Government of Ireland Act 1914
Government of Ireland Act 1914
The Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith
, introduced the Bill on 11 April 1912.
Allowing more autonomy than its two predecessors, the bill provided that:
The financial situation was a concern. Irish taxes had yielded a surplus of £2 million in 1893, that had become a current spending net deficit of £1.5m by 1910 that had to be raised by London. An annual "Transferred Sum" mechanism was proposed to maintain spending in Ireland as it was.
The Bill was passed by the Commons by a majority of 10 votes in 1912 but the House of Lords rejected it by 326 votes to 69 in January 1913. In 1913 it was reintroduced and again passed by the Commons but was again rejected by the Lords by 302 votes to 64. In 1914 after the third reading, the Bill was passed by the Commons on 25 May 1914 by a majority of 77. Having been defeated a third time in the Lords, the Government used the provisions of the (new) Parliament Act to override the Lords and send it for Royal Assent
Unionists in Ulster were opposed to a home-rule Ireland governed from Dublin. Hostility to the Home Rule Bill was increasing in the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry.
Early in 1912, some of the residents of that area began forming small local militias. By April 1912, the Irish Unionist Alliance
's managing politician, Sir Edward Carson
, could review 100,000 marching Ulster Volunteers
. On 28 September 1912, more than 500,000 Unionists signed the Ulster Covenant
pledging to defy Home Rule by all means possible. The Covenant was developed by Carson and organised by Sir James Craig
This Covenant specifically pledged not to acknowledge any Parliament out of Dublin, nor to obey its laws, nor pay any taxes levied by its government. This would be problematic especially since Ulster was the wealthiest and most prosperous part of Ireland.
In January 1913, the Unionist Council reorganised their volunteers into a paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), whose members threatened to resist by physical force the implementation of the Act and the authority of any restored Dublin Parliament by force of arms.
On 28 November 1913, Irish Nationalists responded by forming the Irish Volunteers
"to secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland"
The government's ability to oppose the Unionist threat was rendered questionable by the "Curragh Mutiny
" of 20 March 1914, when many British Army officers at Curragh in County Kildare, the main Army camp in Ireland, threatened to resign or accept dismissal rather than deploy against the Ulster Volunteers, forcing the government to cancel planned troop movements.
At the Bill's third reading
in the Commons on 21 May 1914 several members asked about a proposal to exclude the whole of Ulster for six years. Asquith was seeking any solution that would avoid a civil war. During the emotional debate which lasted until 25 May 1914, Sir Edward Carson made the statement:
"I say this to my Nationalist fellow-countrymen, and indeed also to the Government, you have never tried to win over Ulster. You have never tried to understand her position. You have never alleged, and you cannot allege, that this Bill gives her one atom of advantage."
A government amending bill was introduced in the House of Lords
on 23 June 1914 (before the Lords had considered the original Home Rule bill itself) and passed there with amendments on 8 July.
Carson and the Irish Unionist Party
MPs) backed the amending bill, which provided for "temporary exclusion of Ulster" from the workings of the future Act. The Lords' amendments to the amending bill were unacceptable to the government.
What was still to be negotiated were the number of counties excluded (four, six or nine) and whether exclusion would be temporary or permanent. The compromise proposed by Asquith was straightforward. Six counties in northeast Ulster were to be excluded "temporarily" from the territory of the new Irish parliament and government, and to continue to be governed as before from Westminster and Whitehall. How temporary the exclusion would be, and whether northeastern Ireland would eventually be governed by the Irish parliament and government, remained an issue of some controversy. To save prolonged debate in parliament, George V
called the Buckingham Palace Conference
with two MPs from each of the British Liberal and Conservative parties, and two each from the nationalists and unionists. The conference, held between 21 and 24 July 1914, achieved very little.
Passing of the Bill
With the beginning of World War I
on 4 August 1914, Asquith decided to abandon his Amending Bill, and instead rushed through a new bill, the Suspensory Act 1914
, which was presented for Royal Assent
simultaneously with both the Government of Ireland Act 1914 and the Welsh Church Act 1914
. Although the two controversial Bills had now finally become statute on 18 September 1914, the Suspensory Act ensured that Home Rule would be postponed for the duration of the conflict
and would not come into operation until the end of the war.
(Eventually Home Rule was considered by the Irish Convention
in 1917–18, and by the cabinet from September 1919; the Welsh Church Act was delayed until March 1920). The Ulster question was 'solved' in the same way: through the promise of amending legislation which was left undefined.
Dublin was a battlefield for a week during the Easter Rising
of 1916. This rebellion would have a major effect on the Home Rule passage and many Home Rulers would be troubled by this event.
After the Rising, two attempts were made during the First World War
to implement the Act. The first attempt came in June 1916, when Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
sent David Lloyd George
, then Minister for Munitions, to Dublin to offer immediate implementation to the leaders of the Irish Party, Redmond and Dillon. The scheme concerned partition,
officially a temporary arrangement, as understood by Redmond. Lloyd George however gave the Ulster politician, Carson, a written guarantee that Ulster would not be forced into a self-governing Ireland. His tactic was to ensure that neither side would find out before a compromise was implemented.
