The First Home Rule Bill

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XII | Start of Chapter

Gladstone remained firm to his faith in the better system of government needed for Ireland. His Administration was driven out of office in 1885 for a short time, but he soon came into power again after a General Election in 1886. He then introduced his first measure of Home Rule. The two leading principles of this measure were that Ireland should have a National Parliament, and that she should have no representation in the Parliament at Westminster. Grattan's Parliament was to be restored to Ireland without the absurd old-world qualifications as to property and religious creed. Gladstone's scheme of Home Rule was frustrated by a secession from the Liberal party. John Bright was opposed to the measure, and Mr. Chamberlain withdrew from the Government rather than give it his countenance, although he had up to that time been regarded by Parnell and all the Irish Nationalist members as a strong supporter of Home Rule. The second reading of the Bill brought a division on June 7, 1886, and the measure was rejected by a majority of thirty, 343 votes being given against the second reading, and only 313 in its favour, Gladstone appealed to the country, and the result was that the Radicals and Home Rulers were defeated, and the Conservatives came into office. Gladstone was not discouraged. It was well known that when he came into power again he would introduce another Home Rule measure with improved conditions, and everybody felt quite certain that should his life be spared he must before long be at the head of a Government once again.