
Fund was to provide for its administration by an efficient and
promptly-acting executive, responsible to Parliament on the one hand,
and on the other hand brought by the very nature of its administrative
machinery into the closest possible touch with the new local
Authorities, as well as with the voluntary organisations which were now
springing up all over the country.

In order to satisfy these requirements, the Bill provided that the
control of the Endowment Fund should be vested not in a Board attached
to the new Department, but in the Department itself; that is to say, in
a Minister appointed by the Government of the day. The Chief Secretary
was to be the titular head of the Department, but it was not intended
that he should intervene in its ordinary administrative business. The
real working head was to be the Vice-President, a new Minister with
direct responsibility to Parliament. So far as related to certain powers
and duties transferred from existing departments of the Irish
Government, and similar to the powers and duties of the English Board of
Agriculture, the new Minister was to have complete executive authority.
But as regards the administration of the Endowment Fund, a different
arrangement was proposed--an arrangement without precedent, so far as I
know, in any previous legislation in this country.

In order to bring the Department into close touch with local bodies, the
Bill attached to it a "Council of Agriculture" and an "Agricultural
Board." One-third of the members of each of these bodies were to be
nominated by the Department, and the intention was that in making these
nominations due regard should be had to the representation of voluntary
organisations. The remaining two-thirds were to be elected in the case
of the "Council of Agriculture" by the newly created County Councils, in
the case of the "Agricultural Board" by the "Council of Agriculture,"
divided for this purpose into four "Provincial Committees." In addition
to the functions of an electoral college thus entrusted to its four
provincial committees, the business of the "Council of Agriculture" as a
whole was to meet together, at least once a year, for the discussion of
questions of general interest in connection with the provisions of the
Act; but its powers were only advisory. The "Board," on the other hand,
was more than an advisory body; for it was given a veto on any
expenditure of money out of the Agricultural Endowment Fund. The
application of the Endowment Fund was thus made dependent on the
_concurrence_ of the "Agricultural Board" and of the minister in charge
of the Department--an entirely novel plan which, although it might
clearly result in a deadlock as regards any particular application of
money from the fund, has nevertheless, I believe, worked extremely well,
and answered the purpose for which it was devised of reconciling
ministerial and executive responsibility with a reasonable power of
control given to local bodies.

Finally, with a view to stimulating local effort and the spirit of
self-help, a provision was inserted in the Bill to which I attached the
greatest importance. Power was given to the Council of any county or of
any urban district, or to two or more public bodies jointly, to appoint
committees composed partly of members of the local bodies and partly of
co-opted persons, for the purpose of carrying out such of the
Department's schemes as were of local rather than of general interest.
But in such cases, it was laid down that

     "the Department shall not, in the absence of any special
     considerations, apply or approve of the application of money ... to
     schemes in respect of which aid is not given out of money provided
     by local authorities, or from other local sources."

To meet this requirement, the local authorities were given the power of
raising a limited rate for the purposes of the Act.

That the Act of 1899 has in the main answered the expectations formed of
it by those who were responsible for its introduction there can, I
think, be no doubt. The Act itself, as well as the methods of
administration adopted in carrying out its provisions, have been the
subject of a full inquiry by a Departmental Committee which reported in
1907. Their report must be regarded as on the whole eminently
favourable. In one point only has any important change been recommended.
The Committee suggest that the post of Vice-President of the Department
should not be held by a Minister with a seat in Parliament, nor yet by a
regular civil servant, but should be an office _sui generis_ tenable
for five years with power of reappointment. No effect has so far been
given to this proposal by legislation.


In this brief sketch of the measures passed by Unionist Governments
since 1886 with the object of promoting the material prosperity of
Ireland, many points of interest have been necessarily omitted; but what
has been said will suffice to show how baseless is the assertion, so
frequently urged as an argument for Home Rule, that the Imperial
Parliament is incapable of legislating successfully for Irish wants.[72]
Nothing could be more futile than to represent Irish problems, and
especially the problems of Irish rural life, as so unique that only a
Parliament sitting in Dublin can hope to solve them satisfactorily. As a
matter of fact, the rural question in Ireland is, in most of its
essential features, very similar to the rural question in other
countries, of which Denmark is perhaps the best example; and the
methods which have been successful there are already proving successful
here. Single ownership of the land by the cultivator; State aid,
encouraging and supplemementing co-operation and self-help; co-operation
and self-help providing suitable opportunities for the fruitful
application of State aid--these are the principles by which Unionist
legislation for Ireland has been guided, and they are the principles
which any wise legislation must follow, whether it emanate from an Irish
or from the Imperial Parliament. Indeed, if there is anything "unique"
in the Irish case, it is the deep division of sentiment inherited from
the unhappy history of the country and reinforced by those differences
of race and creed to which I have already alluded as making two Irelands
out of one. But the remedy for this is not to cut Ireland adrift and
leave the two sections to fight it out alone, but rather to maintain the
existing constitution as the best guarantee that the balance will be
held even between them.

Sir Horace Plunkett has well summed up the real needs of rural Ireland
in the formula "better farming, better business, better living." He has
himself done more than any other single man to bring the desired
improvement about. I am not ashamed to acknowledge myself his disciple,
and in the measures for which I was responsible during my time in
Ireland, I ever kept the practical objects for which he has striven
steadily in view. In a speech which I made shortly after taking office I
used the phrase "killing Home Rule with kindness." This phrase has been
repeatedly quoted since, as if it had been a formal declaration on the
part of the incoming Irish Government that to "kill Home Rule" was the
Alpha and the Omega of their policy. What I really said was that we
intended to promote measures having for their object an increase in the
material prosperity of the country; that if we could thereby kill Home
Rule with kindness, so much the better; but that the policy stood on its
own merits, irrespective of any ulterior consequences.

In my view that is the only true attitude for a Unionist Government to
take up. But in our efforts to improve material conditions and to remove
grievances, how small is the encouragement or help that we have received
from leaders of the Nationalist Party! "Their aim," said Goldwin Smith
long ago, "has always been to create a Nationalist feeling, which would
end in political separation, not the redress of particular wrongs and
grievances, or the introduction of practical improvements." I should
imagine that there has seldom, if ever, been an important political
party which has exhibited so little constructive ability as the Irish
Parliamentarians. Their own legislative proposals during the last thirty
years have been a negligible quantity; and I think I am justified in
saying that there is not one of the great measures passed by Unionist
Governments since 1886 which has not been either opposed by the
accredited leaders of the Party, or, at best, received with carping and
futile, rather than helpful, criticism. I must personally
acknowledge--and I do so gladly--that I received useful assistance and
valuable criticism from the Messrs. Healy in conducting the Local
Government Bill through the House of Commons; and credit must also be
given to Mr. John Redmond for the part he took in aiding to bring
together the Recess Committee. But the Messrs. Healy have always acted
independently; and Mr. John Redmond was, at the time referred to, leader
of only a small minority of the Irish Nationalists. The feeling of the
majority, and certainly of the leaders of the majority, was reflected,
as we have seen, in the refusal of Mr. Justin McCarthy to have anything
to do with the movement.

Mr. Dillon in particular has shown a disposition to regard minor
political grievances, and even poverty and discontent, as so much fuel
wherewith to stoke the lagging engine of Home Rule. Remedial measures
short of Home Rule seem to take in his eyes the character of attempts to
deprive the Irish Party of so many valuable assets. Nor is this spirit
of tacit or open hostility confined to acts of the legislature. Of all
the social and economic movements in Ireland during recent years, the
spread of agricultural co-operation has been without doubt among the
greatest and the most beneficial. It has never found a friend in Mr.
Dillon. In the movement itself and in the Irish Agricultural
Organisation Society, founded expressly to promote it, he can only see a
cunning device of the enemy to undermine Nationalism. In this matter Mr.
Dillon's attitude is also the official attitude of the Irish Party. Thus
Mr. Redmond (now reconciled with Mr. Dillon and become leader of the
main body of Nationalists), in a letter to Mr. Patrick Ford, dated
October 4, 1904, does not scruple to say of Sir Horace Plunkett's truly
patriotic work:--

     "I myself, indeed, at one time entertained some belief in the good
     intentions of Sir Horace Plunkett and his friends, but recent
     events have entirely undeceived me; and Sir Horace Plunkett's
     recent book, full as it is of undisguised contempt for the Irish
     race, makes it plain to me that the real object of the movement in
     question is to undermine the National Party and divert the minds of
     our people from Home Rule, which is the only thing that can ever
     lead to a real revival of Irish industries."

Those who have read Sir H. Plunkett's "Ireland in the New Century" will
hardly know which most to wonder at in these words, the extraordinary
misdescription of the whole spirit of his book, or the total failure to
realise the absolute necessity to Irish farming of a movement which not
only has its counterpart all over the Continent of Europe, but has since
inspired similar action in the United States, in India, and quite
recently in Great Britain as well.


Nationalist hostility to the I.A.O.S. has not been confined to words.
When the Agriculture and Technical Instruction Bill was passing through
the House of Commons, Mr. Dillon endeavoured to secure an undertaking
from me that public moneys should not be employed to subsidise the work
of the Society. I naturally refused to give any such undertaking.[73] I
had followed the efforts of the Society very closely; I was deeply
impressed with the value of the results which it had accomplished; but
its field of activity was limited by the narrowness of its resources. In
my opinion, a subsidy to the Society from the Endowment Fund of the
Department would be a useful and proper application of public money. At
the same time I pointed out that if the Agricultural Board, which in the
main represented the popularly-elected local authorities, thought
differently, they had a power of veto and could use it in this case.

Sir Horace Plunkett held the position of Vice-President of the
Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction from 1899 to 1907,
and during his tenure of office, as I had always expected and intended,
there was close co-operation between the Department and the I.A.O.S.
During that period a sum amounting in all to less than £30,000 was paid
by the Department to the I.A.O.S., of which more than half was for
technical instruction, while the balance represented contributions to
the work of co-operative organisation.[74]

When Sir H. Plunkett was replaced by Mr. T. W. Russell, the pressure of
the Irish Parliamentary Party immediately began to make itself felt. The
new vice-president informed the Council of Agriculture that he had made
up his mind to withdraw the subsidy, but he undertook to continue a
diminishing grant for three years, £3000 for the first year, £2000 for
the second, and £1000 for the third. The I.A.O.S. were not seriously
opposed to the gradual withdrawal of the subsidy, the loss of which they
hoped to be able to cover in course of time by increased voluntary

The opposition of the Nationalist Party was, however, not yet
exhausted. In the _Freeman's Journal _of January 21, 1908, there
appeared a letter from Mr. John Redmond enclosing a copy of a letter
from Mr. T. W. Rolleston to a correspondent at St. Louis. Mr. Rolleston
accompanied his letter with a copy of a speech by Sir Horace Plunkett.
In his letter he remarked plainly upon the antagonism displayed by the
Irish Nationalists to the co-operative movement. Although Sir Horace
Plunkett declared that he had nothing whatever to do with the letter,
the Irish Parliamentarians professed to find in it abundant proof of an
intention to destroy Nationalism. "That correspondence," said Mr. T. W.
Russell,"[75] compelled me to take action. Mr. John Redmond made it
imperative upon me by his letter--I mean a public letter to the
Press--and as so much was involved, I took the precaution of convening a
special meeting of the Agricultural Board." The Board decided that the
subsidy should be withdrawn at the end of the year 1908.

The last act in this drama of hostility to Sir Horace Plunkett and all
his works is still in the course of being played. Under the provisions
of the Development Fund Act of 1909, the Development Commissioners were
empowered to make advances for the organisation of co-operation, either
"to a Government Department or through a Government Department to a
voluntary association not trading for profit." During the Report stage
of the Development Fund Bill, Mr. Dillon tried to get a ruling from the
Solicitor-General that the I.A.O.S. would be excluded from receiving
grants from the fund, thus repeating the manoeuvre which he had already
unsuccessfully attempted in connection with the Agriculture and
Technical Instruction (Ireland) Bill of 1899.

In accordance with this provision, the three Agricultural Organisation
Societies for England, Scotland, and Ireland, each applied for a grant
in aid. The applications were referred in due course for report to the
Government Departments concerned--that is to say, to the Board of
Agriculture and Fisheries for the English and Scottish applications, and
to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for that from
the I.A.O.S. The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries reported favourably,
and the British and Scottish Organisation Societies are to have their
grant. But the I.A.O.S. had to reckon with Mr. T. W. Russell, behind
whom stood Mr. Dillon and the politicians. The report of the Irish
Department on the Irish application was adverse, but the Commissioners
do not appear to have found the reasons given convincing. Much delay
ensued, but, ten months after the application was sent in, the matter
was submitted to the Council of Agriculture.

The machinery of the United Irish League was brought into action to
influence the votes of this body. Mr. Russell delivered an impassioned
harangue, and eventually the Council was induced to endorse his action
by a majority of 47 to 33.

Any grant in aid of agricultural co-operation is to be administered, if
Mr. Russell has his way, not by the society which has already been
instrumental in establishing nearly a thousand co-operative associations
in Ireland, and has served as a model on which the corresponding English
and Scottish Organisation Societies, now in the enjoyment of a State
subsidy, have been founded, but by the Department, which has hitherto
had no experience whatever of such work. Moreover, the co-operation
promoted by the Department is to be "non-competitive," by which I
suppose is meant, that it is not to affect any existing trading
interest. It is safe to say that agricultural co-operation, which has
_no_ effect upon any trading interest, will have very little effect upon
the farmers' interests either. So far as I know, the Development
Commissioners have not decided what course to take in this strange
situation. It may be that Ireland will lose the grant altogether; but in
any case I can well believe that they must hesitate to reverse the
policy already approved for England and Scotland, and in the face of
all experience commit the work of organising agricultural co-operation
to a State Department rather than to a voluntary association possessing
such a record as the I.A.O.S. has placed to its credit.

If now we ask what are the grounds of the hostility of the Nationalist
Party to the most hopeful Irish movement of recent years, the answer
appears to be twofold. The first is economic, or purports to be
economic: the second is frankly political.

1. Co-operation, it is urged, injures the middleman and the small

To encourage farmers to do well and economically for themselves what is
now done indifferently and expensively for them by the middleman, must
of course act injuriously on some existing interests. This is not
disputed. But the change is absolutely necessary for the regeneration of
rural Ireland, and this objection cannot be allowed to stand in the way.
Looked at in its broader and more enduring aspects, co-operation is
bound to stimulate and improve general trade by increasing the spending
power of the farmers. The Chambers of Commerce of Dublin and Belfast
have not been slow to perceive this, and have warmly endorsed the
Society's application for a grant from the Development Commissioners.

2. The political objection to the movement, so far as it takes the
definite form of charging the I.A.O.S. with being a propagandist body
aiming under the mask of economic reform at the covert spread of
Unionist opinions, will not stand a moment's examination. There is not a
particle of evidence in support of such a charge, and the presumption
against it is overwhelming. To mix political propagandism with
organisation would be the certain ruin of the movement. The Committee of
the I.A.O.S. consists of men of all shades of political faith. These men
could never have joined hands except on the basis that politics should
be rigidly excluded from the work of the Society. The members of the
co-operative societies founded by the I.A.O.S. number nearly 100,000.
Probably at least three-fourths of these are Nationalists.

In order, however, that all doubt on the subject might be finally
removed, the I.A.O.S. issued a circular to all its societies, in which
the following question was directly put:--

     "Has the I.A.O.S., as a body, or the Committee acting for it, done,
     in your opinion, any act in the interest of any political party, or
     any act calculated to offend the political principles of any
     section of your members?"

The answers received have been published and form very interesting
reading. Not a single society, of the many hundreds that have replied
from all parts of Ireland, has been found to assert that politics have
ever been mentioned by the agents of the parent association.

The hostility of the politicians to the co-operative movement rests, it
is safe to surmise, upon some other foundation than these flimsy charges
against the I.A.O.S.

In itself the movement is vital to the prosperity of rural Ireland. The
disfavour shown to it arises from apprehensions respecting its
_indirect_ bearing upon the great issue between Unionism and
Nationalism. Home Rulers who oppose the co-operative movement find
themselves in this dilemma: either they hold that nothing in the way of
material improvement could affect the demand for Home Rule, or else they
are really afraid lest "better farming, better business, and better
living," should weaken the attractions of their own political nostrum.
In the former case, they are left without a shadow of justification for
their attitude towards the I.A.O.S.; in the latter, they tacitly admit
that the interests of the farming classes must suffer in order that the
cause of Home Rule may be promoted.

Unionists are in no such difficulty. Our policy is clear and consistent.
Improvement in the social and economic condition of the people must be
our first object. It is an end to be pursued for its own sake, whatever
the indirect consequences may be. But the indirect consequences need
cause us no anxiety. Increased material prosperity, and the contentment
which inevitably accompanies it, whatever their other effects may be,
are not likely to strengthen the demand for constitutional changes.
Successful resistance to Home Rule at the present crisis may well mean
the saving of the Union for good and all.


[Footnote 70: Originally published in the _Irish Homestead_, and quoted
in Sir Horace Plunkett's "Ireland in the New Century," p. 190.]

[Footnote 71: "Ireland in the New Century," p. 220.]

[Footnote 72: In this connection attention may be called to the
remarkable increase of wealth in Ireland in the past twenty years. The
deposits in the Joint Stock Banks have increased from £33,700,000 in
1891 to £56,011,000 in 1911, the balances in the Post Office Savings
Banks in Ireland from £3,878,000 in 1891 to £12,253,000 in 1911, and the
number of accounts from 261,352 in 1891 to 662,589 at the end of 1910.
Irish investments in Government Funds, India Stocks, and Guaranteed Land
Stock have increased from £26,609,000 in 1891 to £41,363,000 in 1911.
But more noteworthy still, perhaps, is the increase in Irish trade.
Figures are only available since 1904, but in that period Irish imports
have increased from £54,078,399 to £65,044,477--an increase of
£10,966,078 in seven years. Irish exports have increased in the same
period from £49,712,400 to £65,844,255, or an increase of £16,131,155.
Or, if we take the aggregate trade, there has been an increase from
£103,790,799 in 1904 to £130,888,732 in 1910, an increase of
£27,097,933. In other words, the aggregate import and export trade in
Ireland in the year 1910 amounted to nearly £28 sterling per head of
population, while the corresponding figure for Great Britain is just
over £20. These figures are, I submit, eloquent testimony that the
general policy of the Imperial Parliament in relation to Ireland during
recent years has been wisely conceived, and that the successful solution
of the "Irish Problem" is to be found in the steady pursuit of methods
which have already achieved such striking results.]

[Footnote 73: It appears that Mr. Dillon was under a misapprehension on
this point. He thought he had obtained an amendment to the Bill which
prevented the I.A.O.S. from getting a subsidy. This, however, was an
entire mistake. See App. B. to the Report of the Committee on the Dept.
of Agriculture. Cd. 3573 of 1907.]

[Footnote 74: The _voluntary_ contributions to the I.A.O.S. for the work
of organisation amounted to no less than £100,000.]

[Footnote 75: See his evidence before the House of Lords Committee on
the Thrift and Credit Bank Bill (Paper 96 of 1910).]




The case for resisting all attempts at impairing the Union between Great
Britain and Ireland can be made unimpeachable without reference to the
Irish Land Question. It would be our duty to defend the Union as a
bulwark of national safety, an instalment of Imperial consolidation, and
a protection to the freedom of minorities in Ireland, even if it could
be shown that agriculture, the chief industry of Ireland, had little to
gain under the Union and nothing to lose under Home Rule. Fortunately,
this cannot be alleged except by those who shut their eyes to the
results of State-aided Land Purchase in Ireland, and refuse to consider
the consequences of tampering with the mainspring of that beneficent
operation: I mean the credit of a joint exchequer under one Parliament
for both countries. "England's Case against Home Rule" coincides with
Ireland's need for retaining the prosperity that has come to her, after
long waiting, under, and because of, the Union. It is, therefore,
fitting that a place should be found in this book for a brief account of
what Irish agriculture may hope from the Union and must fear from Home

The history of Irish Agriculture until recent years differed from the
history of English Agriculture at many points, and always to the marked
disadvantage of Ireland. Dynastic and religious controversies which--if
we except the suppression of monasteries and the exile of a few
Jacobites--left English countrysides untouched, in Ireland carried with
them the confiscation of vast territories and the desolating Influence
of Penal Laws. Changes in economic theory contributed even more sharply
to the decay of Irish enterprise. When England favoured Protection Irish
industry was handicapped out of manufactures. When England adopted Free
Trade Irish agriculture, on which the hopes of Ireland had perforce been
fixed, suffered in a greater degree. The doctrine of _laisser faire_
wrought little but wrong when applied by absentee buyers of bankrupt
estates to tracts hardly susceptible of development by capital, amid a
peasantry wedded to continuity of tenure, and justified in that
tradition by the fact that they and their forbears had executed nearly
all the improvements on their holdings. Most of the nation were
restricted to agriculture under conditions that spelt failure, and
imposed exile as the penalty for failure, since other avenues to
competence were closed. The climax of misfortune was reached a
generation after the triumph of Free Trade. Ireland, being almost wholly
an agricultural country, suffered as a whole, whereas England, an
industrial country, suffered only in districts, from the collapse of
agricultural prices in 1879. That catastrophe in rural life precipitated
Mr. Gladstone's Land Law Act (Ireland), 1881. Being precluded by his
political tenets from protecting Irish agriculture against foreign
competition, or assisting it with the resources of the State, Mr.
Gladstone aimed at alleviating the distress due to the decadence of a
national industry by defining with meticulous nicety the respective
shares which the two parties engaged in agriculture--landlord and
tenant--were to derive from its dwindling returns. He believed that the
proportion of diminishing profits due to the landlord, because of the
inherent capabilities of his property, and to the tenant, because of his
own and his predecessors' exertions, could be roughly determined by a
few leading cases in the Land Court; and, further, that landlords and
tenants throughout Ireland would conform to such guidance as these
decisions might afford. In this anticipation he ignored the vital
function of agriculture in Irish life, and the effect which the growing
stringency of agricultural conditions would have on a population that
loved the land and rejoiced in litigation. He created dual-ownership
throughout Ireland, and this led, as Lord Dufferin and other far-seeing
statesmen had foretold, to the land being starved of both capital and
industry. Irish agriculture was brought to the brink of ruin. The misery
of those involved in that pass was exploited to engineer an attack on
the fabric of social order, and the lawlessness so engendered was
adduced as an argument for dissolving the Union under which such
tragedies could occur.

