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of frish members and of the Irish people would be found engaged in it; and, referring to the threats which had been addressed to the front Opposition Bench, he declared that the Liberal party had never been so prosperous and powerful as when it had refused to act contrary to its convictions. Mr. Fawcett, as an advanced Liberal, and Lord Hartington, on behalf of the regular Opposition, expressed similar opinions, the former protesting against recent attempts to intimidate the party into accepting Home Rule. Sir Wilfrid Lawson alone among English members spoke in favour of the motion; and when Mr. Butt had brought forward his old arguments—and Sir M. Hicks-Beach, on behalf of the Government, had offered a firm and decided negative to the motion, arguing that the Canadian plan of Confederation, of which Mr. Butt approved, would reduce this Irish Parliament to a position of inferiority which would not satisfy the Irish people, and would lead to collisions with the Imperial Parliament on questions of taxation and foreign politics, and had entered into details of the present state of Ireland, showing that its prosperity is increasing, emigration decreasing, &c., while Ireland was fully represented in Parliament, and Irish affairs were discussed with the utmost patience—Mr. Shaw's motion was rejected by a majority of 417 to 67, the Irish Home Rule party being reinforced by three or four English members in redemption of pledges given to the Irish voters in their respective constituencies. It is probable, said the Times, that their example will not be followed in future. A heavy blow was dealt to the Home Rule party by the defeat, at Salford, of a Liberal candidate who had thought it worth while to purchase the support of the Irish electors by promising to vote for a Commission of Inquiry. In almost every borough in Great Britain more is to be lost than to be gained by professing to regard as an open question the dismemberment of the United Kingdom. A Bill, introduced by Mr. Meldon, for the establishment of household suffrage in Irish boroughs received a certain amount of support from Irish Conservatives and from English members of the Opposition. Sir H. James repeated Mr. Meldon's statistics (by which in introducing the Bill he had illustrated the disproportion between inhabitants and electors in the three countries), and showed that Household Suffrage would only about double the borough constituency. Unless Great Britain and Ireland were placed on a footing of equality in this respect, Sir Henry insisted that the feeling of dissatisfaction existing in Ireland never would be removed, and in the support of the motion he dilated at some length on the general arguments in favour of extending the Franchise. The Attorney-General for Ireland maintained that there was great indifference in Ireland on the question, and cited as proof the fact that only half of the constituency had voted at the late Tipperary Election, and that the Franchise Bill introduced by Mr. Biggar had been withdrawn without being printed. This was only part of a great question; in fact, redistribution was by far the most important branch. The diversity between the English and Irish Franchises was more in language than in substance. On a division the motion was rejected by 239 to 165. An Irish Land Bill, introduced by Mr. Butt, which would have virtually transferred the freehold from the owners to the occupiers, could not fail to be rejected by an overwhelming majority. A motion of Mr. O'Connor Power's, for the release of the convicts who were concerned in the Manchester murder, and of those who had violated their military allegiance, would have excited little interest but for the intervention of Mr. Gladstone in favour of a remission of punishment which he had steadily refused when he was in office, and which he even now declined to vote for. It became the unwelcome duty of Lord Hartington to dissent from his former leader's recommendation. Late in July, Mr. Butt found an opportunity of proposing an elaborately hopeless scheme for the establishment of a mixed University of Dublin, in which Trinity College and a Catholic College were to be placed on an equal footing. Trinity College was to subsidise its rival by the transfer to the Catholic College of a certain number of scholarships and fellowships; and Mr. Butt asked Parliament to provide the remainder of the endowment out of the funds of the Irish Church. No attempt was made to disguise the project of giving to the Catholic bishops absolute control over the discipline and studies of their own college, with the result of conferring upon them an equal share in the government of the University. Mr. Lowe, Mr. Plumket, and Sir M. Hicks-Beach had an easy task in exposing the objections to a scheme which was equally opposed to sound principle and to popular prejudice. Even if the measure had been more reasonable in itself, no Government could have resisted the clamour which would have been raised against a scheme involving what is called “concurrent endowment.” One alleged Irish grievance was brought under the notice of the House from the opposite quarter. Mr. C. Lewis, on behalf of his constituents at Londonderry, moved for a Committee on the Irish Society, but he was opposed by the Government, by the City of London, and by Mr. Smyth, and the motion was defeated by a majority of two to one. Complaints were made from time to time of the neglect of both Irish and Scotch legislation ; but the Obstructive faction during the Session provided the Government with a standing excuse for backwardness in the transaction of business.
