« PreviousContinue »
attack the Irish judges, have refused to allow the Criminal Appeal Act to be applied to Ireland, showing how real is their confidence, notwithstanding all their platform protestations, in the rectitude and fairness of the Irish Bench. But the right of appeal cannot and ought not to be long denied to Irish prisoners; and the number of judges cannot be diminished.
The reckless nature of the assertions made about Irish establishments and possible economies is shown by the often reiterated statement that the Irish judiciary costs vastly more than the Scottish. As a fact, the Scottish Bench costs more than the Irish. All judicial salaries, both those of the High Court and the County Courts, are charged on the Consolidated Fund. The Scottish judicial salaries amounted last year to 104,5001. ; the Irish to 102,0001.* Assume, however, that all the judges are abolished, and that there is to be no more law or justice under Home Rule; the 100,0001. thus set free would be a mere bagatelle in modern State expenditure. The additional sum of 461,0001. for old age pensions (already referred to) costs four times as much as the whole judicial staff of Ireland. The sum of 800,0001. to be paid for National Insurance reduces their combined salaries to insignificance. If Mr. Redmond's party intended really to finance Home Rule on an economic basis, they should have prevented the Insurance Bill from being extended to Ireland, and prevented also the removal of the bar of pauperism from the old age pensioner.
The Corporation of Dublin, which is elected on the existing parliamentary franchise, may be taken as anticipating the future Home Rule Assembly both in personnel and in methods of administration. The prospect of economies being effected by pruning down the Irish Civil Service may be judged by the following facts. A recent report of one of the Corporation Committees states that the Corporation wages bill has increased from 89,4911. in the year 1900 to 114,2451. in the year 1910, and the salaries from 38,9791. in 1900 to 56,0001. in 1910, making an increase in wages and salaries of more than 42,0001. per annum, equal to an increased rate of over 10d. in the pound in ten years. And it is the same
1911 ; H.C. 220. See Finance Accounts of the United Kingdom, 1911.
elsewhere. The expense of local administration by Irish municipalities and county councils has risen annually by over 100,0001. In 1905 local taxation amounted to 4,013,0001. ; in 1909 it amounted to 4,419,0001.
The larger items of Irish State expenditure to-day are nearly all of modern growth. Such are Old Age Pensions (2,800,0001.), Education (1,659,0001.), contribution to Local Taxation account (1,442,0001.), Land Commission (455,0001.), Agricultural and Industrial Department (416,0001.), and Universities and Colleges (168,0001.). If we add 800,0001. for National Insurance, the total exceeds 7,700,0001. None of these services will permit of reduction. On the contrary, they will require additional outlay. Mr Redmond told the members of the City Liberal Club recently that * Ireland's was the most costly government in the world, because it was carried on against the will of the people of Ireland ;' but every one of these estimates (with theexception of that for Insurance) has been in recent years added to the government outlay in Ireland, not against the will of the Irish people, but to meet their urgent demand and requirements. It is true that the County Councils, the Chambers of Commerce and the Roman Catholic bishops protested against the Insurance Bill; but the Irish members, led by Mr Devlin, supported it. The position is thus an impossible one. Even if a quarter of a million per annum could be saved by reductions, Ireland would be practically no nearer financial salvation. Great Britain, unless she is prepared to permit the disgrace and danger of a bankrupt dependency being created beside her, must find from 4,000,0001. to 5,000,0001. per annum for Ireland, and must hand over its control to an Irish parliament. This is a height of altruism hitherto unattained in politics or business.
Even if Ireland gets this enormous grant from England and Scotland through the vicarious generosity of the Welsh Chancellor of the Exchequer, her position will still be that of a mendicant. Taxed to the utmost to sustain her services, she will have no assets to pledge for public loans; she must still hang on British credit and sponge upon the Saxon to back her bills. The 100,000,0001. required to finance the uncompleted land sales cannot be raised on Irish credit. British Consols are at 77 ; where will Irish Consols stand? How without
the command of British credit will Irish prospects of social betterment prosper under Home Rule? Sanitation, the housing of the working classes, the clearance of the city slums, the vast operations of social amelioration, which are now conducted by Irish municipalities and -county and rural authorities — how are they to be financed? All of them are now made possible through loans on generous terms made from the Imperial Exchequer. At what rate of interest could Ireland float her Land Stock or her Local Loan Stock ? Over 9,000,0001. have within a short period been already advanced under the Public Health Acts alone to Irish authorities; over 7,800,0001. freely granted or advanced to house the agricultural labourers of Ireland ; and over 1,250,0001. lent for schemes for housing of the poor in cities and in towns. Sewage schemes, waterworks, drainage schemes, glebe and school erection depend upon loans backed by the Imperial credit. How will Irish farmers stand when they seek under Home Rule for land improvement loans? Nearly 6,000,0001. of Imperial money have been advanced to them for the improvement of their holdings on most advantageous terms.* Millions of these loans are outstanding still; the British Treasury is the creditor; the Imperial executive controls and commands repayment.
