Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/333

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Gladstone
Gladstone
321

till 13 Feb. did Gladstone find an opportunity to introduce his second home rule bill. It was substantially, though not in detail, the same as the first, with the important exception that the Irish members were for some purposes to have the power of voting in the imperial parliament. Their number was to be reduced from 103 to eighty, and they were not to vote upon any purely British question; but upon a proposal that an English or Scottish measure should be extended to Ireland they would still be entitled to do so. The opposition did not divide against the first reading of the bill.

On 6 April, when Gladstone moved the second reading, he gave what he called a summary, and his opponents called a caricature, of the assumptions upon which resistance to the bill was grounded. He protested against the hypothesis, which he declared to be contradicted by history, that Irishmen would not loyally carry out their obligations both to their own country and to Great Britain. In defending the financial clauses of the bill he gave it as his opinion that Ireland had long paid to the imperial exchequer a sum greatly in excess of her material resources as compared with those of England. In conclusion he said that, if this bill were rejected, the responsibility for the denial of justice to Ireland would lie upon the nation as a whole. The rejection of the bill was moved by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, and the debate lasted till 21 April, when Gladstone replied upon the whole of it. While maintaining that his original strictures upon the land league in 1881 were justified by the excesses which it then countenanced, but had afterwards repudiated, he admitted that without the land league there would have been no Land Act. The second reading was carried by 347 votes to 304. On 8 May the discussion in committee began. Gladstone himself took personal charge of it, assisted by Mr. Morley as chief secretary, and by the law officers of the crown in England. The Irish law officers had no seats in the house. History records no more marvellous example of physical and mental vigour in a man of eighty-three. He scarcely ever left the house, he spoke on almost every amendment, and he developed resources of illustration as well as argument, which, if they did not always promote the rapid progress of the measure, excited the wonder of the house. Not many changes were made, though on 16 May the government accepted an amendment from Sir Henry (afterwards Lord) James, which expressly reserved the supremacy of the imperial parliament. But the bill was opposed with great pertinacity, and it became evident that without some change of procedure it could not be passed within the limits of an ordinary session. At length, on 28 June the prime minister announced that he would propose a motion for closure by compartments. On specific days, to be set forth in the resolution, the debate on fixed portions of the bill would come to an end, and at ten o'clock the chairman would, by order, proceed to put the remaining clauses of that portion from the chair. On the 29th the resolution was moved by Gladstone, who quoted in its favour the precedent of the Crimes Act passed by the same method in 1887. The motion was carried by a majority of thirty-two. On 12 July Gladstone made a concession to the majority of his English supporters by allowing the Irish members to vote, as at present, for all purposes whatsoever. But this was only carried by twenty-seven votes. It was not till 30 Aug. that the third reading was moved by Gladstone, who reminded the house that eighty-two days had been spent upon the bill, and maintained that, in spite of what was called the gag, all its cardinal principles had been discussed. The opposition to the third reading was led by Mr. Courtney. On 1 Sept. it finally passed the House of Commons by a majority of thirty-four, or nine less than had carried the second reading. In the House of Lords the second reading was moved on 5 Sept. by Lord Spencer. The Duke of Devonshire proposed its rejection, and on 8 Sept. it was rejected by an enormous majority. The contents were forty-one, the not-contents were 419. No step was taken by the government in consequence of this vote, and the House of Commons proceeded with the business of supply till 21 Sept., when it adjourned till 2 Nov. for an autumn sitting. On 27 Sept. Gladstone spoke at Edinburgh, and in mysterious language predicted that another session would not pass without seeing home rule again appear above the waves.

When the House of Commons met on 2 Nov. 1893, nothing more was heard of the Welsh church suspensory bill, which had been discussed in the earlier part of the year; but the house proceeded to take up the parish councils bill, which had only been introduced, and the employers' liability bill, which had passed through the standing committee on law. The parish councils bill was opposed in its later stages with great vehemence. The session had to be protracted over Christmas, and the bill was not sent to the House of Lords till 10 Jan. 1894. The house adjourned for only a few days at