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commission (who reported that the complaint of high rates was general) by traders who, to the end of the chapter, will think themselves ill-used; that the clause which was so strongly relied upon was pointed out at these inquiries, and the same argument founded upon them then as now, but that each report has refused to accept any such argument, or to recognise any such right in Parliament; what has before been a presumption becomes an almost irresistible conclusion.

Conclusion 4. If Parliament ever would have been justified in exercising the power of revision which is now claimed, it is not justified in doing so now, because it has so acted as to lead reasonable people to believe that such a power would not be exercised, who, in that belief, have invested money in railways.

Lastly, let us consider whether, even if the clause justifies a present revision of rates unfettered by any prearranged terms, the justification extends to the revision which the Bill proposes.

Now I suppose that no one would openly contend that Parliament would be justified in revising rates except upon the terms of enabling a fair interest to be obtained upon capital invested in railways. Does the proposed revision conform to this limitation? It will probably be said that Parliament, to whose control the proposed revision is to be committed, may be safely trusted to see that rates are not so reduced as to prevent a fair return upon capital being obtained. But even Parliament cannot compel the clouds to fall; and how, with the best intentions, is this to be done? In the first place it is to be observed that the power is to be exercised in 1887, and that, consequently, the capital upon which the fair interest has to be paid is not represented by the nominal capital of the companies, upon which the rate of dividend calculated by Mr. Mundella at 4 per cent. was based. It must be a much lower rate than that, depending upon how much stock is held by original subscribers, and how much has been purchased at a premium. Calculated in this way, the average rate of interest which shareholders receive must be a very moderate one, and one which would not leave any margin for reduction of rates. But there is also an insurmountable practical difficulty in the way of effecting the intentions of Parliament in this matter, even if they are assumed to be all-beneficent. It is well put by the committee of 1872, in discussing the question of a revision of rates with reference to an absolute limitation of dividend. The report says (p. xxxv) that proposal

implies that the authority to which the revision is committed can judge what rates will enable the company to make the given dividend upon a given capital. This is a function which a government department ought not to undertake. It involves the necessity of determining what are the proper expenses of the company and what economies they can practise. These are matters which require the skill and experience of the managers themselves, and any attempt on the part of a government department to do it for them is impossible, unless the agents of the govern

ment were to undertake an amount of interference with the internal concerns of the companies which is neither desirable nor practicable.

It is so. Neither the best intentioned joint committee of Parliament, nor the Board of Trade, nor even the officials of the companies themselves, could tell on a priori considerations what effect a reduction of rates would have upon dividends. But, if that is so, to trust in the beneficent intentions of Parliament would be misplaced confidence, because Parliament would be unable, however willing it might be, to see that shareholders' proper interests are protected if revision takes place. The only way in which this could be done would be by guaranteeing a minimum dividend, which is not proposed.

Conclusion 5. Parliament, therefore, is not in any case justified in revising rates in the manner proposed by the Bill, because the only terms upon which revision would be justifiable would be such as would secure to shareholders a fair interest upon the money invested by them; whereas, the effect of revision of rates upon their profits cannot be predicted, and no guarantee of dividends is proposed by the Bill.

I wish to make some observations upon two matters in conclusion. It is said on behalf of the Bill that it is not intended to reduce rates, but to revise maximum rates. That is an utter fallacy. What would be the use of passing an Act to revise rates which nobody is paying? Besides, maximum rates are in very many cases charged for short distance traffic, which in some districts forms the bulk of the traffic, and therefore revision of maximum rates means, pro tanto, reduction of rates. And why, I would ask, is power given to traders' associations to set the Board of Trade in motion from time to time to obtain a revision of maximum rates, unless the result of that revision, which would entail upon them the expense of promoting the provisional order, would be to enable them to obtain a reduction of rates which they were actually paying?

It is also said by many people, who are inclined to think the Bill does an injustice to the railway companies, that they have brought it upon themselves, and deserve to be badly treated, because they have carried the foreigners' stuff at cheaper rates than home produce. That is a question upon which the railway companies have a great deal to say, only they have, as I think very injudiciously, never said it. But suppose that their action in that respect is all that it has been said it is. I want to point out, as emphatically as I can, that it has no more to do with the revision of rates proposal than Mr. Gladstone's Irish Bill has to do with the battle of Hastings. No revision of rates can possibly prevent railway companies carrying home and foreign produce at differential rates. That is a question wholly and entirely of undue preference, and it is absolutely untouched by the revision of rates clauses in the Bill.