The leaders of the Conservative Party, when confronted with this
situation, determined that their duty, in accordance with the spirit of
the Act of Union, demanded some use of the resources of a joint
exchequer for ministration to the peculiar needs of Ireland. They
decided that the credit of the State should be employed to effect the
abolition of dual-ownership by converting the occupiers of Irish farms
into owners of the soil. Let it be granted that this policy had been
advocated by John Bright and enshrined in the Land Law Acts of 1870 and
1881. It must be added that these pious intentions remained a "dead
letter" until adequate machinery for giving them effect was provided by
the Land Purchase Acts, commonly called the Ashbourne Acts, of 1885 and
1889. The method pursued was as follows. Any individual landlord could
agree with any individual tenant on the price which he would accept for
the extinction of his interest in that tenant's holding. The State
facilitated the transaction by advancing that amount to the landlord in
_cash_ whenever the holding offered sufficient security, and accepting
from the tenant an undertaking to pay an instalment of £4 a year for
every £100 advanced over a period of forty-nine years. The instalment
comprised £3 for interest, 2_s._ 6_d._ for expenses, and 17_s._ 6_d._
for sinking fund. The loan from the exchequer was secured against
individual failures to pay by the realisable value of the holdings.

The salient features in this procedure were that the landlord received
cash and that the tenant paid interest at the then existing rate on
Consols, viz. 3 per cent. Both these features are important. A payment
in cash, or its equivalent, is preferable for such transactions to a
payment in stock, with a fluctuating value, because, if the stock
appreciates the landlord gets more than he bargained for, and this, by
arousing the suspicions of other would-be tenant-purchasers, produces a
disinclination on their part to buy. Again, if the stock depreciates,
the landlord cannot carry out contemplated redemptions of mortgages on
his property, and this produces a disinclination on the part of other
landlords to sell. In the second place it is difficult to persuade Irish
tenants that the State is assisting them if they, the poor, are asked to
pay higher interest for the State's credit than the State pays for the
credit of the rich. The chief defect in this procedure lay in its
restriction to separate bargains in respect of single holdings. It made
a patchwork, whereas the untoward results of the historic and economic
causes on which I have touched demanded the wholesale treatment of
convenient areas.

Under these Acts, in the course of six years, more than 27,000 tenants
became owners by virtue of advances which amounted to over £10,000,000.
The largest number of applications for purchase in any one year was
6,195 for £2,271,569 in 1887, and the average price for all the holdings
bought under these Acts was £396.

When the sums provided by the Ashbourne Acts were exhausted, Mr. Arthur
Balfour carried the Act of 1891, subsequently amended by the Act of
1896. Under these Acts the landlord was paid in stock instead of cash.
The tenant still paid an instalment of £4, which was, ultimately,
divided into £1 5_s._ for sinking fund and £2 15_s._ for interest. This
large sinking fund, £1 5_s._ instead of 17_s._ 6_d._, was retained after
interest had been reduced to the rate on Consols, 2-3/4 per cent.,
chiefly to avoid a discrepancy in the total of annual instalments as
between purchasers under the Act of 1891 and purchasers under the
Ashbourne Acts. Difficulties were feared if the earlier purchasers were
to pay £4 and the later purchasers only £3 15_s._ for each £100
advanced, so the spare five shillings was put in the sinking fund. This
speculative difficulty was afterwards discounted in order to deal with
one of a more practical character. Under Mr. Gladstone's Land Law Act of
1881, which dealt with rent-fixing, statutory rents were revised every
fifteen years, and the second term rents, beginning in 1896, seemed
certain to reveal considerable reductions on the rents payable during
the first period. It was felt that the security for the earlier advances
would be endangered if rents throughout Ireland fell below the level of
the purchase-instalments, and that purchase would be retarded if the
purchaser did not obtain immediate relief by agreeing to buy. To meet
this practical difficulty Mr. Gerald Balfour, in 1896, permitted the
purchaser to write off the amount repaid by sinking fund during the
first and two successive periods of ten years. These "decadal
reductions" were optional. If the purchaser forewent them he paid £4 per
£100, and extinguished his debt in 42-1/2 years. If he availed himself
of them he paid £3 8_s. 7d._ per £100 after the first ten years, and
continued to pay, with two further reductions in prospect, till the debt
was extinguished in a period undefined, but estimated at about 72-1/2
years. But this privilege was made retrospective, so that purchasers
under the Ashbourne Acts could also reduce their instalments of £4 to £3
11_s. 10d._

The salient features in the procedure of the Acts of 1891 and 1896 were
that, (1) the landlord was paid in stock instead of cash. But owing to
the rise in the value of gilt-edged securities, Irish Land Stock, with a
face value of £100, became at one moment worth as much as £114; (2) the
purchaser's interest was at 2-3/4 per cent. _i.e._ the existing rate on
Consols; but (3) his instalment, prospectively fined down by decadal
reductions, enabled him to offer an acceptable price and yet pay far
less to the State, by way of instalment, after purchase than was due to
his landlord, by way of rent, before purchase. The operation of purchase
was still confined, almost wholly, to single bargains. But in Mr. Arthur
Balfour's Act of 1891 a new departure was authorised which, after
development in Mr. Gerald Balfour's Act of 1896, has led to important
and far-reaching consequences. The Congested Districts Board was
established to deal with scheduled areas in the West of Ireland that
comprised a large number of holdings at once too limited in area, and
too poor in soil, for any one of them to support a family by farming or
to afford security to the State, under existing facilities for purchase,
in the event of the occupier wishing to become the owner. A select
committee of the House of Commons, so long ago as in 1878 (No. 249, pp.
4 and 5), when Disraeli was Prime Minister, had recommended that a
properly constituted body should be empowered to purchase, not single
farms, but whole estates, and to re-sell them after amalgamating,
enlarging, and re-distributing what are now called "uneconomic"
holdings. Provisions to this end had been inserted in earlier Acts, but,
in the absence of administrative machinery and financial resources, they
remained abortive. It had for long been evident that the small,
impoverished holdings, which had supported a dense population before the
famine, stood in need of fundamental remodelling if they were to support
even a largely reduced population. The efforts made by wealthy Irish
landlords in this direction were arrested by the Land Law Act of 1870
and rendered impossible by the Land Law Act of 1881. With the Purchase
Acts of 1891 and 1896 a beginning was made.

Another feature must be noted. In addition to the value of any one
holding, as a security against individual failure, a further security
was provided against the risk of a combined refusal to repay. The
Exchequer was empowered to retain grants due for various purposes in
Ireland and to recoup itself in proportion to the defalcation in any
county. It should be added that individual failures have been rare to
the point of insignificance, and that no combined refusal has been
attempted, or advocated, even during periods of agricultural unrest.

Under the Acts of 1891 and 1896 in the course of just over twelve years
more than 44,000 tenants became owners by virtue of advances which
amounted to over £13,000,000. Here we must note that the success of
these Acts coincided with, and depended on, a rise in the price of
gilt-edged securities. The number of applications rose from 1503 in the
year ending March 31, 1896, to 6911 in the year ending March 31, 1900.
But, with the fall in the price of stock, land purchase showed signs of
coming to a standstill. By 1902 it was evident that new legislation was
needed, and in the next year the Irish Land Act of 1903 was carried.

The Irish Land Act of 1903 was not, as some suggest, a short cut to the
millennium, evolved on the spur of the moment, and translated into
fantastic finance. It had two bases, the one practical, the other moral.
In the first place, it was founded on the ripe experience garnered
during eighteen years from the operation of preceding purchase Acts. In
the second place, it was founded on the historic agreement spontaneously
arrived at in 1902 by accredited representatives of Irish landlords and
tenants. They resolved that dual ownership ought to be abolished
throughout Ireland, and that this primary policy should be accompanied
by effective remedies for the uneconomic conditions prevalent in the
West, but existing elsewhere, though sporadically, to a limited extent.
This agreement, in itself unprecedented, was rendered the more
remarkable by the fact that the signatories assumed the responsibility
of telling the Government how the first object could be achieved. They
advised that landlords could not be expected to sell, as a class, unless
the price paid to them in cash would yield from sound securities 90 per
cent. of their income in terms of a rent that had been twice revised
under the Land Law Act of 1881; and that tenants could not be expected
to buy, as a class, unless their instalments due to the Treasury after
purchase were from 15 per cent. to 25 per cent. less than such rents so
revised. They invited the Government to give effect to that agreement.
The Government accepted and, in the Act of 1903, tendered the costly
but, under the circumstances, not extravagant _imprimatur_ of the
Treasury on a political treaty thenceforward to be binding on all three
contracting parties: landlords, tenants, and the State. The Nationalist
members, as spokesmen for the tenants, and the representatives of the
landlords, subscribed to the provisions offered, and the reports of the
Estates Commissioners prove that these have been fulfilled so exactly
that, in the case of second term rents, landlords and tenants have
obtained average incomes and reductions that differ only by a decimal
from the mean advocated at the Conference.

The objects of the Irish Land Act were, in conformity with the
conclusions of the Conference, to abolish dual ownership rapidly and, at
the same time, to deal systematically with "agricultural slums." Its
salient features fall under four heads.

A. _State assistance to voluntary bargaining._ For this purpose it was
provided that (1) cash payments should be resumed to the landlords; (2)
that the tenants' instalments should be £3 5_s._ for each £100 advanced,
divided into £2 15_s._ (2-3/4 per cent.) for interest and 10_s._ for
sinking fund. This was not, as the able and well-informed special
correspondent of the _Times_ suggests (February 9, 1912) a sudden
departure from an instalment of £4. "Decadal reductions" under the Act
of 1896 had, as I have said, diminished the instalments of purchasers
under the Act of 1891 to £3 8_s. 7d._ after ten years with further
prospective diminutions, and subjected the instalments of purchasers
under earlier Acts to a similar process. A wholesale expansion of
purchase was impossible unless would-be purchasers were offered terms
comparable to those accorded to their predecessors. For this reason the
tenantry of Ireland were offered repayment at £3 5_s._ per £100 for a
period of about 62 years, in lieu, under the Act of 1896, of repayment
at £3 8_s. 9d._, with further reductions, for about 72-1/2 years, and
their representatives accepted the offer. They would certainly have
refused, and rightly, the offer substituted by Mr. Birrell in the Act of
1909, viz. an instalment of £3 10_s._ with the same sinking
fund--10_s._--and interest increased to £3. The third feature to be
noted under this head is, that the terms agreed to by representatives of
landlords and tenants at the conference could not be ratified unless
the State added some help by way of cash to the assistance of its
credit. It was agreed by all parties that £12,000,000 should be
available to bridge the gap, at the rate of 12 per cent. on the amount
advanced, with the right to revise that rate after five years, but _only
for the purpose of extending the bonus_--as it was called--_to all
future transactions_. It was an integral part of a solemn covenant that
the bonus should not be diverted to any object other than the abolition
of dual ownership and the remedy of "congestion."

B. _The substitution of speedy purchase for dilatory litigation._ To all
members of the Conference of 1902 and of the House of Commons in 1903,
with, I believe, the exception of Mr. Dillon, who was away in America
while the Conference sat, it was evident that, if dual ownership was to
be abolished, our choice was confined to two courses. We could, on the
one hand, pursue, under the guise of purchase, the metaphysical and
costly distinctions between landlord-right and tenant-right, which Mr.
Gladstone had established under the guise of rent-fixing; or else, as
the only alternative, we had "to cut the cackle" and get to business.
Under this head the House of Commons--Mr. Dillon ingeminating
dissent--decided in so far as landlords and tenants were concerned, two
things: (1) It was agreed that where the tenant-purchaser's instalment,
after purchase, was substantially less than his statutory rent revised
at great cost--£140,000 a year for Land Courts--then, in those cases the
State needed not to inquire at further cost and delay into either its
own security in the holding, or the metaphysical distinction between
value due to the landlord's ownership of the soil and value due to the
tenant's improvement of the soil. This close approximation to unanimity
will not surprise those who grasp that every landlord and tenant was to
make a voluntary bargain on precisely those terms which the
representatives of their classes had combined to obtain from the State.
The alternative method of delay and litigation had been further
discounted, for everybody except Mr. Dillon, by the fact that in the
classic case--_Adams_ v. _Dunseath_--tried out in accordance with Mr.
Gladstone's panacea, Adams, after repeated lawsuits, improved his
financial position by an infinitesimal sum per annum without becoming an
owner of his farm. It was also agreed that the Estates Commissioners
appointed to administer the Act, should be administrative officials
under the Government, and not amateur judges. This was essential, not
only to substitute cheap speed for costly delay, but also to ensure that
the benefits offered by the State should not be absorbed, say, in the
rich province of Leinster to the detriment of the poorer province of
Connaught, or--for who knows what may happen in Ireland?--absorbed in
the Home Rule province of Connaught to the detriment of the Unionist
province of Ulster.

C. _Dealing with Estates as a whole instead of with single holdings._
This process, till then applied tentatively in the congested districts
of the West, became the general method throughout Ireland, and was
assisted by the provision of working capital for carrying out necessary
amalgamations and improvements before resale.

D. _Increase in the 'borrowing power and funds of the Congested
Districts Board,_ for the purpose of dealing systematically with
"agricultural slums."

The features of the Irish Land Act (1903), founded, as they were, on
experience and the consent of all parties concerned, became widely
popular in Ireland. But, by Mr. Birrell's Act of 1909, they were all
distorted or destroyed. A solemn treaty, framed in the interest of
Ireland, was torn up to deck with its tatters the triumph of Mr.
Dillon's unholy alliance with the British Treasury. The effect of this
betrayal on the prospects of Irish agriculture will appear from a
recital of the changes made by Mr. Birrell's Act, followed by a
comparison of the results obtained under the two Acts. From that
comparison I shall proceed to an examination of the reasons alleged for
the breach of faith, and a statement of the Unionist party's pledge to
continue their policy of 1903. I shall then conclude by inviting all
who care for Ireland to weigh the prospects of Irish Agriculture under
the Union against its prospects under Home Rule.

_Changes made by the Act of _1909.--(1) Instead of cash payments
landlords are to receive stock at three per cent. issued on a falling
market, and this stock cannot appreciate because, owing to the
embarrassment of Irish estates, about half of each issue must be thrown
back on the market for the redemption of mortgages; a result fatal to
land purchase and detrimental to the credit of the State. (2) Instead of
paying £3 5_s._ per £100, tenants are to pay £3 10_s._ without any
reduction in the period of repayment. The sinking fund remains at 10_s._
and the interest £3 is, for the first time since land purchase was
attempted, placed at a higher rate than in the preceding Purchase Act,
whilst the whole instalment of £3 10_s._ is raised, not only above the
rate of the Act of 1903, but also above the rates, diminished by decadal
reductions, of purchasers under still earlier Acts. This again, in view
of these reductions and of periodic revisions of _rent_ under the Land
Law Act of 1881, is fatal to purchase. (3) The bonus of £12,000,000--on
the application of which all parties agreed in 1903--was diverted from
the unanimous policy of that year and brought in aid of Mr. Dillon's
hobby, which all parties then rejected. Mr. Dillon is at liberty to
rejoice over the ruin of one landlord more than over the salvation of
99,000 tenants. The laws of lunacy do not, and ought not to, touch him.
But there is no reason why taxpayers should minister to his peculiar
pleasure, with the result of postponing indefinitely any settlement of
the Irish land question. (4) By reverting to inspection for security
delay is substituted for speed, and speed is necessary in the conclusion
of bargains that are themselves the result of prolonged negotiations;
the more so when, as now, owing to the substitution of stock for cash,
the seller cannot know what his bargain will turn out to be; and the
buyer, owing to the block in agreements under the Act of 1903, cannot
know when his bargain will take effect. In most cases it will not do so
for from six to eight years, which must be added to the period of
repayment, although his instalment has been increased. (5) The reversion
to attempts at defining the metaphysical rights of the landlords and
tenants revives the social poison of litigation of which, in 1903, every
one but Mr. Dillon was weary. (6) The revival of litigation in respect
of single holdings defeats the policy of dealing with convenient areas.
(7) By transforming the Estates Commissioners, much I imagine to their
disgust, from administrative officers into amateur judges, a further
premium is put on litigation and delay, whilst the interests of one
province as against the interests of another, are left without
protection from the State. (8) Although more than half the holdings of
Ireland are valued at less than £10 a year, a presumption is created
that all holdings below that value are to be deemed "uneconomic." The
whole of Connaught with the counties of Donegal and Kerry and part of
County Cork are branded as "congested," and the Board, charged with
conducting purchase in that area, is swollen to unmanageable size,
whilst three commissioners are held sufficient for the rest of Ireland,
which is twice as large.

To these eight changes, all inimical, and, as I believe, fatal to the
abolition of dual ownership, two have been added of a more insidious
effect. Compulsion has been adopted. This of itself checks voluntary
purchase. It kills it when, as under this Act, compulsory purchases are
to be paid for in cash and voluntary purchases in depreciated stock.
Finally, the Act contemplates diverting the resources, applied under the
treaty of 1903 to the abolition of dual ownership and the remedy of
congestion, to a new purpose, for which Ireland can make no special
claim. I mean the creation, over all Ireland, of new tenancies, to be
sold to new men, who have never suffered from dual ownership or
uneconomic conditions, and may be presumed to be ignorant of farming.
This new policy amounts to a repeal of the policy sanctioned by all,
viz. of giving special State aid to meet the peculiar needs of Ireland.

_A comparison of the results obtained under the Acts of_ 1903 _and_
1909.--In order to gauge the respective efficacy of these two Acts for
the purpose of abolishing dual ownership, it is necessary to distinguish
between applications for purchase, and advances actually made in respect
of completed transactions. The applications exhibit the comparative
popularity and convenience of the two Acts. The advances exhibit only
the readiness of the Government to proceed with purchase. They pertain
to the financial, rather than the political, aspect of the problem, and
may be examined later together with the reasons alleged for the delay of
its solution. The fact of the delay appears from the following

Under the Irish Land Act (1903) the number of purchase agreements lodged
in respect of direct sales by landlords to tenants was 217,299 in the
course of less than six years from November 1, 1903, to September 15,
1909. To these should be added proposed purchasers in other categories,
viz. in respect of estates sold to the Land Commission for subsequent
re-sale, or to the Congested Districts Board, or in the Court of the
Land Judge, or in respect of offers to evicted tenants. These bring the
total of potential purchasers up to 248,109. Under the Act of 1909, in
two years from December 3, 1909, to December 1, 1911, the number of
applications in respect of direct sales stands at 8,992. In the other
categories the number of potential purchasers amounted to 373 up to
March 31, 1911. Since then tentative negotiations have been essayed,
under the threat of compulsion and the menace of Home Rule, which
suggest a far larger figure. But these transactions--to which I shall
return--are of an eminently dubious character. We are on safe ground if
we compare the number of tenants who were ready under the two Acts to
acquire their holdings. After discounting whatever may be claimed on the
score that the operation of the Act of 1903 was expedited by the fear of
its destruction, a comparision of 217,299 would-be purchasers in six
years with 8,992 in two years demonstrates that the abolition of dual
ownership has been thrown back to the conditions which called for the
Treaty of 1903. Furthermore, it is proper to discount, in turn, even the
meagre total of 8,992. For it includes the remainders of estates, other
parts of which had been sold under the Act of 1903 and the spurt of
applications expedited, in this case, by the revolution of last August.
To the over-sanguine and the over-timid this seemed to foreshadow the
rapid passage of Home Rule, and, bad as are the terms of the Act of
1909, they are estimated to be better than any obtainable after the
Union has been thrown on the scrap-heap of the Constitution. One other
comparison may be noted. It was part of the Treaty of 1903 that
landlords should be encouraged to remain in their native land by
assistance in the repurchase of their demesnes--that is, homes--after
selling their properties. Under the Act of 1903 the advances on resale
to owners sanctioned by the Land Commission numbered 205. Under the Act
of 1909 they number two.

It will readily be inferred, even by those unacquainted with Ireland;
that a process for healing ancient wounds has been turned into a process
for exasperating future conflicts. A blister has been substituted for a
poultice on the sores of centuries. Existing agreements are blocked.
Future agreements--for this is their appropriate, if cynical--designation,
are relegated to a future which few can foresee. Landlords who have
contracted to sell are threatened with bankruptcy by the foreclosure of
mortgages. Tenants who have contracted to buy see their hopes deferred
with sick hearts. Whilst to owners and occupiers who have not completed
their bargains "no hope comes at all." The newly won prosperity of
Ireland is doomed because the Nationalist party and British Government
have not kept faith; and with prosperity peace is departing. The
environment that breeds agrarian disorder and crime has been restored,
and agitators, in expectation of Home Rule, are already at "their dirty
work again." A new plan of campaign menaces the peace of Ireland in
those districts whose past records are most darkly stained.

