Again, it is said that an unjust law passed by the Irish Parliament might be repealed by the Imperial Parliament. Doubtless the technical right would exist, as in the case of the Colonies; but no one dreams that, with “responsible” government existing in Ireland and Irish representatives at Westminster, it would in practice be used. The Imperial Government has never been known to interfere with the legislation of a self-governing colony except where Imperial interests are concerned, or where a fraud on the colony can be established; and the same rule would obtain in the case of Ireland.
Lastly, it is said that in the last resort there is the British Army. But if the civil power in Ireland does not call in the military force, how can the latter be used to enforce the law? Are the forces to be controlled from England, and what is this but a counter revolution? It is hardly worth while to liberate Ireland from the peaceful rule of the Imperial Government in order to govern her by military force.
But in fact the so-called “safeguards” would not last. Professor Dicey and Professor Morgan, writing from opposite sides of the controversy, agree in holding that no colony would tolerate them for a moment; and it is incredible that Ireland, with a Parliament of her own, would submit to them for more than a few years. Suppose the majority of the Irish Legislature to grow weary of the “safeguards,” and to demand their repeal. The Imperial ministry might refuse, but the reply of the Irish ministry (if in command of a majority in the Irish House of Commons) would be to resign and to make the government of Ireland impossible except by force. And if Ireland were still represented in the Imperial Parliament, the new “sorrows of Ireland” would find eloquent and insistent expression there. What, then, would England do? What could she do, except, after a futile struggle, to give way? The truth is, that if you part with the executive power, all checks and “safeguards” are futile. Mr. Redmond eagerly “accepts every one of them,” and will accept others if desired; for he knows that they must prove ineffective. “If,” said Lord Derby in 1887, “Ireland and England are not to be one, Ireland must be treated like Canada or Australia. All between is delusion or fraud.”
IRISH REPRESENTATION AT WESTMINSTER.
The hybrid form of government proposed in the Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893 gave rise to a further difficulty, and one which went far towards wrecking them both. Should Ireland under Home Rule be represented at Westminster by its members and representative peers? Under a system of Gladstonian Home Rule there appear to be only three possible answers to this question. The Irish representatives may be excluded altogether, they may be retained altogether, or they may be retained in diminished numbers and with some limitation on their voting powers.