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It is hardly six months since Mr. Gladstone's manifesto appeared, and the country took it for granted that if he were returned to power the authorised programme which he had put in the forefront of his address would immediately occupy the attention of Parliament. It was well known that at least seventy or eighty Nationalist members would be returned, and a good many must have foreseen that they would not allow Irish questions to be ignored; yet, judged by their speeches and election addresses, there were few statesmen and fewer candidates who impressed the public with their fears, fewer of either who put the question of Home Rule before the constituencies, and no one who ventured to suggest that the now well-worn phrase as to the supremacy of the Crown, the unity of the Empire, and the authority of Parliament, might cover schemes incompatible with the maintenance of the legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland.

He would have been indeed a bold man who had ventured to tell a Liberal audience that a member of that Irish party which Mr. Gladstone denounced in 1881 as marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire, would confidently assert in 1886 that the leader of the Liberal party, who had then had no language too severe for the Land League, was bound by his public declarations to grant the Nationalist claims for practical legislative independence.' 1

That, however, is the situation, and Mr. Harrington's reading of Mr. Gladstone's speech on the Address has never been challenged.

It has been argued that Home Rule should be yielded as a matter of course because it is demanded by five-sixths of the Irish members, representing a large majority of the Irish population. No doubt, as far as Ireland is concerned, the issue tried before them was separation versus union: but even if the voters had not been biassed by any other considerations, and if the system under which the verdict was obtained were unimpeachable-two rather large admissions-it would not be right under the circumstances to accept the judgment of the Irish constituencies as conclusive.

Mr. Harrington, Times, February 3, 1886.

There were two parties to the Act of Union; and though Ireland may have made up her mind that the time has come for separation, that is no reason in itself why the representatives of Great Britain should give way on a question which was not before the English and Scotch constituencies at the late general election.

Nobody pretends that England or Scotland gave an opinion on Home Rule last November: 2 and it occurred to the writer that the election addresses of Liberal M.P.'s would afford a fair test of the degree to which the question was before either candidates or constituencies at that time; and that they would show with what ideas candidates had then approached the Irish problem, and to what extent, if any, the constituencies of Great Britain had been asked at the general election to decide upon the maintenance of the legislative union with Ireland.

For, as every one had to state his views upon the authorised programme,' 'free education,' and 'three acres and a cow,' it is but natural to suppose that both electors and candidates would have wished to understand each other, had they been led to believe by their leaders that so grave a constitutional question would occupy the attention of the new Parliament as soon as ever it assembled.

It has not been found possible to examine the addresses of all the Liberal members, but a large proportion of them have been got together, and some striking facts are at once apparent.


In the first place, over one third of the gentlemen whose addresses I have obtained made no reference whatever in them to Ireland; secondly, but a small proportion of the other half thought it worth while to notice that widely prevalent desire for self-government extending beyond what is felt in Great Britain as to local affairs,' of which Mr. Gladstone speaks in his February address to the electors of Midlothian; thirdly, those who then declared themselves plainly in favour of Home Rule were very few indeed.

There were gentlemen who maintained a prudent silence as to Ireland throughout their contests, but doubtless most had something to say about her in one or other of their speeches. From some indeed I hope to quote later on. But though it has not been possible to examine everybody's speeches, yet I believe from what I have seen that the majority said little or nothing about the future in Ireland. They contented themselves with condemning the policy of Lord Randolph Churchill: and then, as Ireland occupied only a subordinate place in the Midlothian manifesto and had but few attractions for the average British voter, they returned to the authorised programme, or whatever subject outside of it had most interest for their constituents.

The addresses which do refer to Ireland are about 140 in number, but before examining them in detail it may be of interest to see what was the Irish policy on which the present Ministry and the 2 See Mr. Heneage's letter to the Times, January 2, 1886.

members of former Liberal administrations sought the confidence of their constituents a few months ago.

In several cases the addresses give no information.
Mr. Mundella spoke only of the past.

Mr. Chamberlain, whose views of course were well known, issued a very short address, which contained no reference to any special question.

Mr. Collings and Sir L. Playfair took a similar course. Mr. Asher, the Lord Advocate, Mr. Flower, Mr. Fowler, Lord Kilcoursie, Mr. Mellor, Mr. Spencer, and Mr. Woodall, though they discuss other subjects, say nothing about Ireland.

Others, however, were not so reticent.

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Mr. Gladstone: To maintain the supremacy of the Crown, the unity of the Empire, and all the authority of Parliament necessary for the conservation of that unity, is the first duty of every representative of the people. Subject to this governing principle, every grant to portions of the country of enlarged powers for the management of their own affairs is not a source of danger, but a means of averting it.'

Sir W. Harcourt did not mention Ireland in his brief address, but his opinions on the unsavouriness of Parnellite juice have been often quoted.

Mr. Campbell Bannerman: I am desirous of seeing at the earliest possible moment a large extension of local self-government in Ireland, but I would give no countenance to the schemes of those who seek to injure this country, as they would assuredly ruin their own, by separation under one name or another.'

