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was doing enormous good, and they were going to put a stop to it. His remark that it was useless to argue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seeing the majority at his back, was speedily justified, for the House decided against Mr. Bright's motion by a majority of 59.
India was a prominent topic of discussion in the session of 1879, and on the 18th of February Mr. Fawcett called attention to the inadequate control exercised over the revenues of the great Eastern dependency, and moved for a Committee to inquire into and report upon the operation of the Government of India Act, 1858, and subsequent enactments. The motion was discussed at length. Mr. Grant Duff denied that want of financial control was one of the evils from which India suffered; if there was anything wrong, it arose from errors in policy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that if opportunity arose for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the general administration of Indian affairs, such a thing might be advantageous, but he could not consent to an inquiry on the basis of the present motion. Mr. Bright spoke with much power, regretting the decision of the Government not to grant the Committee, inasmuch as the condition of Indian affairs, pressing for the attention of the House and the Government, had been shown to be of the most serious character. The words of the motion, as he understood them, referred not merely to finance, but to the whole Government of India, and the sooner the Committee was appointed the better. The difficulties of the position in India had been aggravated by the recent policy of the Government, and he was surprised at the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had sat at the feet of Mr. Gladstone, and who at least knew his multiplication table—though he had known some Ministers who did not-should ever have consented to it. Whatever changes it might be found necessary to introduce into the administration of India, he believed that reforms in India would be of more consequence than any changes which could be made in the form of the Home Government. He continued of the opinion, which he expressed many years ago, that it was impossible for a Viceroy, with half a dozen councillors, to govern the whole of India; the country ought to be divided into half a dozen independent Governments, each directly responsible to the Secretary of State at home. Though he did not agree with Mr. Fawcett as to the value of the Council, he voted for the motion because he understood it to apply to the whole of Indian administration. On a division, the motion was negatived by 139 to 100 votes.
On the House of Commons going into Committee of Supply on the 2nd of May, 1879, Mr. Shaw-Lefevre moved a resolution asserting the expedienoy of legislating without further delay to increase the facilities offered by the Purchase clauses of the Irish Land Act. He pointed out that though the Purchase clauses of the Church Act had succeeded, those of the Land Act had been to a great extent a failure. This he attributed in a great measure to the fact that the working of the Act had been placed in the bands of persons who had no interest in its success. The most effectual remedy was for the State to step in and take the management. Mr. Gladstone said he hoped this would not be made a party question, for it was a moral, social, and political claim, going to the heart of the Irish question. Many other members, chiefly Irish, having spoken, Mr. Bright rose and eulogized the Land Act, which he affirmed would never have been passed if both Houses had not been convinced of the dangerous condition of the country. At the same time he admitted that the Act had only been partial, and the remedy was incomplete, as it did not go to the origin of the evil. The disproportion between the numbers of the holders and owners of land in Ireland was so great as to be intolerable. The consequence was a growing claim for a greater security of tenure, and demands were made which were probably not altogether sound. This particular provision contained no new principle ; it had been sanctioned by Parliament in 1870 without a division, and a measure might be carried this session which would tend to create a loyal and contented class of the population. Sir Stafford Northcote, on behalf of the Government, promised to make a proposal for removing some of the difficulties which impeded the operation of the Purchase clauses, and ultimately the resolution was agreed to.
On the 4th of July, in the same session, Mr. Chaplin moved for a Royal Commission to inquire into the depressed condition of the agricultural interest, and the causes to which it was owing; whether those causes were of a temporary or of a permanent character, and how far they had been created or could be remedied by legislation. Mr. T. Brassey seconded the motion, but said the exploded doctrines of Protection should be excluded from the discussion of the Commission. An animated debate arose, in the course of which Mr. Bright spoke. Without urging the Government to refuse the Commission, he charged the Conservatives with standing in fear of the Englishspeaking nation on the other side of the Atlantic. He did not suppose, however, that they wished to see the agricultural labourer go back to the position from which he had been raised by Free Trade; and he believed, as he hoped, that those who desired to return to that refuge of cowardice, idleness, and greed—the protective system, would be disappointed. Having complained of the silence of the proposers of this investigation as to what they expected from it, Mr. Bright warned them that, the door being once opened, it could not be closed until complete inquiry had been made. If appointed, the Commission must inquire into the gigantic monopoly of the present ownership in land, and ascertain why landlords and farmers viewed with alarm, and even with terror, the arrival in this country of corn and cattle from places many thousand miles across the Atlantic. It would increase the price of land here, he was convinced, if the ancient, stupid, and mischievous legislation which embarrassed every step in dealing with it were abolished; and he demanded that this inquiry should be wide and open. Above all, he would break down the monopoly which had banished so much labour from the farms, and pauperized what remained. Ultimately, Mr. Chaplin's motion was agreed to without a division.
The question of the Irish franchise was yet again brought before the House of Commons on the 17th of February, 1880, when Mr. Meldon moved a resolution declaring that it deserved the immediate attention of Parliament. Mr. C. E. Lewis moved as an amendment that it was inexpedient to deal with the question. A prolonged debate ensued, in the course of which Sir W. Harcourt strongly condemned Mr. Lewis's attack upon the Irish people. The Attorney-General for Ireland said it was impossible to disturb the Irish franchise without raising the question of the redistribution of seats, and, on the whole, there was no urgency in this matter. Mr. Bright began a brief but spirited speech by remarking that these were the arguments by which household suffrage had been resisted in this country; and if there were no special agitation in Ireland on this question, it was one of a bundle of grievances which demanded redress. But the real reason why the party opposite resisted this extension of the franchise, was that they feared the opinions which would