THE OVER-REPRESENTATION OF IRELAND.
[TO THE EDITOR OP THE "SPECTATOR.")
SIR,—The Prime Minister, in introducing the Home Rule Bill, and later on when winding up the debate on the Second Reading, referred to the long and insistent demand of the Nationalist members for Homo Rule and inquired whether any other parallel could be found to such consistency. Mr. Asquith, if he wished, could, of course, see a similar example in the continued demand put forward by Irish Unionists not to be driven out from their position in the United Kingdom ; but I would maintain that this is not the only point of view to be considered. Nobody blames the Nationalists for con- tinually putting forward their demands ; rather, if I may respectfully say so, we can all admire such political consistency. What I quarrel with is the fact that the Nationalists, roughly three millions of the population in Ireland, are able in Parlia- ment to put forward their claims through the mouths and votes of no fewer than 80 members, when a similar block of popula- tion, say 3,000,000 Englishmen, are only enabled to fight this demand with between 40 and 50 voting units—and, after all, it is votes that count. It takes an average of over 13,000 electors per member to return 465 English members, but only an average of 6,700 electors per member to return 103 Irish members, or, in other words, in this great con- troversy, where both countries are equally interested, every Irishman has nearly double the voting power of an Englishman. Considering that the latter alone have to pay the piper, it hardly seems fair to have only half the say in calling the tune. Throughout this controversy Ireland (broadly speaking in favour of Home Rule) has on population basis thirty-eight members too many, while England (broadly speaking in favour of the Union) has some thirty-eight members too few. And not only might these votes if transferred count two on a division, but under the present conditions it is fair to say that these Irish votes count even three on a division ; for, added to their numerical strength, the Nationalist Party are enabled to bring that kind of pressure to bear on the Liberal Party which is commonly expressed in the formula," Toeing the line." Sir, a child may continually cry out for a box of matches, but a mother, knowing of the hidden risks that lurk therein, does not, if prudent, give in to the demand, but rather suffers it with fortitude, patience, and resignation. If the child becomes possessed of a megaphone and still continues its inconvenient demand there may be, it is true, a consequent increase of annoyance to the mother; but even then, if she is sensible, she is not to be turned from her prudent line of action; she merely improves the situation by removing the megaphone.—I am,