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I have already referred I pointed out that the shortening of the 'statutory term' and an adequate amendment of the law regarding tenants' improvements were absolutely essential features of any satisfactory Land Bill. The new Land Act certainly does afford some additional security to the Irish tenant against the confiscation of his property, but it by no means goes the whole way needed in that matter; and it does not even touch the question of the statutory term. This latter defect will be found to have consequences which the Government itself in all probability will find unpleasant, for it is not in the nature of things that men should be satisfied, and should refrain from making their dissatisfaction known and felt, at being compelled to go on paying for the next five years rents which have been proved to be exorbitant, while others of their class are under no such obligation. But in other respects the Government last session went a rather curious way about carrying out their avowed policy of Killing Home Rule' by Kindness. Their management of the business of the session was the reverse of satisfactory from the point of view of Ireland. They allowed little or no time for the discussion of the Irish measures which they did introduce. The Irish Land Bill was almost the only one of those measures which was discussed at all, and to it only about one week was devoted, the fact being more or less widely known that, if that period of time were not sufficient, the measure would be dropped. This style of conducting business was distinctly unfair. It was most emphatically not proper to have put the Irish items of their programme so much in the rear that in the end Irish members were compelled to choose between accepting the Land Bill practically as it was introduced and losing it altogether. It is certain that it would never have been proposed to deal in a similar manner with an English Bill of similar importance. The plea of necessity cannot avail. The Government has practically control of the whole time of the House of Commons, and it is, therefore, incumbent upon it so to arrange matters as that the measures to which it is pledged shall not, per necessitatem, be thrown on the table of the House of Commons with an intimation that even a non-obstructive attempt to amend them will involve their withdrawal.

Another session is now at hand, and once more the question arises, What is the present Government going to do for Ireland in redemption of its pledge to legislate for Ireland as Ireland would legislate for itself, if it had the power, and what ought to be the policy of Irish representatives, and especially of Irish Nationalist representatives, towards such beneficial measures as it may decide to propose ? Let me take the latter point first.

The objects of Nationalist policy in Ireland may, broadly speaking, be divided into two categories. One of those categories consists of Home Rule, the other comprises all the minor reforms and advantages

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which Irishmen hope to obtain by legislative effort. To obtain Home Rule, the greatest and highest object of Nationalist policy, independent Nationalists at least are prepared to adopt any means within the constitution which is most likely to lead to success. ticular means available and most likely to yield successful results may be disagreeable to English parties or the reverse; if the means should be disagreeable, that is simply a matter that cannot be helped. Independent Nationalists, like most other persons, would prefer to use means generally agreeable, if they were the appropriate means to the end desired; but the interests at stake are too important to be sacrificed to considerations of personal convenience. With a view, therefore, to the advancement of the Home Rule cause, Independent Nationalists are ready to block the way’in Parliament in order to bring home to Englishmen the practical inconvenience to themselves of denying Home Rule to Ireland, if blocking the way' be necessary, and if, while Home Rule is impossible of immediate attainment, that policy would not interfere with the passage of other beneficial measures urgently needed for Ireland. When Mr. Gladstone retired and Lord Rosebery succeeded to the Premiership and the Leadership of the Liberal party, Home Rule, to the minds of Independent Nationalists, was practically dropped out of the programme of that party. It continued, indeed, as it continues still, a formal part of that programme; but action in reference to it was postponed to other measures which were declared more urgent for the time from the point of view of the Liberal party. Instead of appealing to the country on the question once more after the rejection of the Home Rule Bill of 1893 by the House of Lords, the Government of the day went on with English and Scotch legislation, with the result that, when at last an appeal to the country took place, the election turned almost entirely on other questions. At the same time the prospect of other remedial legislation for Ireland was perfectly blank.

Every one, for instance, knew that it was absolutely useless to expect that the House of Lords would agree to a good Irish Land Bill introduced by a Liberal Government. When this change in Liberal policy occurred, the Independent Nationalist view was that the Anglo-Irish alliance ought to have been dissolved and the policy of blocking the way' at Westminster resumed. As in the past, so in the future. A ministry is now in power which is frankly hostile to Home Rule. In its case, too, the policy of blocking the way' ought to be resorted to if.blocking the way' would not prevent the passing of minor material reforms for Ireland wbich are urgently needed, and if Home Rule be immediately obtainable by that means. What, then, is the actual situation ? It would be the merest folly for Irishmen to attempt to disguise from themselves the fact that Home Rule is some little distance off; and, therefore, if there were nothing more to be considered, the proper policy to be pursued in Parliament by Irish Nationalist representatives would be to endeavour, by every honourable means open to them, to allow nothing else to be done there till the demand of Ireland for National self-government was satisfied. But this is not the whole case at this moment. Home Rule is not immediately obtainable by any parliamentary methods, while at the same time the Government offers several minor benefits of a more or less important character. Ought Irish Nationalists at Westminster, under these circumstances, to block the way' and to expect all those minor benefits? To do so would, in my opinion, be utter childishness and folly. The Independent party, therefore, are prepared, as they showed themselves last session, to adopt a friendly attitude towards measures calculated to carry out the lesser reforms and advantages of which Ireland stands so much in need, provided only that they are so calculated, and not mere shams.

Next session the Government are expected to deal with at least two Irish questions of first-class importance. I refer to the financial grievance of Ireland and the question, or rather group of questions, raised in the report of what has been known as the Recess Committee. Let me say a few words on each.

