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highly-taxed Ireland was left to drift along upon the stream of State neglect.
The discontent engendered in Ireland by the Gladstonian budget and the policy it inaugurated were main factors in bringing about the movements which resulted in the Home Rule agitation. The country was depleted of capital; and the rigid application of the doctrines of the Manchester School, which forbade State assistance or encouragement for agricultural or industrial purposes, and introduced into the relation of landlord and tenant the practice of the Mart and Stock Exchange, quickly brought Ireland into a condition of agrarian and political disturbance. This policy negatived the principles which underlie the Act of Union. The policy which, under modern conditions, carries out the principles of the Act of Union is the Unionist constructive policy, begun during the Chief Secretaryship of Mr A. J. Balfour. In the course of twenty years it has brought increasing prosperity to Ireland, and equipped her more and more to bear her reasonable share of Imperial expenditure.
The grievance of Ireland is not constitutional; it is economic. Both her constitutional and her equitable rights are exceptionally strong. Her representatives have only to agree in presenting her case, and she can and does, through her constitutional position, secure attention to her financial claims; but, if she forfeits her constitutional right by grasping at Home Rule, she forfeits also her financial rights under the Act of Union. Her representatives combined in 1898 and secured the Agricultural Grant of 728,000l. a year under the Irish Local Government Act. They combined on the Recess Committee and gained 264,000l. a year for the Department of Agriculture and Industries. They combined again in the Land Conference and secured the financing of the Wyndham Act. It is decidedly not now to the financial interest of Ireland to break up the Union.
The Home Rule problem of 1912 differs essentially in its financial aspects from the Home Rule problems of 1886 and 1893. The Ireland of to-day also differs widely from the Ireland of 1886. Prosperity has replaced poverty. The face of the country is changed. Ireland is comfortable, buoyant, and on its way to wealth. The
homesteads of well-to-do peasant proprietors and newlybuilt cottages, with their acre allotments, have replaced the cabins and the sheelings of the tenant and the labourer. The country towns are no longer a group of dirty and insanitary dwellings. They have their waterworks, their drainage system, their recreation halls and public libraries. Squire and farmer, parson and priest combine and co-operate in agricultural organisations, in associations unpoisoned, until a short time ago, by the virus of intruded political antipathies. There is an industrial, artistic and literary revival. Bank and Post Office deposits have increased by millions, and still increase; and commerce shows by the annual returns a marvellous and continuous advance.
AMOUNT OF DEPOSITS AND CASH BALANCES IN IRELAND ON JUNE 30, 1893, AND JUNE 30, 1909, 1910, 1911. [1911, Cd 5934.]
THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT SHOWS THE TOTAL ESTIMATED VALUES OF IRISH IMPORTS AND EXPORTS FOR THE SEVEN YEARS 1904-1910. [1911, Cd 5965.]
At such a stage Great Britain is being advised to 'cut her loss,' because, though Irishmen are contributing more now than they ever did before to the Common Exchequer, Home Rule ministers, who probably never looked into the Act of Union, exclaim for party purposes, Irish old age pensions are dreadfully expensive. More goes back to Ireland from the Exchequer than she pays into it. Cut
your loss.' This is the new diplomacy. England did not win her Dominions, and will never keep them, by calculating balance sheets. The economics of Empire transcend the arithmetic of the counting-house.
The following table gives the revenue and expenditure of Ireland as they stood at the close of the decennial period 1880-90, in 1893-4, and in 1910-11 (on the average of the two years).
The contrast of these figures displays the increasing difficulty of the problems of Home Rule.