WHETHER the Government of Ireland Bill be or be not a triumph of statesmanship, the statement in which it was introduced was perhaps Mr. Gladstone's masterpiece of persuasive and impressive oratory. The prosperity of a speech, even more than of a jest, lies in the ear of him that hears it rather than in the tongue of him that makes it; and the unexampled audience which listened to Mr. Gladstone on Thursday, the 9th of April, removes his speech beyond the range of comparative criticism even with his own previous efforts. The scene which then presented itself was unique in the Parliamentary history of England, and was without precedent or parallel in that of any other country. Such an audience was never gathered together in the House of Commons, filling up every inch of standing room, crowding the galleries with all that is most distinguished in the public life of the nation, disturbing the old Conservative furniture by the introduction of revolutionary chairs, blocking up the passages by a new method of Parliamentary obstruction. If the audience was unique, so were the actor, the theme, and the occasion. The foremost man of England stood forth to propose legislation which affronted the prepossessions of generations, almost of a century; which both the great parties in the State had up to that moment almost unanimously scouted; and which, in their view, threatened the disruption of the Empire, and undermined the greatness of England. The alarm and distrust of five-sixths of the audience were qualified only by the eager hopes of the representatives of Ireland, who saw in Mr. Gladstone the English Grattan of the closing years of the nineteenth century, prepared to rebuild the edifice of Irish Parliamentary independence which his predecessor erected more than a century ago, and of which he had seen, too, the demolition. The scene was dramatic in its true sense, but it was not theatrical. The elements of which it consisted were simple, consisting only of those which were essential to the action which was going on, and had nothing in them introduced for the sake of effect and display. Chatham's crutch and flannels and Burke's dagger were claptrap artifices to which there was nothing corresponding at this great historic moment. The fact that Mr. Gladstone could

during several hours half convince an audience of hostile disposition was his greatest oratoric triumph. The lucid exposition, in which the copious throng of words is marshalled in perfect order, and the moral elevation, which are the inspiring genius of his eloquence, were never more remarkably displayed. The age and unexampled services of the orator, the courage of conviction with which at a critical moment he was ready, in the interests of the public welfare, to break with his own past and with that of the nation, and to embark on an adventure strange and new, to try unknown seas instead of timidly hugging the shore, had the highest political heroism in it, though to some it might have seemed a heroism which only thin partitions divided from madness. The House was, however, under the wand of the enchanter, and an interval was necessary in order that judgment might resume its interrupted sway. Mr. Trevelyan described the Prime Minister's speech as for the moment benumbing the faculties of those who heard it. The corrective of the enchanter's wand is, however, in close attendance upon it, and consists in that humble instrument, the reporter's pencil. That is the great disenchanter and leveller. It equalises the tones and gestures of Mr. Gladstone and of Mr. Goschen, the articulation of Lord Hartington and of Mr. Chamberlain.

Look at that paper; if you print the speeches,

Pitt seems George Rose, and like Sir Richard preaches—
Nor tune, nor majesty, nor patriot fires:
Methinks the wit of Sheridan expires.

Lost in Dundas the Caledonian twang.

The appeal is from the debate as heard to the debate as printed and read, from the measure as expounded to the measure as printed, from the commentary and gloss to the text. This appeal has probably brought home to the mind of Mr. Gladstone himself and of his colleagues that without great modifications his Bill cannot be passed. His speech, in winding up the debate, was almost as much a reply to the speech with which he opened it as to the criticisms of Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Hartington, and Lord Randolph Churchill. In the interval between the introduction of the Home Rule Bill and that of the Land Purchase Bill, which are parts of one organic legislative whole, vital and essential provisions lost their vital and essential character, and arrangements denounced on Thursday as impossible were brought, after the interval of a week, within the range of practicability.

To Mr. Gladstone Mr. Pitt has apparently become the evil genius of Ireland, and it is only by undoing the spells which he has thrown over her that she can be liberated.

Without his rod reversed,
And backward mutterings of dissevering power,
We cannot free the lady that sits here,

In stony fetters, fixed and motionless.

It is not a rhetorical exaggeration to say that the Government of Ireland Bill repeals the Act of Union. It does so, not indeed in terms, but directly and by more than remote and possible consequence. The union with Ireland was essentially a legislative union. That was the one change which it brought about. All the other provisions of the Act of 1800 were subsidiary and instrumental to this purpose. The essence of the Bill, the vital clause, if phrases may be used which Mr. Gladstone has found dangerous, and has now taken the pledge against, runs as follows: That it be the third Article of the Union that the said United Kingdom be represented in one and the same Parliament, to be styled the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.' If Mr. Gladstone's Bill becomes law as it stands, the United Kingdom will cease to be represented in one and the same Parliament, and that Parliament will no longer be entitled to call itself the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It will become what it was from 1707 to 1800, simply the Parliament of Great Britain, exercising functions of Imperial legislation and control, it is true, but not the Parliament of the United Kingdom any more than it is the Parliament of the British Empire, not the Parliament of Ireland any more than of Canada.

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Nor is this the orly provision of the Act of Union which the Government of Ireland Bill repeals. The Articles of the Union are eight in number. The first two deal with the Crown and with the succession to it in both countries, and these, of course, are not interfered with. The third, which has been quoted, establishes the legislative union, and it is set aside. The fourth regulates the numbers of the lords spiritual and temporal and of the commoners who shall sit and vote on the part of Ireland in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of course it falls through with the third. The fifth constitutes the two Churches of England and Ireland a united Church, and declares that the continuance and preservation of the said United Church as the Established Church of England and Ireland shall be taken and deemed to be an essential and fundamental part of the Union.' That article has, of course, been done away with. The sixth puts British and Irish subjects on the same footing as regards trade, navigation, and treaties with foreign powers. This article is not affected by the Bill as it stands. On second thoughts Mr. Gladstone has allowed it to remain, having abandoned, in deference to the objections of Mr. Chamberlain and others, his original intention of placing customs' duties within the province of the Irish Legislative Body; though, of course, in withdrawing from the representatives of Ireland that control of trade, navigation, and treaties, which they possessed as members of the United Parliament, the conditions of the Union are modified in this particular too. The seventh article regulates the debt of the two countries,

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