§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. SERJEANT SHEE
said, that, in bringing under the consideration of the House the course which he proposed to take with regard to this Bill and to another Bill on the same subject, which stood in his name on the Orders of the Day, he was anxious that the House should understand the circumstances under which he had undertaken a task of very great importance, and in discharging which he should need all its indulgence. The right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Iceland, in the very able exposition which he gave the House a few evenings ago of the new code of Landlord and Tenant by which he hoped to resuscitate the fortunes of his country, respectfully noticed the labours of an hon. Friend of his (Mr. Sharman Crawford) who was long a Member of that House, and to whose exertions towards bettering the condition of the agricultural classes in Ireland the right hon. Gentleman handsomely attributed, as the primary cause, much of the credit he anticipated from his own proposed measures towards the same object. He had no wish to depreciate the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman, or of those who, agreeing generally with him on this question, had gone before him on the same path. It were ungenerous, with these evidences of his learning and industry before him, not to thank him for the many hours of anxiety, snatched, as he had told them, from the rare leisure of a life of no ordinary toil, to be devoted to the intricacies of this question; but when he reminded the House that in the years 1835 and 1836, 1090 and again in 1843, 1845, 1848, 1850, and 1852, Bills were brought in by the late Member for Rochdale, recognising the principle of a tenant's property in his own improvements, and of prospective and retrospective compensation for them—a principle which was now tardily, and little more than nominally, but still irrevocably, admitted by the right hon. Gentleman—he thought that hon. Members would agree with him in thinking that, when any effectual measure regulating the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland should be passed, no matter whose name might be on the back of it, the chief merit would be due to Mr. Crawford, It would be impossible for any man who was interested in the prosperity of Ireland, not to have been struck with the unwearied zeal, the entire self-devotion, the singleness, and singularity of purpose, by which the exertions of the hon. Member for Rochdale for so many years were marked. He was a man of large landed estate, familiarly acquainted with the duties, the rights, and the practical management of real property. On his first entry into Parliament he engaged in an endeavour which, if those who differed from him were to he believed, must seriously compromise his pecuniary interests as a landlord. He put forward a plan for the amelioration of the condition of his countrymen, the first clause of which contained a recognition, as belonging to others, of property to a largo amount in the shape of farm-houses, farm-offices, and permanent improvements of every kind on his own estate. He contended that the law and custom of landed property in Ireland had produced a state of things so unlike the state of things in England and in Scotland, that he, and other proprietors circumstanced as he was, had no colour of honest claim to deal with such property as their own. He declared that, having practised what he preached, from the time he succeeded to his estates, he had thereby greatly advanced, not only the prosperity of those whom it had pleased Providence to make dependent upon him, but his own pecuniary interest. He demonstrated that the national disgrace of perpetual famine in Ireland, and of no remedy, as we were told by the right hon. Gentleman, being suggested for it by all the Committees which received evidence on the subject from 1819 to 1845, except the getting rid of the inhabitants of a not overpeopled country, would certainly be removed by the abundant employment and 1091 increased production which must result from securing to the cultivators of the soil an interest of property in the creations of their industry. He (Mr. Serjeant Shee)had read and studied Mr. Crawford's Bills, and the other Bills that had been from time to time brought into that and the other House of Parliament; and from his own experience and observation, which had not been inconsiderable in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and from the reports of Parliamentary Committees and the writings of economists, he had come to a conclusion on the subject—he came at last to the conclusion—that unless the Legislature of this country was prepared to break up the settlement of landed estates for the purpose of family provision, which was thought essential for the maintenance of the aristocratic element, and distributed the land on the death of the proprietor, they would never arrive at a sound and proper state of things. On further inquiry, he found that Mr. Crawford's Bill contained no provisions that had not been sanctioned by the accumulated wisdom of ages, or that were not comprised in the laws of all those States which had retained the jurisprudence of the Empire. In every line of the Bill there was a tenacious anxiety to guard against the slightest encroachment on the real and just rights of property; and he observed in all that Mr. Crawford said and did a steady adherence to the principle that nobody could call that his own which he had not either purchased, or inherited, or produced by the exercise of his skill and industry, or by the employment of his capital; and he could not help admiring his (Mr. Crawford's) worthy resolution not to surrender one jot of his honest convictions for the whiff of that which had led even honest men astray—the gale of popularity —than which nothing was more worthless when it was undeserved. It might be in the recollection of the House that during the last Session of Parliament a great many petitions had been presented in favour of the Bill known as Mr. Sharman Crawford's Bill, whilst not one, from any quarter, was presented against it. How concurrent was the feeling in Ireland with that Bill, and with the opinions of Mr. Crawford on the subject, must be well known to the House, from the fact that support of the Bill in question was made a test of public usefulness at the last election in Ireland, by large majorities in almost every borough, as well as by large bodies in every county there. He (Mr. 1092 Serjeant Shee) who had had the honour of being returned to that House by the county he now represented, was very soon afterwards called upon by a large and influential meeting assembled at Dublin, at which Mr. Crawford took the chair, and at which some fifty Members of that House were present, to take charge of the Bill during, what was hoped to be, Mr. Sharman Crawford's temporary absence from Parliament. He was as little disposed as any man could be to take, but a week after taking the oaths at the table, what might seem the unseemly part of assuming so prominent a position; but when he was asked by his constituency—when his consistency was in question, and when, if he held back, it could be urged that he, who was not altogether unknown, at least in the neighbourhood of the House of Commons, was unprepared to advocate in that House those opinions the expression of which elsewhere had gained him the highest honour to which an English or Irish gentleman could aspire—what then could he say, if his course had been "within the eye of honour" and of honesty before, but that he was prepared to do what was requested of him? He had ever been of opinion that it was unpardonable for a man who was ambitious of Parliamentary station, to broach before excited multitudes, on great social questions, opinions which he did not in his conscience believe himself able to justify in that House. Agitation out of doors, the ultimate' object of which was not success for a worthy cause, after argument and discussion here, was in his mind not only mischievous, but criminal. But such was the ultimate object of this agitation; and he having been called upon so to do, brought this measure before the House with a true and loyal conviction that its principles were just and wise, conservative of all real rights of property, and conducive as well to the prosperity of Ireland as to the peace, strength, and prosperity of the Empire. As long as he could recollect—as most Members could recollect—the misery of the people of Ireland had occupied in every Session a large portion of the attention of the House; and no man who knew anything of England or Scotland could doubt that Englishmen and Scotchmen earnestly longed for an assurance of the happiness of their Irish fellow-subjects. But how came it after all that their benevolence failed so lamentably of its results—that they could not travel a stage in later Irish 1093 history without seeing some unsightly mark, some bulwark raised in haste against the tide of social disorganisation in that country—that they could not look into our Irish legislation for the last fifty years without perpetually meeting with an Insurrection Act, or a Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, or a report of a Committee on Outrage—that almost every Speech from the Throne spoke of turbulence and insubordination in Ireland, the resolution of the Government to enforce existing laws, and the demand for more stringent enactments, in constant juxtaposition with the announcement of Bills to be considered, or congratulations on Bills that had been passed for enlarging the civil and religious liberties, or improving the condition of that country? Why is the gaunt spectre of Irish misery to be for ever attendant upon Her Majesty when She meets Her Parliament? The industry of Ireland, owing to the superior wealth and commercial enterprise of England, was confined in the main to agriculture. The farmers and peasants of France, Belgium, Norway, Prussia, Lombardy, Switzerland, and the Channel Islands, were prosperous and contented —not so those in Ireland. The traveller passing rapidly from the south or west of Ireland to Scotland or England, would find his heart cheered and gladdened by the comparative prosperity. Waking as from a trance in the Lowlands, or Perthshire, or in the heart of England, he would be amazed at the vast difference in the content and happiness of these classes. Everywhere, except in Ireland, whether the Government be democratic, or monarchical, or constitutional, the just earth supplies to labour enough for the enjoyment of superior station and the comfort of humble life, except in Ireland—in three Provinces of which, almost within sight of the shores and with ready access to the markets of the wealthiest people of the earth, all is difficulty and struggle, a frightful contrast between the luxury of the few, and the hunger and nakedness of the many — property without security, industry