For no other reason did the minister for the colonies, Seor Maura, in 1894 fail to convince the Cortes, and even the Liberal party, that his very moderate Cuban Home Rule Bill was an indispensable and wise, though tardy, attempt to avert a conflict which many plain symptoms showed to be imminent in the West Indies.
Canovas assured the queenregent that he was ready to undertake the task of protecting the new state of things if it was thought wise to continue the Conservative policy of the late king, but in the circumstances created by his death, he must frankly say that he considered it advisable to send for Seor Sagasta and ask him to take the reins of government, with a view to inaugurate the regency under progressive and conciliatory policy.
Question was now mooted in the cabinet of dropping the Associations Law; but on the 21st of January Seor Caifalejas, president of the lower house, who was credited with having inspired the bill, publicly declared that in that event he would cease to support the government.
In his reforming work Seor Maura had an active and efficient lieutenant in the minister of the interior, Seor La Cierva.
A civil code was carefully drawn up by Seor Alonzo Martinez, in order to consolidate the very heterogeneous ancient legislation of the monarchy and the local laws of many provinces, especially Catalonia; Aragon, Valencia, Navarre, and the Basque territory.
Violent scenes greeted the attempt of the government to procure the suspension of the parliamentary immunities of 140 deputies, accused or suspected of more or less treasonable practices, and when, on the 4th of October, the Cortes reopened after the summer recess, Seor Romero Robledo, the president of the lower house, opened an attack on the ministry for their attempted breach of its privileges.
Quarrels broke out it, the cabinet between Seor Jos Echeray.
Count Romanones, desiring to educate the electors, had been busy establishing schools; but the sweeping victory of the Liberals at the polls2 was probably far more due to the fact that this was the first election held under Seor Mauras Local Administration Act, and that the ignorant electors, indignant at being forced to vote under penalty of a fine, where they did not spoil their ballot papers, voted against the Conservatives as the authors of their grievance.
The necessity for strengthening the Spanish forces in Africa had for some time been apparent; but Seor Maura had not dared to face the Cortes with a demand for the necessary estimates, for which, now that the crisis had become acute, he had to rely on the authorization of the council of state.
At the instance of the king, who was going abroad, Seor Montero Rios consented indeed to resume office; but his difficulties only increased.