Mr. Chamberlain on Intemperance—Colonial Marriages Bill—Mr. Bright on Capital Punishment—Household Suffrage in the Counties—Mr. Trevelyan's Motion—Debate upon the Motion–Labourers' Meeting on the Subject— Royal Warrant on Army Promotion—The Pigott Case–Vote of Censure on Lord Beaconsfield–Parliamentary Reporting—Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Bill—Universities Bill–Clerical Fellowships—Prisons Bill — Public Education—South Africa Bill, and Annexation of the Transvaal.
THE war against intemperance, which has of late years been waged so steadily, produced this Session a new captain in Mr. Chamberlain, the member for Birmingham, who, in more than one respect, promised to prove a valuable recruit in the Liberal ranks. In his hands the cause of sobriety took a new shape, and cheers greeted him when he rose in his place in the House to move— “That it is desirable to empower the town councils of boroughs, under the Municipal Corporations Act, to acquire compulsorily, on payment of fair compensation, the existing interests in the retail sale of intoxicating liquors in their respective districts, and thereafter, if they see fit, to carry on the trade for the convenience of the inhabitants, but so that no individual shall have any interest in nor derive any profit from the sale.” The hon. member argued that intemperance was “the bane of our national life,” and suggested we should follow the example set by Sweden, which was until recently the most drunken country in Europe. The Gothenburg system had been adopted in Sweden by every town with a population above 5000, save one; and Stockholm had now decided to adopt the plan, which had been briefly described in the motion. Police statistics showed that drunkenness diminished 50 per cent. in Gothenburg a few years after the adoption of the scheme, and that for the past twelve years it was 50 per cent. less than it was in the twelve preceding years; whilst in the towns which had not adopted the same plan drunkenness had greatly increased. Anticipating objections which might be advanced, he said, no purer body of men than the Town Council could be chosen to manage the licensed victualling trade. The system might be confined to England and Wales, London being excepted; and if he should succeed in persuading the House to agree to his suggestion they would, at least, have excluded from “their political life the baneful influence of a gigantic vested interest.” Mr. Chamberlain, whose speech was a decided success, resumed his seat amid general cheering. His motion was seconded by Sir J. Kennaway, in the hope that the question might be litted out of the “arena of party politics”; but was opposed with a formidable array of unfavourable statistics by Sir H. SelwinIbbetson. The latter saw great difficulties in the way of adopting
the Gothenburg system in this country. All parties in that House desired the reduction of crime and drunkenness. But what were the facts of the case at the model town cited by the hon. member ? In Gothenburg convictions for drunkenness were certainly reduced from 2161 in 1865 to 1320 in 1868; but from 1869 to 1872 these convictions had increased to 1581, and in 1874 to 2234—a number larger than before the introduction of the system. Were this system to be tried in England, the great expense of compensating existing publicans would soon extinguish any enthusiasm the public might display for the Gothenburg plan, his objections to which had been strengthened by a letter he had received from Consul Duff, at Gothenburg. Mr. Duff wrote:– “The Gothenburg Licensing Company had a good object in view when established, but the system, it appears, has proved a failure, owing to the way in which it has been carried out, and is at present only a money-making concern, realising a large amount annually, which forms a considerable income to the town. The drunkenness in Gothenburg is great even among the better classes, and the lower order consider the company's retail shops as their privileged resort. These shops are situated in the most frequented thoroughfares, right in the face of labourers and seamen, and I consider are a great temptation to drinking.” Finally, Sir H. Selwin-Ibbetson said the consumption of spirits in Gothenburg had risen in ten years from 66,169 gallons to 329,982 gallons. These figures did not favour the belief that the Gothenburg system would diminish drinking in this country; and