20 FEBRUARY 1993, Page 12

One hundred years ago

THAT A Member [of the House of Commons] should not take a bribe, or a party be supported by foreign money, Is perfectly clear; but why should not rich politicians assist poor politicians on their own side, if they make no stipula- tions impairing independence? They have always done it as regards the expenses of elections; and why should they not do it as regards expenses of livelihood? Burke could not have remained a politician without the aid of Lord Rockingham, and many a cadet of a great family elected to Parliament has practically lived at a kinsman's expense• We are no friends to the Irish Revolu- tionary Party, but we think the taunts flung at them for their poverty are both ungenerous and unwise. They have a perfect right to be supported by those who agree with them, provided always that the supporters respect their inde- pendence. Why is it so wicked for an American Irishman to subscribe an allowance for his favourite Member, when he might subscribe for his favourite missionary with applause? The contention now is that any Member may be supported by a relative, but not by a friend, which will be seen, when it Is thought out, to be nonsense.

The Spectator 18 February 1893