Obrázky na stránke


miles of railway per annum; and no one will, I think, be found to suggest that this is doing too much when so vast a work remains to be done. In one year it might be prudent to do far more than in another, for many obvious reasons: as the state of credit, the cost of material, &c. The Government should, I think, be free. There are always plenty of critics who will attack it if it goes too far or holds back unduly. It is, as I have said before, a common boast of English writers that India is greatly assisted by our rule, that nothing could be so disastrous to her as a return to her old system of native government. I believe this to be true, great as have been cur offences or mistakes at various times, through the avarice or ignorance of our officers; and nothing surely could so effectually prove our power and our disposition to assist these masses of helpless people as the establishment throughout India of a complete system of railways so constructed that we could carry both people and produce at moderate rates. We should thus increase their means of living, and possibly add something to the pleasure of lives too often marked by the monotony of a ceaseless and ill-rewarded toil.

The Americans make from 8,000 to 10,000 miles every year. We cannot emulate their activity. As much of the required capital must at present come from England, caution will, of course, be required lest we overload the market with this kind of security. India is not England, and many investors, even in these days, shrink from a foreign security. But, unless the current opinion as to the resources of English capital is grossly mistaken, we can do much more than we have ever yet done without difficulty, and without risk of any injury to our credit. We should not borrow to win warlike fame or increase our dominions, but in order to assist the people of India and of England, by enabling the one to sell what the other needs to buy, but which could never come to market without our aid. It is a noble use of capital. It may be said to bless the borrower and the lender. If England lends the money, she will gain not only by using her money safely, but by securing her supply of food ; and if India should supply any of this capital, she will receive back not only a direct return, but also an indirect return in the great improvement in the condition of her people.

The more the matter is considered, the more important will the present juncture appear. We have a grand opportunity of assisting ourselves and our Indian subjects at the same time. Rarely, as it seems to me, does a more serious occasion arise in the history of the relations of an empire and its dependencies.

The usual course of things is that a dependency becomes independent, and the people of the country manage their own affairs, subject only to a mild superintendence on the part of the Colonial

26 It appaers, as said above, from Col. Stanton's Report, p. 8, that we opened 373 miles of single railway in 1882, besides doubling 61 miles of the East Indian Railway,


Office. They negotiate loans, and they make great works without assistance, except from capitalists who prefer a colonial rate of interest. They are really self-contained and self-governed communities. The day seems to be far distant when India can arrive at this position; but this fact makes it imperative on England to assist her by all means at her disposal, by removing obstacles of every kind from her industry, and by bringing capital to bear on the development of her resources.

The history of the Orissa famine will ever stand out as example of what is the result of neglect of its obvious duties by Government in India. In such a country Government has to do more than merely administer and superintend. It has to take care of those who are themselves helpless, to originate remedies for failure of crops, and the like, which are only possible to those who have at their command the resources of modern science; in a word, to act more as the head of a great family than as a Government in the English sense of the word. All India is not like Orissa, but throughout India there is a condition of things in some respects similar; and the Parliament of England has no duty more imperative, however often neglected, than that of securing to our Indian fellow-subjects all possible aids in the use of their great natural resources.



Since writing this article I have received from Mr. Cross the authorised report of his Budget speech. I extract some passages which strongly confirm my argument. Speaking of Indian railways, he says:

The total capital expenditure is nominally one hundred and forty-three millions sterling The receipts are

£15,231,261 The expenses are

7,580,549 The net profits are

£7,650,712; or, 5:37 per cent. on the total capital employed. If we add the accumulated payments of guaranteed interest, not covered by the receipts, to the capital account of the railways, raising that capital to one hundred and sixty-seven crores of rupees, the dividend now earned is about 4:6 per cent.

There are still immense tracts of country, ten, twenty, thirty, sixty, and in one case one hundred and sixty thousand square miles in extent, containing nearly twenty millions of people, without a single railway through them—and this, too, some of the most fertile land of India, capable of great agricultural development. The Central Provinces and the neighbouring parts of Bengal might, I am assured, produce food for twenty millions more people than they contain. At present, at Bilaspur, wheat is about seven shillings the quarter, while salt is double the Bombay price. . . . Can any one doubt that the placing of a main railway in the Central Provinces—a country the size of France, and one, too, in which there is a steady and regular rainfall of forty to sixty inches a year, so that real famine has never been known—can be otherwise than an immense advantage, not merely to the district itself, but to those adjacent parts of India which are subject to scarcity?_W.F.


MR. BRIGHT, in a recent speech at Keighley, professed that he did not know, and that Mr. Fawcett had not explained, what he meant when he talked of. Proportional Representation. Had Mr. Bright cared to ask Mr. Fawcett, he would doubtless have been told that proportional representation was not synonymous with Mr. Hare's plan, with which Mr. Bright proceeded to identify it, any more than an object to be attained is synonymous with one particular means of attaining it. A river may be crossed by a ford, but if my object is to cross the river, I am not compelled to use the ford unless there is no bridge or boat or other means of passage available.

