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gate of which, Great Britain and Ireland form the two chief and preponderating members.
And here, Sir, it will be enough just to observe, what no man, I think, can deny, that in all cases where it is practicable, one general, superintending, and controlling legislature, is the best fitted for the steady, consistent, and rational government of all the parts of that combination of individuals and territories which constitutes what is denominated a state.
To endeavour to enforce this position by a long train of argument, indisputable as I conceive it to be, would be an unwarrantable waste of time and words.
It has indeed been faid, in answer to those who have pointed out the obvious inconvenience which might arise from a difserence of opinion on any great imperial ■question, as of peace and war, between two distinct Parliaments, that equal inconveniences would follow from a difference of a like fort between the several branches of the fame Parliament; but that such differences, though they may be suggested by theory, have not been found to happen in practice*. I must beg leave to fay that they certainly sometimes have happened, both between the two Houses, and between those Houses and the Sovereign, in <he British Parliament, and with the hazard, at least, of considerable detriment to the slate. But there are material distinctions between the two cases which have been thus brought into comparison. The identity of interest between the several branches of the legislative and executive government of the fame country is much more direct and sensible, and therefore, on discussion, much less apt to be mistaken by either, than what exists be
* Mr. Foster'% Speech, p. 54, 55.
F tween tween two kingdoms, though forming parts of the fame empire. Besides, there is a facility of discussion and explanation, by conserence, address, remonstrance, &c. between the respective branches of the fame Parliament, which cannot take place between two distinct Legislatures.
It is also faid, that the checks which the proceedings of the three branches of the fame Parliament produce, furnish a principle to which our constitution owes its stability, and that similar checks exist between the two sifter Parliaments*. No djubt this is true to a certain extent; but it would be easy to show, that in the case of the two Parliaments such checks exist in a very impersect degree, without any foundation in their formal and legal constitutions!, and with little more force or efficacy, than those which prevail in the relations of difserent states, having common interests, but no link or connexion in their governments. Such checks between the difserent nations of our part of the globe contributed for a time to maintain what used to be called the balance of Europe; but although those of a more substantial and operative kind, in concurrence with other causes, have to this day preserved, and, I trust, if perpetuity can belong to human institutions, will ever preserve our frame of government, the other and inserior sort has not been found of equal power in giving permanency to that balance.
• Mr. Fo/ler's Speech, p. 55.
f This is not inconsistent with what is afterwards said of the jurisdiction the British Parliament may exercise over the executive ministers who advise the King in assenting to, or rejecting Irish bills. That jurisdiction is without power to stop such assent or rejection; and, therefore, forms no immediate or absolute check, though it may afterwards punish those who have advised the Crown to give or refuse its assent.
I admit . I admit that circumstances of distance (there may be others) are sometimes such as to render so desirable an object as one common imperial legislature impracticable. Such I take to have been the case with regard to our colonies in North America. I believe all sober men of all parties, both here and on that continent, would have agreed, that, could it have been done, the admission into the British Parliament of an adequate number of representatives from thence, would have been the happiest method of reconciling the disputes and removing the difficulties which terminated in a civil war, and the separation of that country from the empire. Dr. Adam Smith, and many others, recommended the experiment. The immense distance, and the uncertainty of regular, periodical, frequent, and early communication between American representatives in Great Britain and their constituents in America, seem to me to have opposed insurmountable obstacles to such a plan.
But that no valid objection of a like nature exists in the case of Ireland, is, I think, abundantly manisest. Some gentlemen, indeed, of that country have expressed, in very strong language, their ideas of the inconvenience which would attend what they quaintly term a tranf~ marine Parliament; and one learned barrister, at the celebrated meeting of the prosession which took place early in Dublin, is stated to have pronounced, 4 That a British 'Minister shall not, and cannot, plant another Sicily in 'the bosom of the Atlantic, and that God and nature * never intended that Ireland should be a province*.'
If by this is meant, that the intervening channel is, in the nature of things, an insuperable difficulty in the way
* Debates of the Irisli Bar, gth December 1798, p. 47.
* F 2 of of a legislative Union; I answer, that in principle (however widely the cases differ in importance) the reason would equally apply to the islands of Orkney and Shetland, and would have applied, in former times, to the town of Calais. As to the idea, that Ireland, by a Union, will, in any degrading or offensive sense of the word, become a province, in any other sense than that according to which she and Great Britain are now provinces of the general empire; I deny it. Ireland, indeed, will no longer be a distinct kingdom; but neither will Great Britain: they will both become, as it were, aliquot parts of one incorporated realm, instead of remaining separate integral parts of the empire.
It is true, that the interposition of the sea forms a geographical separation between them, which did not exist in the case of England and Scotland. But, on the other hand, Dublin is nearer to London than Edinburgh is; and the journey, notwithstanding the sea passage, is* I believe, in general, performed in a shorter time; Cork, Limeric, and Londonderry, the most distant considerable cities in Ireland, from the British metropolis, are nearer to it than several of the principal towns in the north of Scotland; and no part of Ireland is so far removed from this city a« the counties of Sutherland and Caithness; not to mention again the Orkney and the Shetland Islands.
Besides, it is to be observed, that Great Britain is the tnly neighbour of Ireland, and that while the eastern coast of Scotland is open to a near and easy intercourse with other countries, Great Britain intercepts almost entirely all direct communication between Ireland and the continent of Europe, while the immense expanse of the Atlantic divides that istand from all other parts of the globe,
If we add to these considerations the many and important facilities, or rather invitations, to a more thorough incorporation of England and Ireland—and which now must comprehend Scotland—that did not exist in the former cafe; the fame system of laws, civil and commercial; the fame rules of property; similar tribunals; corresponding forms of legislature; a common origin; extensive consanguinity, and intermarriages; the great number of those who, by succession or acquisition, are daily becoming owners of land in both kingdoms; the fame established religion; the fame course of education, &c. &c.—If we consider all these circumstances, that of absolute territorial contiguity seems to be infinitely outweiged, and, as it were, totally to vanifli from our fight.
Having incidentally cleared away, as I flatter myself I have, this objection of the want of immediate juxta-position, I shall not, for the present, revert to any farther examination of more general, or, as they are often called, imperial considerations; but will now proceed to take a view of some of the peculiar benefits which I think Ireland would derive from the proposed arrangement.
At present, she has no share whatever in the legislation of Great Britain, nor, as I have always heard admitted, in that of the empire. Her Parliament can take no part in the regulations neceflary for the government and administration of our foreign possessions in the East and West Indies, in Asia, Africa, or America, of those in the Mediterranean, or even of those in her own im» mediate neighbourhood, in St. George's Channel, or on the northern coast of France. Is any one so ignorant a*
r 3 not