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however, would give him greater pleasure than to meet representative men from the Colonies to confer together as to what changes might be made on both sides, but to invite such a conference without some proper basis would only lead to disappointment and to no practical result.
Mr. Howard Vincent, after some further discussion, wished to withdraw his resolution; but to this the House would not consent, and perhaps, to save some of his supporters from recording their votes in favour of Protection, however disguised, Mr. W. H. Smith moved the previous question, which was carried without dissent.
On the following day (Feb. 18) Sir M. Hicks-Beach spoke at the London Chamber of Commerce very much in the tone of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He protested against the notion that he was in any sense indifferent to the principles of Free Trade, but he seemed to hint that, without abandoning Free Trade, something might be done, fiscally and financially, towards establishing closer relations with our Colonies. A week or two later (March 4), at the dinner of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, Mr. Bryce, in proposing the health of the Government, congratulated them on this, addressing fiery protests to foreign Powers engaged in constructing Protectionist tariffs. Lord Salisbury, in reply, taunted Mr. Bryce for the support he and the Opposition had given to their policy of abstaining from useless remonstrances, and pointed out that all they could say by way of remonstrance would merely confirm the foreign Government in its attitude. They would reply: "You expect our policy to injure your commerce. We are very glad to hear it; that is just what we are trying to do, in the belief that it will benefit our own." Complete neutrality was the only course which offered any kind of advantage in crises of that kind, where foreign Powers were possessed with the mistaken belief that our loss would be their gain.
Lord Salisbury, next speaking of the relations between capital and labour, doubted the value of legislative interference, by the Royal Commission or otherwise, except for the protection of women and children. The corollary, he said, of the liberty of uniting (which he cordially approved) was the liberty of refusing to unite, which ought to be sedulously guarded. And as for legislative interference with adult labour, he did not think it would be fruitful, since the result of such interference was always a resultant of two forces, the enacting force of Parliament and the evading force of individuals. Supposing Parliament enacted an eight-hour day for miners, and a crisis then occurred in the mining industry which rendered it obviously desirable in the miners' interest (as it easily might) to work overtime, was it not absurd to suppose that the means of evading the law could not without difficulty be found? These kinds of laws only involved the expense of a great army of inspectors, who would, after all, be quite
unable to enforce them when it was for the interest of the class that they should not be enforced.
In the House of Lords the proceedings before Easter were more than usually devoid of public interest. The increasing jealousy of the House of Commons with regard to bills originated in the Upper House was more than ever marked, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Clergy Discipline Bill-giving the bishop power to remove from their benefices clergymen convicted of immorality and crime-after careful discussion in the House of Lords (March 12 et seq.) was not even read a second time in the Commons. Lord Brabourne's bill for making better provision for the elementary education of blind and deaf children in England and Wales shared a similar fate. Lord Herschell's bill to render it penal to send betting circulars to boys at school and college, and money-lenders' circulars to "infants," was treated with more respect, and, after very careful debate in the House of Lords, was cordially received by the Commons and carried into committee. There, however, it suffered shipwreck on the obstacle placed in its way by Dr. W. A. Hunter (Aberdeen, N.) and Mr. Robertson (Dundee), who seemed to think that the borrowers, rather than the lenders of money at exorbitant rates of interest, should be punishable. How far their opinions were shared by others was not seen, for the progress of the bill was blocked by the two members, who refused to make any concessions notwithstanding the appeals made to them from their own side of the House. The Lord Chancellor's bill for amending the law relating to the custody of infants was carried to a successful issue and received Royal Assent. Its immediate object was to give to the children of the poor the same protection as that given to the wards of the Court of Chancery.
But the most important business which came before the House arose out of the Newfoundland Fisheries dispute, and the avowed determination of the colonists not to be bound by the decisions of the arbitration to which Lord Salisbury and the French Government had agreed to refer the questions in dispute. Every attempt had been made to persuade the Newfoundland Legislature to take a more constitutional view of the position, and it was not until every prospect of co-operation between the Imperial and Colonial Governments had disappeared that the former felt it necessary to take Parliamentary powers required to enforce compliance with its demands. With this view the Government decided to introduce the Newfoundland Fisheries Bill, the object of which was to revive certain sections of an Act passed in the reign of George IV. for the purpose of carrying into effect engagements with France respecting the Newfoundland fisheries.
The Colonial Secretary (Lord Knutsford), in introducing the bill (March 19), recapitulated the history of the disputes which had arisen between Newfoundland and France in reference to these fisheries, and with much care and circumspection explained the
circumstances which had made the bill necessary. Lord Knutsford acknowledged that considerable irritation existed in the colony of Newfoundland against her Majesty's Government, and explained that the object of his bill was to revive certain powers which the Crown at one time possessed for giving instructions to the naval officers of this country to ensure the performance of treaties with foreign Powers. By an Act of George III., re-enacted in the reign of George IV., but allowed to lapse in 1834, the Crown had the powers now asked for to ensure the carrying out of the treaties of Utrecht, Versailles, and Paris, made with France, whereby certain fishing rights were reserved to France along the Newfoundland coasts. The object of the present bill, therefore, was not new, and its only novelty arose from the fact that legislation of this kind was not usual in the case of a self-governing colony; indeed, a self-governing colony was never interfered with by the Imperial Parliament in any matter of local interest of internal organisation or administration, but only in matters which had an imperial bearing and character. A strong case must be made out for imperial interference; but he thought a strong case existed in this instance, and that her Majesty's Government had no option but to pursue the course they had taken. When a country had made a treaty or arrangement with a foreign nation it was bound to see that treaty carried out by its own subjects, and if the treaty affected a colony which was subsequently made self-governing, that colony was equally bound to ensure the carrying out of the treaty. In this case Newfoundland had "failed in its duty," and the Imperial Parliament was, therefore, bound to act. Tracing the steps under which such a necessity had arisen, Lord Knutsford showed that the French fishing rights on the Newfoundland coasts had constantly given rise to difficulties and complications, and from time to time there had been imminent danger of collisions between the French and colonial fishermen -a danger only averted by the friendly action and excellent judgment of the naval officers of both countries, who had never displayed those qualities more conspicuously than of late, when the relations had become more strained. The feeling of antagonism had been greatly strained by a legislative enactment passed by Newfoundland to prevent the French from purchasing bait, in consequence of the closing of European markets to colonialcaught fish by the high French bounties; and the antagonism had been further increased by the increasing burdensomeness of the treaties upon the colonists, whose fishing industry was crippled, and whose opportunities of developing the mineral resources of their country were stopped. While it was impossible not to sympathise with the colonists in their impatience against burdens which seriously interfered with the prosperous development. of their country, our colonists had themselves resisted various attempts made to bring about a solution of the question. They had declined to be longer bound by the modus vivendi arranged.
