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Act would be no longer necessary in Ireland; and at the promise of a Bill for the establishment of County Financial Boards, which, with no slur on the magistracy, he held to be irresistible, on the principle that representation and taxation go together. He approved too the proposed inquiry into the mode of conducting Parliamentary and municipal elections, as the first result of which he anticipated the abolition of nominations, and he thought it could not fail to be decisive as to the fate of the Ballot. On the Irish Church question, Mr. Cowper said that the Liberal party, having by Mr. Gladstone's teaching made up its mind that the Establishment was a main obstacle to the prosperity and contentment of Ireland, had determined to do away with it. They knew that there were difficulties; but he left those difficulties with confidence in Mr. Gladstone's hands; and, looking to the large amount of statesmanlike ability, practical knowledge, legal skill, and common sense contained within the House, there was no need that a settlement should be so hopeless and lengthy as many feared and some hoped. The action of the Liberal party on this subject had been received as a message of peace by the large class in Ireland who regarded her connexion with England as her greatest misfortune.
The Address was seconded by Mr. Mundella, the newly-elected member for Sheffield, who expressed approval of the general policy of the Government.
Mr. Disraeli commenced by remarking that the recent rule of not introducing controversial topics into the Address was peculiarly fitting in the case of a new Government, which had acceded to power from the unmistakable desire of the country that it should have an opportunity of endeavouring to settle the Irish Church question. And on this ground he deprecated a partial and desultory discussion of a matter which ought to be put before the House in a complete form, and with all the knowledge and responsibility arising from Ministerial exposition. He admitted that no Government could come before the House with stronger prima facie claims to consideration on this question than the present, and he hoped that when the Ministerial statement was made it would be received in a spirit worthy of its importance. Passing to the paragraphs relating to foreign affairs, Mr. Disraeli expressed his confidence that so long as our foreign policy was conducted, not in selfish isolation, but in a spirit of sympathy, Her Majesty's relations with foreign powers would always be "friendly," and went on to find some fault with the Government for not informing Parliament how the interposition between Turkey and Greece had been brought about. The reasons for resorting to a Conference ought to have been explained, for the interposition might have been effected by ordinary diplomatic means; and one consequence of mentioning it would have been that papers would have been promised. The result, however, had met with general approbation, and he hoped it would be a moral lesson to the systematic disturbers of that part of Europe, and that for the future the Turkish Government would be left at liberty to
develope the energies of the country. As to the convention with America, if the determination were left to the opinions of wise and moderate men it might be hoped that a complete understanding would be effected between the two countries; and he shared cordially in the satisfaction expressed at the possibility of withdrawing from the Irish Executive the extraordinary powers it had for some time. possessed in the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. In the paragraph relating to the Estimates, Mr. Disraeli noticed with approval the recognition of the correct principle that they would be framed "with a due regard to efficiency," for mere curtailment of expenditure without reference to efficiency was most unwise, and led to no saving in the end. He asked next for some explanation of the paragraph recommending an inquiry into the mode of conducting Parliamentary and municipal elections, which he assumed to contemplate an inquiry by both Houses. To require mention in a royal Speech, Mr. Disraeli maintained it ought to be an inquiry by a royal Commission; for if a Parliamentary inquiry was intended, it was contrary to all precedent that it should find a place in the Speech from the Throne. He appealed to general experience whether the Election Petitions Act of last Session had not already furnished an important guarantee for the purity and freedom of election, and he urged that the Act should be allowed fair play, for the full effect of the searching inquiries under it could not be felt until the next general election. Lastly, Mr. Disraeli regretted that no mention was made in the Speech of a general measure of education, and expressed his surprise that the Government should seem to think it a subject which could be passed over and postponed sine die. He concluded with a confident anticipation that the new House, by the fair and business-like spirit in which it would discuss the measures laid before it, would justify the wisdom of recent legislation and merit the confidence of the country.