_Examination of the reasons alleged for tearing up the Treaty of
1903_.--The Government defended their reversal of the policy of 1903,
and departure from their pledges to carry out that policy, by making two
assertions. They asserted (1) that the size of the problem, which all
parties undertook to solve, would exceed by far the speculative estimate
put forward in 1903; (2) that the credit of the British Exchequer, which
they have depressed, would prove unequal to the burden foreshadowed by
the new dimensions, which they have assigned. (1) _Size of the problem_.
The first assertion, that much nearer £200,000,000 than £100,000,000
must be borrowed in order to complete purchase, is based on two
assumptions explicitly stated in the Return presented to Parliament (Cd.
4412 of 1908) as follows: "It will be observed that the purchase money
of the agricultural land not yet brought before the Commissioners for
sale under the Land Purchase Acts has been estimated _on the assumption
that it will be all sold_ and that _it will be sold on an average at the
price for which lands had been sold up to 30th April last, under the
Irish Land Act_ (1903)." The assumptions on which the Government
proceeded are not, therefore, in doubt, but the validity of those
assumptions, on which the whole case of the Government depends, is
refuted by the ascertained facts of Irish agriculture. The census shows
that the number of agricultural holdings in Ireland is about 490,000,
including nearly 19 million acres. The whole area of Ireland includes
some 21 million acres, apportioned to 3-1/2 million acres under crops, 6
million acres of waste, and 11-1/2 million acres under grass. The Return
to which I have referred (Cd. 4412 of 1908) cavils at the figures given
in the census on the ground that the 490,000 "holdings" are more
accurately 490,000 "land-holders," since a tenant holding "half a dozen
farms in the same county is returned as having a single holding." But it
is right to take "holders" when, as under the Act of 1903, the limit on
advances applies to the person who receives them. Again, the Return
throws over the census for figures supplied by the Department of
Agriculture. But it is wrong to use these figures, for they include
holdings not exceeding one acre, of which there are 80,000 in Ireland,
and many more that cannot be described as "in the main agricultural or
pastoral." No special pleading on the part of the Government can alter
the fact that the 490,000 holdings given by the census include all the
lands under crops and grass and two-thirds of the waste. They embrace 19
million acres, and more than cover the ground. For the purpose of an
estimate it is an outside figure, the more so since, in respect of grass
lands the value of a single farm may exceed the limit of any one
advance, and it is not uncommon for a large grazier to rent many grass
farms. If the Government, by conferring a judicial status on the Estate
Commissioners, surrendered their control over the amounts of single
advances; and again, if the Government, at the dictation of Mr. Dillon,
embarked on a new policy of creating tenancies in grass land and selling
them to new men, they are debarred from increasing the estimate to cover
their own misfeasance. In tendering the speculative estimate of 1903, it
was clearly laid down that the amount of one advance was only to be
increased in rare cases, and the sub-division of permanent pasture was
denounced as a "form of economic insanity." It was also explained that
deductions must be made from the 490,000 holdings in respect of small
town plots, accommodation plots, and market gardens; nor are these
insignificant, for to the 80,000 holdings not exceeding one acre we must
add 62,000 of from 1 to 5 acres. In the face of these facts, the
assumption that "all agricultural land"--as defined in the Return--will
be sold, is not only unsound but preposterous.

The second assumption, that the average price of future transactions
will equal that of past transactions is opposed to the presumption that
better, and therefore dearer farms, came into the market before worse
and therefore cheaper farms. I am not referring to the number of years'
purchase offered, a point on which I have never expressed an opinion,
but to the value of the property which passes. It is with farms as with
oranges, the good ones go first. The pertinence of this maxim to land
purchase is proved by the reports of the Estates Commissioners. These
contradict the Government's second assumption, for they exhibit a
steady and continuous decline in the average of advances that have been
made. The average amount of advances under the Act of 1903 to March 31,
1908, was in round numbers £361. On some such figures the second
assumption rests. I ventured at the time to assert that the average in
the future would not exceed £300. This estimate has been confirmed, for
the average advances from March 31, 1908, to September 15, 1909--when
the Act ceased to operate--was £287. A further reduction may be
confidently expected, since the progress of purchase in the richer
provinces has by far exceeded its progress in Connaught. In Leinster
over 53,000 agreements have been lodged at an average price of over
£481; in Munster over 58,000 at an average of over £420; in Ulster over
84,000 at an average of over £226; whilst in Connaught only some 26,000
at an average of just under £200.

The reasons alleged in defence of the Act of 1909 failed to justify, or
even to explain, the changes it imposed. An explanation must be sought
in the real reasons, and they are not far to seek. The first was that
the old methods of litigation and delay, abjured by all parties in 1903,
were substituted for the new methods of speed and ease, because Mr.
Dillon so willed it; and the second, that the policy of abolishing dual
ownership, to which Mr. Redmond stood pledged, had to be ousted, again
at Mr. Dillon's dictation, to make way for the folly of creating new
tenancies, of symmetrical size, throughout all Ireland. The Treaty was
torn up because Mr. Dillon, acting as deputy for Mr. Birrell (whose main
argument for Home Rule is that it bores him to be Chief Secretary),
ordered Mr. Redmond to eat his words.

From this examination of the reasons for destroying the Act of 1903, the
true size and nature of the financial problem emerges. From the total of
some 490,000 holdings substantial reductions must be made in respect of
waste lands, grass lands, and accommodation plots, and, again, in view
of the limitation on the amount that may be advanced to one person. We
ought probably to deduct 20 per cent., but if, to be on the safe side,
we deduct only 15 per cent., 416,000 are left. These, however, include
some 80,000 sold before the Act of 1903, or under the Land Commissioners
as distinct from the Estates Commissioners. In respect of the 336,500
remaining, 257,474 agreements have been lodged under all categories in
the Acts of 1903 and 1909. Indeed, a larger number have been lodged, for
in most cases our information is only to March 31, 1911, leaving less
than 79,000 holdings that may still come into the market. This is an
outside figure, provided always that the policy of 1903 be adhered to,
viz. that advances are made to _occupiers_ and not to new men, except as
under the Act of that year (sect. 2 (I) _b_ and _d_, and sect. 75) in
rare cases, rigidly defined, of the sons of tenants and of evicted

If the average price remains at the figure for the period March 31,
1908, to September 15, 1909--viz. £287--a further sum of £22,673,000 may
be required in excess of £84,099,818 already required under the Acts of
1903 and 1909; making £106,772,818. This total includes nearly
£1,000,000 for re-sales to owners and some provision for evicted
tenants. Under these heads it will not expand in a greater relative
degree. It includes, also, purchase of whole estates and of untenanted
land by the Estates Commissioners and Congested Districts Board, and
these may involve larger sums than were originally contemplated. I
promised to return to that point, and will now do so. Since the Return
under these heads up to March 31, 1911, tentative negotiations have been
made for the purchase of a number of estates and for supplying more
evicted tenants with holdings. But this does not increase the money size
of the problem by much, because many of these estates--if sold to the
new Congested Districts Board--are subtracted from business that would
have been done by the Estates Commissioners; again, it is, as we know,
impossible to spend much money, or move many migrants, or even enlarge
many holdings, in one year. If the new Congested Districts Board
attempts to handle some millions' worth of land in a hurry, one of two
things must happen, either their work will be indefinitely delayed, or
else they will sell off "uneconomic" holdings without amending their
defects. The business will not cost more. It will only be scamped, or
shirked. I doubt if the additions, which do not conflict with the policy
of 1903, will increase the amount to be borrowed in the market, though
they may increase the sums needed for working capital. Let us add for
these expansions, which are strictly limited by physical impediments,
£2,000,000 or even twice that amount. It still remains obvious that,
even after expansions, good, bad, or indifferent, of the policy of 1903,
the total sum to be borrowed cannot exceed from £110,000,000 to
£113,000,000, as the outside figure that need be contemplated, provided
we refrain from the "economic insanity" of distributing eleven million
acres of permanent pasture among shopkeepers and "Gombeen" men. This
figure of £113,000,000, indeed, exceeds what may reasonably be expected.
The average of advances fell from £426 on the earliest agreements, to
£361 on all agreements to March 31, 1908, and to £287 on agreements
between that date and September 15, 1909. We may count on a continuation
of that fall until the average approaches £200, the price for Connaught,
where purchase has proceeded most slowly. But let the total stand at
£113,000,000. That sum neither warrants the breach of faith of which the
Government and the Nationalist party have been guilty, nor does it
present an insoluble problem to the resources of a united Exchequer.
£41,097,939 has already been borrowed in the market, and advanced, in
less than eight years.

The policy to which the leaders of the Unionist party stand pledged may
now be re-stated in the words which I was authorised to use by Mr.
Arthur Balfour and Lord Lansdowne after consultation with their
colleagues. Speaking on July 9, 1909, I said:--

     "Our attitude is, that it is necessary to deal effectively with the
     block of pending agreements, but in dealing with that block it is
     not necessary to prejudice the interests either of the landlords or
     tenants, who may come to terms on some future agreements. We think
     that the spirit of the Act of 1903 must be observed in the case of
     pending agreements, but it must not be departed from in the case of
     future agreements."--Hansard, 1909, vol. vii. No. 93, cols. 1542,

Mr. Bonar Law confirms this pledge. He instructs me to say that the
Unionist party will resume the land policy of 1903, and pursue the same
objects by the best methods until all have been fully and expeditiously

The prospects of Irish agriculture under the Union include a return to
the land policy of 1903, with its fair hopes of reconciliation between
classes and creeds, and its accomplished result of abounding prosperity.
What are the prospects of Irish agriculture under Home Rule? Of what
Home Rule may mean in this, as in other respects, we have been told so
little that we are driven to consider its effect on Irish agriculture in
the light of two contingencies. It may be that the extremists, with whom
Mr. Dillon invariably ranges himself, as a preliminary to dragging Mr.
Redmond after him, will have their way. In that case, Ireland will exact
complete fiscal autonomy from a Government which invariably surrenders
to Mr. Dillon's puppet. Should this occur, land purchase will cease
abruptly in the absence of credit for borrowing the sums it requires.
Take the other alternative, hazily outlined by Mr. Winston Churchill at
Belfast. We glean from his pronouncement that the Government intend--if
they can--to refuse fiscal autonomy, and to preserve control over land
purchase. Can it be expected that this attempt, even if it succeeds,
will produce better results for land purchase than the pitiable failure
of the Act of 1909? Is it not certain that less money will be raised in
England, for Ireland, after Home Rule? And if raised in driblets, on
what will it be spent? Obviously, not on the policy of 1903, but on the
policy substituted by Mr. Dillon in 1909. It will be spent on expelling
landlords and graziers to make room for subscribers to the propaganda of
extremists. We must judge of what will happen to agriculture after Home
Rule by what has happened since the Treaty of 1903 was repudiated. Nor
must we forget that Mr. Dillon's destructive activity has ranged beyond
land purchase. That policy could have achieved little but for the
untiring and generous patriotism of Sir Horace Plunkett. He established
the Department of Agriculture and converted his countrymen to
co-operation, in the absence of which no system of small ownership can
succeed. He, too, based his efforts on a conference--the Recess
Committee. How has he been met? Mr. Redmond, a member of that Committee,
as later of the Land Conference, has, here again, succumbed to Mr.
Dillon, who seeks to defeat co-operation between farmers, in the
interests of his disciples; whilst Mr. Russell, with the hectic zeal of
a pervert, has refused Ireland's share of the new Development Grant in
order to spite Sir Horace Plunkett.

Such signs of the times are read in Ireland more quickly than in
England, and in several ways. To this man they spell speedy triumph for
the form of economic insanity in which he vindictively believes; to that
man, the retention of an office won by recanting his opinions. But there
are others in the saddest districts of Ireland who must also be taken
into account. To the few--for they are few--who thrive by deeds of
darkness whenever the Union is attacked, these signs of coming change
suggest a more tragic interpretation, from which the fanatic and the
place-hunter would recoil--when too late. The blatant publican who
strangles a neighbourhood in the toils of usury and illicit drink, and
the bestial survivor of half-forgotten murder-rings take note of these
signs. The atavism of cruelty returns. Emboldened by Mr. Birrell's bland
acquiescence in milder prologues to Home Rule, a new plan of campaign
is, even now, being devised, charged with sinister consequences from
which all men in 1903 trusted that Ireland would be for ever absolved.
The prospects of Irish Agriculture under Home Rule include the return,
after a brief chapter of "hope, and energy the child of hope," to the
old cycle of bitterness and listlessness and despair.

A consideration of these alternatives leads to this dilemma. If the
Government concede fiscal autonomy Land Purchase ends. If they refuse
it, and Mr. Redmond accepts a "gas-and-water" Bill, that compromise, so
accepted, will receive from Mr. Dillon the treatment accorded to the
recommendations of the Recess Committee and of the Land Conference. The
compromise will be repudiated and the millions already advanced for
purchase will be used as a lever to extort complete autonomy. The lever
is a powerful one. All depends upon who holds the handle.

It may be said in conclusion that the Unionist policy of Land Purchase
vindicates the Union, and that the treatment it has received
demonstrates the futility, and the tragedy, of granting Home Rule.





The best possible system for Irish financial reform is adherence to the
principles of the Act of Union. The constitution, as settled by the Act
of Union and the Supplementary Act for the amalgamation of the
Exchequer, contemplated that each of the three Kingdoms should
contribute by "equal taxes" to the Imperial Exchequer. "Equal taxes"
were to be those which would press upon each country equitably in
proportion to its comparative ability to bear taxation. These taxes were
to be imposed subject to such exemptions and abatements as Scotland and
Ireland should from time to time appear to be entitled to. If their
circumstances should so require, they should receive special

All the revenues of England, Scotland and Ireland, wherever and however
raised, when paid into the common Exchequer, form one consolidated fund.
The Act for the consolidation of the Exchequers directs that there shall
be paid out of the common fund "indiscriminately" under the control of
Parliament all such moneys as are required at any time and in any place
for any of the public services in England, Scotland, Ireland or
elsewhere in the Empire.[76] Such payments are to be made without
consideration of anything but necessity. They are to be without
differentiation on the ground of the locality of the expenditure, or of
the relative amount of the contributions to the common chest of
England, Scotland or Ireland. All expenditure is alike "common";
whatever its object may be, civil, naval or military or foreign, it is
all alike "Imperial," and all of it is under the constitution
"indiscriminate." The whole United Kingdom forms one domain, and but one
area for the purposes of expenditure. As long as the Act of Union lasts
no one of the three Kingdoms can be said to be "run" either "at a loss"
or "at a profit." They are all run together as one incorporate body. The
common revenue balances the common expenditure, and they bear together
one another's burden and the weight of Empire.


The Act for the amalgamation of the Exchequers of Great Britain and
Ireland contained provisions for the continued representation of Ireland
in fiscal matters at the Exchequer and in Parliament. Power was given to
His Majesty by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Ireland to appoint
a Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. The Vice-Treasurer could sit in Parliament,
and appointment to the office did not vacate a seat in the House of
Commons. This office has been allowed to fall into abeyance. The
Exchequer is only represented in Ireland by a Treasury Remembrancer.
Most persons who know Ireland would concur in the view that the existing
arrangement is not satisfactory, and that it would be of great advantage
to Great Britain, as well as to Ireland, to have in Parliament a
Minister specially responsible for Irish finance, acting under the
Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Vice-Treasurership should be revived,
and the occupant of it should be a member in touch with Irish opinion,
understanding Ireland and her real wants, which are often very different
from the demands upon the Exchequer that are most loudly proclaimed. The
restoration of the office would facilitate business, and tend to remove
many misunderstandings, and prevent many mistakes. Personal interviews
in Ireland with such a Minister would be worth reams of correspondence,
and would save weeks of time. Promptitude, economy and efficiency would
be secured.


For the purposes of a system of Tariff Reform, the revival of the Irish
Vice-Treasurership is expedient. The peculiar circumstances, conditions,
aptitudes, and requirements of Ireland must be regarded, inquired into,
discussed and weighed. Her commercial, industrial, and agricultural
interests must be specially considered. They vary in many particulars
from those of Scotland and England. This can only be done satisfactorily
by a responsible Irish Minister charged with the duty of protecting and
securing her interests and harmonising them with those of the sister
Kingdoms in the framing of a scientific scheme of Tariff Reform.

If Irish interests are properly provided for, she should gain greatly
under Tariff Reform. The effect of the Whig finance, inaugurated by
Gladstone in 1853, accompanied by a rigid application of the Ricardian
theories of political economy, and the continuous narrowing of the basis
of indirect taxation, told against Ireland most severely, depleted her
resources and retarded her progress. Sir Stafford Northcote thus
addressed the House of Commons after twelve years' experience of the
Gladstone Budget:--

     "The upshot of our present system of taxation has been to increase
     the taxation of the United Kingdom within the last ten or twelve
     years by 20 per cent., and they would find that whereas the
     taxation of England had increased by 17 per cent., that of Ireland
     had increased no less than 52 per cent, between 1851 and 1861.
     This disproportion had been brought about by laying upon Ireland
     the burden of the Income-tax and by heavily increasing the spirit
     duties, making use at the same time of these two great engines of
     taxation to relieve the United Kingdom, but more especially
     England, of particular fiscal impositions.... Taxation in these
     two parts have pressed so heavily on Ireland, it was incumbent
     upon the people of England to take into account the necessity of
     relieving Ireland in any way they could."[77]

This plea of a great Conservative financial authority for that special
consideration for Ireland to which she is entitled in fiscal matters
under the Act of Union was not carried into effect until the Unionist
administration of Lord Salisbury, in 1886. Then began, under the Chief
Secretaryship of Mr. Arthur Balfour, that practical application of the
"Exemptions and Abatements" clause of the Act of Union in the policy of
Constructivism which has fructified so magnificently, and which, if
allowed to continue uninterrupted by Home Rule, will lead Ireland to

The Lloyd George Budget penalised Ireland still further by exaggerating
those methods of Whig finance which persistently narrowed the basis of
indirect taxation and heaped up disproportionate imposts on a few
selected articles--articles which are either very largely produced or
very largely consumed in Ireland. The effect of Gladstone's Budget of
1853 was to reduce the area under barley in Ireland by 134,000 acres in
six years; the Lloyd George Budget has reduced the Irish barley crop by
10,000 acres in one year. Therefore in the framing of the Tariff Reform
Budgets of the future, Ireland's equitable claim under the Act of Union
should be recognised and given effect to.


Agricultural land in the hands of the farmers who have bought their
holdings under the Irish Land Acts has been made liable to extravagant
burdens by the Lloyd George Budget. These peasant purchasers are treated
as if they were "Dukes." When they discover their real position, their
resentment will be bitter. Form IV. has not yet been circulated among
them. It has been kept back deliberately. It would not suit Mr. Redmond
or the Ministry, should the Irish farmer discover what the actual
working of the new Land taxes means while the legislative logs are still
being rolled by the Radical-Socialist-Nationalist combination. When Home
Rule is defeated Unionist finance should provide that the burden imposed
by these taxes on agricultural progress and national prosperity shall
be removed, and that the benefits conferred by the great Unionist policy
of State purchase on the peasant proprietors shall not be allowed to be
filched away by the Socialist budget, though it was by that very Irish
party, whose first duty should have been to protect them, that the Irish
farmers' interests have been betrayed.


It was found by the Financial Relations Commission that Ireland
contributed a revenue in excess of her relative capacity. Mr. Childers,
in his draft report, suggested that practical steps might possibly be
taken to give Ireland relief or afford her equitable compensation in
three different ways--[78]

     (1) By so altering the general fiscal policy of the United Kingdom
     as to make the incidence of taxation fall more lightly on Ireland.
     It was suggested that the taxation upon tea, tobacco, and spirits,
     which weigh more heavily on Ireland in proportion to her relative
     capacity, because of the habits of the people, and the larger
     proportion in Ireland of the poorer classes, might be reduced and a
     part of the burden transferred to other commodities. It was,
     however, felt, he said, that this would open up questions of such
     magnitude--like Free Trade and the incidence of taxation as between
     different classes--that it would be inexpedient to urge it, when
     the object in view was the solution of a pressing difficulty with
     regard to Ireland taken apart from the rest of the United Kingdom.
     But that difficulty will be removed under Tariff Reform--one-sided
     Free Trade is no longer a sacrosanct fetish--and the case of
     Ireland must be taken not as apart from, but as part of, the United
     Kingdom. Irish interests, Agricultural and Industrial, can be far
     better promoted, furthered, and secured under a scientific tariff
     system than under the so-called free trade system, which insists on
     the fallacy that identity of imposts means equality of burden, and
     concentrates its pressure on the great Irish industries of brewing,
     distillery, and tobacco manufacturing; a system which taxes heavily
     tea--the great article of consumption--and has brought peculiar
     disaster on agriculture. Therefore, the remedy which Mr. Childers
     thought impracticable in 1896 will become eminently practicable
     with a Tariff Reform Ministry in power.

     (2) The second suggestion then made was that there should be a
     policy of distinct customs and excise for Ireland as apart from
     Great Britain. This would involve a customs barrier between the two
     islands. The inconvenience of such a course would be immeasurable
     and disastrous under modern conditions. It would certainly come
     sooner or later under Home Rule, but it would be a reversal of the
     policy of the Union.

     (3) The third method which most strongly recommended itself to Mr.
     Childers was to give compensation to Ireland by making an
     allocation of revenue in her favour, to be employed in promoting
     the material prosperity and social welfare of the country.

This is the course which has been pursued by Unionist statesmen, and
finds practical expression in their Constructive policy. The results
cannot be better proved than by the fact that within the six years from
1904, during which the statistics of Irish Export and Import trade have
been kept, her commerce has increased in money value by more than
twenty-seven millions. At least four-fifths of that great increase
represents a corresponding increase in British trade with Ireland.

Mr. Childers wrote in 1896--

     "Apart from the claim of Ireland to special and distinct
     consideration under the provisions of the Act of Union, and upon
     the ground that she has for many years been, and now is,
     contributing towards the public revenue a share much in excess of
     her relative taxable capacity; I think that Great Britain as a
     manufacturing and trading country would in the course of time be
     amply repaid by the increase of prosperity and purchasing power in
     Ireland for any additional burdens which this annual grant to
     Ireland might involve. Looked at simply as a matter of good policy,
     it would be that often advocated with regard to Crown Colonies of
     Imperial expenditure with a view to the development of a backward
     portion of the Imperial estate. Ireland is so much nearer to and
     more exclusively the customer of the trading and manufacturing
     districts of Great Britain than any Colony, that this argument in
     her case should have redoubled weight. It is at least probable
     that, if in place of the fitful method of casual loans and grants
     hitherto pursued, there was a steady, persevering, and
     well-directed application of public money by way of free annual
     grant towards increasing the productive power of Ireland, the true
     revenue derived from that country might in time be no longer in
     excess of its relative taxable capacity."[79]

The wisdom of this Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer makes a strange
contrast with the folly of the Radical Chief Secretary, who tells
England to "cut the loss" at the moment of Ireland's rapid progress
because Irish Old Age Pensions have exceeded in number the reckless
anticipation of the Right Hon. Mr. Lloyd George.


