Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Home Rule’s second stumble in 1893

The 1892 general election was held on the 26 July of that year, nine months after the funeral of Charles Stewart Parnell.  The leadership of the Irish Parliamentary Party fell to Justin McCarthy MP (1830-1912) for North Longford and Derry.

McCarthy was a Cork-born journalist who became editor of The Morning Star in London in 1864 having had previously worked on a Liverpool paper, Northern Daily Times before starting work at the Star in 1860.  He spent two years lecturing in the United States until he returned to London to join the Daily News as an opinion writer in 1870.

He made his debut as an MP in an April 1879 by-election.  He stood unopposed in Longford in the 1886 general election and was not opposed but he also stood in the constituency of Derry.  He won a seat in Derry after an initial dispute with his Unionist opponent and opted to represent that constituency.

McCarthy was the intermediary through whom Gladstone conveyed his views that if Parnell were to remain Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party after the O’Shea’s divorce in 1889 the 1892 general election would be lost by the Liberals.  McCarthy led the anti-Parnell faction afterwards.

The outcome of the 1892 general election resulted in Gladstone winning an extra 80 seats while the Liberal faction that left after the first Home Rule Bill in 1886 dropped from 78 to 45 seats.  The Conservative and Liberal Unionist group lost 80 seats.

The Irish Parliamentary Party won 81 seats in 1892 and there were two Independent Nationalist MPs returned. Despite a legacy of discipline the Irish Parliamentary Party was split after the collapse of Parnell’s political career.  McCarthy’s group won 72 seats, 66 of whom were supporters of John Dillon MP (1851-1927) for East Mayo and six who backed Timothy Healy MP (1855-1931), who became buddy-buddy with Éamon deValera (1882-1975).  9 favourably disposed to Parnell were led by John Redmond MP (1856-1918).

Gladstone’s Liberals won 272 seats, 63 shy of an overall majority. Despite the split of the Irish Parliamentary Party that grouping still won 309,329 votes in an electorate of 740,536 male voters and they became Gladstone’s parliamentary partners.

Gladstone committed his government to introducing a second bill to grant Home Rule to Ireland despite losing office with the collapse of the first Bill in 1886.

But he was deeply involved in the drafting of the second Bill even to the exclusion of his IPP allies. An error was uncovered regarding the sum to be contributed by Ireland to the British Exchequer, the error being of the order of £360,000 per year, a colossal sum at that time.  Gladstone’s core philosophy was based on a minimal relationship between the State and citizens so this deficit would have grated on this perspective while some of the Irish MPs believed that the Imperial Treasury could be regarded as Ireland’s piggy bank.

This led to a brawl in the Commons between opposing factions when the Bill was being considered on 1 September 1893. 

The Home Rule Bill was passed in the Commons by a majority of 30 but it failed in the Conservative Party dominated House of Lords with only 41 in favour and 419 opposed.

The Chief Secretary for Ireland at the time was John Morley (1838-1923), later (in 1908 Viscount Morley of Blackburn.  The Chief Secretary was responsible for governing Ireland and had cabinet rank.  He resided in the residence that the current United States Ambassador resides at in the Phoenix Park, Dublin

The Irish aristocracy made his tenure in Dublin Castle very awkward because he supported Home Rule. He was also stubbornly opposed to the principle of State intervention in economic and social affairs.  He was also left out of the loop by Gladstone and became disaffected with Home Rule as did the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904).

Gladstone’s core objective in Home Rule for Ireland was to devolve legislative authority rather than to diminish the tendency of Ireland to extract resources from the Britain.  The 1886 Bill proposed a single chamber in Ireland with two orders based on a model of the Church of Ireland Synod after its disestablishment in 1869. The orders could meet separately or jointly.

The 1893 Bill proposed two distinct chambers in Ireland meeting separately.

British Conservative Party administrations in Ireland throughout the 19th century seemed to take on the character of a development agency, some said ‘killing Home Rule with kindness’.  Newly departments of State catering for Ireland included the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in 1899. the Congested Districts Board (1891) to relieve poverty and congested living conditions in the west of Ireland, the Irish Land Commission (1881) as a rent fixing commission which developed into a tenant purchasing commission that transferred 13.5 million acres by 1920 and the Local Government Board (1871) which had oversight of public health, relief of poverty and local government.

No comments:

Post a Comment