After some observations by Mr. White, who took notice of the omission from the Speech of any notice of the recent revolution in Spain, Mr. Gladstone addressed the House, and in reference to the topic touched upon by the last speaker, remarked that no permanent government had as yet resulted from the revolution in Spain, and that it would not be convenient to express satisfaction with a work which was not complete; at the same time, there was no doubt that the Government and the people of this country sympathized keenly with the recent movement in Spain. He acknowledged the fairness of Mr. Disraeli's speech. The recent Conference, designed to prevent an outbreak of war by purely moral means, was a sign of advancement in civilization on which he congratulated the House. An absence of intrigue was all that was needed to carry this example further. He eulogized warmly the perfect single-mindedness and unselfishness displayed by all the Powers concerned. As to the paragraph on the American negotiations-though it might not be couched in tones of extreme confidence the Government had no doubt that the subject would be
dealt with in a conciliatory spirit. Mr. Disraeli was wrong in supposing that the paragraph recommending an inquiry into the mode of conducting elections inferred that there must be an inquiry in both Houses. It would be sufficient if there was an inquiry in one House or the other, and there was nothing contrary to precedent in mentioning such an inquiry in the Speech. Disclaiming all notion of disparaging Mr. Disraeli's Act of last Session, Mr. Gladstone pointed out that its guarantees of punishment were indirect, while the inquiry recommended contemplated the direct guarantee of prevention. As to the silence of the Speech respecting other measures, he thought that a new Government ought particularly to be on its guard against promising measures without calculating accurately the time at its disposal; and, so far from the programme in the Speech being meagre, he maintained that the Government would be fortunate if they fulfilled it successfully. They had felt that one question had a paramount claim, and that no secondary matter ought to interfere with it. The Irish Church would afford ample field for party controversy; and the Government, having no desire to widen that field, would endeavour to deal with other questions without reference to party conflicts.
"We hope," said the right hon. gentleman, "that the House will approve the principle by which we have been actuated, first of all in endeavouring to afford it abundance of occupation for the employment of its various energies and resources upon questions not likely to lead to strong party differences; and secondly, to keep the field clear, as far as we can, for the great question of the Irish Church. Sir, we are deeply sensible of the pressing and urgent nature of the question of national education; and permit me to say this one word more, that we do not think this Speech without practical indications of our convictions in that respect, because the settlement of popular education in Scotland, though a much easier and somewhat narrower measure than the settlement of the same question in England, is a matter much more material than may be supposed for facilitating the solution of the problem in this country. And as I have mentioned that question and deprecated the inference, I think somewhat precipitate, of the right hon. gentleman, that the question of national education is undervalued simply because it is not mentioned in the Speech, I may cover many other great subjects with the same declaration, and in like manner protest against the application in this case of the ancient proverb, that that which is out of sight is out of mind. There is one subject in particular which, perhaps, beyond all, after what has been named, occupies a very high place in the estimation of Her Majesty's Government as to its importance and necessity-I mean the question of the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland-a subject which would be totally impossible for us to justify our omission to deal with during the Session, or to mention in the Speech, upon any other ground than that we cannot overcome the physical limitations of time by which we are bound, and that it would not be in the fulfilment of our duty, but a breach of
our duty, if we were to hold out to the House expectations of legislation upon matters to which we do not think that a just reckoning of our resources would warrant us in applying our attention. On the Irish Church I will only say that I hail with satisfaction both the declarations of the right hon. gentleman. Our earnest desire is to act in the spirit of that portion of the Speech which expresses the conviction of Her Majesty that this question will be approached, and that this work will be prosecuted, with a desire to afford a just satisfaction to every legitimate interest; and that there will be upon our part every study to satisfy if we can the sympathies, and, if we can, not to provoke the antipathies and animosities by which this question is beset. Our hope is that the Parliament of this country will take a just and dispassionate view of the stage at which the question has now arrived, and of the prospect which the future offers, and will be inclined not so much to insist upon a rigid adherence to what has been formerly desired, as effectually to co-operate in the prosecution of a purpose which is esential to the welfare and the unity of the empire. The House, I feel satisfied, will not be wanting on its part in the endeavour thus to deal with a subject of as great consequence and as great difficulty as has ever been entrusted to its care. And, on our part, great would be our responsibility, and severe would be the censure which we should deserve, should we, either by the substance of our proposals or by the manner in which we endeavour to press them forward, fail to second and correspond to those good and wise dispositions on the part of the House."
