“SOME CONSIDERATIONS ON REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT,
THE LAND, AND HOME RULE.
BEING A LECTURE DELIVERED AT MURKLE ON 16TH DECEMBER, 1886,
BY ALEXANDER MACLEAN, M.D., C.M., DEPUTY-SURGEON-GENERAL.
(Published by Request.)
III. – HOME RULE.
Do you suppose that, with any amount of Scottish popular representation in our present Imperial Parliament, the political views and wants of the Scottish people will, in the future, be any more regarded than they have been in the past?.. England enjoys Home Rule. If it is the right of England to enjoy Home Rule, it is equally the right of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to do so likewise. The union of the two crowns of Scotland and England was all right. But the legislative union of the two countries, except for imperial purposes, was all wrong. It is this mischievous legislative union – some effects of which I have indicated – that the Scottish nation wish to have rectified by Home Rule, for without this they never can enjoy what we now know to be the best form of government. Yet none need it so desperately as bruised and bleeding Ireland. God grant that she may have it speedily. But what a farce it is that Scotland, with five sixths of her people and members Liberal or Radical, should be governed by English Tories and Whigs! How much longer is this comedy of errors, this burlesque of fair play, to be tolerated? I have not referred to the inequality of imperial taxation, of which this country has to complain. Scotland is frequently sneered at by the English for her comparative poverty. But, compared with England, Scotland is, year by year, overtaxed to the tune of three shillings and fivepence per head of population; or, in other words, six hundred thousand pounds annually, more than she should be. What aims should Scotsmen have in view in agitating for Home Rule? The following may be mentioned as amongst the principal:-
That Scotland may be allowed to manage her own affairs in her own way, on the principle that the people who know their own business best are the best people to manage it.
To preserve the national identity and history of Scotland and the individuality and patriotism of her people, and to rescue these from the doom evidently contemplated from an English quarter. Already Englishmen speak of Great Britain as the ‘English island,’ and everything declared in the Treaty of Union to be ‘British,’ such as the army, the navy, &c., they are now steadily appropriating as ‘English.’ Professors Freeman, Seely, and others are the leaders of this most aggressive school of English Philistinism – some ‘Scotch’ cockneys in the press and elsewhere helping them.
To effect such changes in the laws relating to land in Scotland as will make the use of that land not the intolerable monopoly of the few, but the common right of all. In speaking at Wednesbury a few days ago, Mr Mundella said – ‘The land laws must also be dealt with in such a manner that we should no longer see the spectacle presented in this country, which was to be witnessed nowhere else in Europe, of the land lying uncultivated for want of labour whilst labour was unemployed for want of land.’
To have such an equitable redistribution of the arable, pasture, and waste lands of Scotland as will enable the greatest possible number of her agricultural and pastoral population to live and thrive on their own native soil. For this end the number of small farms, each sufficient to maintain in comfort an industrious family, must be greatly multiplied.
The total abolition of the Game Laws, as being a principal obstacle to this most desirable object; also all exclusive right to salmon, sea trout, and all other kinds of salt and freshwater fishing.
To secure the complete restitution of the millions of acres of common land of which the people of Scotland have been wrongfully deprived.
To secure to the manufacturing, trading, artizan and labouring classes of Scotland all the benefits accruing from a greatly increased and more prosperous country population.
To extend the principles of the Crofters Act, and to have these made applicable to leaseholders in Scotland.
To arrange for Scotland such a restoration of her educational system as that she can no longer be dragged down to the level of England in this respect.
To give Scotland complete control over her own intoxicating liquor traffic.
To secure a more equal incidence of local rates as between small farmers on the one hand and large farmers and landlords on the other.
To provide better and more decent accommodation for farm-servants (male and female), a better diet, shorter hours, and more holidays.
To make the law in Scotland and its administration, especially in the Highlands, more respectable, and, therefore, more to be respected, than is, unfortunately, the case at present.
To expedite and cheapen Scottish Parliamentary business in general, and particularly that embracing private bill legislation in connection with the construction of harbours, railways, and such like.
But what avails our appeal for these and other much needed reforms, or against the multitudinous and grave evils from which our country suffers, so long as the Imperial Parliament, as at present constituted, is, and will continue to be, dead against us?
We understand the disease. We know the remedy. It is Home Rule. Therefore, let us secure and apply it. (Cheers.)”
– Northern Ensign and Weekly Gazette, Wednesday 26th January, 1887.