without encouragement, commerce without credit, cultivation worse than neglected, a restless longing for new things at home or new fortunes beyond the seas; besides all which, agrarian injustice, agrarian discontent, and all the horrors of agrarian crime. It was vain then to conceal from themselves that an ulcer corrodes the vitals of Irish society, which mocks our legislation, which 1094 our remedies have, and which the mere consolidation of statutes, however cunningly contrived, the increase of leasing powers, or the giving to tenants of illusory guarantees for property in their own improvements, will fail to reach. What then was the remedy? Sometimes they were told that the cause of all this was an ineradicable taint in the blood— a sort of moral scrofula—which disabled all the Celtic race from persevering toil or profitable labour; but then there was the difficulty of the French and of the Scotch, and the objection that Celtic blood entered largely into the compound of that wonderful amalgam, called the Englishman. Sometimes they were told that the religion of Ireland was the cause. But the Catholic religion was the religion—and in their palmiest days—of Spain and of Portugal, when they were mistresses of the Indies; the Catholic was even now the religion of France and of Belgium, and of the Rhenish provinces of Prussia—of Lombardy and of all those countries which they were told the other day by the hon. Member for Surrey, so much excelled the English in all that related to the arts which adorn and illustrate life, and to whom the pursuits of agriculture furnish the means of comfort in every gradation of society. There must, therefore, he thought, be some other cause for the misery of Ireland than her religion. Perhaps he had not correctly understood the right hon. Gentleman, who, he imagined, had been flirting with Mrs. Fry; but he could only make out from him that the cause of the unhappiness and misery of Ireland was something which happened in the time of Sir John Davis—which was in the reign of Elizabeth and James I.; and that then some inconvenience arose from the system of middlemen. But the right hon. Gentleman did, with the assistance of his amiable Colleague, arrive at the conclusion that the remedy for whatever the something might be, was increased employment, increased encouragement to industry, and (he thought the right hon. Gentleman said) the removal of every description of religious distinction. But other people took a different view of the causes of the wretchedness of the sister country. All the foreign writers who had thought and reasoned on the subject, and all the English economists on whose judgment any reliance was to be placed, ascribed the distress of the people of Ireland, and the extent of their misery as compared with that of the people of foreign countries, 1095 to the existence, in those foreign countries and in England, of what was wanting in Ireland, the motive to industrial exertion which an interest of property in the soil, or inseparable from the soil they cultivate, gives. They told us, with Arthur Young, that the magic of property was capable of converting a barren waste, almost a rock, into a garden; that land was only improved by those who had an interest in improving it; that by such only was the largest amount of produce ever extracted from the soil, the largest quantity of labour employed upon it, or the largest amount of custom given to the shopkeepers, tradesmen, and artisans of our country towns; that such people and their children were the best educated, the best clothed, the most observant of restraint in matters that concerned their permanent welfare, the most attached to home and country. But without this, they saw a country peopled by a brave race, temperate, attached to their homes, moral, and religious, reduced to such a condition that our neglect, and its consequence, the perennial misery of Ireland, were a reproach to Englishmen all over the world. All this Mr. Mill, in his Political Economy, had condensed, when he told us, after comparing the state of the cottier and the farmer of Ireland with that of the cultivator of the land in every phase of his relation to the soil in other countries—with the slave in the West Indies, the serf in Russia, the ryot in the East, the metayer of Tuscany and of Portugal, and the free labourer in England; that "the Irish farmer and cottier is alone among mankind in this condition. If he be industrious and prudent, nobody but his landlord gains; if he be lazy and intemperate, it is at his landlord's expense." If that were true, the whole mystery of Ireland's misery was solved. Was it true—not now merely after the occurrence of a calamity which would have prostrated the energies of any nation upon earth; but had it been true during the length of years that Ireland had been a shame to England? Could they, upon this authority, account for the difference in the condition of the cultivator of the soil in Ireland, and in those other countries he had mentioned? He, and those who thought with him and Mr. Crawford, thought they could. But he passed over that inquiry for the present, because the farmers who live in comfort abroad are in great part Small proprietors, holding the land they till at fixed rents, as their own for 1096 ever; and the measure he wished to substitute for the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman did not propose to do for the Irish farmer and peasant — and this it would be well for English gentlemen of property to recollect—what was done by the first French Revolution at such a fearful cost of blood and suffering; they did not propose to do for the Irish peasant and farmer what was done for Austria by the Emperor Joseph and Maria Theresa; they did not propose to do for them what was done by Stein and Hardenberg for Prussia; they did not propose to do for them what the Swiss peasants had done by their wise economy, and prudence for their own cantons; they did not propose to convert them, as their brethren in the same rank of life abroad were converted, in consequence of evils similar to those which had been deplored in that House for fifty years, into peasant proprietors. He, and those who thought with him, believed the existence of the tenant-right accounted for the difference which existed between Ulster and the other three Provinces; and the object of the Bill brought in by Mr. Sharman Crawford, which had made a tardy Convert of the right hon. Gentleman, was to legalise in Ulster that which had been the cause of the prosperity of Ulster, and to extend it, less its abuses, to the rest of Ireland. It was common with those who opposed this measure in Ireland to attempt to bugbear its advocates by saying it would excite the hostility of -the English landed interest in that House. He was not afraid of any such result. His life had been spent among Englishmen; and he said, that if a fair and just tribunal was wanted for a humble man, or for a class of such men, they could not find a better than a jury of English gentlemen. He was satisfied that if he had a good case to present to them he would get a verdict in his favour; and he believed he could satisfy the House that the disease which afflicted Ireland was the direct result of exceptional laws and customs in Ireland, which could have no existence in this country, and that they were as much interested in the remedy as in the case of any social evil which affected their own condition. He would satisfy them, also, that the cause of Irish misery and distress was one they could remove, if they would, without in any way, violating the rights of property, on which, he admitted, all society must depend, by the simple application of well-known princi- 1097 ples of jurisprudence, which had succeeded in every place where they had been tried, and would succeed in Ireland. And here he could not help observing that the right hon. Gentleman in his elaborate speech had carefully avoided, or had forgotten, the very point on which the question between him and Mr. S. Crawford turned, and which was contained in the maxim Quicquid solo plantatur solo cedit. That maxim was taken from the Civil Law, and had been adopted with various qualifications and restrictions in the codes of all modern countries. According to the Roman Civil Law, the man who let a farm on any but a plantation or improving contract, let it with all the appliances and conveniences necessary to enable the tenant to carry on the business of cultivation. The landlord was bound, in the first instance, to deliver up the possession of the farm in a fit condition to serve the purpose for which it was taken, and to keep it, as respects permanent improvements, in good condition during the term; and the tenant was entitled to be reimbursed the expense of any necessary repairs or charges to which he had not bound himself by a lease, or by the custom of the country. He was also entitled to remove from the land the improvements or fixtures he had made; or, in case they were incapable of removal, and they had increased the revenue of the farm, he was entitled to be reimbursed the entire value of them on being dispossessed. By the law of Scotland, in the letting of farms a warrandice was implied on the landlord's part to make the subject effectual to the tenant—the dwelling-house fit for the occupation of his family, the stables and byres for the reception of cattle, the barns for grain; and if through decay or lapse of time, without undue negligence, they fall into disrepair, they must be rebuilt by the landlord. The tenant was also entitled to be remunerated if of his own accord he undertook to effect such improvements as were absolutely necessary. In England the rule of the civil law had been established; but with the qualifications necessary to its adaptation to the exigencies of agricultural enterprise, and the promotion of justice between man and man. Agricultural fixtures arc, or were until lately, irremoveable; but the invariable practice was that all buildings and permanent improvements should be made and kept in repair at the landlord's cost; and that for any further outlay incurred by the tenant, and necessary for good husbandry, 1098 which had not been exhausted, or was inexhaustible, he was paid according to the custom of the country.
It would be needless to detain the House by reminding it how beneficially this system worked in encouraging the application of capital to land, and in preserving the land itself in good heart and condition. The confinement of real property to few hands lost all, or nearly all, its evil by such arrangements. A man may take a farm for any time long enough to allow two or three rotations of crops without imprudence. Husbandry became a trade carried on with all the advantages which free and easily disengaged capital gave to the adoption of the suggestions of science, and of those modes of manuring and refreshing land which look to the result of several seasons for their reward.