A modified Act of 1914 had been developed by the Cabinet on 17 June. The Act had two amendments enforced by Unionists on 19 July – permanent exclusion and a reduction of Ireland's representation in the Commons. When informed by Lloyd George on 22 July 1916, Redmond accused the government of treachery. This was decisive in determining the future fortunes of the Home Rule movement. Lloyd George, now Prime Minister, made a second attempt to implement Home Rule in 1917, with the calling of the Irish Convention
directed by Horace Plunkett
. This consisted of Nationalist and Unionist representatives who, by April 1918, only succeeded in agreeing on a report with an 'understanding' on recommendations for the establishment of self-government.
The end of the war, in November 1918, was followed in Ireland by the December 1918 general election
, the majority of seats being won by the republican separatist Sinn Féin
party, then in January 1919 by the Irish War of Independence
, so that the Act was never implemented. The future of Home Rule was determined by the Government of Ireland Act 1920
. It established Northern Ireland
, with a functional government, and Southern Ireland
, the governmental institutions of which never functioned completely. Southern Ireland, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty
, became the Irish Free State
- ^ a b James F. Lydon, The Making of Ireland: From Ancient Times to the Present, Routledge, 1998, p. 326
- ^ Hansard online, start of the debate 11 April 1912; accessed 20 January 2009
- ^ Future financial arrangements, Hansard 11 April 1912 – accessed 20 January 2009
- ^ Shepard, Walter James. "The Government of Ireland Home Rule Bill". American Political Science Review. 6 (4): 564–573. doi:10.2307/1944652.
- ^ Stewart, A.T.Q., The Ulster Crisis, Resistance to Home Rule, 1912–14, pp.58–68, Faber and Faber (1967) ISBN 0-571-08066-9
- ^ Shepard, Walter James. "The Government of Ireland Home Rule Bill". The American Political Science Review. 6 (4): 564–573. JSTOR 1944652.
- ^ Stewart (1967), pp.69–78
- ^ Annie Ryan, Witnesses: Inside the Easter Rising, Liberties Press, 2005, p. 12
- ^ Holmes, Richard (2004). The Little Field Marshal: A Life of Sir John French. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 178–89. ISBN 0-297-84614-0.
- ^ Gwynn, Denis: The Life of John Redmond p.255, Harper & Co,, London (1932)
- ^ O'Day, Alan; Fleming, N. C. (2014). Longman Handbook of Modern Irish History Since 1800. Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 9781317897118.
- ^ "Government of Ireland Bill; Amending Bill". Hansard. 29 June 1914. HC Deb vol 64 cc30–1. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
- ^ a b Jennings, Ivor (1957). Parliament (2nd ed.). CUP Archive. p. 427.
- ^ HC Bill 326: Government of Ireland (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]. Sessional papers. 1914 HC 3 59. London: HMSO. 15 July 1914.
- ^ Jackson, Alvin: pp.161–63
- ^ a b Jackson, Alvin: p.164
- ^ Hennessey, Thomas: Dividing Ireland, World War I and Partition, The passing of the Home Rule Bill p.76, Routledge Press (1998) ISBN 0-415-17420-1
- ^ Morton, Grenfell (1980). Home Rule and the Irish Question. p. 63.
- ^ Headings of a settlement as to the Government of Ireland. Command papers. Cd.8310. HMSO. 1916. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
- ^ Maume, Patrick: The long Gestation, Irish Nationalist Life 1891–1918, pp.182–84, Gill & Macmillan (1999) ISBN 0-7171-2744-3
- Hennessey, Thomas: Dividing Ireland, World War 1 and Partition, (1998), ISBN 0-415-17420-1.
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- Lewis, Geoffrey: Carson, the Man who divided Ireland (2005), ISBN 1-85285-454-5
- Lee, JJ: Ireland 1912–1985 (1989), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-37741-2
- Smith, Jeremy: Bluff, Bluster and Brinkmanship: Andrew Bonar Law and the Third Home Rule Bill
pages 161–74 from Historical Journal, Volume 36, Issue #1, 1993.
- Kee, Robert: The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism (2000 edition, first published 1972), ISBN 0-14-029165-2.
- Rodner, W. S.: Leaguers, Covenanters, Moderates: British Support for Ulster, 1913–14 pages 68–85 from Éire—Ireland, Volume 17, Issue #3, 1982.
- Stewart, A.T.Q.: The Ulster Crisis, Resistance to Home Rule, 1912–14, (Faber and Faber, London, 1967, 1979), ISBN 0-571-08066-9
- Government of Ireland Act 1914, available from the House of Lords Record Office
- "Home Rule Finance" Arthur Samuels KC (1912) Text online at Archive.org
- Erskine Childers; The Framework of Home Rule. Text online at Gutenberg.org
Last edited on 27 February 2021, at 13:58
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