LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
" IS THERE MONEY IN IT ? "
[TO THE EDITOR OP TEE "SPECTATOR."]
SIR,—Is there money in it ? Apparently this is the question which this Government thinks everybody ought to ask himself regarding legislation, and not "Is the principle of this measure right or wrong ? " First let us take the Insurance Act. The Chancellor told us "There is money in it," "Ninepence for fourpence," and he was believed by some—for a time. Gradually the truth is dawning on the nation that the Government is spending the people's money instead of the people spending it themselves, and the public official is irritating the Britisher in a way which a Britisher does not like and which he is sure to resent, for hitherto our nation has been the freest from officialdom of all nations. (The malingerer does certainly, however, find " there is money in it.") Secondly, let us take the Welsh Church Bill. Mr. Ellis Griffith, M.P., told his constituents, " There is money in it." It was supposed that there was a great principle at stake, that the main thing was Disestablishment and religious equality. Now the Radical Welsh M.P.'s one and all say that unless they can take the Church's money they would prefer to drop the Bill altogether. If " there is no money in it" they don't want it. So much for the great principle. It may have been noticed that many who were active for Dis- establishment, but who disapprove of taking money from any religious community, have become silent and are disgusted with the declaration of the Welsh M.P.'s, who think that taking the Church's money is the most important point. It is as certain as anything can be that scores of English Liberals will vote for taking the Church's money with a very deep sense of shame.
Thirdly, let us take the Home Rule Bill. There is " money in it." Some two and a half millions of English money are to be given to Ireland. Suppose England said to Ireland, " Go, govern yourselves." Does anyone imagine that any Irishman would accept Home Rule without the money? Without the money, if Home Rule were given, it would not be many weeks before Ireland came begging to be taken back into the Union. How far will two and a half millions go? Not very far. The forty-two Irish members in our Parlia- ment will soon see to it that that is increased. By the way, I have often felt tempted to ask the question, "If forty-two Irishmen ought to sit and vote on English questions in the English Parliament, how many Englishmen ought to sit in the Irish Parliament?" This seems a fair question to ask, but there would be " no money in it."
Again, when the chief cashier of the nation speculated on the Stock Exchange with borrowed money, he no doubt did so because he thought " there was money in it." If the chief cashier of an industrial firm was detected doing this, would he not be severely reprimanded if he was not lucky enough to escape a prompt dismissal ? Will Mr. George ever again talk about unearned increment ?
Lastly, it used to be an honour to serve one's country in Parliament for nothing, but now, alas! " there is money in it "
—R400 a year. Is not public life rapidly degenerating into a
sordid and sorry business am, Sir, &c., E. L. OLIVER.