Page images

Imperial purposes, the Irish members must be entitled to intervene on all Budget and Money Bills. They will be free lances, bound to utilise their position in the Westminster Parliament to further the interests of the Dublin Parliament; and the Irish question will return to Westminster under Home Rule with renewed energy and redoubled power.

In the original financial scheme of 1893 Irish Customs, estimated at 2,500,000l., were to constitute Ireland's contribution to Imperial expenditure. Such portion of the Excise as represented duties upon articles of Irish Excise consumed in Great Britain was also to be applied for Imperial purposes. All the rest of the Irish revenue was to be reserved for Ireland. After fifteen years these arrangements might be revised upon an address to the Crown by either the House of Commons or the Irish Legislative Assembly. There was to be a separate Irish Exchequer and separate Irish Consolidated Fund. The duties on customs and excise and postage rates were to be imposed by the Imperial Parliament. The Irish Parliament might levy any other taxes for the Irish service. The customs duties were to be regulated, collected and paid into the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, together with the excise duties derived from taxed articles manufactured in Ireland but consumed in Great Britain. Ireland was to contribute 1,000,000l. for the upkeep of the constabulary and Dublin police, so long as these forces continued to exist. Provision was made for their gradual extinction and the creation of a police force under local Irish control.

The balance-sheet under this scheme showed a surplus of half a million in favour of Ireland. But, while the Bill was going through the House, it was discovered that the 'true' excise revenue of Ireland had been overestimated by 350,000l. Therefore the working balance practically disappeared, and the finance had to be recast. The remodelled scheme embodied in the Bill in Committee provided that (1) Ireland should contribute to Imperial expenditure a quota of her true revenue from taxes, and the proceeds of the crown lands; (2) the quota should be one-third of such revenue; (3) Ireland should be credited with the rest of her tax revenue and any surplus from postal services; (4) out of this Irish revenue two-thirds

of the cost of the constabulary and the Dublin police, all civil government charges, and any deficit in postal services should be discharged; (5) the control of the rates of Inland Revenue duties, postal revenue and customs, as well as their collection, should remain with the Imperial Parliament; (6) if any war tax was imposed, all of it collected in or contributed by Ireland should go to the Imperial Exchequer; (7) these financial arrangements should last for six years, when (a) they should be revised as regarded the Irish contribution to Imperial services, (b) the collection of the Inland Revenue should be transferred to the Irish Government, and (c) the Irish Legislature should impose the Irish stamp duties, income tax and excise licence duties; (8) a joint Committee of the Treasury and Irish Government should be appointed to ascertain the 'true revenue' of Ireland.

It was estimated that, under these modified provisions, the total Irish revenue would be 6,922,000l.; the amount payable to the Irish Exchequer 4,660,000l.; Irish expenditure 4,148,000l.; and the surplus for Ireland 512,0007. All local loans outstanding were to be repaid to the Imperial Government by the Irish Government in fortynine years by means of an annuity including replacement of capital at the rate of four per cent. on the principal of the loans. The charges for the Land Purchase Act of 1891 were made a first charge upon the Irish Consolidated Fund in favour of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.* Imperial Liabilities,' as defined in the Bill, consisted of the National Debt and cost of its management, and all charges on the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom for the repayment of borrowed money or guarantees. 'Imperial Expenditure' embraced (1) naval and military expenditure; (2) expenditure on Civil List and Royal Family; the salaries of the Lord-Lieutenant and of the Exchequer Judges in Ireland; buildings, salaries and expenses of Parliament; National Debt Commissioners; Foreign Office and diplomatic services; Colonial Office; Privy Council; Board of Trade; Mint; Customs; Inland Revenue; Savings Banks; Friendly Societies, etc.

Mr Gladstone told a deputation of Belfast merchants,

* See the memorandum prepared by Mr B. H. Holland, secretary to the Financial Relations Committee, in vol. iii, p. 198, of the Report.

who represented to him that these financial conditions would be disastrous to Ireland, that it was not chronic want of money but chronic plethora of money which, if Ireland were prudent, would beset her after she attained local autonomy.' Mr Redmond took a different view.

'The longer' (he said)' these financial clauses have been studied, the more they have been distrusted. It is right we should be perfectly candid in a matter of this kind. I have met no member of any political party in Ireland who has been able to tell me that Ireland could be successfully worked and successfully governed under the financial clauses of the Bill as they now stand. . . . If these clauses are to stand it will become a horrible responsibility for any Irish representative to accept this Bill as a settlement.' *

The finance of the 1893 Bill was, like that of 1886, of such a character that the two countries would have been at once involved in a bitter controversy. England believed she was being mulcted, while Ireland regarded the financial provisions as an insult; and there is no reason to suppose that the burdens imposed upon her could have been discharged without national bankruptcy, while Imperial credit would have been seriously shaken. The long and intricate enquiry of the Financial Relations Commission shows that, in every clause of the accounts between the two countries, and in every definition of Imperial obligation, collisions would have occurred between their legislatures; and such collisions would have led to hostility between the peoples, and arrest of constitutional government and efficient administration. If the finance of 1886 and of 1893 was difficult, that of 1912 will be immeasurably more difficult. If there is to be any Imperial contribution by Ireland, it can only be enforced by tribunals and methods modelled upon the precedents of the Bills of 1886 and 1893; and the results already indicated must follow. Great Britain must now determine either to grant to Ireland complete independence in all matters of revenue and taxation, or to retain the financial system of the Union.

