Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

24 articles on this Page


-'-----.->---F\TIIER HYACINTHE.…





[No title]




[No title]




MR. BRIGHT AND THE MEMBERS FOR BRIGHTON. Mr. White 'and Mr. Fawcett, the members .01' Brighton, addressed their constituents at Brighton on Alonday evening, and received a vote of confidence. Mr. White said that, despite the Ashantee War, he believed Mr. Gladstone would have to deal with a surplus of between three and four millions. Mr. Fawcett said he was in favour of the repeal of the 25th clause of the Education Act, and he desired to see attendance at school made generally compulsory. As to the income tax, he thought the limit of income to be taxed under Schedule D ought to be raised. He was averse to the English Church being disestab- lished on the plan adopted in the case of the Irish Church, as that would have the effect of handing over a vast amount of national property to & sect which might be represented by the present Houses of Convocation, and surrendering to English landlords the reversion of much valuable estate. Mr. Whitj, speaking of Mr. Bright and his re- entry into the Cabinet, said:—"Air. Bright tells his constituents that the Government measures are not decided upon in the Cabinet till November, and that it was impossible that he could tell them anything authoritatively —however much he might wish to do so—because he was addressing them on the 22nd of October. That was quite true, and in the best taste as respects his Cabinet colleagues but the merest tyro in politics must know that a statesman of the calibre of Mr. Bright would never have consented to make the great sacrifice of ease and comfort, mayhap of health, by again accepting office, mlcflS he felt certain that the future policy of the Government would be in accordance with his own honest and earnest convictions. Hence it is that, in the language of the Birmingham resolution, I regard Air. Bright's entrance to the Alinistry as the pledge of a distinctly Liberal policy in the future, and will be, I trust, the means of reviving the enthusiasm of the Liberal party, and especially that section which has been alienated by recent errors, shortcomings, and backslidings of the Alinistry. One important question, or rather group of questions, which I think must engage the attention of Parliament next ses- sion Mr. Bright did uot allude to in his Birmingham speech—I mean local taxation, and, in connection therewith, local government. I confess that I do not think the Government would be wise to dissolve the present Parliament, without attempting to redeem its previous pledges by recommending the appropriation of such an amount of the Imperial revenue as shall be equal to the product of the inhabited house duty, in payment of what are alleged to be strictly Imperial charges, now paid out of local taxation." Professor Fawcett, who spoke with much fire and animation, said, in tue course of his lengthy and eloquent speech :—I should like to make some reference to a political programme which assumes additional importance because it seems to be in- tended to constitute a basis of Union between the Nonconformists and the working classes. There is probably not a more active and energetic politician in the country than Air. Chamberlain. Ho sis the moving spirit of the Birmingham League, and he has virtually said to the working classes: "If you will help us in our educational agitation, we, in return, will help you in secur- ing free education, free land, free labour, and a free Church." This programme is so tempting that it has already been embodied in n1<tny an election ad- dress; but seductive as this promise of getting every- thing free may seem, it still is incumbent on us to inquire very carefully what it really means. The prospect of getting everything free is, no doubt, very pleasant, but then comes the question, do you get it really free ? Some one, after all, must pay for it; and if the Government pays for it it generally lmy. an extravagant price, and the money is taken out of your pockets in the form of a vexatious taxation and onerous rates. But the first essential in a political pro- gramme is that there shall be no ambiguity about it, and I think it may be fairly objected that the word "free" is made to serve a very ambiguous end. A free Church means a disestablished Church, free edu- cation means gratuitous education is it to be con- cluded that free land and free labour mean gra- tuitous land and gratuitous labour ? If so, why not gratuitous capital and gratuitous everything else? If itj^is meant that labour is to be freed from all restrictions which prevent it obtaining its full reward—if it is meant that land is to be freed from all impediments which prevent its ready sale then I need scarcely say that, although the phraseo- logy is not the best that may be selected, I am in fa- vour of free labour and free land. But I am afraid that the expression" free land" will convey a very different meaning to many minds. It will mean the nationalisation of the land, or in other words the ac- quisition of the land by the State. Such a policy would, I believe, lead to infinite jobbery and incal- culable waste, which would add indefinitely to the taxation of the country. After what I have already said, I need make no further reference to a "Free Church," but on the subject of free education I should certainly like to say a few words. Although I ob- ject to free education on principle, no one will more earnestly endeavour than myself to bring the best intellectual training possible within the reach of the poorest and humblest in the land. After what I have said in a previous part of tlJÎs speech, I need scarcely repeat that, in my opinion, Parliament has no more important work to do than to make the vast 4iclucational and other endowments possessed by the country serve the great end of bringing the highest education within the reach of tllOUfmntls who now, through poverty, are debarred from enjoying it. It is because I feel so strongly on this point that I have been induced to protest against 80 much time and energy being frittered away on the 25th Clause. But I object to the principle of free education, because I think that the parent is as much bound to pro- vide education for his children as he is to give them food and clothing; and if the responsibility of provid- ing education is shifted from the parent to the State there is no logical reason why the duty of pro- viding maintenance should not also be transferred from the parent to the State. It must, moreover, be remembered that education's, after all, to a great extent, free the greater part of the cost of schools is borne by the public, for the fees which are paid by the parents do not probably defray more than one-third of the. entire cost of a school. I cannot conclude without referring for a moment to one vote which I gave and one speech which I made during the pa8t session. I not only spoke strongly, but I voted against the Irish University Bill of the Government. \V hen tlw defeat of that measure led to the resig- nation of the Ministry, some of you—I do not know how many—met in the rooms of the Liberal Regis- tration Society, and I believe those who thus met contemplated calling a public meeting to censure me for the vote I had given. The meeting was abandoned because the Government resumed office. Now you must allow me, in the first place, to say, that if I had done wrong it was just as much your duty to cen- sure me whether the Government did or did not resume office. At the time I tried my best to discover on what grounds the intenderl censure was going to he based. So far as I could gather, it was not pretended to say that the bill was a good bill. Neither was it maintained that my objections to it wero ill-founded. But it was apparently thought thr; I it was all very well to oppose a bill so long as ojv' siiion to it did not involve the fate of the Government, but that di- rectly I found that my vote was likely to contribute to tho resignation of the Ministry I ought to have made up my mind either not to have voted at all or to have given a vote against my own con victiollS. Let me, however, at once tell you in words that cannot be mistaken, that nothing in the world would induce me to hold a seat in the House of Commons on these terms. I will never, in order to keep the pre- sent or any other Government in office, refrain from voting against a Bill which I believe would prove mischievous to the country.

[No title]

-j iai4 5d li-i.;. j ii .Cii.…