Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

nothing short of a new Imperial Constitution. But this is not the way in which the English people have been accustomed to meet their political difficulties. They have wisely sought to deal with each contingency as it arises, using the means which experience has taught them to be the best, instead of roving the world of political speculation for far-fetched analogies and model Constitutions. We could not, if we would, deal with each part of the United Kingdom as if all were exactly alike. The case of Scotland, although it presents many resemblances, is not exactly analogous to that of Ireland, and the geographical fact of the insular position of Ireland, the political fact of her intense Nationalism, and, most of all, her differential treatment in the pages of the statute-book, put her in a different category.

It may be found possible to limit devolution of legislative powers in the case of Great Britain to an alteration in the procedure of the House of Commons. The one difficulty I see is the responsibility of the Executive for legislation. Can a Liberal Government with a majority in the whole House afford to allow legislative autonomy to a Committee of English members in which it is in a minority, and conversely can a Unionist Government in a similar position in the whole House afford to allow legislative autonomy to a Committee of Scotch members in which it is in a minority? Possibly. There can be no doubt that the doctrine of the responsibility of the Cabinet of the day for legislation has been carried much too far-it was almost unknown at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the private member was as powerful as to-day he is impotent. A system of national' committees in legislation might restore to the House the autonomy of which it has been deprived, and one might then see something of the legislative initiative, activity, and independence which Deputies exercise in the committees of the French Parliament.

One thing is quite certain-however many 'Legislatures' we may have in the House of Commons, we cannot have more than one Executive; and therefore, unless we have separate Parliaments we must make some distinction as to what kind of legislation the Government of the day is to be responsible for. There are no precedents to guide us. It is true we have a Scotch Standing Committee in the House legislating in exclusively Scottish affairs, but this proves too little or too much; too little because that Committee has only been in existence when the majority of Scottish members have been of the same party as the majority in the whole House ; too much because the Scotch Committee is not really autonomous-all its measures have to be submitted on Report to the whole House. The present Lord Chancellor did

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]

indeed put forward, in an article written in 1892 and re-published by him in the Contemporary Review for March 1911, the ingenious suggestion that there might be two Executives existing concurrently in the House of Commons-an Imperial Cabinet consisting of four Secretaries of State, the First Lord of the Treasury, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, these being, in his opinion, purely ‘Imperial' Ministers; and a British Cabinet consisting of such Ministers as (among others) the Home Secretary, the Presidents of the Local Government Board, Board of Education and Board of Trade, and the Secretary for Scotland. The classification will not bear a very close examination; the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Home Secretary, and the President of the Board of Trade would not easily find an exclusive place in either category. Moreover, the scheme involves some strange complexities and readjustments of the conventions of the Constitution. What would be the position of the British Executive if defeated in the House of Commons on British affairs? Would it resign or would it be entitled to call for a dissolution confined to Great Britain alone? If it could only do the former, its authority in the House would be precarious; if it could command the latter, the position of the Imperial Cabinet would be intolerable. Nor could the distinction between the two Cabinets really be maintained. What, for example, would be the position of such 'Imperial' Ministers as the Secretary for War or the Home Secretary, if a vote of censure were passed on either or both by the British members, for the employment of troops in an industrial dispute in Great Britain ? The position of Ministers under such a system would be worse than precarious, it would be servile—they would be like the medieval villein, the legal test of whose servitude was found by the common law in the definition that he knows not to-day what he may have to do to-morrow.' A scheme such as this represents a kind of inchoate devolution-a differentiation in the Executive without a corresponding differentiation in the Legislature. Two distinct Executives are only possible if there are two distinct Legislatures.