But in Ireland, from the time of the Restoration—as respects three of its provinces—a literal translation of the rule of the civil law had been in force, without those qualifications of usage and of duty on the part of the landlord, which in other countries made it tolerable. The right hon. Gentleman traced the unhappy condition of the agricultural classes of Ireland to the days of Sir John Davis—the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First, ignoring the long interval between them and Mr. Pitt. The wars and confusion of those times were no doubt the cause of much misery, but the real origin of the evils which they now deplored would be found in the wicked policy of the Act of Settlement, and of the laws which were passed to perpetuate the wrongs it legalised. The superficial contents of Ireland were calculated at about 12,000,000 of Irish acres. Of these, between the years 1640 and 1695, 9,000,000 changed hands by confiscation. The Irish Parliaments, in the reign of Charles II., of William and Mary, of Anne, and of the first two Princes of the House of Brunswick, was composed, in the main, of those new proprietors under the Act of Settlement, and of their immediate descendants, and the laws passed by them indicated in every line the feelings of men who lived in dread of the old Irish and Catholic interests rising up once more. They wore, in fact, governed in their actions by the dictates of a merciless fear. They thought it necessary, however, to find some pretext for disqualifying the great body of the Irish people in the eyes of Englishmen for the enjoyment of equal rights, and this they found 1099 at a time when the English were frenzied by their dread of Popish plots in the religion of Ireland. They found that pretext in the religion of the people. They passed laws professedly to prevent the growth of popery, hut really to keep down the native inhabitants, and to render it impossible for them ever to rise and assert the rights of which they had been despoiled. There was one law by which it was enacted that no Papist in Leinster, Munster, or Con-naught should be capable of holding land for any term exceeding thirty-one years, and on which three-fourths of the yearly value was not reserved for rent. The House need not fear from him any dissertatior on the Penal Laws: "sufficient for the day was the evil thereof;" but he might be allowed, perhaps, to give some idea of the practical degradation to which the Irish people were reduced by the operation of these laws, some of which were in force in the lifetime of Members of that House. It was in order to relax the severity of some of these laws that the 21st of Geo. III. was passed, which recited that, whereas by the 8 Anne, c. 3, it was enacted "that Papists are not qualified to keep any horse, or mare, or gelding above 5l. value, which has been found prejudicial so far forth as the same relates to stud-mares, be it enacted that no stud-mare, kept for breeding only, nor stallion kept for such and for no other use, shall be deemed or taken to be within the intention of the Act entitled an Act for the better securing the Government by disarming Papists; but that every Papist and reputed Papist may keep such stud-mares and stallions, notwithstanding the said Act or any law to the contrary, and the breed or produce thereof, under the age of five years and otherwise." This Act, of which the provisions were thus mitigated, remained in force until the 21 & 22 Geo. III., c. 24,s. 12. The notion of building dwelling-houses or farm offices, after the fashion of England, for people for whom such laws were made, or encouraging them by profitable tenures to do such things for themselves, was quite out of the question; and a policy, originating in fear and hate of a plundered race, became the normal principle which regulated the arrangements between the owners and occupiers of the soil; and it was clear from the statute books that up to the middle of the reign of George III. it was the settled and sternly meditated resolve of the anti-Irish Parliament, which sat in Dublin during the great- 1100 est part of the last century, that the great body of their countrymen should be denied all interest in the land they cultivated, should be confined to the coarsest subsistence, the worst clothing, and the most wretched habitations possible. Swift, in 1729, remarks—Upon the determination of all leases made before 1690, a gentleman thinks he has but indifferently improved his estate if he has only doubled his rent-roll. Leases are granted but for a small term of years. Tenants are tied down to hard conditions, and discouraged from cultivating the land they occupy to the best advantage, by the certainty they have of their rent being raised on the expiration of their leases proportionably to the improvements they shall make. Thus it is that honest industry is depressed, and the farmer becomes a slave to his landlord.The Catholics," says Lord Taafe, in 1766,"keep their farms in a bad plight, as they are excluded by law from durable and profitable tenures.If a Papist," says Lord Macartney, in 1773,"becomes a farmer, he shall not cultivate or improve his possession, being discouraged by the short limitation of his tenure; and yet we complain of the dulness and laziness of a people whose spirit is restrained from exertion, and whose industry has no reward to excite it.Some sixty years ago the laws were altered. But the system had become inveterate; the disqualifying Acts were modified and sent to Ireland, and forced through the Irish Parliament by the influence of the English Government against the wishes of the great body of the Irish proprietors, and they adhered to the old system; they continued to let their lands at high rents; to allow no tenures to the wretched people who cultivated the soil; they did everything to retain the old system which had prevailed under the penal laws. Their mortgages, their family settlements, their jointures, and provisions for younger children, were all arranged on the assumption of their continuance. The people, awed by the power of England, bent their necks to this oppression. They resigned themselves to live on potatoes and milk, or potatoes and water, sharing their resting-place with the brute, and leaving to the few proprietors by whom the land was engrossed, in nearly all that it produced, the means of competing at the seat of empire, for the favours of the Crown, with the proudest of our English nobles, and of vieing in all the capitals of Europe with the magnates of the land. Though the laws were subsequently altered, yet things had changed very little. He found ill a work purporting to be a statistical survey of the county which he had the honour to 1101 represent, and written in the year 1802 by Mr. Tighe, the father of the present Lieutenant, the following description of the condition of the people of Ireland, which was true to this day of every part of the south, west, and east of that country:—The bad state and deficiency of the agricultural buildings, and the unimproved condition of many farmers, may arise from various causes. Firstly, nothing is ever built or repaired by the landlords. These expenses, as well as those of every other improvement, are left to the tenant, who generally comes into a dilapidated building, without capital to stock it, still less to build, fence, or drain. Secondly, there is generally a want of confidence between the landlord and the occupier. Thirdly, there is generally in the tenant a disposition to make that answer which has answered in some degree before; and if it fails, then to look for a temporary shift, which he thinks will do well enough.That was written in 1802; and see what the Devon Commissioners said in 1845:—The general, or almost universal, topic of complaint brought before us in every part of Ireland was the want of tenure, to use the expression most commonly employed by the witnesses. The uncertainty of tenure is constantly referred to as a pressing grievance by all classes of tenants. It is said to paralyse all exertion, and to place a fatal impediment in the way of improvement. We have no doubt that this is the case in many instances; and although it is certainly desirable that the fair remuneration to which a tenant is entitled for his outlay of his capital or of his labour should be secured to him by voluntary agreement, rather than by compulsion of law, yet, upon a review of all the evidence furnished to us on this subject, we believe that some legislative measures will be found necessary in order to give efficacy to such agreements, as well as to provide for cases which cannot be settled by private arrangement. We are convinced that in the present state of things no single measure can be better calculated to allay discontent in Ireland, and to promote substantial improvement throughout the country. It frequently happens that large estates in Ireland are held by the proprietors in strict limitation; and their pecuniary circumstances disable many of even the best-disposed landlords from improving their property, or encouraging improvements amongst their tenantry, in a manner that would conduce at once to their own interest and the public advantage. It is admitted on all hands that according to the general practice of Ireland, the landlord neither builds dwelling-houses nor farm offices, nor puts gates and fences in good order before he lets the land to a tenant. In most cases, whatever is done in the way of building or fencing is done by the tenant; and, in the ordinary language of the country, dwelling-houses, farm buildings, and even the making of fences, are described by the general word, 'improvements.' The cases in which the landlord does these things are the exceptions.In a work published at a still later period 1102 he also found it stated by Messrs. Ferguson and Vane that with very few exceptions all improvements were done by-tenants. In the report of the Devon Commission there were twenty-one or twenty-two landlords mentioned, who had adopted the English practice of improving their own estates; but, generally speaking, the state of things had been such as he had described it, up to the present time. It was a state of things which originated in the unfortunate alarms of men who had possessed themselves, with the assistance of the power of England, of the properties of the native inhabitants of Ireland, and who felt that it was necessary, for the security of their own titles, to keep the people down. It was a system which had influenced up to this very day the arrangements between the landlord and tenant in Ireland, although the letter of the laws in which it originated had long since been repealed. This was the difficulty with which they had to deal. The present state of things in Ireland had grown up at a time when the body of the people were spoken of in the common parlance of the gentry of that country as a common enemy. A system had grown up at that time, and all arrangements of property had been made on the footing of its continuance— that is, on the footing that the landlords were to have the whole of the produce of the soil, except just so much as would enable the body of the people to reproduce a revenue; and at the present day many landlords who were disposed to do what they could for the improvement of their estates, were so disabled from doing any good by the family settlements and judgments on them, that they were powerless in the matter. The people were crushed to the very earth, and were reduced to live upon potatoes and milk, or upon potatoes and water; their condition, in fact, was such that it was dreadful that Englishmen should have known of it so long, and yet have taken no effective measures to provide a remedy. The Devon Commissioners had divided the houses in Ireland into four classes, the fourth class consisting of those which contained but one room, and in almost every county of Ireland the houses of that class formed 40 or 50 per cent of all houses. Every cottier was for the most part a tenant at will, having probably a notice to quit in his pocket—-for in many parts it was the custom of the landlord to print upon the back of the receipt for rent a notice to quit, so that, in faet, 1103 they were not tenants from year to year, but tenants-at-will, and might be evicted at any time in the name of the landlord by the landlords' creditors—for he was willing to do the landlords the justice to say, that in nine cases out of ten they were as innocent of the evictions as babes unborn. It was the landlords' creditors who compelled them to evict their tenants, and to do things which they would be unwilling to do of themselves. Under these circumstances he would ask, what motive had the tenant at will to improve, or to invest his little capital in the soil? What security had he, if he did so, that the landlord, or the landlord's son, or the landlord's creditor would not instantly double or treble his rent, on account of his improvements? If he improved at all, he must do so in a niggardly and grudging way, in uncertainty whether it would not be better for him to invest his savings in the savings bank, or to hide it in the thatch of the cabin, rather than to risk his all on a debenture so unsafe as the landlord's prudence, solvency, justice, or generosity. In fact, tenants never or scarcely ever did make improvements; and for want of improvements on the farm there was no employment for labourers, and everything went to ruin. In Ireland they saw none of the cheerful homesteads which were scattered here and there and everywhere over England. The village trades of carpenter, and wheelwright, and mason, which flourished in England, drooped and died in Ireland. In every county in the south, and east, and west of Ireland, even in the comparatively prosperous county which he represented, the condition of the farmhouses, and villages', and county towns would bring a blush to the cheek of every Scotch and English proprietor: the cottier inhabitants of Ireland seemed not to be under the same Government, and scarcely in the same world, as the English. Many instances there no doubt were in most of the counties of Leinster, and to some extent also in Munster and Connaught, of tenants who, relying on the character of the families under which they live, have invested considerable sums in permanent improvements of their farms;—instances, also, thank God, of just and honourable men among the Irish proprietors, who would submit and have submitted to every sacrifice of state or comfort, rather than disappoint the confidence placed in them. Unfortunately, however, as is observed in the Report of the Devon Commission, 1104 "one instance of wrong done by a landlord to an improving tenant, will paralyse for years the industry of an extensive district." Things of the kind (said One of the witnesses, the Rev. Mr. O'Sullivan), that have occurred twenty or thirty years ago, will be given in reply, when upbraiding them for not improving their farms. It may be said, "Why don't the Irish landlords do as the English landlords do? The statute law of landlord and tenant is substantially the same in both countries —why should the practice differ?" The answer is, They can't; they are disabled by their judgments and family settlements.
