HC Deb 12 May 1847 vol 92 cc718-21

On the Order of the Day for the House to go into Committee on the Agricultural Tenant Right Bill being moved,


said, that he did not intend to proceed any further with this Bill, being satisfied now that the advice he had received from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth was best calculated to insure its ultimate success. He found that it was impossible to legislate upon this subject in a manner likely to satisfy the landowners, whose feelings it was proper to consult in the matter, without further inquiry. At the same time, as something had been said about a petition which had been presented on the other side, he begged to be allowed to remind the House that he had presented three petitions in favour of the Bill, signed by farmers occupying 200,000 acres of land. He felt quite convinced that the principle of the Bill must become law within a very few years; he was satisfied that the justice of the cause would work its way; but he was most anxious that it should not be carried in any way calculated to do violence to the feelings of the landlords, who he was sure would soon come to find their interests to be bound up with the just rights of the tenants, quite as much as the tenants themselves. Being anxious, then, not to provoke exasperation, either in that House or out of it, or to disturb the harmony between landlords and tenants, and being satisfied that the measure would be carried within one or two years at most—he was quite certain that it would be inquired into during next Session of Parliament—he begged to be allowed to withdraw the Bill for the present. He assured the House that his only object in bringing it forward had been practical legislation, and not to make speeches, and as soon as he found that that was hopeless, he at once abandoned it.


wished to be allowed to say a few words before the Bill was withdrawn. He thought that his hon. Friend (Mr. Pusey) had no reason to look back upon the course he had pursued with any other feelings than those of entire satisfaction. He did not believe that his hon. Friend had undertaken the arduous and difficult task of legislation—a task peculiarly difficult to a private Member of the House—from any other motives but those of wishing to encourage the application of capital to the land, and to insure a just remuneration to those tenants who might expend their own capital on its improvement. The hon. Member however, had met with unexpected difficulties. There were various arrangements now prevailing throughout the country which were founded on a better basis than that of law, namely, the mutual confidence between landlords and tenants. He thought, therefore, that his hon. Friend had exercised a most wise discretion in not attempting to carry this Bill at present, and in not incurring the risk of disturbing that confidence, and provoking angry feelings between these two great classes. He (Sir E. Peel) thought that, after mature inquiry into the customs of different parts of the country, and after deliberate consideration as to how they could best give the force of law to those arrangements which were now based upon those friendly and reciprocal understandings, it was possible something might be done. If his hon. Friend, and those who, like him, took an interest in the welfare of agriculture, would apply their attention to the subject, it was probable they might come to some satisfactory understanding upon it. To the principle of promoting the application of capital to the land, in order to insure its better improvement, and of providing that just compensation should be given to tenants who had expended their capital in that way—to that principle there could be no objection whatever. But, as he had said before, he thought the course which had been taken by the hon. Member on this occasion, as well as on other occasions, such as in the case of the drainage of land, and in other matters relative to agricultural improvement, was such as to reflect great credit on the hon. Member; and, as the hon. Member had been obliged by circumstances which he had not foreseen to abandon the Bill, he thought it right on the part of some Member of the House who was opposed to him to express their entire confidence in the purity of his motives.

Order of the Day discharged. Bill withdrawn.