“I will never be a party,” said Mr. Gladstone at one time, “to allowing the Irish members to manage their own affairs in Dublin, and at the same time to come over here and manage British affairs. Such an arrangement would not be a Bill to grant self-government to Ireland, but one to remove self-government from England; it would create a subordinate Parliament indeed, but it would be the one at Westminster, and not that in Dublin."
The problem seems insoluble because, under a hybrid (or Gladstonian) system of Home Rule, it is insoluble. If a clear line is taken, there is no difficulty under this head. If full “responsible” or colonial government is granted, clearly representation in the Imperial Parliament (I do not now speak of a federal assembly) is an anomaly. On the other hand, if nothing more is in question than the extension of local government generally known as Devolution, then adequate representation in the Imperial Parliament is a matter of course. If a federal government is established, each member of the Federation must needs be represented in the federal Parliament; but in that case there must be no attempt to entrust to the same assembly both the duties of the federal Parliament and those of a Legislature for one of the federating states. It was this attempt to treat the Imperial Parliament as the local or state Legislature for Great Britain, and also as the federal Parliament for Great Britain and Ireland, which was fatal to Mr. Gladstone’s proposals.
These considerations bring us face to face with Federalism, or, to use the phrase which to so many perplexed Liberals has seemed to point the way to safety, “Home Rule all round.” The expression covers a wide field, and before any opinion can be pronounced upon the proposal, it is essential to know what its advocates in fact desire.
To some the phrase means nothing less than Gladstonian Home Rule “all round,” in other words that we should meet the objections to dissolving the legislative and executive Union with Ireland by dissolving also the older Union with Scotland, and even (for some do not shrink from the reductio ad absurdum) the yet older unity of England and Wales. Consider what this means. For more than two hundred years the English and Scottish races have been united by a constitutional bond strengthened by mutual respect and good feeling, and Scotsmen, like Englishmen, have taken their part in the government of these islands. If in the division of labour and of honours there has been a balance of advantage, it has not been against the virile Scottish race, from which have sprung so many of our great soldiers and administrators, so many leaders of the nation. And such a combination is to be broken up, and Scotland to become a colony, because Ireland, unwilling to bear her share in the duties of government, desires to be reduced to that status! To such a proposal Mr. Gladstone’s phrase about Home Rule applies in all its force:—