The penal laws, as was well explained to the Committee on the Irish Poor Laws by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. Butt), were little less prejudicial to the Protestant proprietors than the Catholic tenants. An English proprietor who wants to borrow money must part with his title-deeds, or convey the legal estate in his property to his mortgagee. He can seldom borrow more than two-thirds of its value. But in Ireland, when the denial of all interest in land to the body of the people had driven the Catholics of superior station to commercial pursuits, and they had amassed money which it was convenient for the ancestors of the now encumbered estates to borrow rather than relax the Popery code by permitting Papists to be mortgagees—they altered the law of judgments, making them assignable—and thus enabled landed proprietors to obtain advances to the full value, and beyond the full value; of their properties. Besides, the English proprietor inherits a furnished estate, the Irish proprietor an unfurnished one. It has cost a number of generations a vast sum of money in each case to furnish the settled estates of England with the conveniences required for the comfort and well-doing of the tenantry upon them. The English landlord lets to his tenant not naked land, but land enriched by the capital which has been hoarded in buildings, in fences, in drains, and in all the elements of fertility, for years before he was born. The Irish landlord, almost always tied up by strict settlement, who attempted to imitate his example, would soon fall. There is no such hoard upon the estate of the proprietor in Ireland. Every shilling of its produce has been spent by him, and those whom he has succeeded, as it came, or before. In nine cases out of ten he is little 1105 more than the receiver of the rents of his own estate. His very agent or bailiff is often a receiver of his rents for other people. They belong to monied men and London bankers, whose debts are duly registered in Dublin, or to the most inexorable of all creditors—widows and children. Remitted they must be, however they are obtained, and acts of hardship and cruelty are often perpetrated in desperate attempts to improve the rentals of exhausted properties, and in the name and with the authority of landlords, which none regret more than themselves. The result upon the whole, is, that in the greater part of Ireland nobody improves properly—few improve at all. The condition of the farmers and their farm-houses, the labourers and their cottages, the tradesmen and their dwellings in the villages, would bring a blush, were he responsible for it, upon the cheek of an English or Scotch proprietor. I am well acquainted with the state of things in several counties of England and the north of Scotland. All that is within the park walls, the mansions, the gardens, and the pleasure-grounds, are nearly on a par in both islands; hut once out of the lodge gate, and beyond the ornamental cottages which you must pass to get to it, the contrast is great indeed. A man passing rapidly for the first time, as I often do from the county I have the honour to represent into East Kent, would hardly believe that the people of the two countries were living under the same Government, subjects of the same Crown, inhabitants in the same age, of the same world. In England, the village trades of carpenters, masons, smiths, wheelwrights, bricklayers, slaters, plasterers, tailors, boot and shoemakers, are all sustained by the wealth which the occupation of ready furnished and highly improved farms leaves at the disposal of the cultivator. In Ireland that wealth does not exist. The employment of an enormous amount of labour, and the creation of an enormous amount of property, has been prevented by the absence of all encouragement to industry, and much property which has been created by the tenants and is now visible on the land, is there without any security but such as it may derive from what, by a strange confusion of terms, has been called "the wild justice of revenge," that is, from crimes, at the thought of which the blood runs cold. The original cause of this deplorable state of things in the southern provinces had exercised little influence on the agrarian 1106 economy of the northern Provinces. The Presbyterians of Ulster had not been tied down by uncertainty of tenure as the tenants in the other parts of Ireland. Their staple manufacture had been fostered and encouraged by the laws, and a usage, founded on the soundest principles of jurisprudence, was established there, which has hitherto saved, and will continue, if it obtains the guarantee of Parliament, to save the people of Ulster from the calamities which afflict the rest of Ireland. But, before I proceed to advert to the condition of Ulster, and to the tenant-right custom there established, I hope the House will permit me, in support of what I have said and am about to say, to read a passage adverted to, but not read by, the right hon. Gentleman, from the writings of the greatest of our political philosophers, the prince of Conservative statesmen, written more than eighty years ago, but in which the then and now existing state of things, its causes, its remedy, and the original of its corrective in Ulster, are more accurately and graphically described than in any of the modern treatises and reports which have come under my notice. On questions relating to Ireland, the works of Mr. Burke are a reservoir of statesmanship and of wisdom; but on no question are the lessons which he has left us so clear and so full as this:—The laws have disabled three-fourths of the inhabitants of Ireland from acquiring any estate of inheritance for life or years, or any charge whatsoever on which two-thirds of the improved yearly value is not reserved for thirty years. This confinement of landed property to one set of hands, and preventing its free circulation through the community, is a most leading article of ill policy; because it is one of the most capital discouragements to all that industry which may be employed on the lasting improvement of the soil, or in any way conversant about land. A tenure of thirty years is evidently no tenure upon which to build, to plant, to raise inclosures, to change the nature of the ground, to make any new experiment which might improve agriculture, or to do anything more than what may answer the immediate and momentary calls of rent to the landlord, and leave subsistence to the tenant and his family. The desire of acquisition is always a passion of long views. Confine a man to momentary possession, and you at once cut off that laudable avarice which every wise State has cherished as one of the first principles of its greatness. Allow a man but a temporary possession; lay it down as a maxim that he never can have any other, and you immediately and infallibly turn him to temporary enjoyments; and these enjoyments are never the pleasures of labour and free industry, and whose quality is to famish the present hours, and squander all upon prospect and futurity; they are, on the contrary, those of a 1107 thoughtless, loitering, and dissipated life. The people must be inevitably disposed to such pernicious habits, merely from the short duration of their tenure which the law has allowed. But it is not enough that industry is checked by the confinement of its views; it is further discouraged by the limitation of its own direct object, profit. This is a regulation extremely worthy of our attention, as it is not a consequential, but a direct discouragement to amelioration, as directly as if the law had said in express terms,' Thou shalt not improve.' But we have an additional argument to demonstrate the ill policy of denying the occupiers of land any solid property in it. Ireland is a country wholly unplanted. The farms have neither dwelling-houses nor good offices; nor are the lands almost anywhere provided with fences and communications; in a word, in a very unimproved state. The landowner there never takes upon him, as it is usual in this kingdom, to supply all these conveniences, and to set down his tenant in what may be called a completely furnished farm. If the tenant will not do it, it is never done. This circumstance shows how miserably and peculiarly impolitic it has been in Ireland to tie down the body of the tenantry to short and unprofitable tenures. A finished and furnished house will be taken for any term, however short; if the repair lies on the owner, the shorter the better. But no one will take one, not only unfurnished, but half-built, but upon a term which, on calculation, will answer with profit all his charges. It was on this principle that the Romans established their emphyteusis, or fee farm. For though they extended the ordinary term of their location only to nine years; yet they encouraged a more permanent letting to farm, with the condition of improvement as well as of annual payment on the part of the tenant, where the land had lain rough and neglected; and therefore invented this species of engrafted holding in the later times when property came to be worse distributed by falling into a few hands."