The present writer ventures to suggest that under a general scheme of
Tariff Reform, the home-grown food supply of the United Kingdom might be
generally increased and cheapened, and Ireland, along with the other
agricultural districts of the United Kingdom greatly developed, by an
extension of the principle of the Parcel Post, and the constitution of a
great Home-Grown Commodity Consignment Service worked through
arrangements between the Post Office, the Railway Companies, the
Agricultural Departments and Farmers' Co-operative Associations. The
railways already provide special rates for farm produce. But if the
system were organised by the State in connection with the Railways and
Agricultural Associations, and the parcel post expanded from the
carriage of parcels of eleven pounds weight to the carriage of
consignments of a tonnage limit to be delivered on certain days at
depots in the large cities and centres of population, great national
interests might be served.

The value of proximity to the Home Markets which has been so depreciated
in favour of foreign supplies by modern transit methods and quick sea
passages, would be restored to the British and Irish farmer. If this
were accompanied by a tariff system which would secure a preference for
home-grown cereals such as oats and barley, a direct effect in
stimulating agriculture, and an indirect effect in increasing winter
dairying, cattle feeding and poultry rearing, would be produced. The
country would become more self-sustaining. The peace food supply would
be cheapened and the food supply in time of war augmented. The defensive
power of the realm would be increased. If, under the new Tariff system,
it seems not inexpedient to reimpose the small registration duty on
imported foreign as contrasted with colonial wheat and flour, the
revenue thus produced might, without exactly earmarking it, be applied
partly towards encouraging and advancing agriculture in the United
Kingdom, and partly towards financing such a Commodity Post as above
suggested. This subvention to domestic, agricultural and pastoral
industries would balance the tariff on foreign manufactured goods, and
the farmer of England, Scotland and Ireland would share amply in the
stimulus of a new fiscal policy. Tariff Reform may assist the
manufacturer and artisan by imposing duties at the ports, and the farmer
and agricultural labourer by cheapening transit and encouraging food
production within the United Kingdom.


In 1888 a system was inaugurated by which Grants in Aid of Local
Purposes have been made in the Three Kingdoms on the basis that England
should get 80 per cent., Scotland 11 per cent., and Ireland 9 per cent.,
when such subventions are given from the Imperial Exchequer. The
Legislation sanctioning this proportional allocation began with the
English Local Government Act of 1888, when Grants in Aid were made out
of the Probate Duties, and has been carried into several other Statutes
relating to England, Scotland and Ireland. These proportions have become
to a large extent stereotyped in the allocation of such grants. The new
basis of contribution was originated by Mr. Goschen and was stated by
him to depend upon the amount of the assumed contribution of each
country to the Revenue for Common purposes. The method of calculation,
he said, was a very complex one.[80]

It was pointed out at the time that under the new system the party that
would probably require the largest amount of the grant would be the
poorest country, and yet the richer country would get the larger
proportionate grants.[81] The method of segregation is as follows. The
Revenue and Expenditure Returns divide public expenditure into four
clauses: (a) "Imperial or Common Services," (b) "English Services," (c)
"Scottish Services," and (d) "Irish Services"; and having treated the
three latter as "local services" and charged the particular outlay on
them against each of the three countries, they estimate the balance left
in cash as "the Contribution" of England, Scotland and Ireland to the
"Imperial" Expenditure. It is admitted that this division is absolutely
arbitrary. It has no sanction by any Act of Parliament. It is opposed to
the system of Finance under the Act of Union. All the revenues of
England, Scotland or Ireland are contributed for "Common" purposes, and
in which all expenditure of any kind in any portion of the United
Kingdom is alike "Common" or "Imperial." The details of the division
were never disclosed, when the proportions were originally fixed. The
segregation of the services classified as "Imperial" is open to serious
objections. The method of computation is empirical and unconstitutional,
and if carried to its logical conclusion would now result in depriving
Ireland of any share whatever in future Equivalent grants, as her
contribution to the services thus classified as "Imperial" is
practically a minus quantity, though the revenue actually raised in
Ireland is much higher than it ever has been before. This method of
Distribution of Grants in Aid has been condemned by a succession of the
highest financial authorities. Lord Ritchie, as Chancellor of the
Exchequer, said, "he did not think it possible really to defend in all
its details distribution by contribution."[82]

Mr. Wyndham said--

     "It leads to results which all must hold to be illogical, and
     results which everybody in Ireland holds to be unjust because the
     greater the increase of taxation the less is the proportion that
     comes from Ireland, the poorer partner in the business, and so the
     less is the equivalent grant. As the evil increases the remedy
     diminishes, and you have only to force up taxation sufficiently
     high to extinguish the remedy altogether."[83]

Mr. Asquith said--

     "A more confused and illogical condition of things it is impossible
     to imagine. The House ought really to take the opportunity of
     threshing out the principle upon which these equivalent grants
     ought to be distributed between the three countries."[84]

Lord St. Aldwyn said--

     "That he always had a very strong objection to the system of
     Equivalent Grants, because when they had to make a grant for
     certain purposes to England, they were obliged to make
     proportionate grants to Ireland and Scotland quite irrespective of
     whether they needed them or not."[85]

Neither the "Imperial" contribution basis nor the "Population" basis,
which has in some instances been resorted to for grants in aid, is
satisfactory, nor is the method desirable of setting aside a certain
fund raised by some particular tax to finance a particular service. For
instance, the subvention of Education in Ireland out of the "Whisky
money" recently broke down owing to the diminution of the Revenue from
this source. The more sober Ireland became, the less she got for
Education. Chaos was imminent, and finally, after much friction, a
special grant had to be made from the Treasury to save the situation.
There are numerous instances in which great complications have been
caused in dealing with local authorities owing to these methods of
making grants in aid, and the system should be reformed. The true basis
is the basis of each Kingdom's need.... England has her needs, let them
be supplied. Scotland has hers, let them be supplied. Ireland has hers,
and having regard to her present comparative poverty, let them be
supplied "not grudgingly or of necessity," but by the Chancellor of the
Exchequer "as a cheerful giver." This is the constitutional principle
under the Act of Union, and the soundest financial principle to observe
for the United Kingdom.


[Footnote 76: 56 Geo. III. c. 98.]

[Footnote 77: "Hansard," Feb. 27, 1865, vol. 177, p. 813.]

[Footnote 78: "Financial Relations Report," 1896, c. 8262, vol. iii. p.

[Footnote 79: 1896, c. 8262, p. 194.]

[Footnote 80: "Hansard," 1888, vol. 327, p. 1287.]

[Footnote 81: "Parl. Deb.," vol. 332, p. 790.]

[Footnote 82: Ibid., vol. 120, p. 976.]

[Footnote 83: "Parl. Deb.," vol. 120, p. 823.]

[Footnote 84: Ibid., vol. 175, p. 1088.]

[Footnote 85: Ibid., May 31, 1903.]




The history of Ireland for the last two centuries and more is a
continuous exposition of the disastrous consequences of political and
economic separatism within an area where every natural condition, and
the whole course of historical development, pointed to political and
economic union. Geographically, racially and historically an integral
part of a single homogeneous island group, Ireland has never really been
allowed to enjoy the full advantages of political and economic union
with the adjoining main island. Almost every misfortune which Ireland
has suffered is directly traceable to this cause. In spite of this, it
is now seriously proposed to subject her once again to the disadvantages
of political separation, and that on the very eve of an inevitable
change of economic policy, which, while it would restore real vitality
and purpose to political union, would also once more intensify all the
injury which economic disunion has inflicted upon Ireland in the past.

In the long constitutional struggle of the seventeenth century her
position as a separate political unit made Ireland a convenient
instrument of Stuart policy against the English Parliament. Cromwell,
with true insight, solved the difficulty by legislative union with
England. But his work was undone at the Restoration, and for another 122
years Ireland remained outside the Union as a separate and subordinate
state. Her economic position was that of a Colony, as Colonies were then
administered. But it was that of a "least favoured Colony." This was
due, in part, to a real fear of Ireland as a danger to British
constitutional liberty and British Protestantism[86] which long
survived the occasion which has seemed to justify it. But what was a
more serious and permanent factor was the circumstance that Ireland's
economic development could only be on lines which competed with England,
and not like Colonial development on lines complementary to English
trade. One after another Irish industries were penalised and crippled by
being forbidden all part in the export trade. A flourishing woollen
industry, a prosperous shipping, promising cotton, silk, glass, glove
making and sugar refining industries were all ruthlessly repressed,[87]
not from any innate perversity on the part of English statesmen, or from
any deliberate desire to ruin Ireland, but as a natural and inevitable
consequence of exclusion from the Union under the economic policy of the
age. Whatever outlet Irish economic activity took there was always some
English trade whose interests were prejudicially affected, and which
promptly exercised a perfectly legitimate pressure upon the Government
to put a stop to the competition. The very poverty of Ireland, as
expressed in the lowness of Irish wages, was an ever convenient and
perfectly justifiable argument for exclusion. The linen industry alone
received a certain amount of toleration, and even encouragement. These
regulations were so little animated by direct religious or racial
antipathy that it was upon the Protestant Scotch and English settlers
that they fell with the greatest severity, driving them into exile by
thousands, to become, subsequently, one of the chief factors in the
American Revolution. But if the direct economic effect of political
separation weighed less heavily upon the Catholic majority, they
suffered all the more from the utter paralysis of all industry and
enterprise consequent upon the Penal Laws. These laws, monstrous as they
seemed even to Burke, were in their turn a natural outcome of a
political separation which made the security of Protestantism in Ireland
rest upon the domination of a narrow oligarchy in instant terror of
being swamped. Under Union they would never have been devised, or could
certainly never have endured.

The revolution by which the Irish Parliament, in 1782, asserted its
constitutional equality with the British Parliament, subject only to the
power of bribery, direct or indirect, retained by the Crown, brought out
in still more glaring relief the utter unsoundness of the existing
political structure under separation. After eighteen years of ferment
within Ireland and friction without, British and Irish statesmen, face
to face with civil war and French invasion, realised that the sorry
farce had to come to an end. Meanwhile the immediate economic effect of
liberation from the direct restrictions on Irish foreign trade, already
conceded in 1779, and helped in various directions by judicious
bounties, was undoubtedly to give a new impetus to production in
Ireland. The first ten years of Grattan's Parliament were, on the whole,
years of growing prosperity. Whether, even apart from civil war and
increasing taxation, that prosperity would have continued to increase,
if the Union had not come about, is, however, a more doubtful matter.
The immense industrial development of England during the next
half-century would probably, in any case, have crushed out the smaller
and weaker Irish industries, while the existence of a separate tariff in
Great Britain would have been a serious obstacle to the development of
Irish agriculture. A full customs union, with internal free trade, was
undoubtedly the best solution of the difficulty. But Pitt's Commercial
Propositions of 1785 failed, partly, indeed, owing to political
intrigues, but still more owing to the fundamental impossibility of
securing an effective customs union without some form of political

When finally Ireland entered the Union it was with the severe handicap
of an industrial system artificially repressed for over a century. The
removal of the last traces of internal protection in 1824 only
accelerated the process, inevitable in any case, by which Irish
industries, with the exception of linen, were submerged. But
manufacturing industry was at the best a small matter in Ireland
compared with agriculture. And to Irish agriculture the Union meant an
immense development in every direction. Unfortunately the inheritance of
the preceding century, a vicious agrarian system and a low standard of
living, was not easily to be eliminated, and little attempt was made to
eliminate it. The great increase of agricultural production was
accompanied, not by a progressive and well-diffused rise in the standard
of national well-being, but by high rents and extravagance on the one
side, and, on the other, the rapid multiplication of a population living
on the very margin of subsistence. The terrible year of famine was a
warning to British statesmanship of the need of a constructive and
Conservative policy for the reorganisation of Irish agricultural life
and for the broadening of the economic basis in Ireland by the
deliberate encouragement of new industries. Under a true conception of
Union, political and economic--and there were not wanting men like Lord
George Bentinck and Disraeli who entertained it--Ireland might within a
generation have been levelled up to the general standard of the United

But the evil effects of political and economic separatism in the
eighteenth century were still unremedied when the whole economic policy
of Union was abandoned. The very principle and conception of Free Trade
is, inherently, as opposed to the maintenance of national as of Imperial
Union. Ireland was deprived of that position of advantage in the British
market which was one of the implied terms of the Union, and was not
allowed to protect her own market. Incidentally, and as a consequence of
the new fiscal policy, Ireland was saddled with a heavy additional
burden of taxation which only handicapped her yet further in the
struggle to recover from the famine and to meet foreign competition. The
full severity of that competition was, however, not experienced till
towards the end of the seventies, when the opening up of the American
West, coupled with the demonetisation of silver, brought down prices
with a run. A series of bad harvests aggravated the evil. The same
conditions were experienced all over Europe, and were everywhere met by
raising tariffs to the level required to enable agriculture to maintain
itself. Even in England "Fair Trade" became a burning issue. Given
normal agrarian conditions in Ireland the Irish vote would have gone
solid with the Fair Traders, and the United Kingdom would in all
probability have reverted to a national system of economics a generation
ago. As things were, landlords and farmers in Ireland, instead of
uniting to defend their common interest, each endeavoured to thrust the
burden of the economic _débâcle_ on the other. The bitterness of the
agrarian struggle which ensued was skilfully engineered into the channel
of the Home Rule agitation. In other words, the evils of economic
separatism, aggravated by the social evils surviving from the separatism
of an earlier age, united to revive a demand for the extension and
renewal of the very cause of these evils.

Since then the underlying conditions of Irish economic life have
undergone a complete transformation. The wealth and credit of the United
Kingdom have been used to inaugurate a settlement of the agrarian
question. The productive and competitive efficiency of Irish agriculture
has been enormously increased both by Government advice and assistance
and by patriotic private effort. Old Age Pensions have alleviated the
burden of an excessive residue of older persons, and irrigated the
poorer districts with a stream of ready money. In every direction there
is a deliberate effort to raise the economic standard of Ireland to the
British level. Last, but by no means least, the exclusion of all foreign
live stock from the United Kingdom, though originally designed only as a
precautionary measure against cattle disease, has in effect protected
one most important branch of Irish agriculture and given it a vital
interest in the maintenance of the Union. On the eve of the revival of a
national policy of economic development Ireland stands on a far sounder
basis, and in a far better position to take advantage of that
development, than in 1800. The standard of life is rising, and will of
itself put a check on a mere multiplication of beings living on the
margin of subsistence. For the natural increase of population, which
will once more come about, there will be provision not only through more
intensive cultivation and in rural industries, but also in a real,
though possibly gradual, development of new manufacturing industries.
Incidentally the establishment of a protective tariff for the United
Kingdom will, by lowering the excessive duties on tea and tobacco which
weigh so heavily upon Ireland, increase still further the local excess
of Government expenditure over revenue and facilitate the local
accumulation of capital, already so noticeable a feature of recent
years, and thus provide an essential factor in stimulating new
enterprise, whether agricultural or industrial. Nor would it be in any
way inconsistent with a national economic policy for the United Kingdom
as a whole to devote special sums, through bounties and in other ways,
towards the opening up of new fields for the economic activities of the
Irish people. For the first time in her history Ireland will have a fair
start, and, under the Union, the twentieth century may yet prove
Ireland's century just as Canadians claim that it will prove Canada's

Now let us turn to the other side of the picture. The establishment of
Home Rule, in other words of political separatism, must inevitably be
followed by active economic separatism, _i.e._ by the creation of a
completely separate fiscal system in Ireland. The idea that an Irish
Chancellor of the Exchequer can carry on in dependence on a British
Budget, which may at any moment upset all his calculations of revenue,
is absurd. So is the idea that there can be separate tariffs with mutual
Free Trade, or a common tariff without a common government to frame it.
If Free Trade, indeed, were to be maintained in England, fiscal
separation would be no disadvantage to Ireland. On the contrary, she
would continue to enjoy the same access to the British market while
giving her own industries such protection as might be convenient. It is
one of the glaring weaknesses of the policy of Free Imports that it
actually puts a premium on separatism. But it is impossible to discuss
the future on that assumption. Whatever the fate of the Home Rule Bill
may be it is certain that Free Trade is doomed, and that the United
Kingdom, whether united or divided, will revert to a policy of national
protection and national development.

What will be the effect upon Ireland? Assuming mutual good will,
assuming that the Irish Government will be ready to grant a substantial
preference to British trade over foreign trade, there can be no doubt
that Great Britain would respond and give to Irish products the same
preference as might be extended to Canadian or Australian products. But
the first duty of the British Government would be to British producers.
While Empire-grown wheat, and possibly meat, would come in free, the
British farmer would receive a measure of protection against the rest of
the Empire in dairy products and poultry, in barley and oats, in hops,
tobacco, sugar beet, vegetables and fruit, in all those crops, in fact,
in which the British production could meet the British demand without an
undue effect upon prices.

Now, it is precisely by these intensive forms of production that Ireland
stands to gain most under Union. Under Home Rule she would lose this
advantage and have to compete on an equality with the rest of the Empire
both in respect to these products and in respect to wheat and meat. It
is extremely doubtful, too, whether her special privileges with regard
to store cattle would long survive. They could no longer be defended, as
against Canada, by the arguments now used, and as a piece of pure
protectionism there would be no reason for Great Britain to give them a
separate fiscal entity. And if the hopes of Irish agriculture would be
severely checked, still more would that be true of those hopes of new
industries already referred to. Even the great linen industry might find
a small duty enough to transfer a large part of its production within
the British tariff zone. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether any
tariff that Ireland could impose, consistently either with preference or
with reasonable prices in so small a market and on so small a scale of
production, could be of much effect against the competition of British
industries, strengthened and made aggressive under the stimulus of a
national trade policy.

This is the most favourable hypothesis. But it is at least conceivable
that a Nationalist Government, whether actuated by a laudable desire to
hurry on Irish industrial development, or influenced by the tradition of
animosity which still plays so strong a part in Nationalist politics,
may refuse to enter upon the policy of Imperial preference. It might
even be tempted by various considerations to give a preference to the
United States or to Germany. Germany is a large importer of foodstuffs.
The establishment of a British tariff may prove a serious blow to her
manufacturing interests. A trade agreement with Ireland might be a very
useful temporary business expedient from the German point of view.
Incidentally a large increase of German merchant shipping in Irish
harbours might, in the case of possible hostilities, be of no little
service in providing commerce destroyers with a most convenient excuse
for being in the most favourable area for their operations. Any fiscal
excursions of that sort would inevitably be visited upon Ireland by
severe economic reprisals of one kind or another on the part of Great
Britain, from which Ireland would receive permanent injury far
outweighing any temporary advantage which might be secured from foreign

In other words, Ireland under Home Rule would be in almost every respect
thrust back into her eighteenth century position of "least favoured
Colony." She would, at the best, be handicapped in the British market in
respect of those products by which she could profit most, and in those
which she is less fitted to produce would have to compete with the
virgin soil and competitive energy and organisation of the great
Dominions. At the worst, her fiscal policy might invite reprisals and
make her "least favoured" not only by her circumstances but by the
intention of those who would frame the British tariff. It is true that
the British Government would no longer dream of directly interdicting
Irish exports. But in that respect modern organised capital has an
influence to promote or kill almost as great as that of governments in
former times. And the influence of British capital, under such
circumstances, would certainly not tend to be directed towards the
economic development of Ireland.

But the use of the customs tariff is by no means the only great
instrument of a national economic policy. To promote the flow of trade
in national channels, to secure the fullest development of the national
territory and resources, the removal of natural internal barriers is
often even more important than the setting up of artificial external
barriers. Statesmen who have had to face the task of giving strength and
solidity to weak political unions have always aimed at the development
of internal communications. Washington's first concern after the success
of the American War of Independence was to endeavour to create a system
of internal river and canal navigation in order to help to bind the
loosely allied States into a real union. Bismarck used the Prussian
railways as well as the Zollverein to build up German unity. In the
making of Canada the Intercolonial railway and the Canadian Pacific were
essential complements to the national tariff. Railways forced South
Africa into union, and will gradually give Australia real cohesion and
unity. In the United Kingdom there has been no national policy with
regard to communications, least of all any nationally directed or
stimulated effort to cement the political union of 1800. But such a
policy is essential to the reality of the Union. To get rid, as far as
possible, of the barrier which the St. George's Channel presents to-day
both to the convenience of passenger traffic and to the direct through
carriage of goods between internal points in the two islands should be
one of the first objects of Unionist policy in the future. In the
train-ferry, which has bridged the channels of sea-divided Denmark,
which in spite of the Baltic, has made Sweden contiguous with Germany,
which for the purposes of railway traffic, has practically abolished
Lake Michigan, modern developments have provided us with the very
instrument required. To Irish agriculture the gain of being put into
direct railway communication with all England and Scotland would be
immense. From the tourist and sporting point of view Ireland would reap
a doubled and trebled harvest. More than that, the bridging of St.
George's Channel will for the first time enable the west coast of
Ireland to become what it ought to be, the true west coast of the United
Kingdom, the starting point of all our fast mail and passenger services
across the Atlantic.

