Imports, Exports, Total, Mill. L. Mill. L. Mill. L.
1904 54 49 103 1905 55 51 106 1906 57 56 113 1907 61 59 120 1908 59 57 116 1909 63 61 124 1910 65 65 130 ]
[Footnote 18: “A History of the Commercial Relations between Great Britain and Ireland,” by Alice E. Murray, D.Sc.]
[Footnote 19: Sept. 26, 1871.]
THE CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION
BY GEORGE CAVE, K.C., M.P.
Few things are more remarkable in the Parliamentary history of the Home Rule movement than the complete absence from the counsels of the English advocates of Home Rule of any definite and settled policy as to the form of self-government to be offered to Ireland, and their consequent oscillation between proposals radically differing from one another. Since the “new departure” initiated by Davitt and Devoy in 1878, it has been the deliberate practice of Irish Nationalists to abstain from defining the Nationalist demand and to ask in general terms for “self-government,” doubtless with the object of attracting the support of all who favour any change which could be described by that very elastic term. Such a policy has its advantages. But confusion of thought, however favourable to popular agitation, is a disadvantage when the moment for legislation arrives; and uncertainty as to the aim goes far to explain the vacillation in Home Rule policy.
Mr. Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill of 1886 would have given to Ireland the substance of “responsible” or colonial self-government, subject only to certain reservations and restrictions, the value of which will be considered later in this chapter, and would have excluded the Irish members and representative peers from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. By the Bill of 1893 the reservations and restrictions were increased, and representatives of Ireland were to be permitted to sit at Westminster—by the Bill as introduced for some purposes, and by the Bill as passed by the House of Commons for all purposes.
After the defeat of this second Bill, a “cold fit” appears to have seized the Liberal Party. Lord Rosebery, in 1894, declared that before Home Rule could be carried England, as the predominant partner, must be convinced. Sir Edward Grey in 1905 declared that his party on its return to power would “go on with Sir Anthony MacDonnell’s policy,” which he rightly described as a policy of large administrative reforms; and Mr. Asquith “associated himself entirely and unreservedly with every word” of Sir Edward Grey’s speech. Accordingly the Irish Council Bill proposed by Mr. Asquith’s Government in 1907 was purely a measure of devolution, certain administrative functions only being put under the control of an Irish Council, subject to the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, and the whole legislative power remaining in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This proposal, having been condemned by a National Convention at Dublin, was incontinently withdrawn.