If then proportional representation is an end and not a means of attaining an end, the present pause before the introduction of a special scheme of Reform seems a very fitting time for discussing its merits as an end, the degree of approximation to which that end has hitherto been attained, and what direction reform should take (apart from particular machinery) in order to secure a better approximation.

Mr. Cowen, in his fresh and vigorous speech at Newcastle, has seized this aspect of the question of reform, and well expressed it in the following words:

What is it we want? Is it not government of the people by the people for the people ? Parliament should mirror the spirit, wisdom, and interest not of a section only, but of the entire nation. The elected should be an epitome of the electors. The majority must govern, but the minority should be heard. That is scarcely the case now, and every year it gets less so. '

This then is real representation-that Parliament should be an epitome of the nation in all its variety. And does not this imply, when expressed in more formal, though less picturesque, language, that every group of electors who have common interests and common political sympathies and sentiments, should be represented in Parliament in due proportion to its numerical strength in the country?

This is what is intended by the phrase "Proportional Representation. Strictly speaking, the word proportional is superfluous, for representation, so far as it is real and fair, must be proportional, and if it deviates very widely from proportionality, it ceases to be in any true sense representation at all. But this word having been extended, or rather appropriated, to the existing system, which I shall take the liberty of distinguishing in this paper as majority representation, and the phrase minority representation having been misunderstood or misrepresented, by those who are the slaves of phrases and catchwords, as implying that the minority should rule and not merely that it should be heard, the phrase ' proportional representation may be accepted as expressing the ideal representation which has been above described.

• What is it we want?' This is the question on which it is allimportant that electoral reformers should come to clear views before the end is lost sight of, as it is only too likely to be, in wrangling over the details of a particular scheme. There can be no doubt that reformers generally are agreed in this, that the time has come when the existing inequalities in the qualification for the franchise must be abolished, and a practically uniform qualification, whether in county, borough, or other electoral division, adopted. But beyond this it is diffcult to find in the utterances of our practical politicians any distinct expression of what it is we want.

Mr. Bright appears to want nothing further. In words which have a real Tory ring, and would have brought down thunders of applause from a Tory audience--as they actually did from his Liberal audience at Keighley—he has declared : 'I am for the old lines of the Constitution. I am for simplicity in all these matters. But must not every Liberal, and many a Conservative too, who fairly faces the question without prejudice, at least sympathise with the aspiration of Mr. Cowen, that the elected should be an epitome of the electors;' and, finding that this is scarcely the case now,' and that no mere equalisation of the franchise is likely to make it so, will he not be prompted to inquire further whether there may not be some sufficiently simple and practicable method of approximating to this desirable ideal ?

The following facts and inferences, the result of a study of the question by an independent inquirer, not a professed politician, may perhaps be of some aid in the solution of the problem.

The existing system of representation, which we have agreed to term majority representation, regards each member of the House of Commons as representative of some aggregate of electors, the unity of that aggregate being determined by the rough and ready process of regarding the choice of the majority of the electors as the choice of the whole, whether that majority be a majority of one or of thousands. Such a system may be historical, may be on the old lines of the Constitution though surely those lines have been much rectified, and many of them effaced, by the Reform Bills both of 1832 and 1867—but assuredly it is not national cr popular. Thus Birmingham

is regarded as an electoral unit by ignoring the existence of some fifteen thousand Conservative electors within its limits, and Middlesex by equally ignoring the existence of some nine thousand Liberals. It may be allowed to a member of this latter group to give expression to the feeling that it is no compensation to him for being unrepresented in Middlesex, that Mr. Bright and Mr. Chamberlain represent the Liberals of Birmingham, and that the Conservatives in that city are equally unrepresented with himself. The two grievances do not neutralise, rather they intensify, one another.

No representation can be regarded as truly national which starts from the constituency as a whole, and not from the individual elector, as the unit of the representative system. The variety in the nation does not consist in the variety of constituencies themselves homogeneous, but must, if it is to be fairly and justly represented, take account of the variety within the constituencies themselves. Majority representation expressly ignores this, while it is of the very essence of proportional representation to count the individual elector as the unit.

These principles may now be illustrated and enforced by instances drawn from the statistics of the elections of 1868, 1874, and 1880, the three general elections which have been held under the conditions of the Reform Act of 1867.

In the following short table are placed side by side the results for the whole United Kingdom of an exact proportional representation, and those actually yielded by majority representation, assuming the number of votes as those given in the Times of the 23rd of April, 1880. The votes are reckoned by thousands, and the Home Rule votes are reckoned as Liberal :

[graphic][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]

From this it appears that in 1874, while the Liberals of the United Kingdom in the aggregate had a majority of 214,000 votes, the Conservatives had a majority of 60 in the members elected, whereas on the principles of proportional representation the Liberals ought to have had a majority of 52. The direct consequences of

It would doubtless have been more satisfactory to have based the comparison on the number of electors voting, rather than on the number of votes ; but it would be difficult to estimate the former with accuracy, and it is not probable that the proportions would have been materially altered.


« PredošláPokračovať »