— [Tracts on the Popery Laws.]If they surveyed this passage carefully they would find the cause of the misery of the south, west, and east of Ireland, and of the prosperity of Ulster; and he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) thought that they would also find unanswerable arguments against the scanty measure of relief that was proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. And it should not be forgotton that, of all men that ever lived, Mr. Burke was the one who was least inclined to humoursome change, the most opposed to social experiments, and the least anxious to disturb those arrangements of property which maintain in a mixed constitution the influence of the privileged classes. Antiquarians and pamphleteers have perplexed themselves in their endeavours to account for the origin of the Ulster tenant-right; but it appears to me to have been unaccountably overlooked. What was that "engrafted holding"—that "letting with condition of 1108 improvement of lands lying rough and neglected, invented in the later times, when property become worse distributed by falling into few hands," which is thus fetched by the wise man from the storehouse of his learning for our guidance and instruction? Sir, it was in all its essential features the contract between landlord and tenant under the usage of Ulster—it was what Mr. Crawford proposed by his Bills—what I propose by the Bill which stands on the Order-book after those of the right hon. Gentleman, to protect and legalise in Ulster, and extend, less its abuses, to the rest of Ireland. The jurisprudence of Scotland is founded on the jurisprudence of Rome. The Roman law of civil plantation must have been as familiar to the Scotch advisers of the Scotch Prince by whom the Ulster plantation was established, as the law of copyhold is to the English lawyers of the present day. The circumstances of the district to be planted were precisely those to which the Roman law of plantation would apply. The escheated lands had been wasted by the devastation of civil war; they were parcelled out by the Crown among a small number of undertakers at quit rents of mere acknowledgment, on the express condition that they should found a "civil plantation" upon them. The plan, as described by the articles of plantation, was to allure Scotch and English settlers to plant and build houses upon, and improve the lands at their own expense (wood only being found by the Crown) by low rents—much lower than might have been obtained from the natives. The tenants, by the express articles of the plantation, were to have, at low fixed rents, estates for life, for years, in fee or in tail, on condition of improvements being made by them. Had those articles been observed to the letter by the undertakers, the Ulster plantation would have been regulated as between the under takers and the tenant farmers by a law differing in no material particular from the Roman law of plantations. That this was the intention of the founders of the plantation, and the sense in which they used the word plantation, is plain, from the course adopted by the advisers of the Crown a few years after its establishment. Some time afterwards, in 1615, a Commission was sent over to inquire to what extent the articles which prohibited the undertakers from demising any portion of their lands at will, and enjoined them to make to their tenants certain estates for 1109 life, in tail, or in fee-simple at fixed rents, had been observed. Sir Nicholas Pynner, one of the Commissioners, reported that in many cases the articles had been broken, and no estates granted by the undertakers. This report was shortly after followed by an information filed in the Star Chamber, A.D. 1637, against the Irish Society and some of the London companies—the result of which was a judgment of forfeiture against the companies, because they had not complied with the plantation articles, but let their lands to the highest bidders, without condition of improvement, and without a fixed tenure or a certain rent. It was easy to understand how the example thus made of the more flagrant defaulters, would influence those of less mark in their dealings with their tenants. It was the policy of the undertakers to pacify and content the planters. Men who fairly enough considered themselves exempted from those obligations of improvement which are acknowledged by English and Scotch proprietors, and who had disregarded the letter of the articles in the letting of their lands, dealt with their tenants as if they had given them certain estates at fixed rents, and on the well-known principles of a plantation contract. How else was it possible to account for the identity of all the incidents of a tenure according to the Ulster usage, with the incidents of a plantation tenure under the Roman law?
It might be said that the contract of letting to plant, in the Roman law, was by written agreement, scriptura interveniente —and so it would have been in Ulster had the articles of plantation, which required a letting by indenture, been observed. Sir Nicholas Pynner reported that many of the undertakers put him off with verbal assurances, hut refused to show their "counter-pains." The articles being thus violated, and the undertakers at the mercy of their tenants, a usage grew up, and, recommending itself by its manifest equity and convenience to both parties, gradually extended beyond the original limits of the plantation, with reference to which, in the hiring and letting of unfurnished land, proprietors and farmers contracted. He was quite at a loss to understand on what principle a court of law or equity could refuse, if properly brought before it, to give effect to such a usage. In our law no maxim was better established than the maxim, In con-tractibus tacite insunt quae sunt moris et consuetudinis. The doctrine of Lord Ellen- 1110 borough, in the case of Elwes v. Mawe, in which it was decided that the tenant's privilege with respect to fixtures set up for trading purposes, does not extend to those set up for agricultural ones, had been reflected upon by Mr. Amos and Mr. Smith among the best writers on the English law of fixtures, and by Mr. Caulfield Heron, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy in the Queen's College, Galway, in a very able paper lately read by him to the Statistical Society of Dublin—in which the question, whether the improvements made by a tenant of land in Ireland ought to be declared the tenant's property, was learnedly discussed and decided by him in the affirmative. The rule had always been relaxed in submission to a well-ascertained usage. Thus Lord Kenyon not only asserted the right of nurserymen to remove trees from the freehold, but also greenhouses and hot-houses erected for the purposes of their business. On the same principle, the other day, on proof of a usage of only twenty years' duration in Lincolnshire, for a tenant to increase and enrich the soil of his farm by the addition of marl, he was held entitled, when outgoing, to receive its value: so, again, where a tenant had laid down drains, necessary for proper cultivation, he was held, as against the landlord, entitled to be paid for them; and if it could be clearly shown that the relation of landlord and tenant had been established in a district in which the Ulster usage prevailed, the tenant having, with the knowledge of the landlord, laid out money in permanent improvements, or bought them from a former tenant, and that the landlord refused to permit him to sell them to a solvent substitute, without doubt the landlord might be compelled to pay for them: at all events, it was impossible to refer to any usage, mercantile or agricultural, resting upon sounder principles, or supported by more respectable antiquity. It made one hang one's head for shame, to hear (as he had heard during the debate of last Session) men of birth and station, of whom it might be hoped that they would rather "coin their hearts, and drop their blood for drachmas, than filch from the hard hands of honest tenants their vile trash by any indirection," relying upon a schoolboy translation of the maxim, Quicquid solo plantator solo cedit; and lawyers forgetting themselves to the extent of imputing to an endeavour to legalise such a usage against those who would set it at nought—a violation of the 1111 rights, an encroachment on the landmarks of property. They know better. The plantation contract, regulated by the same principles as those established by the articles and the usage of the Ulster Plantation, was classed by eminent civilians as juris gentium —that was, among the obligations which, on account of their intrinsic equity, and their conformity to human wants and practice, all mankind have agreed to recognise. Property had no rights which were inconsistent with natural justice and the general well-being of the community. But, so far from derogating from the rights of property, as, before the introduction of peasant proprietaries, they were familiarly understood in all the States in which the jurisprudence of the Empire was adopted, this usage was nothing more, as Mr. Burke and Domat inform us, than was invented fourteen hundred years ago, by landlords and landlord lawyers—when"land had become worse distributed by falling into few hands"—for the express purpose of mitigating the manifest evils of a land monopoly, and to reconcile the gratification of family pride in large family possessions with protection for the inalienable rights of industry, without which no country could hope to prosper.
