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if the driver had remained upon the box and attempted by word or whip to guide when he could no longer control? Ireland is not a British Colony, and Asquithian ‘Home Rule' is not 'self-government.' The stress laid upon the effective supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; its continued competence to legislate for Ireland ; its power to 'nullify, amend or alter ' Irish statutes; the numerous restrictions upon the competence of the Irish Parliament; the twofold veto-are these 'safeguards' real or are they sham? Are they intended to be effective, or are they mere windowdressing, put in for the delectation and delusion of the British electorate? Let me hasten to say that I believe them to represent a genuine intention on the part of the author of the Bill. But the nation is concerned not with probable intentions, but with inevitable results. If the safeguards and limitations are genuine and effective, they completely vitiate the scheme as a measure of 'selfgovernment.' Would any responsible 'Colony allow the Imperial Government to collect the taxes it imposed and pay them into the Imperial exchequer? Would a Colonial Parliament suffer for one instant such restrictions upon its competence as those which are enumerated in Mr. Asquith's Bill? If, on the other hand, the safeguards are illusory, will the British electorate even contemplate an experiment so rash and so dishonest ?
There are many other points-notably the machinery for deciding whether any given statute of the Irish Legislature is or is not within its competence—the significance of which stands out even on a first impression; there is only one with which I have space to deal. The retention of the Irish members at Westminster is justified by Mr. Asquith on the ground that the House of Commons will continue to be the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.' My hope is that it may, and for that reason I welcome his illogical proposal. I admire also his ingenuity. Here is a crumb of comfort for the Federalist. There is no genuine Federalism in the structure of the Bill, but here at least is a' semblance of the idea, and we may welcome signs of grace, even if they are exhibited at the expense of constitutional congruity.
It will, I hope, be apparent that in the foregoing pages no attempt has been made to discuss at large the political merits or defects of Home Rule in general. Had such been my intention it would have been inexcusable to omit all reference to one of the most important factors in the political problem-the attitude of the Ulster Protestants. In a scientific analysis of a proposed constitutional reconstruction the wishes of Ulster may be ignored. But the moment we pass from the academic discussion of constitutional details to the broad political issues the spectacle of Ulster, organised, determined and grim, must necessarily stand forth a's a dominating feature of the situation. No Minister, no Parliament, no electorate, will be able to ignore the resolute refusal of the Ulster Protestants to be forcibly sundered from the United King. dom, and be handed over to another nation' with which they have neither racial nor religious nor economic affinity. We are bidden to make a fundamental change in the constitutional relations of the United Kingdom in deference to the persistent demand of a minority which is numerically contemptible. But we are solemnly warned that to the minority of the minority no excessive consideration must be shown. We will not admit,' said the Prime Minister, the right of the minority of the people, and relatively a small minority, ... to veto the verdict of the vast body of their countrymen.' Their countrymen are Englishmen and Scotchmen no less, even more, than Irishmen, and it has yet to be proved that the 'vast body of their countrymen' are wedded to the policy which Ulster emphatically repudiates. If minorities as such are to be condemned, is there any sufficient ground for attention to the demands of that minority of the electors of the United Kingdom who have persistently placed ‘Home Rule'in the forefront of their political programme?
