Synnott, Nicholas J. 'Over-taxation and local expenditure in Ireland'. - Dublin: Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland,Vol. X Part LXXIX, 1898/1899, pp404-432
Journal of The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland Vol. X Part LXXIX 1898/1899
The speech delivered by Mr. Arthur Balfour in the House of
Commons on the 5th July, 1898, has evidently been considered
a particularly effective and unanswerable reply to the financial demands of Ireland, for it was not only greeted with a chorus
of plaudits at the time, but it has since been reprinted and
published in pamphlet form by the Conservative Central Office,
with an appendix containing tables of figures, now appearing for
the first time.
As this statement of the case has received a quasi-official
sanction, and to many has appeared final and conclusive, it
seems the proper subject of special criticism.
Nobody can deny the effectiveness of the speech as a debating
effort, but as a permanent justification for the attitude of the
Government it will, I venture to predict, be as ineffectual as
Mr. Gladstone's plausible justification for the imposition of the
Income Tax on Ireland in 1853. We may re-affirm of Mr.
Balfour's speech what the author of the well-known article in
the Edinburgh Review said of Mr. Gladstone's reasoning: "It is true also that he had a good debating answer - when has he
not had one - but a good debating answer is one thing, and
sound ground of policy quite another." The jugglery of Mr.
Gladstone in dealing with the Consolidated Annuities was all
sufficient for the House of Commons for the time being, and is
now universally condemned; and it may be that Mr. Balfour's startling arithmetical results do not carry the argument one
point further, inasmuch as they are worked out on a principle
that assumes the main point at issue.
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