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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Professor Tom Allen

Allen, Tom (2018). Constitutional Rights in the Irish Home Rule Bill of 1893. Journal of Legal History 39(2): 187-215.

Author(s) from Durham


In 1893, Prime Minister Gladstone introduced the second Irish home rule bill in parliament. The bill broke with tradition in Britain and the empire, as it included provisions from the bill of rights of the United States. Its significance was clear at the time: it was debated for nine days in the committee stage and, with one minor amendment, it remained part of the bill that passed the Commons. However, the bill was defeated in the Lords and, at least in the United Kingdom, bills of rights were dismissed as unnecessary or detrimental to sound governance until well after the second world war. This article therefore tries to understand how this early bill of rights was regarded at the time. Who suggested, or demanded, its inclusion? How did they expect it to be applied? And how did the debate reflect and influence thinking about constitutional law in Britain and the empire?