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FEDERAL OR COLONIAL HOME RULE? We are now in a position to pose our main question, and the simplest course is to pose it in an illustrative form. Broadly speaking, is the relation between Ireland and Great Britain to resemble that between the Province of Quebec and the Dominion of Canada, or that between the Dominion of Canada and the United Kingdom? One might equally well contrast the relation of Victoria to the Australian Commonwealth with the relation of New Zealand or Newfoundland to the United Kingdom. I choose the Canadian illustration because it is more compact and striking, and because it corresponds more closely to the history and to the realities of the case. Moreover, Quebec, although she had a no more stormy domestic history, owing to lack of Home Rule, than Ontario, is bi-racial, and on that account underwent in 1840 compulsory amalgamation with her wholly British neighbour, just as Ireland, originally bi-racial, was forcibly amalgamated with Great Britain in 1800. The Canadian partners agreed to break this bond, to fashion a better one on the Federal principle, in the manner vaguely adumbrated by advocates of the “ Federal ” principle for Irish Home Rule, and, as regards their relations with the Mother Country, to pool their interests and accept representation by the Dominion alone.
Quebec Home Rule or Dominion Home Rule? Needless to say, these are only broad types chosen expressly to illustrate two possible types of relation between Ireland and Great Britain, which I shall henceforth refer to as “ Federal” and “ Colonial.” There is no reason why we should not profit in other respects by both examples, nor is there any possibility of copying either faithfully.
Both types fulfil the fundamental condition laid down at the beginning of our discussion—both, that is to say, are consistent with responsible government in Ireland. Quebec, in its inner working, is a microcosm of the Dominion, and the Dominion system of responsible government is almost an exact copy of the unwritten British Constitution. In Quebec (as in all the Provinces and States of Canada and Australia) there is a
Cabinet, headed by a Prime Minister, composed of Members of the Legislature, and responsible at once to that Legislature and to the Lieutenant-Governor as representing the Crown. Ireland, under a similar system (and, a fortiori, if she were put in the position of the Dominion), would have a Cabinet responsible at once to the Irish Legislature and to the LordLieutenant representing the Crown. The parallel is more apposite in the case of the Province of Quebec than in the case of an Australian State, because, as I noted above, the provincial Lieutenant-Governor is actually appointed by the Dominion Government, and is in his turn responsible in the first instance to that Government, just as the Irish Governor, or Lord-Lieutenant, who, under Home Rule, will for the first time justify his existence, is, and will still be, appointed by the British Government.
But with the possibility of responsible government granted, it must be confessed that the arguments against “Quebec Home Rule” as a measure of practical politics at the present moment, are insuperable. In the first place there is no question in the coming Bill of federalizing the United Kingdom on the lines of the Dominion of Canada—that is, of constructing a new Federal Parliament elected by the whole realm, together with new local Legislatures elected by the various fractions of the realm. Scottish and Welsh Home Rule are in the air, but they are not practical issues. English Home Rule is not even in the air. I mean that Englishmen, whatever their views on the congestion of Parliamentary business owing to the pressure of Irish, Welsh, and Scottish affairs, have not seriously considered the idea of a subordinate Legislature exclusively English, which would be just as essential a feature of a completely federalized kingdom as subordinate Legislatures exclusively Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.
Not that it is essential to the federalization of the United Kingdom that Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales, should all have separate Legislature. Any one of these fractions could coalesce with another or others in a joint Legislature. It would be technically possible, though highly unreasonable, to go to the extreme of giving Great Britain, regarded as one Province, a separate Legislature ; Ireland, regarded as another Province, a separate Legislature ; and, above these two sub
ordinate bodies, a new Imperial Parliament representing the whole realm. Such a dual Federation was nearly coming about in Canada, when Ontario and Quebec dissolved their Union and resolved to federate. It became a quadruple Federation, owing to the adhesion of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick ; but in a dual form it would have worked just as well. It is scarcely necessary to say that the disparity in population, resources, and power between Ireland and Great Britain render a dual Federation, which, of course, involves three Legislatures, chimerical. What I want to insist on is that, whatever subdivisions are adopted, it is absolutely essential to every Federation that there should be a division of powers between a central and at least two local Legislatures -three altogether. That is the minimum. Other things are also essential, but for the moment we can confine ourselves to the outstanding requirement. Now, there is no question in the coming Bill of any such Federation. Later years may see such a development, whether from pressure of work on the Imperial Parliament or from irresistible demand for Home Rule from Scotland or Wales, or both, but not next year. The Bill will contemplate two Parliaments, not three, namely, the existing Imperial Parliament and the Irish Legislature. There is, therefore, no question of Federal Home Rule, and the term
Federal,” as applied to Irish Home Rule at the present time, is meaningless.
