October 11th, 1912
FROM THE ARCHIVES:Back from its summer recess, the House of Commons was asked to impose a guillotine restricting debating time on the Home Rule Bill: this editorial criticised the move. –
THERE ARE three all-important facts about the Home Rule Bill. It proposes to create changes in Irish government which will affect profoundly every aspect of Irish life. It is presented as the first step towards a still larger revolution in other parts of the Kingdom. It must become law in the exact shape in which it will leave the House of Commons at the end of the present Session.
Those three facts entitle the Bill to such minute and careful consideration as no previous Bill of any sort has ever received. The Government, if it really wants the measure to be workable, should find ample time for its discussion even at the cost of every other plan. In effect, what has it done?
It has allocated twenty-five days for the Committee stage of the Bill. It empowers the Chairman of the Committee to suppress the most carefully prepared amendments. As Mr Bonar Law [Conservative /Unionist party leader] pointed out yesterday, the extraordinarily difficult question of Irish representation in the House of Commons must be exhausted in six and a half hours of parliamentary time. Less than a day is offered for the settlement of the powers of the Irish Parliament in respect of taxation.
One day is given to the legislative powers of the Irish Parliament. Mr Asquith [Liberal prime minister] thinks that he is generous in offering two days for the discussion of the important and complicated problem of Home Rule finance – a finance, which, as Mr Wyndham [former Irish secretary] proved in his admirable speech at Limerick yesterday, “spells ruin to Ireland.” No definite provision of any sort is made for the discussion of Irish land purchase, the one thing for which the whole agricultural population of Ireland is really concerned. It is farcical to suggest this Bill is to be seriously considered in Committee. It will emerge from the House of Commons a botched and inchoate measure and a measure that will be irreparable and irrevocable. If this crime is ever committed against Ireland, the country will remember that, while Mr William O’Brien raised a voice of protest and warning, the official Nationalist members kept their seats in dumb acquiescence. [. . .]
The fact of Ulster cannot be disputed; it is there, it dominates the situation. Mr Law put it before the House of Commons yesterday exactly as we have always put it before our readers. He did not argue the morality or wisdom of Ulster’s position. He simply pointed out that the most virile and most prosperous section of the Irish people refuses to accept this Home Rule Bill, and if need be, will resist it by force.
If Mr Asquith intends to keep his bargain with Mr Redmond the Bill must not only be passed, but must be thrust on Ulster at the point of British bayonets.
The House of Commons has furnished the last justification of the attitude of Ulster.