The remainder of the debate consisted of a variety of desultory remarks upon a number of topics. Mr. Newdegate connected the silence of the Royal Speech on the affairs of Spain, where the temporal power of the Pope had received a blow, with the design against the Irish Protestant Church, which would advance his power. Mr. Corrance drew attention to the subject of the Cattle Plague, and warned the Government not to neglect the agricultural interest. Mr. McMahon regretted the omission to mention a Reform Bill for Ireland. Sir P. O'Brien advocated an amnesty to the Fenian Convicts; and Mr. Hadfield declared that "religious equality" could not be attained unless the Bishops were removed from the House of Lords. Mr. Ormsby Gore put questions as to the intentions of the Government respecting Irish railways. Ultimately the Address was agreed to nem, con.
On the Report of the Committee being brought up, a motion was made by Mr. Gladstone that the Address should be presented to the Queen by the whole House. He said it was a matter of serious concern to Her Majesty that she was precluded from meeting the two Houses, and particularly the House of Commons, chosen under circumstances of such peculiar and special interest, by the ancient method of opening Parliament in state. But Her Majesty had been more than usually suffering from severe headache, and to a degree which precluded her from making that exertion at the
period when the opening of Parliament occurred in the present year. "There is another circumstance that I may take leave to add, which it is desirable, I think, that the House should be aware of, and that is, that at all periods of the life of Her Majesty, the period of its unclouded happiness, and its unimpaired strength, this particular effort, with the lengthened ceremony it entailed, did always tax the powers of Her Majesty to the very utmost, although it is a ceremonial which she was and is always desirous to perform when she can venture to undertake it. But there is another mode in which a great portion of Her Majesty's desire may be obtained, that is to say, she may have the satisfaction of meeting Parliament, and of meeting the House of Commons, by receiving the Address of Parliament in person, should the House enter into her views. My belief is that the House will receive this intimation as another gratifying proof, if indeed proof were wanted, of Her Majesty's great sympathy with her people in all matters that concern their interest, and especially upon the occasion when a great and important measure of reform in the representation of the people by so largely extending the franchise has for the first time come into operation. I am therefore to state that Her Majesty will be pleased to come to London for the purpose of receiving the Address of both Houses of Parliament in case the motion I am about to make shall be agreed to both in this House and in the other House of Parliament." The right hon. gentleman then proceeded to mention several precedents for the course now proposed by him, and concluded by a formal motion to the effect proposed.
Mr. Disraeli expressed his concurrence in the proposition of the Government, as being a course well suited to the peculiar circumstances under which the House had met, though not applicable to ordinary occasions.
The motion was agreed to, but, unfortunately, the serious illness of one of Her Majesty's sons, the Prince Leopold, made it necessary to abandon the design; the Address was consequently presented in the ordinary manner, and was answered by Her Majesty in the usual terms.
An attempt was made at the commencement of this Session to improve the machinery of legislation, and economize the public time by an alteration of the mode of proceeding with Bills by the two Houses. A measure for this purpose was laid on the table of the House of Lords by the Marquis of Salisbury, who moved the second reading on March 4. The noble Marquis observed that Parliament had now but five months in each year for the discussion of measures, and owing to the rule that a Bill which had passed through many stages was wholly lost if not carried before the close of the Session, it had to be reintroduced in the following one. This Bill would provide for resuming a Bill in the ensuing Session at the stage at which it had arrived in the previous Session, the permission of the Crown being, however, required for that purpose,
order not to take away the existing power of the Crown to