But all this implies the Union, the existence of a single Government
interested in the development of the United Kingdom as a whole. Separate
governments in Great Britain and Ireland would not have the same
inducement to give financial encouragement to such schemes. Irish
manufacturers and British farmers alike might protest against being
taxed to facilitate the competition of rivals in their own markets. An
Irish Government would have neither sufficient money nor sufficient
interest to give the subsidies necessary to secure a three days' service
across the Atlantic. A British Government would naturally develop one of
its existing ports, or some new port on the west coast of Scotland,
rather than build up a new source of revenue and national strength in a
separate State. No one could blame it, any more than we could blame the
Canadian Government for wishing to subsidise a fast service from Halifax
or some other port in the Dominion rather than one from St. John's,
Newfoundland. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Navigation
Acts deliberately destroyed Irish shipping. A policy of _laisser faire_
in matters of national communication has hitherto prevented its revival.
To-day new ideas are in the air. Those ideas can be applied, either
from the standpoint of the Union or from that of separatism. In the one
case Ireland has the prospect of becoming, what her geographical
position entitles her to be, the eastern bridge-head of the North
Atlantic. In the other the immense power of the larger capital and
larger subsidies of Great Britain will be as effective as any navigation
laws of the past in leaving her a derelict by the wayside, continuing to
wait idle and hungry, with empty harbours, while the great streams of
commerce flow past her to north and south.

And if the theory of _laisser faire_ is rapidly dying out in matters of
trade and communications, it has already been largely superseded in
regard to social questions. The duty of the State to expend money in
order to level up the standard of life of its citizens, or to prevent
their sinking below that standard, is to-day universally recognised. The
methods by which that object is aimed at are various. There is the
crudest form, that of direct money relief, such as is involved in Old
Age Pensions. There is the subsidising of socially desirable economic
operations, such as insurance against sickness or the acquisition of
freehold by tenants. There is the expenditure of money on various forms
of education, in the scientific assistance of industry and agriculture,
in promotion of forestry, drainage, or the improvement of local
communication. There is the enforcement of innumerable regulations to
safeguard the health and safety of the working population. Nowhere has
this conception of the duty of the State exercised a greater influence
than in Ireland during the last twenty years. The Congested Districts
Board, the Department of Agriculture, the Land Purchase Scheme,
illustrate one phase of its carrying into effect. Old Age Pensions,
cheap labourers' cottages, sickness insurance illustrate another. All
these have been provided out of the United Kingdom exchequer. They could
not be provided out of Irish revenues. Still less could Irish revenues
provide for a continuous extension of this policy in order to keep on a
level with English conditions.

It has been stated by Mr. Churchill that under the Government scheme of
Home Rule, Land Purchase and Old Age Pensions will be paid by Great
Britain. Even if that were a workable arrangement it only covers a small
part of the field. For the rest Home Rule would mean the complete
abandonment of the attempt to level up the social conditions of Great
Britain and Ireland to a common standard. The Irish Government would
never have the means to carry out the same programme of social
legislation as will be carried out in Great Britain. Handicapped in
competition with British industries it would, moreover, naturally be
disinclined, even apart from the question of cost, to apply any
legislation or any regulations which might tend to raise the cost of
production. There will thus not only be an inevitable falling back for
want of means, but, in addition, a continual temptation to the weaker
and more backward State to meet superior industrial efficiency by the
temporary cheapness of inferior social conditions.[88]

But such a policy would not only be disastrous in itself in its ultimate
effect upon Irish national life. It would at once provide a fresh and
valid excuse for effective fiscal differentiation against Ireland in
Great Britain. Once again, as in the eighteenth century, Ireland would
be penalised for being a poor and "sweated" country.

So far the discussion of the economic results of separation has been
confined to Ireland, because Ireland would undoubtedly be the chief
sufferer. Her dependence on the English market, the smallness of her
home market, her backward social condition, would all be insuperable
obstacles to a really healthy development on independent lines. Great
Britain, on the other hand, would suffer relatively much less from Home
Rule. The immediate shrinkage of trade with Ireland, even with an Irish
tariff to overcome, might not be very great. The real loss would be not
so much any actual decrease of trade, as the loss judged by the
standard of the possibilities of Irish development under the Union. The
essence of the situation after all is that the United Kingdom is a
single economic area. The exclusion of one part of that area from the
political and economic life of the rest, while injurious to the rest,
must prove disastrous above all to the part excluded. After centuries of
alternate neglect and repression Ireland has at last been brought to a
condition in which she is capable of taking the fullest advantage of a
new era of progress and development for the United Kingdom as a whole.
And this is the time which is chosen for seriously suggesting that she
should once again be excluded from all the benefits of partnership in
the United Kingdom and driven out into the wilderness of poverty and
decay. The plea for this folly is an unreal sentiment which is itself
merely the survival of the mistaken political or economic separatism of
the past, and which is nothing to the real and justifiable sentiment of
bitterness which would be roused in Ireland if the plea were accepted.


[Footnote 86: This fear itself was the result of separatism. Miss A. E.
Murray, in her work on "The Commercial Relations between England and
Ireland" (p. 51), points out: "It was not so much jealousy of Ireland as
jealousy and fear of the English Crown which influenced the English
legislature. Experience seemed to show that Irish prosperity was
dangerous to English liberty.... The difficulty was that Ireland was a
separate kingdom, and that the English Parliament had no direct
authority over her. It was this absence of direct authority which made
England so nervously anxious to restrict Irish resources in all those
directions in which they might even indirectly interfere with the growth
of English power."]

[Footnote 87: For details, see Miss Murray's "Commercial Relations
between England and Ireland."]

[Footnote 88: It is worth noting that in 1893 the Liberal Government
rejected amendments moved by Mr. Whiteley to prevent existing laws for
the protection of workers in factories, workshops, and mines, being
repealed by the proposed Irish Legislature, and by Sir J. Gorst to
reserve laws affecting the hours and conditions of labour to the United
Kingdom Parliament.]




The argument so often and so plausibly presented in favour of Home Rule,
which urges that the Imperial Parliament is overburdened with local
affairs, contains an element of truth. It would, however, be more in
accordance with the facts to put the case the other way round: for
localities are much more seriously inconvenienced in certain respects by
the necessity of referring local business to the Imperial Parliament,
than the Imperial Parliament is inconvenienced by the transaction of
such business, which, if we are to believe the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, it neglects (vide _Nash's Magazine_, February, 1912). At the
same time, to affirm that, in order to remedy what is no more than a
defect in administration, it is necessary to overturn the British
Constitution, and to build on its ruins four semi-independent
Legislatures and one supreme Parliament, is merely to exemplify the
cynical imposture of partisan misrepresentation: what Mr. Balfour
described as "the dream of political idiots."

There is no impartial person who does not clearly recognise that to
constitute a separate Parliament for Ireland (to say nothing of England,
Wales, and Scotland) must necessarily result, not in the more efficient
despatch of legislative and administrative business, but in perpetual
friction, clogging the mechanism alike of the subordinate and the
predominate body. Ireland enjoyed--or endured--an independent Parliament
during eighteen years, from 1782 to 1800; and, in the result, the
greatest statesmen both in Ireland and in England were forced to
acknowledge that the system had in practice failed utterly; and that
there remained no alternative but the Union. To that view of the
situation the great majority of the Irish people, irrespective of race
or creed, were converted within a year before the passing of the Act, an
event which was hailed with rejoicing. The experience of 112 years,
fraught as they have been with occasional calamity and burdened with
many blunders, has not produced a single valid objection to the
principle of the Union, unless the survival among a diminishing section
of the population of the old, bad tradition of hatred towards England,
and its deliberate exploitation by pledge-bound politicians, is to be
regarded as a reason for sacrificing the welfare and the prosperity of
both countries.

The framers of the Act of Union did not, and indeed could not, provide
for every contingency. It is therefore the business of those who are
determined to maintain the Union, to adjust its machinery to modern
requirements. An omission of capital import was the failure to provide
for the efficient promotion of private Bills. The matter was, indeed,
actually considered by the authors of the Act of Union. The Duke of
Portland wrote to Lord Cornwallis, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, under
date December 24, 1798, as follows:--

     "One of the greatest difficulties, however, which has been
     supposed to attend the project of union between the two kingdoms,
     is that of the expense and trouble which will be occasioned by the
     attendance of witnesses in trials of contested elections, or in
     matters of private business requiring Parliamentary interposition.
     It would, therefore, be very desirable to devise a plan (which
     does not appear impossible) for empowering the Speaker of either
     House of the United Parliament to issue his warrant to the
     Chairman of the Quarter Sessions in Ireland, or to such other
     person as may be thought more proper for the purpose, requiring
     him to appoint a time and a place within the County for his being
     attended by the agents of the respective parties, and reducing to
     writing in their presence the testimony (for the consents or
     dissents, as the case may be) of such persons as, by the said
     agents, may be summoned to attend, being resident within the
     County (if not there resident a similar proceeding should take
     place in the County where they reside), and such testimony so
     taken and reduced into writing may, by such Chairman or by the
     Sheriff of the County, be certified to the Speaker of either
     House, as the case may be. It seems difficult to provide a
     detailed Article of the Union for the various regulations which
     such a proceeding may require, but the principle might perhaps be
     stated there, and the provisions left to be settled by the United

According to Lord Ashbourne's "Life of Pitt," the Prime Minister himself
framed a scheme for constituting a Court of Appeal in Ireland, with
power to examine evidence and certify all preliminaries and other
matters respecting private Bills. Why the provision was not included in
the Act of Union is not clear. The fact of its omission, however, proves
that the necessity of resorting to the Imperial Parliament for the
transaction of private business was not an objection that hindered the
passage of the Act of Union, although to-day the same omission is
absurdly used as an argument in favour of the repeal of that measure. At
the same time, it is true that the requirements have immensely increased
in proportion as the resources of the country have been developed since
1800. The introduction of railways, telegraphs, telephones and electric
appliances, together with the grant of compulsory powers to
municipalities, has involved the promotion of numerous private Bills at
vast expense to Ireland. Mr. A. W. Samuels, K.C., who contributed a
paper on the subject to the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of
Ireland in November, 1899, quoted some instances of the cost of private
Bill legislation in Ireland:--

     "The ratepayers of Dublin, of Rathmines, of Pembroke, of Clontarf,
     and other suburbs of the city, long will feel the burden added to
     their rates by the London litigation of the Session that has
     passed. The Dublin Boundaries Extension Bill of 1899 has cost the
     city, as I am informed on reliable authority, between £12,000 and
     £13,000. There were twenty-four separate sets of opponents. The
     cost to Rathmines of its opposition approaches, I am informed,
     £8,000. To meet it about one shilling in the pound must be added
     to the taxation of that township. The costs of Pembroke cannot be
     far short of the same sum. If we add those of the oppositions of
     Kilmainham, Drumcondra, Clontarf, and of the County of Dublin, and
     of private persons and public bodies, the total expense to the
     inhabitants and ratepayers of the city and its suburbs will not
     fall short of £45,000.

     "Mr. Pope, Q.C., stated before the Committee which considered the
     Irish Railways Amalgamation Scheme of last Session, that the Bill
     at hearing was costing £5 per minute. A high authority conversant
     with the proceedings in this case has informed me that this was an
     under-estimate rather than an over-estimate, having regard to the
     fact that there were twenty-seven separate oppositions. The Bill
     occupied twenty-seven working days of four hours each, and its
     cost to the shareholders of the promoting Company were calculated
     to amount to about £400 per day. What the loss was to the
     shareholders of other Companies, and to the ratepayers represented
     by public bodies, it would be impossible to say. The Bill probably
     cost at least £50,000. There was a Belfast Corporation Bill. There
     was an Armagh and Keady Railway Bill. There were several other
     Irish Bills before the Houses, exhausting thousands more of Irish
     capital, and diverting it from the material development of the
     country. So abnormal was the waste of Irish money on the Railway
     Bill that it excited general attention even in England, and became
     the subject of comment in Parliament. Mr. J. H. Lewis, the member
     for Flint Burghs, speaking on the 24th July, 1899, on the third
     reading of the Scotch Private Legislation Procedure Bill, said, 'I
     am sure everybody must have regarded with great dissatisfaction
     the enormous expenditure to which certain Irish Railway Companies
     were put during the last few weeks within the walls of the House.
     Surely a better system can be devised than that which drags over
     from different parts of the United Kingdom a host of witnesses,
     who could be examined on the spot. I am sure all honourable
     members deeply regret this great waste of public money.'"

These disabilities have been the subject of frequent representations.
Resolutions advocating reform have been repeatedly passed by the Irish
Chambers of Commerce, by the Incorporated Law Society, and by local
bodies. Leaders of the Unionist party have constantly urged the
necessity of a provision for expediting and cheapening Private Bill
procedure. In 1896 a deputation from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce
laid the matter before Mr. Gerald Balfour, who was then Chief Secretary
for Ireland. He expressed a hope that the Government would introduce a
reform. In the Queen's speech of February, 1897, it was announced that
Bills for amending the procedure with respect to Private Bills coming
from Scotland and Ireland had been prepared. The opportunity for laying
these measures before Parliament did not arise.

But in 1899 a Bill amending the procedure of Scottish Private Bill
Legislation was passed into law. The measure forms the precedent for
future legislation. In the year 1900, Mr. Atkinson (now Lord Atkinson),
speaking for the Government, said that the Government were--

     "most favourable to the introduction and passing of a Bill dealing
     with private Bill legislation for Ireland. He thought the real and
     substantial difficulty was the creation of the tribunal which was
     to sit locally and to inquire into these matters. The Irish
     Government thought it wise to wait until they should see what
     would be the effect of the operation of the Scotch Act."

Subsequent experience has proved that the Private Legislation Procedure
(Scotland) Act of 1899 may well be taken for the model of a similar
measure designed to apply to Ireland. The Scottish Act substituted for
procedure by means of a Private Bill, procedure in the first instance by
means of a Provisional Order. Instead of applying to Parliament by a
petition for leave to bring in a Private Bill, any public authority or
persons desirous of obtaining parliamentary powers now proceed by
presenting a petition to the Secretary for Scotland,

     "praying him to issue a Provisional Order in accordance with the
     terms of a draft Order submitted to him, or with such
     modifications as shall be necessary."

Before the Secretary for Scotland proceeds with the Provisional Order,
the draft Order is considered by the Chairman of Committee of the House
of Lords, and the Chairman of Ways and Means in the House of Commons;
and they report to the Secretary for Scotland whether or not the
matters proposed to be dealt with by the draft Order, or any of them,
should be dealt with by Provisional Order or by Private Bill. Should the
Chairmen report that these matters, or any of them, should be dealt with
by a Private Bill, the Secretary for Scotland, without further inquiry,
refuses to issue the Provisional Order so far as it is objected to by
the Chairmen; but the advertisements and notices already given by the
promoters of the scheme are regarded as fulfilling (subject to Standing
Orders) the necessary conditions to be observed prior to the
introduction of a Private Bill. Should the Chairmen report that the
Provisional Order, or a part of it, may proceed, the procedure is as
follows. If there is no opposition, the Secretary for Scotland may at
once issue the Provisional Order, which is then embodied in a
Confirmation Bill for the assent of Parliament. If there is opposition,
or in any case where he thinks inquiry necessary, the Secretary for
Scotland directs an inquiry, and the Order is then considered by the
tribunal described below; and if passed by that tribunal, with or
without modifications, it is brought up in a Confirmation Bill for the
assent of Parliament.

It follows that in the case of unopposed schemes brought in under the
Act, there is a great saving of time and expense as compared with the
former system.

With regard to schemes which are opposed, the judicial functions of a
Parliamentary Committee dealing with Private Bills were transferred by
the Act of 1899 to a special tribunal, composed of two Panels, a
Parliamentary Panel and an Extra-Parliamentary Panel, whose members
shall have no local or personal interest in the questions at issue. From
these is formed a Commission of four members.

Mr. A. W. Samuels, K.C., thus describes the constitution of the

     "In the first instance it is provided that the members shall be
     taken--two from the Lords and two from the Commons. In the event
     of that being found impossible, three may be taken from one House
     and one from the other. In the next resort all may be from the
     same House. Finally--if members cannot be procured to serve--the
     extra Parliamentary Panel can be called upon, and the Commission
     manned from it.

     "The next great reform introduced by the measure is, that the
     inquiry is to be held at such place, in Scotland, as may be
     convenient. The inquiry is to be localised as far as possible. It
     is to be held in public. The Commissioners are to settle questions
     of _locus standi_--they can decide upon the preamble before
     discussing clauses--and persons having a _locus standi_ can appear
     before them in person or by counsel or agent.

     "When they have heard the evidence the Commissioners are to report
     to the Secretary of Scotland, and they can recommend that the
     Provisional Order should be issued as prayed for, or with such
     modifications as they may make. If there is no opposition to the
     Provisional Order as finally settled by the Commissioners, it is
     embodied in a Confirmation Bill by the Secretary of Scotland and
     passed through Parliament.

     "If there is opposition a petition must be presented to Parliament
     against the Order, and then, on the second reading of the
     Confirmation Bill, a member can move that the Bill be referred to
     a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, and if the motion
     is carried in the House a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons
     shall sit, at the peril of costs to the opponents, to hear and
     take evidence and decide upon the measure in the same way as in
     the case of a Private Bill." (Private Bill Procedure, pp. 9 and

In 1904, the Select Committee appointed to consider the provisions of a
similar measure to be applied to Wales, reported that in practice the
Scottish Act had proved a success, which they attributed largely to the
supervision of the Provisional Orders conducted by the Scottish Office.

There would seem, then, every reason to believe that a measure framed
upon the lines of the Scottish Act, to apply to Ireland, would be
equally successful.

The remarkable increase in the prosperity of Ireland, which has occurred
during the last twenty years, demonstrates the necessity for providing
every means of encouraging the further development of the country.

All the available statistics amply confirm and corroborate the evidence
of this prosperity, which is known to every man with the smallest direct
acquaintance of Ireland in recent years. The figures of savings, bank
deposits, external trade, all alike show the exceptional advances in
prosperity now enjoyed by Ireland.

The progress of Ireland under the Union thus indicated, was inaugurated
by Mr. Balfour, the best Chief Secretary Ireland ever had; to this day
his name is always mentioned with respect and gratitude by the people of
Ireland, especially by the residents in the South and West, where his
policy produced splendid and lasting results. Insufficient credit has
been given to the work of agricultural and commercial development
steadily pursued by Mr. Gerald Balfour; the results upon which we
rejoice to-day are mainly due to the policy adopted by Mr. Balfour and
his brother. This policy, coupled with the restitution of sales under
the Land Act of 1903, is the one which Unionists intend resolutely to

The figures on the next page show that the increase of population in
some important centres in the south and west is very small, and that in
other centres there is a decrease. Ireland being mainly an agricultural
country, the population tends to decrease owing to emigration, although
of late years, owing to the rise in prosperity, the tendency is rather
to remain stationary. At the same time, the increase of the population
in the provincial towns is not commensurate with the increase of
material wealth in the country.

With regard, for instance, to the increase in the number of tourists
visiting Ireland, both private persons and local bodies desire to extend
existing inducements and to improve the means of transit and to raise
the standard of accommodation. It is clear that, under a reformed method
of procedure in respect of Private Bill Legislation, enterprise would be
freed from the restrictions which at present hinder its free exercise,
and a substantial and a steadily increasing benefit would accrue to


(_Census of Ireland_ 1911.)

Cities, towns, etc.         Percentage of increase since 1901.

Rathmines and Rathgar       17·1
Portadown                   16·2
Pembroke                    13·4
Belfast                     10·4
Belfast[A]                  10·1
Dublin                       6·4
Lisburn                      6·2
Ballymena                    4·5
Lurgan                       3·0
Sligo                        2·7
Dublin[A]                    2·6
Wexford                      2·6
Waterford                    2·5
Cork[A]                      2·3
Londonderry[A]               2·3
Limerick[A]                  1·2
Clonmel                      1·1
Cork                         0·7
Limerick                     0·7
Dundalk                      0·4
Newry[A]                     5·2
Newry                        3·6
Drogheda                     2·6
Galway[A]                    2·0
Galway                       1·3
Kilkenny[A]                  1·0
Kingstown                    0·9
Kilkenny                     0·9
Waterford[A]                 0·4

Those marked [A] are Parliamentary Boroughs.



By JOHN E. HEALY (Editor of the _Irish Times_)

An article on Irish Poor Law Reform written within the limits assigned
to me can only be constructive in the broadest sense. It is a serious
and tangled problem: the existing system has developed in a haphazard
fashion; there is about it hardly anything that is logical, much that is
anomalous, some things that are tragic. The present conditions of the
Irish Poor Law system are set forth in the reports of various Royal and
Viceregal Commissions. The most important are those of the Viceregal
Commission on Poor Law Reform in Ireland (1906), the Departmental
Commission on Vagrancy, the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of
the Feeble-minded, and the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws (Majority
Report). The study of all these reports is a rather distracting
business. They establish between them an urgent need for reform; on the
methods, and even principles, of reform there are wide differences of
opinion. I propose to set out here, so far as may be possible, a summary
of those reforms on which the various reports and Irish public opinion
are nearly, or quite, unanimous. Such a summary may at least help to
acquaint the rank and file of the Unionist Party with the primary
conditions and necessities of a work which, for historical, moral,
social and political reasons, must receive the Party's early and
practical attention when it returns to power.

The Unionist Party, as representing the best elements in British
Government, owes in this matter a great act of reparation to Ireland.
The present Poor Law system is based on the most fatal of all
blunders--the deliberate disregard of educated opinion in Ireland. The
story, a very remarkable and suggestive one, is told in the Viceregal
Commission's report. The Royal Commission of 1836 came to the conclusion
that the English workhouse system would be unsuitable for Ireland. The
Irish Royal Commissioners, including the famous Archbishop Whately, made
two sets of recommendations. One set involved a compulsory provision for
the sick, aged, lunatic and infirm. The other proposed to attack poverty
at the root by instituting a large series of measures for the general
development of Ireland. Looking back over nearly eighty years of Irish
history, we must be both humbled and astonished by the almost inspired
precision and statesmanship of these proposals. They included
reclamation of waste land and the enforcement of drainage; an increased
grant to the Board of Works; healthy houses for the labouring classes;
local instruction in agriculture; the enlargement of leasing powers with
the object of encouraging land improvement, and the transfer of the
fiscal powers of Grand Juries to County Boards. Here we have in embryo
the Irish Labourers Acts from 1860 to 1906, the Department of
Agriculture and Technical Instruction, the Irish Land Acts from 1860 to
1903, the Local Government Act of 1898--reforms which Ireland owes
almost entirely to the statesmanship (though it seems a rather belated
statesmanship) of Unionist Governments. These Irish recommendations were
ignored by the Government of the day. It sent an English Poor Law
Commissioner (Mr. Nicholls) to Ireland. He spent six weeks in the
country. On his return he recommended the establishment of the English
Poor Law system there, and it was accordingly established.

