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THE DEFEAT OF THE GOVERNMENT. The Press Association says that in the chief political clubs of the metropolis there was some ex- pectation that, following the example of the late Lord Beaconsfield in 1873, when the Liberal Government were defeated on the Irish University Bill, the Con- servatives would decline at the present juncture to accept office; but the more general opinion seems to be that, yielding to the pressure of some of his more enthusiastic followers, Lord Salisbury would consent to form a provisional Administration. In the course of Tuesday morning Lord Salisbury had a private conference with Sir Stafford Northcote and several other members of the late Ministry. It may be taken for granted that, with the excep- tion of the necessary financial provisions, the final stages of the Seats Bill, and a short Registration Bill to enable the elections to take place in the autumn, all the other measures which the Govern- ment had hoped to pass—including the Crofters Bill, the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill, and the Secretary for Scotland Bill—will have to be aban- doned for the present year. This abandonment of legislation will necessarily curtail the session, which is now likely to conclude early in July, but the necessities of registration arrangements make it almost impossible to hasten the general election before the beginning of November, so that there will probably be in the interval an electioneering campaign of longer duration than was originally expected. Although the issue of the vote came as a complete surprise upon most members of the House of Commons, the Liberal whips were aware that a Government defeat was extremely probable if not inevitable, owing to the large proportion of their party who bad failed to respond to the four-line whip which had been issued. Many of these members remained away in deference to the strong pressure of a section of their consti- tuents. The Press Association adds that among the Radical party, and especially among persons belong- ing to the more advanced clubs, the opinion is freely expressed that the defeat of the Government will have the effect of preventing a Liberal Cabinet from introducing any further coercive legislation affecting Ireland. The Radicals also state their hope that even if the Conservatives decline to take office, and Mr. Gladstone continues Prime Minister, Sir Charles Dilke, Mr. Chamberlain, and Mr. Shaw Lefevre, who are known to have expressed in the Cabinet their objection to the renewal of the Crimes Act except under certain conditions, will refuse to rejoin the Administration, except with a guarantee that the Crimes Act shall be allowed to lapse. In the provinces the news of the resignation of the Ministry has created an absorbing interest, and there is much speculation as to what will be the outcome of the present crisis. In a summing-up of the latest incidents of the political crisis, published on Thursday morning, the Press Association states that no material change occurred in the political situation on Wednesday, but the resignation of the Government continued to be everywhere the main topic of interest. It was rumoured on Wednesday afternoon in usually well-informed quarters that, in reply to a telegram, the Queen had wired to Mr. Gladstone asking him to reconsider his decision. There is, however, no reason to believe that the right hon. gentleman would consent, under present circumstances, to resume the respon- sibilities of office. One conclusive reason against such a course, and one which has not previously been dis- closed, is that the Prime Minister is and has been in full accord with Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. Cham- berlain in the indisposition to sanction even a partial renewal of the Crimes Act for Ireland except for a limited period and accompanied by definite assurances of early remedial legislation. There is therefore no foundation for the statements which have been circulated from time to time that the Pre- sidents of the Local Government Board and of the Board of Trade were at issue with Mr. Gladstone in recent controversies on that subject. There is equally no likelihood of the Liberal leader attempt- ing to reconstruct a Ministry whose programme in- cluded coercive legislation for Ireland, and it is known that this is regarded as indispensable, not only by Earl Spencer, but also by several other members of what may now be referred to as the late Cabinet. It is therefore still expected that her Majesty will shortly send for the Marquis of Salisbury, who, it is generally believed, will undertake to form an Ad- ministration to carry on the necessary business of the country until the general election. If there had been a probability of Mr. Gladstone con- senting to continue in office, the Queen would have remained at Balmoral, but on all hands hope is expressed that under existing circum- stances she will at once return to Windsor, otherwise much delay and inconvenience must ensue in connec- tion with the impending change of Ministry. Mean- time Mr. Gladstone has not volunteered any advice to the Sovereign as to who should be his successor, and will not offer advice on the point unless expressly com- manded to do so. This would be altogether contrary to precedent on such occasions, and especially undesir- able in a case where the Conservatives are not entirely agreed as to whether Lord Salisbury or Sir Stafford Northcote should be selected for the supreme position. For the present Mr. Gladstone remains at Downing- street, awaiting any message which may be brought back from Balmoral by the special messenger who was despatched on Tuesday to the Queen's High- land home. On Wednesday forenoon the right hon. gentleman was visited at his official residence by Earl Granville, the Marquis of Hartington, Lord Rosebery, and other political associates and private friends. In the afternoon he went out for a drive with Mrs Gladstone. The Marquis of Salisbury and Sir Staf- ford Northcote also received visits in the course of the day from a number of their leading Parliamen- tary followers, but no formal conference of the Con- servative leaders was held, nor will any meeting of the party be summoned at present. Considerable amuse- ment was caused among the members of the former Conservative Government by the premature an- nouncement made in various quarters as to who are likely to occupy the principal offices of State in any new Administration. Those who would be mainly responsible for the actual selection have not yet considered that part of the ques- tion, and all speculations or statements as to who would form the next Conservative Cabijlfet may there- fore be dismissed as mere idle conjecture. Specula- tion was also busy as to the policy of the expected new Cabinet. It is generally believed that they would not attempt to renew any portion of the Irish Crimes Act, and there can be little doubt that the Crofters' Bill, the Welsh Education Bill, the Supreme Court of Judicature (Ireland) Bill, the Corporate Property Security Bill, the Scottish Secretary Bill, and the Universitv (Scotland) Bill will all have to be dropped. 'There is also very small expectation that the bill to authorise the introduc- tion of sixpenny telegrams will now be proceeded with, at all events not in its present form. It is likewise quite on the cards that the general election so confidently expected to take place in November may after all be postponed until January. In order to make the new register of voters operative this winter it would have been necessary to pass a short bill within two months, and considerable doubts are ex- pressed as to whether the Conservative party, if they accept office, would consider it desirable to hasten that measure, especially if there was any likelihood of their electoral prospect being improved after a couple of months' longer tenure of office, and that, too, in the recess, when there would be no embarrassment from the attacks of a hostile majority in the House of Commons. -—




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