It seems to me that this is eminently a case for experiment under the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. The great advantage of such a procedure is that it is experimental, and in no sense final. By delegating business to a Grand Committee by a Standing Order the House never entirely renounces its control over such legislation, and it can decide in each individual case whether it will dispense with the Report stage or not. The flexibility of such a procedure is obvious. The Government of Ireland Bill, instead of laying down a uniform system of local legislatures for the United Kingdom, has confined itself to Ireland as a special case, and leaves open the possibility of differential treatment of the other parts of the kingdom. This seems sound. As for the provisions of the Bill itself, as distinct from its general principles, I have no space to discuss them in detail in the present article, but I think it may be truly said of them that they follow the line of historical development. Here is no repeal of the Act of Union. The Bill recognises that Ireland has been bound during the last hundred years by innumerable legislative ties, pre-Union statutes and post-Union statutes. Litera scripta manet. Those ties are never likely to be seriously relaxed. History has done its work. Grattan's Parliament may have been premature, and it is possible at one and the same time to defend the Act of Union and to plead for its modification. Of this Bill,

, and of its whole method of approaching the subject of constitutional reconstruction, I think it may justly be said that the men who framed it have laid to heart the wise words of Burke : 'I would make the reparation as nearly as possible in the style of the building.'

J. H. MORGAN.

The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undertake

to return unaccepted MSS.

INDEX TO VOL. LXXI

The titles of articles are printed in italics

ADM

BARK

ADMIRALTY Administration, Re-

cent Changes in, 201-216
Aërial locomotion, 75-85
Africa, East, difficulties of white

settlement in, 312-331
Africa, Portuguese colonies, 497-510
Africa, Senussi confraternity and war

in Tripoli, 1216-1229
Agadir, The Aftermath of Suggestions
for a Settlement of Territorial Ambi.

tions, 191-200
Agricultural England and the rural

exodus, 174-190
Aischro-Latreiathe Cult of the Foul,

332-340 ; reply to, 547–556
America and Scotch-Irish immigrants,

1121-1133
Anglican Churches in England and
Australasia,

connexion

between
the Church and the State, 1089–

1097
Anglo-German alliance, English

Radical advocacy of, 589-598
Anglo-German relations and terri-

torial expansion, 191-200
Anglo-Russian Agreement and the

independence of Persia, 40-47
Arctic research, England's backward.

ness in, 756-766
Army, National, The Working Classes

and a, 86-97
Army officers, their financial position,

706-718
Army, Oxford and the, 1164-1175
Art collections, Our, and American

competitors, 24–39
Art, French and English, Salon and

Academy, 1202-1215
Art, The terrible and the pitiful in,

547-556
Arts, State recognition and encourage-

ment of the, 557-567
Atlantic cables and Imperial wireless

scheme, 1076-1088
Australian Experiences, Some, of the

Organisation of a Disestablished
Church, 1089–1097

CAN
ARKER (J. Ellis), The Failure of

Post-Bismarckian Germany, 1059-
1075
Barrett (Elizabeth) and the love story

of the Brownings, 976–988
Beaumont, Pauline de, 1147-1163
Bellairs (Commander Carlyon), A New

Imperial Preference Scheme, 385–400
Bengal, Calcutta, and changes in

Indian Government, 48-57
Biology, hereditary transmission of

variations, 511-531
Bird Flight, The Solution of the Mystery

of, 75-85
Birmingham, Bishop of, and Anglican

Socialists, 1029-1045
Bismarck's policy and modern Prusso-

Germany, 1059-1075
Blake (Lady), The Triad Society and

the Restoration of the Ming Dynasty,

667-687
Bland (J. 0. P.), The Yellow Peril,

1017-1028
Bradley (A. G.), The Ulster Scot in

the United States, 1121-1133
Brain centres and psychical mechanism

in education, 945–965
Braine (Capt. H. E.), The Sword and

the Lance versus the Rifle, 966–975
Bright (Charles), Cables versus Wire-

less Telegraphy, 1076-1088
British East African Problems, Some,

312-331
British Navy and our defenceless

mercantile marine, 795–803
British Polar Research, The Control of,

756–766
Browning (Robert), born May 7th,

1812, 976–988
Buddhists and Moslems, An Approach

between, 657-666
Buxton (Noel), Diplomacy and Parlia-

ment, 632-642

CABLES versus Wireless Telegraphy,

1076-1088
Canada and British immigrants, 112-132

DAY

EDUCATION

and character-training

CAN

FIG
Canada and the Navyi a Canadian Crystal Palace, The i a Reminiscence
View, 821-828

and a Suggestion, 1176-1184
Carlyle (Thomas) and peace-at-any- Custance (Admiral Sir Reginald), The
price policy, 795–803