The first Poor Law Act for Ireland was passed on July 31, 1838. Between
that year and 1851 one hundred and sixty-three Poor Law Unions were
created. The number is at present one hundred and fifty-nine, and they
are administered by elected and co-opted Poor Law Guardians to the
number of more than eight thousand. In every Union there is a workhouse,
and in that workhouse all the various classes of destitute and poor
persons are maintained. They include sick, aged and infirm, legitimate
and illegitimate children, insane of all classes, sane epileptics,
mothers of illegitimate children, able-bodied male paupers, and the
importunate army of tramps. The mean number of such inmates in all the
workhouses on any day is about 40,000, of whom about one-third are sick,
one-third aged and infirm, one-seventh children, one-twentieth mothers
of illegitimate children, and one-twelfth insane and epileptic. This
awful confusion of infirmity and vice, this Purgatory perpetuating
itself to the exclusion of all hope of Paradise, presents the vital
problem of Irish Poor Law Reform.

A radical solution must be found for it. On that point the reports of
all the Commissions are unanimous. They differ, where they do differ,
only as regards means to the end.

The supreme reform which must be undertaken by any Government that seeks
to remove this great blot on Irish administration is the abolition of
the present workhouse system on some basis which, while effective, will
make no addition to the rates. The two chief reports (those of the
Viceregal Commission and the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws) are in
agreement, not merely as to this necessity, but as to the guiding
principles of reform. They recommend classification, by institutions, of
all the present inmates of the workhouses--the sick in hospitals, the
aged and infirm in almshouses, the mentally defective in asylums.
Appalling evidence was given before the Viceregal Commission and the
Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded with
regard to the present association of lunatics, epileptics, and imbeciles
with sane women and children in the workhouse wards. The latter
Commission recommended the creation of a strong central authority for
the general protection and supervision of mentally defective persons.

The reforms do not contemplate the amalgamation of Unions and the
complete closing of only a certain number of workhouses. They suggest
rather the bringing together into one institution of all the inmates of
one class from a number of neighbouring workhouses, and the closing of
all workhouses as such. The sick should be sent to existing Poor Law or
County Hospitals, strengthened by the addition of Cottage Hospitals in
certain districts. Children should be boarded out. The bulk of the
remaining inmates, classified with regard to their defects and
infirmities, should be segregated according to counties or other
suitable areas. On the treatment of able-bodied paupers there are
different opinions. It is suggested by the Philanthropic Reform
Association, which includes some of the most earnest and disinterested
philanthropists in Ireland, that the well-conducted of this class should
be placed in labour colonies, and the ill-conducted in detention
colonies--both classes of institutions to be maintained and controlled
by the State, and not by the County authorities.

The areas and resources of the existing Unions are in most cases too
limited, and the numbers of necessitous persons too small, to warrant
the present Boards of Guardians in erecting as many types of
institutions as there are classes of inmates. The break-up of the
workhouse system involves, of necessity, the establishment of larger
areas of administration. It is clear that the County must be substituted
for the Union in any radical scheme of reform. On this point the Royal
Commissioners and the Viceregal Commissioners are agreed. County rating
must take the place of Union rating, since the inmates of the different
institutions would be drawn from all parts of each County or County
Borough. Substantial economies in administration might be expected from
this plan. Hospitals should be brought into a County Hospital System,
with the County Infirmary as the central institution, and nurses should
be trained there for the County District Hospitals (now Workhouse

About such a general scheme of decentralised reform there is little or
no disagreement. There is, however, a good deal of disagreement
concerning the control of the new institutions. The Viceregal Commission
advocates the retention by the Poor Law Guardians of many of their
existing functions. It suggests, for instance, that County Hospitals
should be managed by a Committee consisting of all members of the
present District Hospital Committees, strengthened by nine members
appointed by the County Council; and that the Chairman of the Board of
Guardians should be the Chairman of the District Hospital Committee. The
Royal Commission, on the other hand, votes boldly for the abolition of
the Boards of Guardians. It argues that, if we are to have a County
system of institutions maintained by a County rate, we must adopt the
logical consequence that the County Council which strikes and collects
the rate should have the direct or indirect management of the
institutions. It proposes that the Council should appoint a statutory
Committee (one-half to be taken from outside its own members), to be
called the Public Assistance Authority, and that this Authority should
manage and control all the institutions in the County. The Philanthropic
Reform Association, which has given much study to this question,
suggests a _via media_ between the two official schemes. It recommends
that all the institutions should be controlled by the County Council,
through Committees directly responsible to it, to which persons of
experience from outside should be added. Such committees need not be
elected by the Poor Law Guardians, as recommended by the Viceregal
Commission, or by the Statutory Committee of the County Council, as
recommended by the Royal Commission. The Association desires, and it has
a large volume of Irish opinion behind it in this, to minimise the
existing powers, and reduce the numbers, of the Poor Law Guardians. It
is also very earnestly impressed with the need of bringing women into
the Poor Law administration. In this it is absolutely right. The Women's
National Health Association and the United Irishwomen have demonstrated
triumphantly the value of women's services in improving the social,
economic, and sanitary conditions of rural life in Ireland. A recent Act
of Parliament qualifies women for election to the Irish County and
Borough Councils. No great reform of the Poor Law system can be
effective without their aid. The Unionist Party will only be acting
consistently with its social ideals if it encourages, by every means
within its power, an Irish feminist movement, full of hope for the
country and wholly dissociated from party politics.

Any thorough reform of the Irish Poor Law system will demand an
increased expenditure of Imperial funds. The growing severity of Irish
taxation under recent Radical budgets forbids the possibility of
addition to the ratepayer's burdens. The anomalous distribution of the
grants in aid of Irish local taxation has done much to complicate the
Poor Law question. The Royal Commission reported that "no account
whatever is taken of the burden of pauperism, the magnitude of the local
rates, or the circumstances of the ratepayers and their ability to pay
rates in the different areas." Under this system the minimum of relief
is extended to the districts in which the weight of taxation is most
oppressive. The Commission proposed a scheme by which the old Union
grants within each county would be pooled and credited to the common
fund in aid of the poor rate in that county. The Viceregal Commission
also complained of inequality of expenditure, and advised a
reapportionment of the grants in aid of local taxation, on the basis of
the recommendations of the minority of the Royal Commission on Local
Taxation (1902). That Commission was unanimous in recommending increased
grants for Poor Law service in Ireland. The distribution of such new
grants would be a matter for discussion; of the necessity for them there
is no doubt. The Unionist Party must not rest content with reforming the
Irish Poor Law system; it must help the reformed system to pay its own
way. No fair-minded Englishman who reads Sir George O'Farrell's evidence
as to the distribution of the Irish Church surplus (Report of the Royal
Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded, page 468) will
dispute his country's obligations in this matter. The cost of Irish Poor
Law Reform is one of the strongest arguments against Home Rule. The
Unionist Party's full and generous recognition of its duty to Ireland in
this respect will establish a new argument for the Union.

One vital factor in Poor Law Reform remains to be considered--the Poor
Law Medical service. The 740 Dispensary districts of Ireland are now
administered by a little more than 800 Medical Officers. The salaries of
these doctors, amounting in all to nearly £100,000 per annum, are paid
as to one half by the Poor Law Guardians, and as to the other half out
of the Local Taxation (Ireland) account. Most of the doctors, in
addition to their public duties as servants of the poor, engage in
private practice, of which, in most of the rural areas, their official
position gives them a monopoly. A large--perhaps, a surprisingly
large--number of the Dispensary doctors are earnest and self-sacrificing
men; but the system is corrupted by one radical defect. Owing to the
security of private practice involved, there is a fierceness of
competition for these appointments out of all proportion to their
financial value. The elections are made by the Guardians, and it is a
fact so notorious as even to be acknowledged by Mr. Birrell that
flagrant canvassing and bribery are a common feature of these elections.
Candidates have been known to distribute sums of £400 or £500 to
Guardians, in order to secure appointments of £150 or £160 a year.
Another serious and extending feature of the present system is the
boycotting by the Guardians of all candidates who have not graduated at
the new Roman Catholic University. The most highly qualified men from
the University of Dublin have now practically abandoned competition for
these Dispensary offices outside the Protestant counties of Ulster.
Moreover, throughout the whole country local candidates are consistently
preferred to superior men from outside. Both the Viceregal and Royal
Commissions recognise the necessity of radical reform in this system,
but they suggest different remedies. The Royal Commission proposes that
the election and control of all the Dispensary Medical Officers of a
County shall be vested in the Public Assistance Authority for that
County; and that little or no change be made in the present financial
basis of the payment of salaries. The Viceregal Commission suggests a
bolder and more drastic remedy. It advocates the establishment of a
State Medical service on the lines of the existing services in Egypt and
India. This would require the payment by the State of the whole, instead
of half, of the salaries of Medical Officers. The Commission regards it
as proper and equitable that such a service should be, in the beginning,
at any rate, restricted to candidates educated in Ireland. A
representative Medical Council should elect the candidates by
competitive examination, and deal with all important questions of
promotion, removal and superannuation. The Commission maintains that the
creation of a State Medical service in Ireland would mean a very small
increase in the Parliamentary grant in comparison with the benefits
involved. This I believe to be the ideal system, but one must recognise
that its accomplishment is confronted with many difficulties. The Irish
Local Authorities would not willingly relinquish a privilege which is a
primary element in their influence and prestige. Irish medical opinion
is acutely divided on the question, which is now further complicated by
the prospect that the medical benefits under the National Insurance Act
may soon be extended to Ireland. It would be outrageous to expect the
Dispensary Officers to add the heavy medical duties under the Act to
their present responsibilities without adequate payment. Indeed, the
extension of the medical benefits to Ireland would make inevitable an
early reform of the whole Poor Law system. This is one reason why the
Unionist Party, when it returns to office, should be ready to tackle the
subject without delay. To no department of the work will it be asked to
apply greater sympathy, knowledge, tact and firmness, than to the
problems of the Poor Law Medical service.

During the last three years the Irish Unionist Party has made three vain
attempts to bring the reform of the Irish Poor Law before Parliament.
Its Bill, which now stands in the name of Sir John Lonsdale, asks for
the appointment (as recommended by the Viceregal Commission) of a body
of five persons with executive powers to carry out the recommendations
made by that Commission. These temporary Commissioners would have
authority to draft all necessary schemes, to consolidate or divide
existing institutions, and generally to reform the whole administration
of the Irish Poor Law service. The Bill assigns to them an executive
lifetime of five years--hardly, perhaps, an adequate time for the
establishment of reforms which, in their making, must affect nearly
every aspect of Irish life, and, in their operation, may reconstitute
the basis of Irish society. It is to be supposed that, when the whole
Unionist Party addresses itself seriously to the question, it will give
further and careful attention to the principles of reform before setting
up this, or some other, executive machinery. I can think of no more
thirsty or fruitful field in Ireland for the exercise of the highest
constructive statesmanship that the Party may possess. The need is
urgent, the time is ripe, all the circumstances are favourable. The Old
Age Pensions Act and the Insurance Act, if not vitiated by further
increases in Irish taxation, will greatly simplify the task of Poor Law
Reform. The former Act has reduced the number of old inmates in the
workhouses; the Insurance Act should lead to a reduction in expenditure
on outdoor relief. Moreover, it may be hoped that the infirm and pauper
classes will be henceforward, like the old age pensioners, a diminishing
fraction of the population of Ireland. They are, to a large extent,
flotsam and jetsam over the sea of Ireland's political troubles. Land
agitation, with its attendant vices of restlessness and idleness, the
emigration of wage-earners, the discouragement of industry under
Governments indifferent to the administration of law and the development
of national resources, have all contributed to the Dantean horrors of
the Irish workhouse system. These poor people are an excrescence on the
body of Ireland which good government, if it does not wholly remove, may
reduce nearly to vanishing point. Hitherto the chief rewards and
blessings of British administration in Ireland have gone to the hard
voters and to the strong agitators. It is time for the Unionist Party to
think of the hapless, the helpless, the voteless, and, therefore
voiceless, elements in Irish life. Ireland, as she becomes better
educated, gives more thought and truer thought than formerly to her
social and economic problems. Her gratitude and loyalty will go in
abundant measure to those who take counsel with her about these problems
and help her to solve them. The Government which cleans up many sad
relics of the past by a complete reform of the Irish Poor Law system
will put all Irishmen and Irishwomen under a deep sense of obligation to
it. Policy, not less than duty, should give this reform a place in the
forefront of the Unionist Party's constructive programme for Ireland.




Education is probably the most sorrowfully dull of all dull subjects. It
is difficult to repress a yawn when the word is mentioned. Yet we owe
everything to it that we value most. Through it we become emancipated
citizens of the world. Through it we are able to appreciate what is
beautiful and what is ugly, what is right and what is wrong, what is
permanent and what is merely transitory. If the people of a country can
make it their boast that they are truly educated, they need boast of
little else, for all the rest will have been added unto them.

It will be found next to impossible to draw any argument for Home Rule
from the history of Irish Education during the last decade. Indeed, if a
Nationalist Parliament were now to be established in College Green, it
is more than probable that the progress made by educational reformers
since 1900 would be largely thrown away, and the prospects of still
further improvement endangered and perhaps destroyed.

What has been done in the domain of Irish Education, and what still
remains to be done? Leaving out of account the problem of the
Universities, which, so far as can be seen, has at any rate been
temporarily solved--and solved, let it be marked, under the Legislative
Union, with the participation and consent of the Nationalist
party--there are two broad branches of the educational tree which every
year are growing in volume and putting forth finer leaves and fruit.
Primary and Secondary Education, by far the most important parts of the
Irish Educational system, if only allowed to continue their development,
tended with care by those who have the interests of the younger
generation at heart and left unmolested by the poisonous creepers of
political prejudice, will be found to do more for the increase of Irish
prosperity and the establishment of national and religious concord than
any device for legislative separation that the wit of man can frame. Not
that educational reform is not sorely needed. Far from it. There are few
aspects of Irish life where reform is more urgently required. But let it
be reform, as far as possible, along existing lines of progress, and in
full recognition of religious susceptibilities and of certain stubborn
facts which may be deplored, but which it would be unwise to ignore. Let
it be reform undertaken and pursued on the advice of those who
understand this question and are in sympathy with its peculiar
difficulties, and let not the Treasury turn a deaf ear to the demands of
reason, when a few extra thousand pounds might make all the difference
between failure and success. Above all, let it be reform unembittered by
the strife of creeds warring for supremacy in an Irish House of Commons.
Let it reap the advantages of a continuous policy undisturbed by the
rise and fall of local Ministries and the lobbying and log-rolling of
sects and factions. Treat it, as it is being treated to-day, in a calm
spirit of inquiry and recommendation, and the richest blessing of the
Legislative Union will be an Ireland at peace within herself, honoured
for her learning, distinguished by her refinement, and intellectually
the equal of any nation upon earth.


The National Board which presides over Primary Education has shown
itself, under the Union, singularly free from prejudice, either
political or religious. During the last few years it may be said to have
changed the face of the National schools in Ireland, and in a large
part of the country has contributed to make primary education what it
ought to be--not a mere glut of random scraps of knowledge, not a mere
conglomerate of facts, dates, and figures, undigested and unassimilated,
of no practical use to the pupil in his later life, and stifling any
constructive powers of thought with which he might have been born, but a
system of self-development and self-expression, with the future of the
pupil as a citizen in view, rather than his mere monetary value in the
shape of school fees. This in itself is a remarkable stride in advance,
which the Separatist will find difficult to explain away. Who will be so
bold as to calculate the harm which was inflicted by the arid and
artificial system of "cram," introduced in 1871, but now fortunately
abandoned in the National Schools, which had only one object in
view--the money grant that was made proportionate to the output of
heterogeneous lumber that could be retained by the pupil until called
for by the examiner? Surely, the great aim of education should be
self-culture, the development of the mind, body, and character of the
pupil, consideration being had to the career he is likely to pursue in
the future. This the National Board has realised in time, and it is
owing to its efforts and the co-operation of men and women of all shades
of opinion who labour in the schools that such signal improvement has
taken place during the last few years.

Apart from this larger question, there are various other features of the
National Schools that ought not to be excluded from this brief review.
Some of them are evidence of progress made, others of grievances which
still require redress. No one will deny that, taking Ireland as a whole,
the structural character of the school buildings has been greatly
improved in recent years, and that the cleanliness of school premises,
which still leaves a good deal to be desired, is attended to with far
more care than it used to be. In days gone by, the Board could grant
only two-thirds of the estimated cost of a new building of the cheapest
and shabbiest description. The result was that, for a whole generation,
a low standard of school-house was stereotyped, and the requirement of a
local contribution entirely prevented the erection of new school-houses
in poor districts where they were most needed. The new plans, on the
other hand, are designed according to the most modern ideas, and as a
local contribution is not insisted upon in impecunious districts, where
valuation is low, the Board can grant the whole of the cost where
necessary. It is easy to appreciate what a difference this important
reform must make, not merely to the landscape or to the comfort and
health of the children, but to the general efficiency of pupils and
teachers alike. There is, however, still much room for improvement. The
grants hitherto given have been sadly inadequate, and in order to
provide suitable school buildings, even in those cases alone where the
present structures are actually a danger to the health of the children,
it would be necessary to make grants at the rate of about £100,000 a
year for the next 4 or 5 years, after which they might be reduced to

Another satisfactory development is the increase of teachers' salaries
which has taken place during the last two decades. In 1895, the average
income from State sources of principal teachers in primary schools was
£94 in respect of men, and £79 in respect of women. By 1910, it had
risen to £112 and £90 respectively. Notwithstanding this, their
financial position, especially in large and important schools in centres
where the cost of living is high, is not yet as good as it ought to be,
if it be compared with that of similarly situated teachers in England
and Scotland. As for the incomes of assistant teachers, they also have
risen in the same period from £61 for men, and £49 for women, to £81 and
£68 respectively, and the money, though still insufficient, is now being
paid for a better article. Readjustment of numbers in the higher grades
of national teachers is also required, so as to enable all efficient
teachers who have complied with the conditions of service to receive the
increases of salary to which they are entitled. The cost of such a
readjustment would be about £1,000 a year for the present, but the
expense would gradually increase, and might ultimately amount to £18,000
per annum. For the convenience of the profession, it is also desirable
that salaries should be paid monthly, instead of quarterly, to the
teaching staffs of the schools. The expenditure (non-recurring) required
under this head would be about £280,000, with an additional yearly sum
of £5,000, due to increased cost of administration. That a Dublin
Parliament would welcome or even less be able to satisfy these various
demands upon its purse without further taxation is extremely improbable,
especially in view of Mr. Birrell's warning that the finances of Home
Rule would be a very "tight fit."

Since 1900, a period of training has been required from the principals,
and this rule has recently been extended to assistant masters. In fact,
the qualifications demanded of national teachers in Ireland are much
higher than in England. When all the foregoing changes are considered,
it will be quite evident that not only must the teachers benefit from
them, but that the children cannot fail to benefit as well. Indeed, it
is these various reforms which, in all probability, have conduced to a
better school attendance than could be boasted of in the past. Many an
educational reformer has had cause to wring his hands over the
meagreness of attendance in days gone by. Even to-day it is not as it
should be. It is lower than in England and in Scotland, but it has
steadily risen, and continues to rise, and stands now at about 71 per
cent., an advance of between 30 or 40 per cent. upon what it was less
than 40 years ago; a fact which is certainly remarkable, when the
poverty of the population and its scattered character are taken into

Another evil which the Board has had to fight has been the mushroom-like
multiplication of small schools. It is hardly necessary to emphasise
what must be a manifest disadvantage for any authority which is trying
to raise the standard of educational efficiency in a country. This
multiplication was largely due to the fact that Protestant Schools were
accustomed to receive grants when they could maintain an average
attendance of 20 pupils, quite irrespective of how many other schools of
the same or a similar denomination there might be in the immediate
vicinity, and whether they were really wanted or not. How far these
grants were conducive to unnecessary multiplication may be gauged from
the fact that, whilst there were 6,500 schools in operation in 1871,
when the population of Ireland was five and a half millions, there were
8,692 in 1901, or 2,000 more, when the population was a million less.
This vast and unprofitable growth in the numbers of educational
establishments could be stayed only by drastic regulation. Where
neighbouring mixed Catholic or Protestant schools cannot show an average
attendance of 25, they are now obliged to amalgamate, and the same
result has to follow if neighbouring boys' and girls' schools fall below
an average attendance of 30. These regulations have had the desired
effect, and no less than 300 superfluous schools have been absorbed in
this manner during the last five years.

Before leaving the details of the National Schools, some mention should
be made of the conspicuous improvement in the curriculum which has taken
place in the first decade of the new century. Formerly, it was
hidebound, bloodless, unintelligent, and useless. Now, it does what it
can to cater for the practical side of the pupil's future life, and is
designed with the object of helping him to think out problems for
himself and of equipping him with any knowledge of the historic past
which may serve him, not as a collection of antiquities, but as example
and precept. During the last twelve years an astonishing advance has
been made. In 1899, Hand and Eye training (including Kindergarten) was
taught in 448 schools, in 1910 it was taught in 6,010. In 1899,
Elementary Science was taught in 14 schools only, in 1910 it was taught
in 2,400. In the former year Cookery was taught in 925 schools, in the
latter year in 2,665. In 1899, Laundry Work was taught in 11 schools, in
1910 in 691. If this is not progression--and progression under the
Legislative Union--to what can the predicate be more truthfully applied?
Statistics are apt to be barren and uninforming and can be adapted, with
almost equal plausibility, to support the arguments of either side; but
these figures are eloquent and speak for themselves. They embody a large
and vital portion of the history of Irish Primary Education, and are a
proof of the interest which is being taken in it and of the activity of
the architects behind the scenes. Long may this spirit of progress
flourish and enlighten the generations that are yet to come!

