Second Home Rule Bill

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XII | Start of Chapter

The auspices under which Gladstone introduced his new Home Rule measure on February 13, 1893, were especially disheartening. The second measure was in some of its provisions a distinct improvement on the first. Its principle was not that of an absolutely isolated Irish Parliament, and the exclusion of Ireland from any representation in the British House of Commons. It proposed to give Ireland a domestic or national Parliament for the management of her own affairs, and a certain proportionate representation in the Imperial Parliament. Many influential English and Scottish Liberals who were also Home Rulers had strongly objected to the idea of severing Ireland from any representation in the English House of Commons. Ireland's representation in the Imperial Parliament was to be made up of eighty members, chosen on the existing qualifications. The new Bill was therefore regarded with greater favour in the House of Commons than its predecessor, and the Home Rule cause made a distinct step in advance. The measure passed through the Commons by a majority of 301 against 267, and was only rejected when it went up to the Lords. The principle of Home Rule for Ireland thus obtained the recognition and approval of the representative Chamber.

The remainder of Ireland's story, thus far, may be told in short space. The Home Rule party reunited in January, 1900, under the leadership of Mr. John Redmond, who had led the Parnellite party after the split, and who now found trusting followers and comrades among all sections of Irish Nationalists. The gradual development of England's colonial system has been doing much to teach Englishmen that the abiding union of the Empire is to be found in that principle of domestic self-government which has made the Dominion of Canada and the Commonwealth of Australia loyal and prosperous.