for the fishing season of 1890, and they had refused to consent to arbitration except on condition of the withdrawal of the French from their coasts, so that the state of things had now become so serious that something must be done, as, if it were allowed to continue, it might lead to collisions and, possibly, to war. Under these circumstances her Majesty's Government had no alternative, in the interests of peace and order and in the performance of our obligations, but to revive the power, which formerly belonged to the Crown, to order the naval officers on the station to see the French treaties duly fulfilled. The Earl of Kimberley gave a thorough support to the action of her Majesty's Government. He acknowledged, amid cheers from both sides of the House, and especially from the occupants of the Treasury bench, a deep sympathy with the colonists; but admitted that a state of things had arisen which was almost intolerable, and which could not be allowed to continue. While he regretted the necessity of having to use the undoubted powers of the Imperial Parliament to enforce the law in the colony, he pointed out that the treaty rights were in existence before the colony became self-governing, and, therefore, the colony had all along been bound by them. However, he yet hoped that the colonists would see the wisdom of submitting to the treaty obligations, but in the meanwhile he could not see how it was possible to avoid imperial action. The Marquess of Salisbury, in closing the debate, regretted that past opportunities had not been used to wipe out this "embarrassing chapter of our international law." He sympathised with the colonists who had been "the sport of historic misfortune," and were still "paying the penalty of the intrigues of Lord Bolingbroke," and he praised the admirable tone and temper displayed by France. But the situation was very serious, for at any time "an ugly blow might be dealt, an ugly shot fired; something might be done by which the honour of a nation might be affected, and it was impossible to look without the gravest apprehension at what the consequences might be." Some of the colonists seemed to imagine that the embarrassments with which they were struggling were partly the result of their loyalty to the Queen and attachment to the Empire; but it was a great mistake to suppose that their position with France would in the least degree be modified if they were not attached to any State or Sovereign in the world. In any event the rights of France would be enforced by France. Lord Knutsford's bill was then read a
It was subsequently arranged that the second reading of the bill should be postponed until after the Easter recess, in order that a deputation of the Newfoundland Legislature should have the opportunity of conferring with the Government before the bill was finally passed.
During the earlier portion of the session platform speeches were, as usual, comparatively rare and unimportant. Neverthe
less the leaders of the various parties found opportunities of placing before their respective followers the issues upon which the appeal to the constituencies would sooner or later have to be made. The urgent cry for an immediate dissolution which at one time had been sounded on every Gladstonian platform had died away--the Radicals recognising that until Irish politics shaped themselves in some definite way, it would be useless and possibly dangerous to push forward the cause of Irish Home Rule. Moreover a dissolution forced on in ignorance of the intentions of more than half of the Irish electorate might irretrievably compromise the English Liberals and render their return to office impossible. From the three bye-elections which, in addition to that for Hartlepool, took place during this interval little was to be learnt of use for future guidance, although political augurs on all sides were ready to prophesy. In Kilkenny, certainly, the Nationalist candidate, Sir J. Pope Hennessy, whose cause had been warmly supported by the priests, was returned by an overwhelming majority over his Parnellite opponent, Mr. Scully; but the electoral period had been of too short duration to discover the true extent of the gulf between English and Irish Liberals, which Mr. Parnell was desirous to make impassable and unspanable. His taunt to his opponents was that by their submission to Mr. Gladstone's demand they had proved their readiness to sacrifice the independence of Ireland to the exigencies of English political parties. The election at Northampton, on the other hand, showed that the Radicalism of that constituency had grown stronger, or that it had not put forth its full power when Mr. Bradlaugh's seat had been threatened. A more important lesson of the election was the evidence that it afforded that the Northampton Radicals, chiefly working men, distinctly refused to return a London delegate of the Trades' Union-and also that they preferred to be represented by an employer of labour, rather than by one of their own class.
The election for the Aston division of Birmingham only showed that Mr. Chamberlain's influence was unshaken, or that Liberal Unionism was an active political principle. The crushing defeat of the Gladstonian candidate, Mr. W. P. Beale, Q.C., should have been foreseen by the party managers, and the damage done to their cause by forcing a contest, might have been avoided by the exercise of a little of that foresight of which Mr. Schnadhorst and his friends claimed a monopoly when forecasting the results of the general election.
To return, however, to the platform speeches of the party leaders, prominence must be given to that of Lord Randolph Churchill to the Conservatives of South Paddington (Feb. 21) on the eve of his departure for South Africa. Lord R. Churchill had openly declared his objections to the general policy of the Irish Land Bill of the Government on the second reading of the bill, but he would not do his party the disservice of remaining to