6 SEPTEMBER 1913, Page 2

The papers of Tuesday published a letter from Mr. Birrell

to his constituents. It has had the effect of breaking the political holiday. Speaking of the Parliament Act he says : " The Act, it is true, is but a lop-sided measure which will

be useless from our point of view when next the Tories slip into office, unless we are able, as I hope we shall be, to remedy this inequality before we disappear." Re then turns to the future of the Home Rule Bill:— "As everybody knows, there was not an elector in Bristol, or anywhere else, who was not aware that the approval at the polls of the Parliament Bill meant the immediate introduction and the probable passage into law of a Bill setting up an Irish Parliament and Executive subordinate to the Imperial Parliament. Such universal knowledge, perhaps unusual, at once reduces to cant the silly talk now current about the necessity of a general election before the Home Rule Bill becomes law. Suppose you had a general election to-morrow, who is to guarantee that the Irish question will be the sole or even a chief issue? In my belief Home Rule was far more an issue at the last general election than it would be at any election that could now be held. Nor would a Referendum be of any use on a party question involving, as would here be the cane, the existence of the Government."

This ally avoidance—if we may borrow Mr. Birrell's epithet —of the plain facts about Ulster does not really impress us with Mr. Birrell's firmness. Rather it convinces us in an exactly opposite sense. Any statesman who intended to accept civil war would at least discuss the prospect with becoming seriousness.