Ulster's Stand For Union eBook

Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about Ulster's Stand For Union.
granted to the self-governing Dominions.  Closely connected with the federal idea was the question of finance.  There was lively speculation as to what measure of control over taxation the Bill would confer on the Irish Parliament, and especially whether it would be given the power to impose duties of Customs and Excise.  Home Rulers themselves were sharply divided on the question.  At a conference held at the London School of Economics on the 10th of January, 1912, Professor T.M.  Kettle, Mr. Erskine Childers, and Mr. Thomas Lough, M.P., declared themselves in favour of Irish fiscal autonomy, while Lord Macdonnell opposed the idea as irreconcilable with the fiscal policy of Great Britain.[22] The latter opinion was very forcibly maintained a few weeks later by a member of the Government with some reputation as an economist.  Speaking to a branch of the United Irish League in London, Mr. J.M.  Robertson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, summarily rejected fiscal autonomy for Ireland, which, he said, “really meant a claim for separation.”  “To give fiscal autonomy,” he added, “would mean disintegration of the United Kingdom.  Fiscal autonomy for Ireland put an end altogether to all talk of Federal Home Rule, and he could see no hope for a Home Rule Bill if it included fiscal autonomy."[23]

Although the Secretary to the Board of Trade was probably not in the confidence of the Cabinet, many people took Mr. Robertson’s speech as an indication of the limits of financial control that the Bill would give to Ireland.  On the same day that it was delivered the Dublin Correspondent of The Times reported that the demand of the Nationalists for control of Customs and Excise was rapidly growing, and that any Bill which withheld it, even if it could scrape through a National Convention, “would never survive the two succeeding years of agitation and criticism”; and he agreed with Mr. Robertson that if, on the other hand, fiscal autonomy should be conceded, it would destroy all prospect of a settlement on federal lines, and would “establish virtual separation between Ireland and Great Britain.”  He predicted that “Ulster, of course, would resist to the bitter end."[24]

Ulster, in point of fact, took but a secondary interest in the question.  Her people were indeed opposed to anything that would enlarge the separation from England, or emphasise it, and, as they realised, like the Secretary to the Board of Trade, that fiscal autonomy would have this effect, they opposed fiscal autonomy; but they cared little about the thing in itself one way or the other.  Nor did they greatly concern themselves whether Home Rule proceeded on federal lines or any other lines; nor whether some apt analogy could or could not be found between Ireland and the Dominions of the Crown thousands of miles oversea.  Having made up their minds that no Dublin Parliament should exercise jurisdiction over themselves, they did not worry themselves much about the powers with which

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Ulster's Stand For Union from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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