It is only fair to say that, amid a good deal of discouragement and not
always intelligent criticism, the National Board has proved itself
broad-minded and open to argument wherever the interests of Irish
Education have been concerned. Although nominated by the Lord
Lieutenant, and therefore not an elected body, it has never lagged
behind public opinion. In the teaching of the Irish language, for
example, it has shown itself peculiarly sympathetic. In fact, the
experience of the Board has been, that the Irish parents are not quite
so anxious that their children should be taught Irish as the Gaelic
League would have us suppose. Indeed, the difficulty of the Board has
been to maintain sufficient interest in the subject. Nevertheless, it
has done its best. In 1899, teaching in Irish was provided in 105
schools for 1,825 children. In 1911, it was provided for 180,000
children in 3,066 schools, and during the same time bilingual
instruction has been introduced into some 200 schools.

In spite of what has been, and is being done, further reforms in primary
education are still unquestionably required, and can, moreover, be
easily effected without any of the convulsions of a constitutional
revolution. The salaries of principals and assistants, especially in
large and important schools, ought to be increased. In particular, the
Pensions Act needs modification, for, under the present Act, teachers
who retire before reaching the age qualifying for a pension receive
gratuities considerably less than the Old Age Pensions. Even those who
qualify for pensions are very shabbily treated if they retire before
sixty years of age. Building grants also should be increased, so that
the constant applications for the rebuilding of bad premises could be
met.[91] The teaching of infants, greatly improved by the institution of
junior assistant mistresses by Mr. Walter Long during his Chief
Secretaryship, can be still further improved and brought up to the
English standard; and the efficiency of primary education generally can
be promoted in the direction of sympathetic appreciation of the real
needs of the children, regarded from the point of view of thinking human
beings, and not merely as recording machines.

The following desirable improvements may also be mentioned:--

     (_a_) Encouragement of the teaching of gardening in connection with
     country schools for boys, at a cost of about £2000 a year.

     (_b_) Provision for instruction in wood-work for pupils of urban
     districts, at central classes in technical schools, at a cost of
     about £4000 a year.

     (_c_) The provision of medical inspection and the treatment of
     school children, which would cost about £30,000 a year, and dental
     inspection and clinics, which would cost another £50,000. This
     expense should be defrayed largely out of the local rates, one
     third, say £25,000, to come out of the estimates. There would also
     be the cost of supervision, etc., by the Education Department,
     amounting to about £5000 a year. Committees, as for school
     attendance, composed partly of representatives of school managers
     and partly of local authorities, could be formed for

     (_d_) A considerable impetus might be given to Evening
     Continuation Schools, on which about £10,000 a year is at present
     spent. A beginning could be made of compulsory attendance, and the
     amount of the grant doubled.

Much might be done in all these directions. Much has been accomplished
already. The worst that can happen is that a separate legislature should
be set up in Dublin, devoid of the requisite means, as it would most
certainly be (unless, indeed, it had recourse to the rates, or the
taxpayer) of financing Irish Education; swayed from side to side by the
exigencies of the party programme of the moment; and temperamentally
unable to look at the educational problem from the standpoint alone of
the needs of the country in the way that it is now regarded. At present,
under the Union, Irish Education is fortunately liberated from all
appeals to party passion, and organised with but one end in view, the
upbringing of the infant race whose possession is the future.


The need for reform is more urgent and, in many respects, better defined
in the system of Secondary than in that of Primary Education in Ireland.
But the two ought to be closely interconnected, and in discussing one at
least of the more important changes which it is desirable to introduce,
the National Schools have as good a claim to be heard in the matter as
their elder brethren.

Since 1900 great efforts have been made by the Intermediate Board to
promote the interests of Secondary Schools and to supply the educational
needs of those who want to equip themselves for the struggle of life in
its various departments. In 1900, the Board of Intermediate Education
was empowered to appoint inspectors, but it was not until quite
recently, after many fruitless applications and under a threat of
resignation by the Board, that inspection was placed on a business-like
footing and a permanent staff of six inspectors appointed. But this,
after all, is a comparative detail, and reform will have to strike deep
indeed if the secondary schools in Ireland are to take their place as a
living part of a living body.

The question of reform may be dealt with under three principal heads:
(1) the abolition of the examination tests, (2) the inter-relationship
between the Primary and Secondary systems, and (3) the position of
teachers. Although there are other matters which will be briefly
referred to, these are the three cardinal difficulties that beset the
Intermediate Board to-day and obstruct the most public-spirited efforts
to convert the Irish educational system into one organic whole.

(1) Although the mischievous principle of fees by results has
disappeared for ever from the National Schools, it still clings to
Intermediate Education, numbing and constricting, like some remorseless
ivy limb, the growth and free exercise of the central stem and its
branches, and preventing the natural sap from rising and vitalising the
whole. It is not as though the rest of the world had set the seal of its
approval upon this kind of examination. The contrary is the fact. Almost
every country in the world has rejected this system as wholly
pernicious, injurious for the pupil, demoralising for the teacher, and
wasteful for the State. To regard the youth of the Secondary Schools
merely as the geese that lay the golden eggs when the examinations
occur, is to destroy the true aims of education and pervert the
principle of rational development. In fact, payments to Intermediate
Schools ought to depend largely on the results of inspection, and much
less on written examinations, a change which would involve the
appointment of a larger number of inspectors than at present exist. It
is all-important that this alteration should be undertaken without
delay. The mechanical agglomeration of lifeless snippets of information
which characterises the present method is an absurd and antiquated
remnant of the bad old times, and the sooner this part of the system is
hewn down the better it will be for the conscientious discharge of the
teacher's duties and the self-respect of all concerned.

(2) As for any proper official relationship between the Primary and
Secondary systems, it may be said as yet to be practically non-existent.
That co-ordination of the two is essential--nay, vital--if Irish
education is to be placed on a sound footing, may be appreciated from
the fact that a large proportion, or 57 per cent, of the membership of
Intermediate Schools is recruited from the schools of the National
Board. There seem to be only two ways in which this co-ordination can be
satisfactorily effected. Either the pupils must transfer from the
National to the Secondary Schools at an age when they will be young
enough to profit by Secondary instruction, or some sort of higher
instruction must be given in the National Schools so as to fit the
children, when they leave the latter at rather a later age, for the
curriculum awaiting them in the Secondary system. It is the Treasury at
the present moment, and the Treasury alone, that blocks the way to this
reform. Since 1902 it has been asked to sanction the establishment of
higher grade schools in large centres; the National Board also has
repeatedly pleaded for the institution of a "higher top," or advanced
departments, in connection with selected Primary Schools in rural
districts. But all these requests, founded though they have been on
intimate knowledge of the requirements of Irish Education and a ripe
experience ranging over many years, have been brushed aside by the
officials at the Exchequer, although the cost would be only about
£25,000 a year, on the very insufficient ground that the Development
Grant has been depleted to defray the loss of flotation of stock for the
purposes of land purchase. What, in the name of common sense, has land
purchase to do with education? What indissoluble relationship is there
between the two that the expenditure upon the one should be made
dependent upon the requirements of the other? This niggardly and
short-sighted attitude is hardly worthy of one of the richest countries
in the world. It is but a matter of a few thousands, and surely the
efficient training of the youth of Ireland is quite as important as
buying out the Irish landlords and placing the Irish tenant in
possession of the soil. The result of the present want of co-ordination
is that the clever pupil is now kept far too long in the lower school.
There he remains, kicking his heels until he is sent up to the
Intermediate School at 15 or 16--much too late an age at which to begin
the study of languages. The Primary teachers are, of course, only too
pleased to retain the clever boys as long as possible in the National
Schools, but it is unfair to the children, and is robbing the community
of services which might be rendered to it by these pupils in the future
if fair opportunities were afforded them of training themselves while
there was yet time. Without higher grade schools, without scholarships,
without at least some system of a "higher top" in connection with the
Primary Schools, there can never be proper co-ordination of
administration, and education in Ireland will never be able to progress
beyond a certain point. The Christian Brothers have set the Treasury a
good example in this matter. In their schools there is close
co-ordination of primary and intermediate education. Promising boys in
the fifth standard are removed when they are 11 or 12 years of age into
the higher schools and thus given an opportunity, at the most receptive
period of their lives, of acquiring knowledge which they will be able to
turn to good account in after life. Over and over again has the National
Board attempted to persuade the Treasury to adopt a similar system, but
hitherto without avail. The crust of the official mind has been
impervious to every appeal. There seems, indeed, to be now some chance
of the establishment of scholarships for pupils in primary schools, but
unless an intelligent mind is brought to bear upon it, and the
scholarships limited, as in England and Scotland, to pupils under 12 or
13 years of age, the same unfortunate result will follow, as in the case
of the Society for Promoting Protestant Schools and other similar
bodies, where the scholarships have turned out to be a practical
failure. An exception, however, as suggested by Dr. Starkie, and as
allowed in Scotland, might be made in favour of the best Primary
Schools. That is to say, where satisfactory Secondary teaching is given
at a Primary School, the pupil might be relieved of one or two of the
three years he is obliged to spend in the Secondary School before he can
compete for the Intermediate Certificate which is awarded at 15 years of

The argument is sometimes used that the establishment of higher grade
schools would lead to unfair competition with the Intermediate Schools
already in existence. No one desires to do this. Where the Intermediate
Schools already hold the field, such overlapping can easily be avoided
by proper administrative co-ordination between the National and
Secondary systems. Where, on the other hand, there is a dearth of
Intermediate Schools, as in Connaught and Kerry, higher grade schools
can, and should be established without any risk either of overlapping or
competition. They would supply a want which is deplored by all
educational reformers, and make their influence felt far outside the
mere circle of the schoolroom. A private commercial school has already
been founded in Kerry and has continued for some time without State
help, but, through want of encouragement, it has recently been compelled
to adopt the programme of the Intermediate Board, which is entirely
unsuited to its particular aims. Surely, private enterprise of this kind
ought not only to be welcomed, but stimulated by a State grant, and
everything possible done to encourage schools to develop along their own
lines. At the present moment, they are bound hand and foot by the
examination rules of the Intermediate Board, and it is quite impossible
for any central authority, however eagle-eyed and sympathetic, to
appreciate the peculiar atmosphere and wants of every locality. In such
cases, local initiative is far more valuable than red tape, and more
likely to result in an intelligent interest in his pupils and subject on
the part of the teacher.

(3) The position of the Secondary teachers, especially of lay assistant
teachers, cries aloud for reform. In fact, their case is an acknowledged
scandal. How can any one expect that the training of the youth in the
Secondary Schools can be really satisfactory when the teachers are so
miserably underpaid, when the elements of self-respect are given no room
in which to develop, and the whole profession are treated rather as
beasts of burden than as a noble and responsible body to whom is
entrusted much of the destiny of the race? The question of reform is
here largely a question of money. There are signs that this fact is
becoming more appreciated as the years go by, and it is devoutly to be
hoped that before long the teaching profession in the Secondary Schools
will have no more to complain of than the Primary teachers, or than is
usual in even the most cared-for and prosperous professions in this our
imperfect world. Salaries, pensions, a register, security of tenure,
opportunities of proper training--these may be said to embody the chief
requirements of Secondary teachers at the present moment. In existing
circumstances there is no attraction for competent men and women to
enter the teaching profession so far as Intermediate education is
concerned. The most incompetent crowd into it, although there are many
exceptions, and teaching is regarded as a stop-gap during periods of
impecuniosity rather than as a permanent career to be proud of and to be
worked for. The salaries are beggarly--considerably lower than the
incomes of the teachers in the Primary Schools. In 1908, the average
salaries of principals in the Primary Schools were £112 for men and £90
for women, and in the County Boroughs £163 and £126 respectively, whilst
in the Secondary Schools lay assistants were paid about £80 _per annum.
_In view of this, surely the demand that is being made on behalf of
highly qualified Secondary teachers is not exorbitant, namely, salaries
of £100 to £300 for men and of £80 to £220 for women. If the maximum
rate were £150 for men and £100 for women the cost would be £220,000 a
year. Where is the money to come from? Will a Nationalist Parliament be
prepared to find it, and if so, from what source? Ireland is a
comparatively poor country and is not in a position to bear much more
taxation. The Intermediate Board, with its present resources, cannot
afford to step into the breach, and the only solution seems to be that
the British Exchequer should come to the rescue and that the Board
should be granted the means of dealing with this all-important matter,
the neglect of which is having a most injurious effect upon the
efficiency of the Intermediate Schools. It has been suggested that a
half-way house might be found, that the Treasury should grant £60 for
each assistant master and £40 for each assistant mistress, and that the
remainder should be raised by the authorities of the schools under the
direction of the Board. This alternative scheme would cost the State
about £88,300 a year, but, like all makeshifts, would not effect a real
settlement of the difficulty, creating, as it would, a patchwork system
of payment which might break down at any moment. On the other hand, let
the settlement be a generous one, and the return will be a hundredfold
in added efficiency, a higher sense of duty, and an increased personal
interest on the part of the teacher in the class of which he has charge.

In close connection with the question of salaries are those of pensions
and security of tenure. The pensions of the Primary teachers, inadequate
though they be, would be looked upon as a provision of the most
munificent kind by the poor men and women who enter service under the
Intermediate system. The Primary teachers, moreover, can fall back upon
subsidiary occupations if they find that their salaries are insufficient
for their maintenance. They can run a little farm or keep a shop or do
other remunerative work, but the assistants in Secondary Schools are
debarred from these methods of supplementing their exiguous wage. Those
terrible words might, without any extravagance, be inscribed for them
over the doors of their schools: "All hope abandon ye who enter here."
Something must be done. A starvation wage, with an adequate pension to
follow, might be tolerable, a decent wage, without any pension, might be
borne, but starvation at both ends is a disgrace to the Treasury while
it lasts and one of the things which should be taken in hand without any
further delay.

Security of tenure is equally important. How can a teacher be expected
to devote the whole of his mental energies to his scholastic duties, how
can any one expect him to throw himself heart and soul into his work, if
there is always lurking in his mind the haunting fear of dismissal
through no fault of his own? It is unreasonable to suppose that any
human being can give of his best under these distracting conditions. In
the National Schools a system of appeal has been in force for some time,
and has been carried out with fairness on the part of those in authority
and to the apparent satisfaction of the teaching profession. The
dismissal order of every Roman Catholic manager has to be countersigned
by the Bishop of the Diocese, and in the case of all teachers an appeal
is now allowed to the Board itself, and is often utilised by
Protestants. In fact, so far as the National Schools are concerned, the
tenure of the Primary teachers during good behaviour is practically
secured. Why cannot similar safeguards be introduced into the
Intermediate system? An appeal to the Board in this case is not proposed
by those who know all the circumstances best; but teachers in Roman
Catholic schools might have the right of appeal, in the case of Diocesan
Colleges, to the Bishop of the Diocese, or in the case of schools under
religious orders to the Provincials or Generals, and Protestant teachers
might be allowed to appeal to the Board of Governors of their schools,
or they might sign an agreement, providing for a referee, such as the
No. 3 and 4 agreements under the National Board.

A register of teachers is also required. Every existing teacher in the
Intermediate Schools who satisfies the tests of efficiency should be
placed upon it without delay. As far as future appointments are
concerned, qualifications might be adopted similar to those which now
obtain in the Scotch Department, _e.g._ (_a_) a degree in a University, or
its equivalent; (_b_) a diploma following professional training for one
year; and (_c_) two probationary years in a good school. Special terms
would probably be demanded for those who, like Nuns, are precluded by
their calling from attending lectures at a University.

These are some of the reforms which could, and should be introduced to
make the teaching profession more efficient, more attractive for
competent and clever men and women, and more of a permanent and
honourable career than it has been in the past. Once again, it is not
unreasonable to ask--How will a Dublin Parliament be able to provide the
necessary funds? An extra annual sum of roughly £300,000 is required, in
addition to a further sum of about £330,000 to meet non-recurring
expenditure. These are, admittedly, moderate estimates. The matter,
anyway, is now ripe for settlement, and procrastination can only
aggravate the financial difficulty. So far as the educational problem is
concerned, it is a manifest obligation upon the Nationalist Party to
outline their proposals for the redress of these grievances, and to
indicate the means by which they can be carried out, before a separate
Legislature is set up for the people of Ireland.

Within the scope of these few pages it is not possible to comprise all
the aspects of modern Irish Education which are worthy of discussion.
What are most urgently needed to-day are the necessary funds to continue
the good work which is being done, and to introduce the reforms that
have been sketched above. Parsimony in educational matters is the most
wasteful of all misplaced thrift. Let the reformers be dealt with wisely
and generously, and the harvest will exceed even the expectations of
those who are working most hopefully upon the problem. Withhold the
funds on some niggardly and mistaken principle of petty economy, and the
present progress will be discouraged and the educational tree become
stunted in its growth. From an administrative point of view, nothing,
finance apart, would contribute more to the efficiency of Irish
Education than the amalgamation of the National and Intermediate
systems, as well as of the Technical work at present administered by the
Department of Agriculture and Technical Education, under one Board. The
method of examination by the Department is far sounder than that which
is forced upon the Intermediate Board by the Acts of Parliament under
which it works. In the case of science, the two are to be seen working
to-day side by side in the Secondary Schools, to the undoubted benefit
of the scientific course, which enjoys a double subsidy from the State,
and is subject to the superior method of examination by the Department,
being treated as a detached subject and the candidates being passed _en
bloc_. On the other hand, the obsolete method of examination by the
Board tends to the serious disadvantage of the classical curriculum, the
grants being made on the unprofitable results of a general examination
of individual candidates, the class not being regarded as a whole, as is
the case with the Department. By the repeal of the Intermediate Acts,
and by the amalgamation of the various Boards into one, these anomalies
would rapidly disappear, and for the first time a genuine system of
co-ordination could be introduced into Irish Education, which would knit
together the strength of all the parts and overcome many of the
prevailing weaknesses, making the whole system what it ought to be, a
living, growing, pulsating organism, developing and shaping itself with
the life of the nation.

Is it conceivable that all this can he accomplished if the Union between
the countries is rent asunder? What chance will there be of effecting
this great settlement, which requires money and, above all, requires
peace, when Ireland is plunged once again into the old internecine
struggles of the eighteenth century? The warning is writ very large upon
the wall, so that he who runs may read. The best hope for education in
Ireland are the resources of Great Britain and a uniform policy
undisturbed by party feuds. Neither of these can be looked for under a
separate Parliament. Under the Union Ireland can have both, for the
welfare of her children and the building of a noble history.


[Footnote 89: In writing the above I should like to acknowledge my
indebtedness to the address published by Dr. Starkie in 1911 for many
useful facts and figures.]

[Footnote 90: See the 76th and 77th Reports of the Commissioners of
National Education in Ireland--Cd. 5340, 1910, and Cd. 5903, 1911.]

[Footnote 91: The residential buildings of the Commissioners' Training
College in Marlborough Street, Dublin, still require to be completed by
the addition of a new residence for women students, at a cost of about
£50,000 spread over three or four years.]




Any scheme giving self-government to Ireland must seriously affect the
problem of local transit and transport, by rail and water, which all
parties in Ireland agree to be pressing and important. Nor is it merely
a local question. As recent returns show, the trade between Ireland and
Great Britain has of late years enormously increased, to the great
advantage of both; for if Irish farmers profit by the export of beef,
mutton, milk, eggs, butter, bacon and other articles, Great Britain has
the benefit of a near food supply within the United Kingdom. Nor does
any one doubt that this trade is capable of enormous increase. The
improvement of Irish agricultural methods, the growth in England of a
town population, the increased price of the necessaries of life, are
some of the factors pointing in this direction.

If this trade is to expand, Irish traffic routes and facilities with
Great Britain must be improved and increased, especially as the articles
carried are largely of a perishable kind. Moreover, the internal traffic
of Ireland, by rail, waterways, and canals is capable of and needs great
development, as witness the recent Reports of the Viceregal Commission
on Irish Railways, and of the Royal Commission on Canals and
Waterways.[92] The problem of inland navigation is again intimately
bound up with that of arterial drainage, as the Commissioners have
reported. It is then strange to find, that on these pressing questions
of first importance, there is an almost absolute silence on the part of
those who advocate Home Rule in and out of Parliament.


It is true that the nationalisation of the Irish railways has in past
years found the keenest advocates amongst individual members of the Home
Rule Party; that the Majority Report of the late Viceregal Commission
favouring State purchase of the Irish railways was formally approved of
by the Parliamentary Party, and that Mr. Redmond has named "transit" as
one of the special matters that should be left to be dealt with by an
Irish Legislature. But there the matter ends. We are not given the
slightest inkling what is proposed to be done on this matter, or how it
will be done, or the slightest proof that under any system of Home Rule,
the financial difficulties of the problem can be solved at all.

The Reports of both the Commissions referred to are based, first on the
continuance of the present system of laws and government, and secondly,
on the use of Imperial credit to the tune of many millions. Yet amongst
the shoals of literature on Home Rule problems and finance, I can find
no enlightenment as to how the transit problem is to be solved under the
new conditions; _i.e._ how any Home Rule Government, whether it has
control of Customs and Excise or not, and however it economises, is to
find the money necessary to buy out the Irish railways and canals. A
Government that is faced with the problems of poverty and congestion, of
housing, of increased educational grants, of afforestation, and of
arterial land drainage, will have an almost impossible task in raising
money for these purposes alone. And, let those who can, inform us how an
Irish Parliament and Executive (with all else they will have in hand),
will be able to raise even the £5,000,000 necessary to improve the Irish
Light Railway System; not to speak of the sum at least tenfold greater
which will be required for a complete purchase scheme.