Naval Case for Ratifying the De.
Carman (Albert R.), Canada and the claration of London, 435-444

Navy I a Canadian View, 821-828
Castberg (J.), The Legal Position of AVIDSON (George L. O.), The
Women in Norway, 364-377

Solution of the Mystery of Bird
Catholic Layman, A, 741-755

Flight, 75-85
Celibacy, The Church and, 165-173 ; Declaration of London, Naval Case for
replies to, 303-311

Ratifying the, 435-444
Centenary of Charles Dickens's birth, Delhi as the new capital of India, 48-57
274-284

Depopulation, Rural, in England during
Chaperon, The Passing of the, 582–588 the Nineteenth Century, 174-190
Chateaubriand, French Society life Dickens (Charles), February 7th, 1812-
in days of, 1147-1163

1912, 274–284
Childers (Erskine), The Real Issue in Dimnet (Abbé Ernest), Is M. Maeter-

Ireland, 643-656; a rejoinder to, linck critically estimated ? 98-111
849-852

Diplomacy and Parliament, 632-642
China and Islam, Fraternisation Disestablishment of the Church in
between, 657-666

Wales, 1089–1106
Chinese Ming dynasty, Triad Society Disestablishment, The Clergy and, 1098-

and struggle for restoration of the, 1106
667-687

Disestablishment, Why some of the Clergy
Chinese revolution and the Western will welcome, 868–880
world, 1017-1028

Duff (Lady Grant), The Action of
Christian beliefs, Milton's influence on, Women in the French Revolution,
901-918

1009-1016
Church, The, and Celibacy, 165-173 ;

replies to, 303–311
Church of England and Oxford Move-

ment, 133-147, 341-356, 532-546 Education, A Physiological Basis for,
Churchill (Mr.) and Naval War Staff, 945–965
201-216

Educational endowments, and return-
Città Eterna, La, a Reminiscence of able scholarships, 1185–1191
the 'Seventies, 466-482

Emancipation of women in Norway,
Clarke (Rev. A. H. T.), The Passing legal and political, 364-377

of the Oxford Movement, 133–147 ; Emigration, Britain's neglected advan-
341-356 ; reply to, 532–546

tages, 483-496
Clergy, The, and Disestablishment, Emigration to Canada, an Imperial
868-880, 1098-1106

problem, 112-132
Clergy, The, and Celibacy, 165-173, England's Economic Position and her
303-311

Financial Relations with Scotland
Coal Crisis, The, 378-384

and Ireland, 411-434
Coal miners' strike, Socialist tyranny, English Radicals and Foreign Politics,

and the nation's industries, 401-410, 589-598
609-622

Established Churches and Disestab-
Coal Strike, Theand After, 623-631 lishment, 868-880, 1089–1106
Coleridge (Hon. Gilbert), An Old Eton, The Fourth of June at 1 an Old

Boy's Impression of the Fourth of Boy's Impression of, 1192-1201
June at Eton, 1192-1201

Evolution and heredity, influence of
Congested Districts Board, benefits environment, 511-531
to Ireland, 267-273

Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park,
Coulton (G. G.), 'The Church and the Crystal Palace, 1176-1184

Celibacy': Reply to Mrs. Huth
Jackson, 307-311

EDERAL Home Rule and appor-
Cox (Harold), Holding a Nation to
Ransom, 401-410

Federalism, Home Rule and, 1230-1242
Crammond (Edgar), England's Eco- Feeble-miniled Children, The Treatment

nomic Position and her Financial of, 930-944
Relations with Scotland and Ireland, Feminism in France during the Reign
411-434 ; The Third Edition of of Terror, 1009-1016
Home Rules Ireland's Economic Figgis (Darrell), Charles Dickens i
Development, 849-852

February 7th, 1812-1912, 274–284

,

« VorigeDoorgaan »