Under this Ulster usage property to a vast amount had been accumulated by the tenants upon their farms. Originally established, it would seem, in Donegal, Tyrone, Derry, Cavan, Armagh, and Fermanagh, it had extended itself to Antrim, Down, and Monaghan—it had been dealt with as property under the landlord's eye —in his office with his full assent—in repeated sales of farms, with their improvements—and in all kinds of settlements and family arrangements. It had swelled the amount of compensations assessed by the sheriff and jury against railway companies. Again and again it had been bought by the landlord himself of his outgoing, and sold again to his incoming, tenant. His own rents had been enhanced by the improved system of cultivation which it had engendered. They had it upon the evidence of Mr. Prentis—[Report of Devon Commission] —the agent of Lord Caledon, that his Lordship, wishing to enlarge his park in the county of Tyrone by the addition of 150 acres, bought the tenant-right of them from his own tenants-at-will, for 12l; per acre, and this not as a matter of liberality, but in honest deference to the custom, Indeed, until about ten years 1112 ago, the landlord never dreamt of defeating it—of refusing the substitution of a solvent tenant—or of raising his rent beyond his fairly-ascertained share of the increased value contributed to the fee by the tenant's improvements. When the attempt was first made, it was made in a timid, wary, and stealthy way, not disputing the principle, but protesting against its abuse, and offering terms of compromise. In some instances, no doubt, the sale, of enhanced value by reason of industrial improvement, had degenerated into a claim of a right to sell the mere good-will—a value of which the tenant had not been the meritorious cause, and which had no existence but in the landlord's liberality. These questions rather confirm the usage than throw doubt upon it. But since the ports were opened and the prices fell, a question had presented itself to the pride and cupidity of some Ulster landlords, the practical solution of which demanded the intervention of the Legislature. The question was, "Shall I reduce my rents and my establishment according to the fall of prices; or, by keeping up my rents, confiscate my tenants' improvements, destroy the tenant-right on my estate, and with it the independence of my tenants?" The temptation to a dishonest man, or a needy man, a proud or a vindictive man, to decide that question in his own favour, was too strong to be always resisted. But unless Ulster was to vie with the other districts in the mode of vindicating disputed rights, they must be compelled by Parliament to resist it. Mr. Hancock, the intelligent agent of Lord Lurgan in the county of Armagh, after tracing the existence of the custom to the articles of the Ulster Plantation says—It is one of the sacred rights of the country which cannot be treated with impunity; if systematic efforts were made amongst the proprietors of Ulster to invade tenant-right, I do not believe there is any force at the disposal of the Horse Guards sufficient to keep the peace of the province, and when we consider that all the improvements have been effected at the expense of the tenant, it is perfectly right that this tenant-right should exist. His money has been laid out on the faith of compensation in that shape."—[Report of Devon Commission.]The property which had been accumulated in the north of Ireland under this custom amounted to 12,000.000l. or l3,000,000l. He wished to give the House a, notion of how the property of the tenant created under the custom of tenant-right in Ulster would be swept away by the Bill of the 1113 right hon. Gentleman, or at all events would be left to the mere generosity of the landlord. He would show them what that property was. He held in his hand statements from respectable tenants of what they had paid for their tenant-right. Here was one of them:—The size of my farm is thirty-five statute acres; the rent 42l. 6s. I bought the tenant-right at 660l. I have drained ten acres at a cost of 70l. I have built to the amount of 100l., having thus a value altogether of 800l. In the year 1842 the rent of twenty-two acres was doubled, and at any moment, if circumstances appeared to warrant it under the present law, the rent of the whole of my farm might be doubled again.Here was another case: —I hold fifty-seven acres at 27s. 6d. per acre— in all 84l. I bought the tenant-right for 680l. I have thorough-drained twelve acres, at a cost of 84l. I have reclaimed fourteen acres, at a cost of 112l.; for building outhouses I have paid 100l., and for a dwelling-house 200l.; making a total of 1,104l.He had many more instances of the same kind. Another was:—I hold thirty-six acres, at the yearly rent of 54l. 7s. 8d. I have no lease. Besides this, I hold twelve acres, on which there is a lease, at 9l. 12s. On the whole, the property is forty-eight acres. I have expended on buildings 200l., in draining 42l., in fencing, 40l. I had purchased all the land (at 20l. per acre) for 960l.; giving a total value of 1,242l. In the present state of the law I have no title whatever to the improvements on the unleased land; so that the landlord, if so disposed, can lay hold of my 1,242l. any day on any pretext whatever.He would not weary the House with all the other similar cases that he might quote; hut all these facts showed that an enormous amount of property had been accumulated on the land of Ulster under this custom of tenant-right; and all that property must be dealt with by any Bill that took up the subject of tenant-right. Now, what was it that Parliament had to provide for? In the greater part of Ireland there had been no protection for the increased value given to the landlord's property by the tenant's improvements, except such protection as might be derived from that dreadful code of agrarian retribution which was little more disgraceful to the people among whom it prevailed, than it was to the Legislature which neglected the proper means of enforcing those rules of national justice between man and man, of which it avenges the infringement. In the whole of the rest of Ireland but Ulster there were no improvements to protect, because no encouragement had been given to tenants to 1114 improve. Until lately, no Ulster landlord ever thought of infringing the custom of tenant-right. The valuation was made on the principle that the tenant should have credit for the improvements; and so it continued until the opening of the ports and the fall of prices, or a very short time before that. The question which at that time presented itself to many Ulster land-lords, the practical solution of which required the intervention of the Legislature, was—"Shall we, by keeping up our rents and our establishments, destroy the tenant-right on our estates, and confiscate our tenants' improvements, or shall we submit to the change of fortune that the alteration of the law has produced, and which we ought to boar as well as the rest of our fellow-subjects?" The temptation to answer that question in favour of themselves turned out too strong for many an Ulster landlord; and the result was, that, unless the Legislature was prepared to say that all the property created under the custom of tenant-right, which had existed ever since the time of the plantation of Ulster, was to be confiscated, it was absolutely necessary that there should be some protection given to such property. Now, he ventured to state that if the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman had introduced for granting compensation to tenants was all that the Government intended to do, it would create dismay and consternation—if it would not cause disturbance—in the most prosperous part of Ireland. The agent of Lord Lurgan had stated on this point that tenant-right was one of the sacred rights of the country, and could not be touched with impunity, and that if systematic attempts should be made by the proprietors of Ulster to destroy it, he did not believe the Horse Guards could furnish sufficient forces to maintain the peace—so many persons having laid out their money on the faith of compensation under this custom. The question therefore was, if the landlords were seeking to infringe this right, and asking the same rents as they obtained before the fall of prices, ought not Parliament to interfere for the protection of the tenant? That was not the time for entering into the details of the measure known as Mr. Sharman Crawford's Bill. Suffice it here to remind the House that its object is to legalise the Ulster usage for the protection of the property which has been created under it, to acknowledge, prospectively and retrospectively, for the purposes of the Act, 1115 in all parte of Ireland, the tenant's property in his own improvements, and to secure him against eviction from them without full compensation. Well, what protection would he afforded by the right hon. Gentleman's Bill? The first clause certainly asserted the principle that all improvements made by the tenant were the property of the tenant; but let them see whether the provisions of the Bill would honestly afford protection to tenants who had already made, or who should hereafter make, improvements. The 26th section gave the tenant who had made bonâ fide improvements a right of action against his landlord, to recover by civil-bill process just and reasonable compensation for the expenditure of his labour and capital. Now, who did the improvements belong to in the view of the right hon. Gentleman? Beyond all question to the landlord. He would not quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman for giving the tenant the right of action if he gave it to him for any useful purpose; because he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) contended, on the principle which he should introduce into the House, that those improvements are now, in justice and conscience, the property of the tenant, on the principle of the civil law; but that principle the right hon. Gentleman denied, wishing to establish the principle of making a man pay for property which was already his own proceeds—unless we look at the 29th section of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, in which he boldly subverts the principle, Quicquid solo plantatur solo cedit (following, he admitted, what had hitherto been understood in Ireland), and generally declared that for the future as to one description of fixtures—buildings—the property which a tenant should fix on the soil should be the property of the tenant; and, further, that it should cease to become his property, and become the property of the landlord if the landlord claimed to purchase it after it had been valued by two referees—one of whom should be appointed on each side—and an umpire. So that, in truth, the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, as far as concerned retrospective improvements, was founded on the admission that the improvements which the tenant had made were now his property. On what other pretence could he give the tenant a right of action with all the incidents of costs, &c, to the losing party, to recover compensation for anything which is not his property? The form of action, 1116 given in the 26th clause, is, positively, a mere translation of the form of the civil law, which recognises the tenant's property in his own improvements:—In conducto fundo si conductor sua opera aliquid necessario et utiliter auxerit ant âdifi-caverit—vel instituerit cum id non