Assume, however, that some deus ex machina reveals some method of fiscal administration which will work under Home Rule; the question remains whether Ireland

Irish Daily Independent,' April 14, 1893.

can finance herself, and how the interests of Great Britain and the Empire will be affected. The present revenue of Ireland, on an average of the last two years, is as collected' 11,682,000l., and as corrected' 9,930,000. The expenditure for 1910-11 is 11,344,500l., leaving an Irish deficit, if the Exchequers were to be divided, of 1,414,5007. To this deficit must be added 461,000l. for increase in old age pensions, owing to the removal of the pauper disqualification; at least 800,000l. for the State contribution to National Insurance; and 40,2007. for payment of members of parliament. This would mean a deficit of about 2,715,7007. National education is clamouring for an additional 500,000l. The education grant to Scotland at present is 2,250,000l.; that to Ireland 1,632,000l. All parties in Ireland are combined in this demand; and the necessity of a great increase of subvention cannot be denied. A deficit of 3,000,000l. may therefore be anticipated in 1913. If Ireland were dissevered from Great Britain and relieved from all contributions to the National Debt, the Civil List, the Army and Navy and foreign affairs, she would start on her career of nationhood' as a bankrupt community. It would be absolutely impossible to raise 3,000,0007. of additional taxation in Ireland, even if she were still united to Great Britain. Mr Lloyd George's Budget has taxed her to the utmost limit. The over-taxation of distilling, her great source of revenue, has begun to prove unremunerative. An excise duty on spirits at 11s. in the gallon in 1908-9 produced 3,908,000l. On the average collection of the two years 1909-10 and 1910-11 the spirits revenue has fallen, with the duty at 14s. 9d., to 3,455,000l. Over 10,000 acres of barley have been thrown out of cultivation in Leinster, Ulster and Munster.

[ocr errors]

Home Rulers state that they can make enormous reductions in the Irish Civil Service. They base their favourite and reiterated argument upon a patent misapprehension of the tables of Income Tax assessments under Schedule E on government officials.* These tables, they assert, show that there are 4397 officials in Ireland as against only 994 in Scotland, and that a 'rich foliage is therefore ready for the pruning-knife' of the Home Rule

* 'Inland Revenue Report,' 1910, tables 151, 152.

gardener. But the calculation is unfounded. The tables only show the number of assessments under Schedule E made in London, Scotland and Ireland. A very large number of Scottish civil servants are assessed in London, where several of the Scottish departments are centralised -the Education Department, for instance-and, as Income Tax is deducted at the source of payment, these officials would be classified for Income Tax assessment under the heading Metropolis,' and not under 'Scotland.' As a matter of fact, the number of civil servants borne on the Irish Estimates (including also the judges and other persons paid out of the Consolidated Fund) is 1522 and not 4397. Of these 4397 persons, 1622 are Church of Ireland clergy, 341 are bank officials, 49 are Port and Docks and Light Board employees, 202 are pensioners, and 2190 would never come for purposes of pay or pension under the control of a Home Rule parliament.* Moreover, though the number of officials in Ireland is large, the recent Budget and the Insurance Act show how much more likely officialism is to increase than to be reduced in numbers; and an Irish parliament will itself require a host of officials for its own purposes.

Again, civil servants are required in Ireland to manage departments which do not exist in Scotland, and which cannot be abolished under Home Rule. Such are the Land Commission and the Estates Commissioners' office, carrying out the gigantic operation of land purchase; the Congested Districts Board, now controlling land purchase in addition to all its other duties in the counties of the western seaboard from Donegal to Cork; and the Department of Agriculture and Industries. It will be impossible to effect appreciable reductions in these directions. The Ulster question will require more than 10,000 police to remain enrolled, even if the savagery which the Roman Catholic Bishop of Killaloe has recently denounced in such solemn and striking terms † were to cease to exist in Clare and the many districts like to it, in the halcyon days of the Home Rule parliament. A further reduction of the judicial establishment is not practically possible. The Nationalists, who so frequently

* See the answers and detailed returns given, Feb. 22 and Nov. 9, 1911. Parl. Debates, xxi, 2044; xxx, 1954.

See daily papers, December 19, 1911.

« EelmineJätka »