Never yet has the majority pronounced unequivocally in favour of this fundamental change of Constitution. Once, and once only, in 1886, has a specific proposal been submitted, fairly and squarely, to the deliberate judgment of the electors of the United Kingdom ; and the response was unhesitating and decisive. One point remains. It is clear that in the great constitutional
. struggle which is ahead of the people of this country the 'deliberate judgment of the civilised world' is to be again invoked, as it was invoked before. It cannot, therefore, be deemed impertinent to invite the attention of 'the civilised world’ to a consideration which may possibly escape them. In no other great country except our own would it be legally or constitutionally possible to effect a change of this magnitude by the ordinary process of legislation. No great nation in the world is so completely defenceless a's Great Britain against a constitutional revolution effected under the forms of law. I would respectfully ask those eminent American citizens who have been quick to express approval of the Bill now under consideration by the British House of Commons, how they would regard a proposal to amend fundamentally the Federal Constitution of the United States without putting in motion the elaborate and complicated machinery provided in the Constitution for that purpose? I would address a similar inquiry to our fellow citizens in the Australian Commonwealth ; and I would repeat it, if necessary, to every competent jurist in Europe. There are many advantages in a Constitution
mostly unwritten and entirely flexible; but there are times when the corresponding disadvantages become painfully apparent. So long as there is a general acquiescence in the 'fundamentals' of the Constitution, the circumstantials’ may be left to take care of themselves. No great and permanent injury is likely to be inflicted upon the body politic. It is otherwise when 'fundamentals ' become the subject of acute political controversy. Cromwell recognised this truth when confronted by Parliaments which questioned the fundamentals' enshrined in the written Constitution of the Protectorate. And Cromwell found the solution of his difficulties in reluctant reliance upon the power of the sword. It was as general of the army rather than as Protector of the Commonwealth that he really controlled the destinies of England, Scotland and Ireland. Between the close of the seventeenth century and the dawn of the twentieth there was little disposition in this country to question 'fundamentals. But the period of acquiescence appears to have passed. Questions are propounded to-day which go down to the very roots of our social and economic system, which shake the foundations upon which the whole political superstructure is built. Are we adequately equipped, in a constitutional sense, for answering these questions, and for effecting the fundamental changes which the answers may involve? It is not easy for a student of political institutions to answer these questions with a confident affirmative. This much at least cannot be gainsaid. There exists in this country no special machinery for constitutional revision. A Bill for prohibiting vivisection or for regulating the work-hours of shop-assistants necessitates the employment of precisely the same legislative machinery as a Bill for the abolition of the House of Lords or the House of Commons, or a Bill for the adjustment of the Constitutional relations of Great Britain and Ireland. Neither more nor less. The British Constitution entirely ignores comparative values in legislation. Its deficiences in this regard were brought into startling relief in the Session of 1911. The experience is to be repeated in 1912. This being so, it is more imperative that proposals so far-reaching as those contained in the third edition of Home Rule should be subjected to severe scrutiny. A closer acquaintance may possibly induce a more favourable judgment; but a first impression suggests that the Bill has been framed with extraordinary ingenuity and adroitness, and that the sails have been set to catch every breath of the wind of popularity. In the distribution of favours nobody has been left out. There is something for the thorough-going separatist, inspired by nationalist fervour; there is something for the timid devolutionist, anxious only to secure 'gas and water' Home Rule ; something for the advocate of Colonial self-government, and something for the well-meaning but muddle-headed federalist. But is not the dexterity of the Bill likely to prove its destruction? Is it not, in fact, an ingenious
? mosaic, cunningly compacted and curiously inlaid, a 'tesselated pavement without cement-here a bit of black stone and there a bit of white,' 10 but grotesquely lacking in consistency of principle, in unity of design, and coherence of construction?
J. A. R. MARRIOTT.
* The image is Burke's.
THE THIRD EDITION OF HOME RULE
IRELAND'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
One of the most significant features of the Home Rule controversy is the energy with which the advocates of Home Rule are attempting to discredit the rapidly accumulating evidence that the Irish people are now progressing at a more rapid rate economically than the people of Great Britain. It is perhaps not unnatural that Home Rulers should take up such an attitude. In 1893 they or their predecessors attempted to force upon the people of the United Kingdom a scheme for the government of Ireland which would have brought Ireland to the verge of bankruptcy within ten years of its coming into operation. The Unionists secured the rejection of that measure, and as an alternative they substituted the policy of fostering the economic development of Ireland-first by land purchase, and later by generous agricultural and development grants. The constructive policy of the Unionist party has been completely justified by the result. Ireland is now more prosperous than she has ever been in her history, and the Irish people owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Unionists for having saved them from their political friends in 1893.
It may be doubted whether the average Englishman or Scotsman has the slightest conception of the extent to which Ireland has advanced in an economic sense within the past decade; and even a close student of Irish affairs, such as Mr. Erskine Childers may fairly claim to be, appears to be curiously ignorant of the change that is taking place in the relative position of the two countries. Mr. Childers, who challenges my statement' that the economic condition of the people of Ireland is improving at a more rapid rate than that of the people of Great Britain, has made a strange blunder in his criticism of my figures in overlooking the fact that there has been a wide divergence in the movement of population of Great Britain as compared with that of Ireland. Within the past decade the population of Great Britain increased to the extent of 10.3 per cent., while that of Ireland declined to the extent · Nineteenth Century and After, April 1912, p. 651.