Is Ireland to lose this credit, and Britain to abandon this control, because the Home Rule eighty hold for the moment the balance of power in the party game in the House of Commons? What will the security for these British millions be when an Irish executive is con. trolled by an Irish parliament elected by Irish tenant farmers and Irish urban ratepayers—the debtors to the British Treasury? Nothing but an Irish I.O.U. A British loan to an Asiatic or South American State is safer far, for in such a case there is no compunction in enforcing payment, if need be, by war and occupation; but to go to war with Ireland in order to enforce repayment from a peasantry trained by the methods of the Land League agitators, who are to be turned by Home Rule into ministers and statesmen, will be a task no less unprofitable in result than impossible in accomplishment. You cannot take out a summons against a people or call out the posse comitatus of a community which is itself the defendant in the execution.
* Reports of the Local Government Board for Ireland, 1911. Report of the Commissioner for Public Works, 1910.
It may be replied that England can stop her subvention to Ireland, and that this will be her security; but a national strike in Ireland against repayment of land purchase and local loan advances already made would be more than a set-off, and the Imperial credit of England would be shaken to its foundation. The credit of England, Ireland and Scotland has been hitherto interdependent. They have had a common purse since the Union, and more than a century of mutual commitments. No colony and no dependency ever stood in such a relation to the United Kingdom as that in which each member of the United Kingdom stands to the other. The failure of Ireland to meet her obligations voluntarily or involuntarily will involve loss to every individual Englishman or Scotsman who holds an investment in any of the three kingdoms. If England goes to war when Ireland has Home Rule, the Irish executive may, without arming a man, bring England to humiliation by stopping the payment of the land annuities, and shaking down the credit of Guaranteed Land Stock, and with it that of all other Government securities. War is carried on by credit. Home Rule Ireland has only to threaten to stop payment, and British credit falls and a blow is dealt vaster in its effects than a great disaster on the field of battle. Once the Imperial Parliament gives up the executive control of Ireland and of Irish finance, it betrays not only Irish Unionists but the whole people of Great Britain.
Under the Union, Ireland, Scotland and England form one domain. While the Union lasts no single kingdom and no portion of any of the three kingdoms is, or can be said to be, 'run at a loss.' Such an expression is only true if separation is pre-supposed. The individuals in each of the three kingdoms contribute to the common Exchequer in equal measure by common taxes. Each kingdom is entitled to have its wants supplied, not because it is England or Scotland or Ireland, but because they are one united land, and their needs, whether peculiar or common, must be met from the common Exchequer. The peculiar needs of Ireland, too long neglected, have in more recent years received attention and been supplied Vol. 216.–No. 430.
in no stinted measure; and the return for this expenditure has been multifold. In six years Irish imports and exports have increased by 27,000,0001. in value. This trade is, in overwhelming proportions, a trade with British markets. It enriches England and Scotland as well as Ireland. This increasing prosperity of Ireland will, in the judgment of the vast majority of the merchants and bankers and commercial leaders in every part of Ireland, be arrested and possibly annihilated by Home Rule.
Prudence, profit, patriotism, imperialism, urge men to strengthen the Union. Sentimentalism, indifference and petty appeals to the ignorance of the electorate to 'cut the loss' may induce the nation, if it has forgotten the art of government, to pension off Ireland; but Great Britain will not then be rid of Ireland. She will have lost the true allegiance of those Irishmen whose forefathers gave their blood and services freely to create and keep the British Empire, and who proved themselves not unfit to lead the armies and command the fleets and shape the diplomacy and inspire the statesmanship that have made these twin islands a centre of the world's activities. Great Britain may forget; she may forget her own honour, and betray not only them, but her own inheritance of Imperial greatness. Deprived for the moment of the protection of her ancient constitution, outmanoeuvered in division lobbies, and obsessed by demagogues, she may become absorbed in the policy of petty cash, and conceive it statesmanship to pension off her sister kingdom as a poor relation. But, as Lamb says, 'a poor relation is the most irrelevant thing in nature, a piece of impertinent correspondency, an odious approximation, a haunting conscience, a preposterous shadow lengthening in the noon-tide of your prosperity, an unwelcome remembrancer, a perpetually recurring mortification, a drain on your purse, a more intolerable dun upon your pride, a drawback upon success, a rebuke to your rising, a stain in your blood, a blot on your scutcheon, a rent in your garment, a death's head at your banquet, Agathocles' pot, a Mordecai in your gate, a Lazarus at your door, a lion in your path, a frog in your chamber, a fly in your ointment, a mote in your eye, a triumph to your enemy, an apology to your friends—the one thing not needful.'