he thought much might be done by the better enforcement of our present licensing laws. Sir Wilfrid Lawson said, “By the Gothenburg system it was shortly proposed that instead of the present race of licensed victuallers under whom we lived, we should have a class of patriot publicans and philosophic pot-boys.” Sharply as he criticised the “fantastic scheme,” he yet said he would vote for it. Mr. Grant Duff, Sir Wilfrid, and others spoke in support of Mr. Chamberlain's motion, which was rejected, however, by 103 to 51. The cause fared no better this Session in other respects, for Sir Wilfrid Lawson waived his right to deliver his annual speech in favour of prohibition—to be enforced, not by Corporations, but by ratepayers—in order to make room for the Irish Sunday Closing Bill, which was defeated by a minority with little reference to its special provisions. Another old friend, with a new face, was the Deceased Wife's Sister's Bill, which appeared only by proxy in the shape of a Colonial Marriages Bill, the second reading of which was moved by Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen. The purport was to declare the children of marriages which are legitimate in Australia legitimate in England, so that there may be no obstacle to their inheriting any property to which they may be heirs in this country. The mover added that a provision in the Bill requiring the parents to . be residents in the Colonies would prevent British home subjects taking advantage of the measure to evade the law of England. This remark called up Mr. Beresford Hope, who delivered a speech in which he seemed to imply that by this Bill two brothers might be able to marry their widows' sisters, and who feared that, if the measure were to be adopted, hon. members might see at the foot of Ludgate Circus an advertisement by Messrs. Cook of “Marriage Trips to Australia at 10 per Cent. Reduction.” Mr. Young, formerly a resident in Australia, thought such an argument was “enough to make people's hair stand on end.” The Bill was opposed by the Attorney-General (who remarked that he would not have been an opponent if it was simply proposed by the measure to make marriage with a deceased wife's sister legal), and by the Attorney-General for Ireland; but was emphatically supported by Mr. Forsyth, Mr. Roebuck, and Sir Henry James; and was read the second time by 192 to 141 votes, the Opposition indulging in prolonged cheering when it became clear that there was a majority of 51 against the Government. The Bill, however, proceeded no further than the second reading. A Bill for removing the so-called disabilities of women met with a singular fate. Mr. Courtney, a zealous supporter of the Bill, in Parliamentary phrase, talked it out. Lord Coleridge afterwards withdrew, in deference to objections raised by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Selborne, a Bill for giving married women absolute control of their property. A debate on capital punishment was only remarkable for an elaborate speech by Mr. Bright, who has always consistently opposed the punishment of death. But for that it was, or should be, very remarkable indeed. Mr. Bright, once foremost among our orators, has of late been content to be less conspicuous. Upon the Eastern Question, though strong in his Russian sympathies, he allowed perhaps his wellknown love of peace to lead him to be content with a place second to Mr. Giadstone; and in discussing the future of the Liberal party he took no prominent part. A very striking and beautiful speech, in which he recorded at once the life of his great friend and fellow-worker, Cobden, and the story of his own personal friendship with him, was his chief contribution to the platform oratory of the year; though, in one place, he attracted great attention by an address to the workmen, in which he warned them eloquently of the danger of indiscriminate strikes and too great a demand for increased wages, pointing his moral by a reference to the dangers threatening English commerce through the universal reactionary tendency to protection abroad and in the Colonies, which came with double force from the great champion of Free Trade. Mr. Bright's most eloquent speech in the House this year was, as we have said, on the question of Capital Punishment. The subject was introduced in a motion by Sir Eardley Wilmot for the reconsideration of the Law of Murder, and an amendment by Mr.