New Zealand Tablet, Volume XIII, Issue 24, 9 October 1885, Page 15
tUBLIC Opinion, both in the Home Country and in the Colonies, seems to be on the alert in reference to the question of local government ; but whether anything worth while will come of it, at least for some time to come, is very doubtful. Here amongst ourselves an attempt has been made in this direction, but no success has attended the effort. Various causes may be assigned for this. One, and the chief, is the necessity for direct and increased taxation that such a measure would involve, and another is the disinclination of a well-established and powerful party to decentralization. In the Home Country the difficulty is to be found in the National and religious prejudice, and the domination of class. No doubt the day will come, it must come, when local government will be the established order, but that day is not yet. Local government is expensive and what is more important in the consideration of the question it is felt to be so ; that is, people realize more sensibly the burden of direct than indirect taxation. Under any system of local government amongst us, the custom and excise revenue must go to the General Government, whereas local institutions will have to be maintained from local rates. Herein lies the great difficulty, and is to be found the great objection entertained by men of property, particularly of fixed property, to local government which depends entirely on local taxation. For this reason we think we are a long way off from real local government in this country. But how is it likely to be in the Home Country. England is governed by the majority of her people, so is Scotland ; not so, however, Ireland. Scotch representatives always decide as to the legislation for that country. The Imperial Parliament never opposed the will of the majority of the members for Scotland ; and one very remarkable fact cannot fail to strike the attentive reader of the debates in Westminster. When Scotch questions are under consideration there, it is very noticeable that Irish members never, or hardly ever, take any part in the debate, and rarely vote. Not so, however, when the questions discussed and decided are Irish questions. On these Scotch members are particularly loud and not unfrequently offensive, and in reference to measures of coercion they are always found on the anti-Irish side. In fact, legislation for Ireland is never treated from an Irish point of view, and the opinions of her people are habitually disregarded by the Imperial Parliament. Even when what are called concessions are granted, they are never what the Irish people or the representatives fully approve of. Is this state of things about to be changed 1 Some are sanguine enough to believe so, but we shall wait till we see it before pronouncing an opinion. We think, indeed, that the time is fast approaching when G rattan's Parliament must be restored to Ireland, but we fear it is not as near as some imagine. The average Britisher, as our American friends would say, is yet too thoroughly convinced of his superiority in many respects over Irishmen, too long accustomed to domineer over them, and too prejudiced against them to easily let go his grip of a people he lias not yet ceased to dislike and fear. Something will be done in the next Parliament because it will not be possible to utterly ignore the unanimous demand of Ireland, for the demand for Grattans' Parliament, will be practically unanimous ; but if we may judge as to the future by the past, that which Ireland approves of, and asks will not bo granted. There will, in all probability, be some half measure, something which looking well on paper will, as has been usual, turn out to be absolutely worthless or nearly so in reality. Neither here nor at Home are we very near local government.