Nor can the coming Bill for Ireland make any preparation, technically, for a general Federation. Morally, as I shall show, it might have an important effect in stimulating local sentiment, not only in England, Scotland, and Wales, but in Ireland, towards a general Federation in the future, but in its mechanical structure it must be not merely non-Federal, but anti-Federal. One often hears it carelessly propounded that Irish Home Rule, so devised as to be applicable in later years, if they so desire, to Scotland, Wales, and England, will give us by smooth mechanical means a General Federation. This is a fallacy. At one stage or another, the earliest or the latest, we should have to create a totally new central Parliament, still elected by the whole people, but exclusively devoted to Imperial affairs, and wholly exempt from local business, before we possessed anything in the nature of a Federation. But,
whatever the future has in store, it would be a scandal if Irish Home Rule were to be hampered or delayed by the existence of Scotch or Welsh claims, and it is earnestly to be hoped that no action of that kind will be taken. The case of Ireland is centuries old, and more urgent than ever. It differs radically from any case that can possibly be made for Scotland and Wales.
The Bill, I repeat, must be anti-Federal, centrifugal. In the case of Ireland we have first to dissolve an unnatural union, and then to revive an old right to autonomy, before we can reach a healthy Federal Union. Such, exactly, was the history of Canada. If, in that case, the dissolution of the Legislative Union and the construction of the Federal Union were consummated simultaneously in the British North America Act of 1867, they were nevertheless two distinct phases, and of these two phases the first, implying the revival of the old separate autonomies, was the indispensable precursor of Federal Union. This antecedent recognition of autonomy was not peculiar to Canada. Every Federation in the world arose in the same way, by the voluntary act of States under one Crown or suzerainty, but independent of one another, and it is of the essence of Federalism that this psychological condition should exist. Compulsory Federation would not last a year. It would indeed be practicable to federalize the United Kingdom by one Legislative Act, but the prior right to and fitness for complete Home Rule on the part of each of the component parts would have to be implicitly recognized.
It needs only a moment's consideration of Anglo-Irish history to see the special applicability of the psychological rule to Ireland. The evils of the Canadian Union, during the twenty-seven years of its duration, are infinitesimal beside the mischief, moral and material, which have been caused to both partners by the forcible amalgamation of Great Britain and Ireland ; the waste of indigenous talent, industrial and political ; the dispersion all over the globe of Irishmen; the conversion of friends into enemies, of peaceable citizens into plotters of treason, of farmers into criminals, of poets and statesmen into gaolbirds; the check to the production of wealth and AngloIrish commerce ; the dislocation and demoralization of Parliamentary life; and, saddest results of all, the reac
tionary effect upon British statesmanship, domestic and Imperial, and the deterioration of Irish character within Ireland. The voluntary principle—at any rate, among the Englishspeaking races--is as essential to a true Union, like that of the South African Colonies or that of Scotland and England, as to a Federation. It is a sheer impossibility to create a perfect, mechanical Union on a basis of hatred and coercion ; witness the strangely anomalous colonial features surviving in Irish Government—the Lord-Lieutenancy, the separate administration, and the standing army of police.
Persons inclined to reckon the advantages, whether of Federation or of Union, in pounds, shillings, and pence, may regard the psychological requirement as fanciful. It is not fanciful ; on the contrary, it is related in the clearest way to the concrete facts of the situation. Before there is any question of Federation Ireland needs to find herself, to test her own potentialities, to prove independence of character, thought, and action, and to discover what she can do by her own unaided will with her own resources.
As I endeavoured to show in the last chapter, these are the true reasons for Home Rule.
Home Rule is neither a luxury nor a plaything, but a tremendously exacting duty which must be undertaken by every country conscious of repression and valuing its self-respect, and which Ireland is praying to be allowed to undertake. When a people has learnt to understand the extent of its own powers and limitations, then it can safely and honourably co-operate on a Federal basis with other peoples, and, in the interests of efficiency and economy, can delegate to a central Government, partly of its own choice, functions hitherto locally exercised. Once more, that is the origin of all true Federations, British and foreign, in all parts of the world.
If, then, the Home Rule Bill cannot in legal form be a federating or unifying measure, it must be one of a precisely opposite character, and a measure of devolution. It is a proof of the need for a scientific nomenclature that the word “devolution has to Irish ears come to mean something similar in kind to “Federal” Home Rule, but less in degree, and something different in kind from “ Colonial " Home Rule, and infinitely less in degree. What a tangle of truth and