convenisset ad recipienda ea quâ impendit cum domino fundi experiri potest.Again:—Ad quid actio conducti datur? Ad expensas a conductore in re conducta necessario et utiliter factas (etiamsi non sit de eis repetendis conventum) repetendas.How did the right hon. Gentleman propose that the tenant should be paid for his improvements? By a compensating term, which was to vary according to the nature of the improvement. If the improvement was a house, it was to be taken that the tenant was compensated by living in it for thirty years and paying rent—and a high rack-rent in nine cases out of ten; if it was a drain, he was to be compensated by using it for seven years; and also for fences, and the clearing of fields from rocks and stones, he was to be compensated in seven years; while for reclaiming waste land, he was to be compensated in twenty-one years. Let the House observe how differently the landlord-tenant for life and his tenant, are treated by the right hon. Gentleman's Bills. By the Tenant's Compensation Bill, section 18, a tenant can in no case recover more than four years' annual value of his holding above the rent he paid. [Mr. NAPIER: That is a mistake—-a printer's error.] A printer's error! it was a very curious one, for, by the 23rd section of the Land Improvement Bill, the limit of compensation was elaborately stated to be five years' clear annual value of the land intended to be improved, "after deducting all public rates, taxes, assessments, head rents, quit rents and tithe rent-charge." This meant clear enough value to the landlord, including the rent paid by the tenant. [Mr. NAPIER: It is meant to be so in both Bills.] Well, he could not insist against the renewed assurance of the right hon. Gentleman. Mistakes did occur. Take it as the right hon. Gentleman said it ought to be. Well, the right hon. Gentleman proposed by his present Bill not to allow the tenant compensation in any case exceeding four years' clear annual value of his holding— that was, the clear annual value of the land to the landlord, and not to the tenant. 1117 Let them see what that would come to. How was it to he paid? It was proposed to be paid by a mere fiction of law. In the case of a house, for instance, if the tenant had laid out 300l. on a house, and paid rent yearly for twenty years—there not being anything to prevent the landlord during the whole of that time raising the rent on account of the improvements—in that case the landlord was supposed to he debited with the 300l., and every time the tenant paid his rent the sum of 10l. was supposed to be deducted, the compensation thus becoming beautifully less every year. The tenant was certainly to have a right of action; but to make sure that it should be of no possible benefit to him, it was to be arranged that the landlord should be annually credited with this 10l. a year. In the case of drains, the moment the seven years expired there was to be no compensation; and so with other improvements. And if the tenant built a very superior dwelling-house, such as was often to be found in England, the limitation of the amount of compensation would render him a very considerable loser. The compensation to be given by the right hon. Gentleman's Bill was, therefore, perfectly illusory, giving him, by the 26th section, a right of action to recover money for his improvements, as if they were his own; and then, when they came to look at the compensation, it was found to have consisted of nothing at all but living in a house and paying a high rent for it. But these Bills dealt very differently with the landlord when he took it into his head to improve. By the Land Improvement Act, a landlord making improvements, having only a life interest in the estate, was entitled to have the whole of his money paid back to him with interest, and the charge for improvements was made to have the priority of all other charges but the charge of the Church; and the Board of Works is to have power, section 36, to increase the amount of his tenant's rent by reason of the additional value given to the land by the improvement. Any person who lends the landlord money to improve, the Bank of Ireland, or the Provincial Bank, or the tenant of an adjoining estate, will have his principal and interest secured by a first charge on the estate; but if his own tenant improves, he is to get nothing but a compensating period. And this for works which increase the value of the farm and are suitable to it. Under the right hon. Gentleman's Bill—which would extend to 1118 Ulster as well as to every other part of Ireland—the property of the tenants of that province would be regulated by its provisions if the landlords so chose; and if a landlord saw a farmhouse for which his tenant had paid 600l., and which had been built more than thirty years ago, he could refuse to give the tenant any compensation. So that, by stopping for ever any claim by an Ulster tenant for retrospective compensation, the operation of the Bill would amount to the actual confiscation of the tenant's property. The Bill restricted the nature of the property upon which improvements were to he claimed for. Some of these restrictions were reasonable enough; hut the Bill then went on to enact that no tenant was to be compensated for any house, unless it was built in a permanent and durable manner, and unless he got the consent of his landlord to its erection. Now, for the last fifty years or more there had been an abundance of landlords in Ireland who had been quite content that their tenants should live in the most wretched hovels possible, growing potatoes, and paying a handsome rent. The Devon Commission report that in half the counties 40 per cent of the inhabited houses are mud hovels, with only one room. And in such a case the tenant could not obtain compensation for building a house, unless he got his landlord's permission in writing. He was also to have no compensation for any drains he might construct, unless he made them thirty-six inches below the surface, and in the manner sanctioned by the Board of Works; and this applied to the past as well as to the future. In the next place, he was to have no compensation for any house that he might build on lands that did not lie together. It would be found, in fact, on examining the Bill, that there were difficulties placed in the way of the tenant's making improvements, which, as every gentleman connected with Ireland knew, would, in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred, he insuperable. Let the House consider the nature of the farms in Ireland. They were all small as compared with those in England, the great majority in the north and west being rather under fifteen acres, and in the south and east thirty acres and a half. Now, what had a small farmer to go through if he wanted to build a pigstye, say at an expense of 30l., or a barn, or a small house, which in some parts of Ireland might be built of a character suitable to a farm of thirty acres for 40l.? In the first place, 1119 he was to prepare a specification, plan, and estimate, and was to do the work upon that plan, or there was to be no compensation. He was then to serve a notice to the landlord of his intention to make this improvement—a notice which would frequently be met by a notice to quit; but supposing the notice to be given to the landlord, he was then to lodge his specification, plan, and estimate with the clerk of the peace, who was to keep a list of all specifications, plans, and estimates which he received, and was to publish them at the quarter-sessions, and in the county paper. This having been done, the landlord was entitled to step in and give him notice that he elected to do the improvements himself under the provisions of the Lands Improvement Act. Now, according to the provisions of this Act, when a landlord had intimated his intention to make an improvement, he was to send a memorial, accompanied by another plan, specification, and estimate, to the Board of Works in Dublin, who were then to send down an inspector to look at the farm, who was to make a report, and a copy of that report was to be sent to the Board in Dublin. The inspector having reported to the Commissioners in Dublin, they were to advertise the matter again; and then, not merely the landlord, but any person interested in the estate—it did not matter how—he might be a mortgagee, a younger son, or a widow with a jointure—might at once make an objection to the improvements being made, and upon their serving a notice of their objections, upon the Commissioners of Public Works, that body were—what?—to call a public meeting of all the persons who may be interested in the land, and any others whom they pleased, at any place in Dublin which they might appoint, to discuss whether the improvement was a fitting one to be made. And when these persons were all so assembled in public meeting, what did the House suppose they were to discuss? Whether it was good for the tenant, good for the farm, or good for the landlord, that the improvement should be made? No; but whether it was good for all the persons interested in the land. Now, how would that work? Ten to one the man who wanted the improvement had voted against his landlord at the last election; and then in many cases—not certainly in all, for there were many just and honourable landlords in Ireland, who would not force their tenants' consciences—the landlord having given his notice that he intended to do the 1120 improvement himself, under the Lands Improvement Act, would call all his kindred about him who were in any way interested in the land, and they would make up their mind whether the tenant should remain on the estate at all, or whether they should not send him and three or four of his neighbours away and consolidate their farms. If they came to the latter conclusion, what so easy as to influence the Board of Works to come to the conclusion that the improvement was not fitting to be made at all? And the Bill positively provided that, although the landlord had undertaken to do the improvement himself, yet, if he got a "refusal of authorisation" from the Board of Works, this was to be taken as a compliance with his undertaking, and the improvement was not to be done. To say that no person should, for the future, have compensation without going through these complicated forms, was equivalent to saying that no compensation at all should he given; for, considering the nature and the size of the farms, the poverty of the tenants, and the small value of the improvements to be made, it was absurd to suppose that any would be made under regulations which entailed so much trouble. In nine cases out of ten, if a landlord, who had any notions in favour of large farms, received from a tenant a notice that he wished to make an improvement, he would give him notice to quit, and thus there was no prospect of any improvement being made in this way. Even, if the landlord had no such notions, still the forms were so troublesome and vexatious, that he was sure no Gentleman in that House would go through them before making an improvement. Now, let the House take the case in which the landlord did not give notice of his intention to execute the Lands Improvement Act. Notice was then to be given to the clerk of the peace; and everybody interested in the land could claim permission to inspect what was going on, or to send any person he pleased to do so. Then, if the improvement were done in three years, the tenant might apply to the Assistant Barrister for a certificate of completion, the