Mr. Childers: 'I am in favour of a large measure of local selfgovernment being granted to Ireland. While Imperial affairs should be regulated and managed by the Imperial Parliament and the Imperial Government, purely local affairs may be safely left to deliberative and administrative authorities representing the Irish people.'3

Mr. Trevelyan trusted that the task of dealing with Ireland might be committed to a party strong enough to disregard the effect which its policy might have on Parliamentary divisions or electoral contests. In a speech delivered on the 31st of December, he said that while he would place education under central, and highways, poor law &c. in the hands of local, elected bodies, yet unless we intend to keep the care of law and order in all its departments in the bands of the Central Government, we had much better go in at once for repealing the Union.'

Mr. John Morley said that to build up self-government in Ireland' was one of the tasks before us.

Mr. Heneage favoured the abolition of the Lord-Lieutenancy, and a system of well-defined local self-government, with a view to a firmer

Pontefract Address.

and more solid union. Subsequently, in a letter which appeared in the Times of the 2nd of January, he said, 'I cannot see my way to grant to Ireland a separate Parliament without giving real Home Rule, and therefore I shall vote against any proposal to establish an Irish Parliament in Dublin.'

Among the subordinate members of the Government, Mr. C. T. D. Acland and Sir U. Kay Shuttleworth were vague.

Mr. Broadhurst desired a comprehensive measure of local government for all parts of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Bryce, while putting either separation or federation out of the question, said that, subject to the ultimate control of the Imperial Parliament, the further we go in letting the people of Ireland conduct their own affairs the better.'

Mr. J. B. Balfour, speaking at Kinross, said that the result of the combination between the Conservatives and Mr. Parnell would, if it were successful, be one of two things, either concessions to Mr. Parnell and his party which would endanger the integrity of the Empire and tend to separation, or the impotence of Parliament."

Mr. Collings, speaking on behalf of Mr. H. Bass, claimed the Irish vote for him, because the Radicals would give the Irish the power of managing their own concerns to the greatest extent compatible with the integrity of the Empire.

Mr. Duff, I believe, was silent in his address; but in a speech reported in the Aberdeen Free Press of the 22nd of October he expressed his desire for a Liberal majority strong enough to make the party independent of an alliance repugnant to the feelings of every rightthinking man.

Mr. G. Leveson Gower, while anxious to extend to Ireland the same rights of local self-government as the rest of Great Britain, and to avoid exceptional legislation, when not essential, would resolutely withstand any scheme which should withdraw from the British Parliament the control of Imperial questions, or imperil the unity of the Empire.

Mr. Herbert Gladstone would concede frankly and fully to the Irish people the right to manage their own affairs in accordance with national wishes and national sentiment.

Mr. Marjoribanks favoured a large measure of local government, by which the remaining just grievances of Ireland might be removed. Mr. O. Morgan would give the same rights of local government to Ireland as to Great Britain.

Sir E. Reed, while in favour of giving the Irish people the fullest possible powers of local government, could not consent to any dismemberment of the United Kingdom.

The addresses of the Attorney-General, Mr. Hibbert, and Mr. A. Morley were not obtainable. Sir C. Russell's opinions were well known

Scotsman, October 31.

5 Staff Chronicle, October 10.

in the last Parliament; and speaking in Shoreditch Town Hall, he declared his opinion that Irishmen ought to have the power to discuss and manage their own local affairs on their own soil. But it is a little strange that only he and Mr. H. Gladstone of all the members of the Government should have been ready when first elected to declare a leaning to Home Rule.

Turning now to those who were members of former Liberal administrations.

Lord Hartington: 'I am convinced that the legislative union of the two countries must in the interests of both be maintained, and I will give no support to any measure which directly or indirectly menaces its existence.'

Mr. Goschen desired firmness in maintaining the integrity of the Empire.'

Mr. Forster only mentioned his desire to speak on Ireland.

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Mr. Stansfeld, in reply to a question, would not give Ireland as much Home Rule as Australia or Canada, but he desired to give her every law and liberty that we possessed, and every amount of Home Rule consistent with Imperial and legislative liberty.'"

Mr. Bright's and Sir C. Dilke's addresses were very short indeed, and did not go into any details.

Sir H. James expressed himself as hostile to the creation of a separate Parliament for Ireland.

Mr. Courtney: 'I believe the maintenance of the legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland will immediately and imperatively claim our attention.'

Mr. Brand: Convinced of the paramount political necessity of maintaining the union with Ireland, I regret the attitude which the present Government has seen fit to adopt towards a political party which openly endeavours to effect a separation between the two countries.'

Sir T. Brassey: "I am ready not only to remedy tangible grievances, but to make such concessions as may be practicable to national sentiment. Any scheme, however, of local self-government must be framed with due consideration for the paramount necessity of preserving the integrity of the Empire.'

Mr. Villiers's short address contained no reference to Ireland.

Mr. Whitbread: Ireland should participate in the reform of the laws relating to land and local government to the fullest extent compatible with the integrity and stability of the United Kingdom.'

Such were the opinions expressed by the members of the present and of former Liberal administrations. With regard to the rest of the Party, some whose views previous to election I have been unable to ascertain, subsequently answered the Home Rule' circular of the Press Association; Messrs. Arch, Beith, Brown, Dillwyn, Hunter,

Leeds Mercury, November 28.

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