The scheme of the Home Rule Bill of 1886 violated the fundamental principle that there shall be no taxation without representation. An Imperial contribution was to be secured from Ireland, but the Irish members were not to be retained at Westminster. The revenue of Ireland as collected,' was then estimated at 8,350,0007. Ireland was to contribute, for thirty years, one-fifteenth of the expenditure on the National Debt, the Army and Navy, and the Civil List, as it stood in 1886, besides a contribution to the Sinking Fund, and a large part of the cost of the Constabulary. The contribution to the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, reckoned on this basis, would have been as follows:
The customs and excise collected in Ireland were to be carried to a separate account and applied in discharge of the annual Irish contribution for Imperial charges
and Sinking Fund. Any balance was to be paid to the Irish Government, and any deficiency was to be made good out of the revenues of the Irish Government. A Receiver-General was to be appointed, into whose hands the whole revenue of Ireland should be paid; and he was in the first instance to satisfy all the Imperial charges before paying anything to the Irish Exchequer. The total estimated revenue left to the Irish Government in 1886 to carry on the administration of the country would have been 2,170,000l. Irish Old Age pensions alone now cost 2,803,000l.; National Education costs 1,659,000l. ; the estimate for the Department of Agriculture in the coming year is 416,000l. The last two items alone would absorb practically the whole revenue left for Irish purposes by the Home Rule Bill of 1886. Ireland would have been bankrupt in a month; and the effect on English credit would have been disastrous. Although Ireland was to contribute 4,600,000l. to the British Exchequer, Home Rule would have paid neither Great Britain nor Ireland in 1886.
Even if Ireland had been left solvent by the Bill, every element of friction was introduced into the proposed financial arrangements; and, as some similar machinery for enforcing the fiscal control of Great Britain must, unless Ireland is left absolutely independent in money matters, be provided in any future Home Rule measure, a short account of the proposed system may be useful. The Receiver-General was provided with an Imperial Court of Exchequer, which was to sit in Dublin and enforce the rights of Imperial taxation. The Exchequer Judges were to be appointed on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor of England. There was a remarkable provision in the Act that, if the sheriff omitted to execute a decree of the Exchequer Court, the judges could appoint some other person to take steps to enforce the judgment. No appeal was to lie to any Irish Court from the Exchequer; appeals were to lie directly to the British House of Lords. Thus history was thrown back one hundred years; and there reappeared the very system of English judicial authority over Ireland in an English Court and English House of Lords which brought the English and Irish parliaments and the English and Irish Courts of Law into violent conflict in the eighteenth
century. It is evident from the mere statement of these provisions that an Irish parliament under such conditions would strive to get rid of all these restrictions. No English executive, representing a 'foreign dominion' and acting through an 'alien court,' could hope to control the resistance, active or passive, of the Irish people and their legislature and executive. The financial clauses contained every element for inducing either total separation or civil war. This is one of the practically insoluble difficulties of any half-measure such as Home Rule. The financial system of the Union under which Ireland has her equal place as a sister-nation is to be broken up under the pretence of gratifying a demand for nationhood,' and yet the system that replaces the Union must insult every principle of nationhood' and humiliate the people that it is proposed to placate.
The Home Rule Bill of 1893, unlike that of 1886, proposed to retain Irish representatives at Westminster; and, if any reliance can be placed upon political rumour, the Bill of 1912 will follow this precedent. The retention of the Irish members in 1893 was intended to meet the fundamental objection made to the Bill of 1886, that under it Imperial taxation was imposed on Ireland while Ireland was to be unrepresented in the Imperial Parliament. Mr Gladstone explained his change of attitude by contending that, 'as it was inexpedient to have separate systems of trade-laws and separate Customs, Ireland should have something to say to British Budgets, as they would have more or less of influence on Irish pecuniary balances.' Under this system, assuming that the difficulty which Mr Gladstone said 'passed the wit of man to solve' is surmounted, and that some method is discovered by which a Government can exist with an Irish delegation deliberating and voting at Westminster, either in and out,' on Imperial matters only or on all matters, while English and Scottish members have no voice in Irish affairs, yet it is clear that the Irish members must in any event be entitled to legislate in all cases where Ireland may be directly or indirectly concerned. If the House of Commons at Westminster is to retain any power to impose taxation upon Ireland, or if Irish revenue is affected by British commercial policy, or if any portion of the Irish revenue is to be hypothecated for