So far we are without that information. The Irish Parliamentary leaders
have not touched upon the point. The pamphleteers are almost equally
silent. Professor Kettle, in his "Home Rule Finance," mentions the
"Nationalisation of Railways" in one line of print, merely stating that
"the project will have to be financed by loans and not out of annual
revenue" (p. 41); and he further remarks, generally (p. 72), "that for
the development of any future policy, approved by her own people,
Ireland relies absolutely on her own fiscal resources." What fiscal
resources, and under what conditions are they obtainable?

In the volume entitled "Home Rule Problems" issued by the Liberal Home
Rule Committee, with a preface by Viscount Haldane, not one word is said
on the subject, though there are chapters on Irish finance, and on Irish
commercial and industrial conditions. Neither has Mr. Stephen Gwynn a
single word on the subject in his "Case for Home Rule," though he makes
the large assertion that "there is no country in the world where
resources are more undeveloped than those of Ireland."

Mr. Erskine Childers[93] merely refers to the Irish railway problem as
one that is "obvious and urgent," "which no Parliament but an Irish
Parliament can deal with, and which calls aloud for settlement."


Let us now look at the problem in more detail; and first is the question
of the railways. The property to be dealt with consists of 3411 miles of
railway, representing a total capital of £45,163,000, of which, at the
date of the Report of the Commission, £2,873,000 paid no dividend; the
gross annual receipts of the whole system being £4,255,000 and the net
receipts £1,690,000, representing a return on the whole capital of 3.77
per cent.[94]

Of these lines, the railways constructed under the Tramways and Light
Railways Acts cover 603 miles, of which 322 are narrow gauge, involving
a liability on various baronies which have guaranteed interest on
capital to the amount of £36,000 per annum. To bring these light
railways up to a proper standard and equipment; to widen the gauge in
many cases; to provide new sheds, stations, and rolling stock, and
redeem the guarantees, a sum of about £5,000,000 would probably be
necessary. In addition, projects for no less than eighty-three new
railways were brought before the Commission;[95] and it is admitted on
all hands, and the Commission find, that practically none of these
railway extensions would be undertaken by private enterprise, and that
these developments need the credit, help, and direction of the State.
Even the necessary improvement of the existing light railways cannot now
be undertaken, for under the system of legislation under which they were
constructed, there is no means of raising new capital.[96]

Now, what is advocated by the Majority Report is the--

     "compulsory purchase by the State of these railway systems great
     and small, to be then worked and managed by an Irish elected
     authority as one concern, mainly with a view of developing Irish
     industries by reduction of rates and otherwise, and not strictly on
     commercial principles."[97]

This was the scheme supported by the Parliamentary Party, written up
unceasingly by the _Freeman's Journal_, and held out under the term
"Nationalisation of Railways," as one of the special boons which Home
Rule will bring to Irish traders and farmers.

But mark how the operation is to be carried out. The Commission
reported that the sum required should be raised by a railway stock
charged primarily on the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, with
recourse to Irish rates to make up possible deficiencies, and further,
that there should be an annual grant from the Exchequer of not less than
£250,000 to the Irish railway authority. Seeing that the Commissioners
refer to "the financial terms prescribed by the Act of 1844" (Regulation
of Railways Act, 7 & 8 Vict. c. 85, ss. 2-4), and that a _cash_ payment
to shareholders was provided for by that Act, it is to be presumed that
the Commissioners intended Irish shareholders to be paid in cash. The
Act of 1844 provided for payment to the companies of a sum in cash equal
to twenty-five years' purchase of the previous three years' annual
profits; but this was the minimum only, for it was provided that the
companies could, under arbitration, claim additional payment in respect
of future "prospects."

Now twenty-five years' purchase of the divisible profits, which at the
date of the Commission, were £1,690,000, would amount to over
£42,000,000, and if in addition sums had to be raised for "prospects,"
purchase of lines paying no dividend, special provision for prior stocks
standing at a premium, redemption of guarantees, and the large sums
required for the extensions and improvements we have mentioned, a sum
not less than £50,000,000, and probably nearer £55,000,000, would be

From the beginning to the end of the inquiry there was no suggestion
that this immense operation could be carried out except by the use of
Imperial credit, involving the two conditions: (1) that the Consolidated
Fund of the United Kingdom be charged, and (2) that the British public
be asked, and should be willing to find the money. Although the
Majority Report contemplated an Irish elected authority to work the
railways so purchased and amalgamated, it was never suggested that any
such Irish authority could raise the necessary purchase capital, or,
indeed, any portion of it. The whole scheme from beginning to end
pre-supposed the continuance of the Union, with its advantages of credit
and capital. Upset that Union, establish an Irish Parliament working out
its own salvation, financially and otherwise, and the basis of the whole
scheme of railway nationalisation vanishes.

That the British Government should allow its credit to be used to the
tune of fifty millions, after full legislative, executive and taxing
powers were handed over to an Irish Parliament, is too fantastic to be
considered seriously. Whether an Irish or English authority controlled
the working of the railways would under such circumstances make little
difference, with the Courts of Law, the Executive, and Police in other
hands than that of the Government guaranteeing the interest. The
security for the advance would be imperilled; and, indeed, it is
doubtful whether a tenth of the money required would be advanced, even
in London, on those terms. For a similar reason any formal pledge of
Irish rates and taxes, to make up deficiencies in working, would be
illusory. At any rate, if Irish Land Purchase is to be continued under
British credit (and it certainly will be a prior claim and charge), it
is idle to expect Parliament to undertake the vast additional
obligations involved in Irish railway nationalisation. Parliament would
pay the piper but could not call the tune.


There remains the alternative of the new Irish Parliament financing the
operation. This it must do by means of payment in cash to the selling
shareholders, for reasons which will be hereafter stated, unless it
wishes to start its career by a scheme of spoliation, which would not
merely rob the shareholders (who are mostly Irish), but would destroy
the credit of the Irish Government. Mr. Redmond has recently
acknowledged that a large number of Irish railway shareholders are good
Nationalists; and it is certain that a great portion of the ordinary
stock is held by Irish farmers and traders; and much of the preference
and debenture stocks are also held by Irish charities, convents,
diocesan trustees, and monastic institutions. These persons will expect,
and justly expect, cash on a compulsory purchase, on basis of market
value, or capitalisation of dividend, so as to secure the same return of

Could the Irish Government borrow £50,000,000, and at what rate? To
borrow at a higher rate than the present return on Irish railway
capital, namely, 3.77 per cent., would be to incur a loss on working the
railways, from the outset, which Irish ratepayers or taxpayers would
have to make up. The net receipts, at the time of the Commission's
Report, were, in round figures, £1,600,000, and thus to borrow
£50,000,000, even at 4 per cent., would mean an annual loss of £300,000
a year, even if there were no sinking fund. A 10_s._ per cent sinking fund
would increase the total annual loss to £550,000.

But, could an Irish Government Guaranteed Railway Stock be issued at 4
per cent.? Would Ireland's credit stand better than that of Hungary,
whose 4 per cent. gold _rentes_ stand at 92, or of the Argentine, which
has to borrow at nearly 5 per cent.? There are grave doubts whether the
large sum required would be subscribed at all, at even 4 1/4 per cent,
or 4 1/2 per cent. basis. It is not likely that English investors would
take up such a loan, seeing that they have consistently fought shy of
Irish investments, and they are not likely to change their views upon
the break up of the Union.

It may be said that the sum required could be raised in Ireland--that
patriotic feeling would stimulate the operation, and the large sum of
money (over £50,000,000), lying on deposit at the Irish banks may be
referred to as available. Patriotism that has not financed the Irish
Parliamentary Party will not be likely to finance a gigantic railway
loan. Nor is the large sum appearing as banking deposits really free
money available for investment. With increase of deposits, the items of
loans and advances in banking accounts have also correspondingly
increased, and they largely balance each other. Not only is the money
deposited by one customer lent to another, and therefore already
utilized, but, to a large extent well known to bankers, the deposits,
_i.e._ the credits to particular accounts, represent money lent to the
persons having these accounts, and are not, in fact, their own free
balances. So also credits in the accounts of one bank, figure as debits
on the balance sheet of another bank. There probably has been in recent
years considerable saving in Ireland, but it is also certain that those
savings have largely gone, and will continue rightly to go in
improvements of farms, which the Land Acts and Land Purchase Acts have
made worth improving for their possessors. Those who have not saved
enough borrow, and the bank advances represent largely the capital
required by farmers and traders. The deposits, therefore, are being well
used, and are not dead money. Divert them to any large extent to another
purpose, and there will probably be a contraction of banking credit,
which Irish farming and industry will be the first to feel.


It may be said that the nationalisation of railways could be carried
out, not by a cash payment, but by a paper exchange of existing Railway
Stocks into newly created Irish Government Stock, the amount of the
existing net receipts being guaranteed. But, unless the Irish Government
could actually borrow in cash the sum required, at a rate equal to that
nominally put on the new stock, the shareholders would be robbed of a
capital sum equal to the amount of the discount on the stock, _i.e._ the
amount of the market quotation below par, or issue price. There will be
sellers of the new stock from the beginning, and what the public will
give for it, and not the nominal figure put upon it by the Irish
Government, will be its real value. The Irish Government may issue the
Railway Stock at 3-1/2 per cent., but if they could borrow the sum
required only at 4-1/2 per cent., the new stock will at once find its
level at about 77 instead of 100, and the capital value of Irish
railways will be reduced from, say, £45,000,000 to £35,000,000, and the
difference, £10,000,000, would come out of the pockets of Irish
shareholders. The Irish Government would be, however, in this unpleasant
dilemma, that if they issued the stock at a rate per cent, nominally
higher than the present return in railway capital, namely, 3.77 per
cent., the annual charge for interest would be greater than the net
receipts, and so from the beginning there would be an annual loss; and
the fact of this annual loss would be another factor tending to
depreciate the new Railway Stock. The alternatives before an Irish Prime
Minister, pressed to carry out a "Nationalisation" policy, are not
enviable. He will either have to provide by taxation for the annual loss
involved in taking over the railways on a fair basis, or to deprive the
most thrifty and industrious classes of his fellow-countrymen of a large
slice of their savings and investments. In either event, the new
Government will have received a serious blow to its credit at the outset
of its career.


There is, moreover, a special reason why such a stock, from its
inception, would tend to depreciate in value; namely, that from the
moment the Irish Government or their nominees became the owners, there
would be almost irresistible pressure put upon them to reduce the
railway rates, and generally (as indeed the Majority Report recommends)
to work the railways on other than commercial lines.[99] A reduction of
rates has been held out as the great resulting boon of nationalisation
ever since the Irish Parliamentary Party specifically raised the
question in Parliament in 1899. A 25 per cent. reduction in rates and
fares (suggested by Nationalist witnesses) would involve an annual
diminution of net receipts to the Government of over £1,000,000 per
annum, and if the reduction were in goods rates alone, the loss would be
£568,000 per annum. It would be years, if ever, before such a loss could
be recouped, however the traffic was increased. Experience has shown
that in recent years running expenses tend to increase nearly parallel
with the gross receipts, and a large increase in gross traffic would
involve enormous capital outlay for rolling stock, engines, sidings,
etc. It is unnecessary to comment upon the suggestion that the railways
should not be run on "commercial principles." The Irish ratepayers and
taxpayers, who would have to bear the loss, would loudly call out for
business management when it was too late.

It is hardly necessary to add that another result of such an operation
would be to prevent the Irish Government raising the very large sum
necessary for improving and standardising the light railways and for
extensions, except at an unremunerative rate of interest. Even if
shareholders be put off with State paper, contractors will have to be
paid with cash. Moreover the creation of such a large amount of debt at
the beginning of the new regime would render it difficult, if not
impossible, for the Irish Government to raise sums necessary for other
public works and services of a pressing character, arterial drainage,
canals, education, and other objects, not to speak of migration,
congestion, and land purchase. The conclusion, in fact, is inevitable,
that without the security of the United Kingdom, and the market of
British investors willing to lend, it is idle to think that either State
purchase of railways, or any other of the boons mentioned, are
reasonably possible. Mr. Erskine Childers, though a Home Ruler, does not
fail to perceive, to use his own words, "that financial independence
will now mean a financial sacrifice to Ireland."[100]


There are other important considerations which confirm the view that, if
the control of Irish railways were taken away from the Imperial
Parliament, and placed under a Parliament sitting in Dublin, and if the
general code of railway legislation now binding on both countries could
be altered by a Home Rule legislature, results disastrous to the trade
between the two countries would probably follow, whether
"Nationalisation" were carried out or not.

The Majority Report recommends, as one of the chief objects of
"Nationalisation" under an Irish authority, the reduction of _export_
rates, both local and through rates, on the Irish railways, as
"essential to the development of Irish industry," and this seems the pet
project of a large number of witnesses, and of Irish local authorities.
Import and export railway rates are now the same for the same classes of
produce, and no Irish railway company could now differentiate between
them, without being pulled up by the Railway Commission at the suit of
British traders, or British railway companies. The policy suggested is
practically to use railway rates as a system of local protection,
similar to the existing practice and policy on the continental, and
notably the Prussian State Railways. It is easy to see that without any
Customs barrier between the two countries, such a policy would
inaugurate practically a tariff war between Ireland and Great Britain,
which would be disastrous to both. That such a policy should be
subscribed to by Free-traders, and that a Free-trade Government should
advocate a change in the relations between the two countries, under
which such a system could be possible, is indeed surprising. To use
Imperial credit for such a purpose would be midsummer madness. Even
without any scheme of nationalisation, the establishment of a separate
Executive and Legislature in Ireland might have sinister effects on
traffic arrangements between Great Britain and Ireland and on the
harmonious administration of the railways.


The truth of the matter, and the inference to be drawn from the above
considerations and the whole trend of modern trade, is that to break up
the railway systems of Great Britain and Ireland into two rival and
hostile systems of transit, working for different objects and by
different methods, would be to stop a natural and healthy process of
uniform working and harmony, which has enormously advanced in the last
decade, to the great advantage of Ireland.

Almost every scheme of amalgamation in Ireland has been connected with
the opening or development of a new cross-Channel route, as the history
of the Fishguard and Rosslare and the new Heysham routes fully shows. As
part of this process, English companies, like the Midland and the Great
Western, are either acquiring Irish lines or making special traffic
arrangements with them. Enormous sums have been spent on harbours and
steamers by English companies for the purpose of developing traffic with
Ireland, and the increased interchange of goods has been of great
advantage to both countries. The ideal put forward by advocates of
railway nationalisation and Irish independence, that in respect of trade
and traffic Ireland should be a sort of watertight compartment,
self-supporting and self-contained, is, I submit, a mischievous delusion
which, if put into practice, would undo much of the good progress
Ireland has recently made. Such an ideal would also be the exact
contrary of the line of national development as based on transit and
transport followed in almost every other civilized country. In Germany,
Canada, the United States, and Australia, we see the policy consistently
pursued of amalgamation, consolidation, and facilities for long-distance
traffic, so that between all parts of each State and Empire there shall
be the freest and most perfect interchange of traffic. Canada and the
United States have been so far inspired by this principle as to spend
countless millions first on East and West (and now on North and South)
lines, even before there was traffic to carry, and in order to create
traffic; and the principle has been justified in its results.

From this point of view St. George's Channel and the Irish Sea should be
a means of communication, constant and in every direction, between the
two Islands, and not a sort of boundary ditch to be deepened and
rendered difficult of passage.

If Ireland wishes to share England's prosperity she must not build up a
wall against the credit, trade, and special products of her richer
sister. If England wishes to have and to foster a magnificent source of
food supply, well and strategically secured against continental foes,
she also must do all that can be done to encourage intercourse. To
develop traffic between Great Britain and Ireland is the policy which
both experience and theory point to as advantageous to both countries;
to subvert this policy and make Ireland's commerce local and
self-sufficing, seems to be the narrow and mistaken ideal of Nationalist


It follows that the Unionist Party must oppose any plan for
"nationalising" the Irish railways, whether by the credit of the United
Kingdom, or otherwise. The policy we advocate is to be found in the
Minority Report of the Viceregal Commission, signed by Sir Herbert
Jekyll, Mr. W.M. Acworth, and Mr. John Aspinall, not as politicians, but
experts; and in the Report of the Royal Commission on Canals and Inland
Navigation dealing with the question of canals and water transport in

In the case of railways, the aim should be to amalgamate them into two
or three large companies to standardise as far as possible the light
railways, and level them in respect of gauge, gradients, works, and
rolling stock with the larger companies. Unquestionably many of the
smaller railways to be amalgamated, though not light railways, need
large expenditure for the purpose of duplication of running lines,
straightening of curves, stations, stores, and conveniences, and many
extensions and cross-lines will also be needed to connect them with the
trunk lines, and to open out districts now unprovided with railway
facilities. Many of these projects, though industrially remunerative to
Ireland and advantageous to England also as tapping new sources of food
supply, would not be, in strictness, commercially remunerative in the
sense of giving fair return on capital over working expenses, and it is
idle to expect that private capital will ever be subscribed for these
purposes. They can only be undertaken either directly by State funds, or
by money provided by the State, and lent to the large amalgamated lines
at low interest. This is the policy inaugurated by Mr. Arthur Balfour,
which has been of untold benefit to many districts in Ireland. Probably
a public grant of, say, £2,000,000, and loanable money available to the
extent of £8,000,000, would largely solve the problem. For the reasons
already given it is only by Imperial credit, and under the ægis of a
united Parliament and Government, that capital on this large scale can
be available for these purposes.


The problem of canals and inland navigation in Ireland is a minor one,
but the same principles largely apply. The Royal Commission[101]
recommended that all the chief waterways, canals, and rivers necessary
for inland transport should be purchased and remain under the control of
the State, the controlling authority, however, not themselves, to become
carriers on any waterways. At the same time, they strongly urged that
the problem of arterial drainage and relief from floods should not be
treated separately, but that the control of drainage works should be
under the same central authority as that which is to control waterways
and navigation.

It is not necessary to refer in detail to the Report. Apart from the
sum necessary to buy out the existing owners of canals and waterways,
towards which £2,451,346 had been contributed from private sources, the
Commissioners contemplated a further expenditure of about £200,000 on
new works. In addition the sum of £500,000 would be required, on a
moderate estimate for drainage and the prevention of floods. The
pressing nature of the latter problem is once more emphatically
evidenced by the wholesale injury to property and the public health by
the recent flooding of the basins of the Shannon, Barrow, Bann, and
other rivers. Here, again, we have problems which it is idle to expect
an Irish Parliament to solve satisfactorily for years to come, or,
indeed, ever. Ways and means must be an effectual bar. Drainage and
navigation form only one problem out of a dozen facing a Home Rule
Government needing the raising of enormous capital. Probably the
Commissioners conducting the Canals inquiry, who were persons of all
shades of political opinion, were well aware that only under the present
system of State credit could the financial difficulties be overcome.
According to their report, the State (_i.e._ the Government of the United
Kingdom) were to acquire the control, which was to be carried out by an
Act of Parliament, naming the Waterways Commissioners, "who should be
persons disassociated from party politics."

The one dissentient out of twenty-one signatories, Lord Farrer,
significantly adds that he does not favour a "charge on the public purse
and new Boards of Management _until a purely Irish elected authority has
agreed to pay for them_." Precisely; Lord Farrer has looked ahead. Will
an Irish elected authority agree to pay for these boons, and will they
be able to pay? That is a question which will cause some searching of
hearts amongst all interested in Ireland's welfare;--in these pages we
have attempted to give an answer.


The conclusion is in fact inevitable. Ireland cannot have it both ways.
She cannot have financial independence and financial dependence at the
same time. No Colony has ever claimed or been granted these inconsistent
conditions. If Colonial precedents are cited, their essential
limitations should also be borne in mind. Colonial loans are not charged
on the Consolidated Fund. Nor have Colonial railways been nationalised
with the money and credit of the United Kingdom, in order to favour
local exports at the expense of imports from England.

Our examination of the question brings us to the clear conclusion that
it is only under the existing system of a single Parliament and
Executive for the United Kingdom that the problems of transit and
transport in Ireland, or between Great Britain and Ireland, can be
satisfactorily solved, whether from the point of view of finance,
justice to shareholders, or advantage to the trade and convenience of
both countries.

     NOTE.--It has been suggested, since the above was written, that the
     balance in the Irish Post Office Savings Banks (now about
     £12,500,000) might be available to the new Irish Government, for
     advances to farmers and other public purposes. The suggestion
     involves the applicability of such advances for the purchase or
     amalgamation of the Irish railways under an Irish public authority.
     Such a proposal will not bear close examination.

     It is an essential condition of the existence of Savings Bank
     deposits that the deposits should be always available on the call
     of depositors; and this condition would no longer be fulfilled if
     the balances were locked up in Irish railways. In fact, if there
     was any suggestion that these balances should be used for the
     purpose of enabling the Irish Government to run the railways on
     uncommercial principles, the deposits would very soon diminish or
     disappear--and this apart from the question whether under Home
     Rule, the deposits would in any event remain at anything like their
     present high figure.


[Footnote 92: Viceregal Commission on Irish Railways, Final Report, 1910
(Cd. 5247). Final Report on the Canals and Inland Navigations of
Ireland, 1911 (Cd. 5626).]

[Footnote 93: "The Framework of Home Rule," p. 174.]

[Footnote 94: Figures are taken from Viceregal Commission Reports, p.
78, Report.]

[Footnote 95: Page 78, Report.]

[Footnote 96: Page 58, Report.]

[Footnote 97: Final Report, pp. 76-83.]

[Footnote 98: We have taken the Act of 1844 as the basis referred to by
the Commissioners, though it is very doubtful (having regard to the
great variety of railway share and loan capital), if the terms of sect.
2 are now suitable; moreover sect. 4 requires a special Act of
Parliament to be passed to raise the money, and settle the special
conditions of the purchase option.]

[Footnote 99: Majority Report, p. 76.]

[Footnote 100: "Framework of Home Rule," p. 281.]

[Footnote 101: Final Report on the Canals and Navigations of Ireland.
1911. (Cd. 5626.)]

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