On the first of these two subjects Ireland is absolutely unanimous. It has long been so, but the light recently thrown on the financial treatment of Ireland at the time of the union and since by the Report of the Financial Relations Committee and the Supplemental Reports of various members of that body, has had an immense effect in quickening popular interest in the matter and directing it to practical ends. The latest public movement in Ireland, indeed, is that arising out of the publication of the documents referred to, and amongst the warmest supporters of this movement are the special friends in Ireland of the present administration. After the findings of the Royal Commission, there cannot be any longer any dispute as to the main points. Opinions may still differ as to the exact amount by which Ireland is over-taxed; but that she is over-taxed—and that, too, by millions sterling a year-it will be in vain for Englishmen to deny after the pronouncement of Mr. Childers and all his colleagues but two—if, indeed, I ought to account one of these latter as a dissentient in the proper sense of that term. The verdict of the Commission, in fact, is practically a unanimous one, and its unanimity is so remarkable a circumstance that it necessarily challenges universal attention and renders it impossible for the Government to take up towards the Irish demand in this matter an attitude of indifference which, under other circumstances, any English Government might, perhaps, be only too readily inclined to adopt. English Unionists especially will find it difficult to answer the Irish demand by a denial. The reason is plain. It is that Ireland takes its stand largely, though got altogether, on the Act of Union which those politicians consider $0 sacred and so necessary from the point of view of Great Britain


that they will not, at present at least, hear of its abrogation or even serious modification. The financial provisions of the Act of Union have been systematically violated to the detriment of Ireland for ninety-six years, and Ireland simply asks that that violation shall

How can English Unionists, with any consistency or even common decency, reject such a request ? The fact that this injustice to Ireland has continued so long cannot surely be pleaded in bar of its removal even at this late hour of the day. That it has existed so long ought rather to be an additional reason for its speedy removal pow. But if the prolonged existence of the grievance be relied on at all, then the fact must also be remembered that Ireland has never ceased to protest against it, at all events for the last fifty years. It has never let judgment go by default, and now its view of the matter is endorsed not only by its own representatives on the Royal Commission of 1893, but by the representatives also of England and Scotland, and even, it may be said, of the Treasury. The only real question, as it seems to me, which is now left for debate is not whether the grievance complained of exists, but how it is to be removed. On this point opinions do differ. I have no hesitation in saying that I agree with those who maintain that Ireland will never be treated justly in financial matters till it is allowed to control its own taxation; but, inasmuch as that solution of the question cannot be looked for as an event of the immediate future, and as Ireland is in urgent want of immediate relief, recourse must be had for the moment to some other plan. Two other plans have been proposed one for the reduction by some means or other of the existing burdens of Ireland, the other for the return to Ireland annually for useful public purposes of the sum by which it has been found that it is now over-taxed. It is difficult for any one to pronounce dogmatically on such a point; but'as at present advised,' to use a familiar and convenient phrase, the latter plan appears to me to possess undeniable advantages over the former. It would certainly be easier to carry out, and with almost equal certainty it may be said that its effect would be more immediately and more directly felt. One word more. The settlement of this question, if not altogether a matter for Ireland alone, is at least one on which the predominant opinion of Ireland ought to be allowed special weight. Irish opinion on this subject is not so uninformed as, perhaps, some Englishmen may be inclined to suppose. In the various classes in that country men are to be found who entertain views on this special point which are both wise and enlightened, and to pass the opinions of such men over would be simply an act of despotism which would not readily be forgotten. The Government will be able to collect those views not only from the forthcoming discussions in Parliament, but from the discussions now going on, and which are certain to continue for some time to come in Ireland itself; and if they wish to give satisfaction, as well as to do justice, they cannot pay too much attention to such expressions of the mind of the nation which is chiefly affected. If the injustice complained of is to be rectified, it may as well, from the point of view of England, be rectified in the way desired by those whom the rectification will benefit when it is accomplished.

On the question, or group of questions, raised by the Report of the · Recess Committee,' the same unanimity of opinion does not appear to exist amongst Irish political parties. To judge from the chief organs of Mr. Dillon's section of the so-called Irish party, that gentleman and his followers do not at all favour, but, on the contrary, , look with distrust upon the proposals of the Recess Committee. Even amongst the supporters of the Independent Nationalist or Parnellite party in the country there seem to be a few—a very few, however, as was shown at the recent Convention of the party in Dublin—who fear those proposals on the ground that at least the improvements in agricultural methods with which some of those proposals are concerned would, in the end, lead to an increase of rents rather than anything else. But the great majority of Irishmen, I believe, thoroughly approve of the main recommendations of the committee, and do so on the grounds that they are just what an Irish Parliament would act for Ireland, if such an institution were in existence, that something like what the Recess Committee suggests is most urgently needed, and that the present is a peculiarly favourable time for obtaining it, if the Government really mean to act on their avowed policy of Killing Home Rule by Kindness.' As for the notion which seems to possess the minds of Mr. Dillon and his followers that the carrying out of this policy would kill Home Rule, I have on a previous occasion expressed my opinion at length, and I need only briefly recapitulate now what I then urged. Believing, as I do, that the national sentiment in Ireland is indestructible, I am convinced that the more the Irish people are educated, the more prosperous they become, and the greater security they enjoy that they will reap what they have sown, the stronger will their demand grow for national autonomy, without which no nation has ever become permanently contented or progressive. Nothing therefore, in my opinion, that the present or any other British Government may or can do to restore material prosperity to Ireland, will ever have the effect of killing the desire of the Irish people for self-government. If it were otherwise, it would be proved that the demand for Home Rule in the past was neither more nor less than a -ham, and Ireland would not deserve self-government. All this being so, and the necessity for legislative and administrative measures of an ameliorative tendency being urgent, would it not be the utmost folly to reject such measures in advance, especially if there be ground for hoping that they can be immediately obtained ? The question, in truth, will not bear discussion. As well might objection be raised

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