Barrister having to look at the plan and specification, and see that the improvements had been executed in strict conformity with them, and if they were not, there was to be no compensation. Then compensation was only to be allowed for such improvements as might appear to the Barrister or to a Judge 1121 on appeal to be reasonable and suitable to the tenants holding;, and nothing was to be deemed an improvement which had not reference to the agricultural value of the holding. So that, after all, the question of what was an improvement was left to the Barrister or the Judge. The certificate, if obtained, would give the tenant right to live in the house for a certain number of years, or to have compensation if he was turned out. The grant of this certificate might he opposed before the Barrister by the landlord or any person interested in the estate, who had afterwards the right to appeal against his decision to a Judge of Assize. And if the time came when the tenant was entitled to compensation, he was to proceed to enforce it, if under 40l., in the Civil Bill Court, and if above, in the Superior Courts; and all the proceedings were to go on as if the cause were one involving the greatest importance. Further, he was not to have as compensation more than four years' annual value of the improvement, and was to have none at all if he was evicted for non-payment of rent. So that, suppose he had, perhaps at the expense of 100l. or 200l., built a house on the farm, and had some little stock on his land, and a distemper broke out amongst them, in consequence of which he was not able to pay his rent, there was nothing to prevent the landlord turning him out without paying him for his improvements. In fact, if in any case the tenant made improvements worth more than four years' clear annual value, the landlord could turn him out the next year and lay hold of the whole additional value of the improvement. And so unjustly was the Bill framed, that while the landlord could set off any arrears of rent against the tenant's claim for compensation, the tenant could not set off his claim for compensation against the rent. In the next place, the tenant was not to have compensation if he quitted his farm voluntarily. Now, as most tenants held from year to year, and had therefore a right to quit at six months' notice, he thought this was a great injustice. No improvements would ever be made under this Bill—no really good improvements in Ulster, or elsewhere, if this Bill became law. The drains would not be made as they should be; the houses would not be built as they should be; nothing, in fact, would be done as it ought to be; because it was impossible to go through these troublesome and vexatious forms; and if they were gone through, no real compensation would be 1122 obtained. It was absurd to suppose that the small improvements made in Ireland, by prudent and industrious tenants—and executed not at once, but bit by bit, as they obtained the means—could be executed under this Act, which was therefore valueless to such persons. Another objection, on the ground of public policy, to the Bill was, that it proceeded entirely upon the supposition that the thing was to be determined by the House as a question of right and wrong between two contracting parties. Now that was not so. He admitted that in many cases the tenant had no merits as against the landlord. But the question was not merely what was right as between these two parties, but what was the right course to be taken to encourage improvements in a country where the landlord did not and could not make them. He had not called attention to the provisions of this Bill in any unfriendly spirit either to the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland or to the Government. He and his hon. Friends had no other wish than to assist in passing a good law of landlord and tenant this Session. It was, however, impossible that they should assent to the Government Bill. He would submit to the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that both the Government Bill, and the Bill which he (Mr: Serjeant Shee) had introduced should be read a second time, and that both should be referred to a Select Committee. And then lei all parties see if they could not frame a good measure this Session—acting, as he believed they all intended to act, fairly and honestly, and not under the influence of party spirit, upon a question which was not and ought never to be considered a party question. He was quite ready to admit that, considering Bills had been brought into that House by most eminent statesmen—by Lord Stanley, Sir James Graham, Lord Lincoln, and the noble Lord the Member for the city of London (Lord John Russell)—into all of which the notion of compensating periods had been introduced in one form or another—that the fact of inserting such a principle in this Bill was not a ground for loud and angry complaint against the Government. But he must submit that it was not a satisfactory principle to proceed upon; and that if the Attorney General for Ireland and the Chancellor of the Exchequer really wished to pass during this Session a good Bill, which would be satis- 1123 factory to the people of Ireland, and would terminate this much-vexed question, it was not wise to force sixty Irish Members to a division against the Government on this question. They could not, as honest men, sanction the principle of that Bill, but they did not wish to deprive the landlord of his property. He believed that any attack on the rights of property would be fatal to the interests of the tenant as well as the landlord. They wished to give the landlord facilities for improving their estates by such public loans as one of the Bills introduced by the Government provided for; for they thought that in many cases to improve the condition of the landlord was to improve that of the tenant, because the principal reason why modern landlords were bad was because they were poor. They did not wish to offer any obstruction to Her Majesty's Government in their measures, but they could not consent to this Bill. He gave the Government full credit for their intentions; they (the Irish Members) also had good intentions; they wanted to pass a good Bill the Session on fair terms. He conceived that the best way to effect this was to submit both Bills to a Select Committee, where their provisions might be investigated, and the best features of each adopted. He offered to the Government the means of passing a good Bill this Session, by treating the Irish people and their representatives fairly on this occasion. For the first time, the voice of the tenant-farmers of Ireland and their representatives had now been heard effectively in the interior of Parliament. Several Members had been returned to represent the interests of that class, and he (Mr. Serjeant Shee) was one of them. They were most desirous to have this question fairly settled, and they could not do anything more calculated to win popularity than to promote a settlement of this question, with the assistance of Her Majesty's Government, on equitable terms. Would the House assist them in sending both Bills before a Select Committee, or would they force a large body of the representatives of Ireland to oppose this Bill, and put off the subject to another year, at the cost, probably, of much agitation, if not disturbance?
§ MR. ROSS MOORE
said, as one of the representatives of the North of Ireland, he trusted the House would excuse him for making a few observations on the subject matter of the Bill under discussion. Approving as he did of the principles and generally of the details of the several Bills 1124 introduced by the Attorney General for Ireland, he had originally intended to take no part in the debate on the second reading, intending to reserve his suggestions until the Bills should have gone into Committee; but in consequence of the speech which had been made that night by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had just concluded so able a statement, he thought he should be guilty of a dereliction of duty if he now gave a silent vote on a subject of such great national importance, and in which his constituents took so deep an interest. It was not necessary for him to follow the learned Serjeant through his elaborate statements, two-thirds of which consisted of an historical dissertation on the penal laws, the last remnant of which was repealed nearly eighty years ago, and the sole object of alluding to which, he supposed, was to set up a sort of appeal ad misericordiam, and which had been too frequently set up on behalf of the Irish tenant as an excuse for the charges of indolence, want of capacity, and want of energy, which had so often been brought against him. His (Mr. Moore's) sympathy was very great indeed—he had the sincerest desire to give them the fullest measure of justice; he would rather exceed the justice of their claims than fall short of giving them what some might think their due. But he thought they would best defend the tenant's rights by keeping within the bounds of justice and moderation, resting them on the laws of the land and the rights of property; and the person who made the assertion of their rights involve a violation of those laws, was a bad advocate of the cause he wished to promote. When he heard the hon. and learned Gentleman say he had no intention of violating the laws of property which he held so sacred, he began to suspect that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not read the Bill to which his name was attached, for its very first enactment was a flagrant violation of those laws. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained of the existing state of the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland, and he described as a panacea for these evils the legalisation of what he called Ulster tenant-right; and yet from the beginning to the end of his speech he did not inform the House what that Ulster tenant-right was. He (Mr. Ross Moore) would tell the House why—it was because it was impossible to define it. It was well to talk of an imaginary thing-called Ulster tenant-right; but he. spoke 1125 from knowledge and experience, and he told them that there was no such thing as a uniform tenant-right in the north of Ire-Ireland. There were not two estates on which the custom of tenant-right was the same; there was no uniformity in it—how therefore was it possible to give legal effect to so varying a custom? and yet, to legalise it, it was absolutely necessary to define it, for otherwise one might well ask — Quo tenearn mutantern Protea for-mam? —and what said the stanchest advocates of tenant-right themselves? He had a document in his hand emanating from the Tenant-Right Association, a letter addressed by the secretary of that body to Viscount Castlereagh, who was at the time a Member of the House, which admitted and maintained the propositions he had stated. The writer said—We should at once recommend the custom of Ulster, which, on the whole, has worked so well, to be embodied in a law, were it not for two considerations—first, that amidst the prejudices, the mistaken selfishness, and the great ignorance of many, we cannot at present hope for the introduction of so good and wise a law into those portions of the country which most require it; and secondly, because the usage of Ulster is not uniform, either as to the value of tenant-right or the regulations connected with its observance. On some estates, in consequence of the liberality of the landlords, the tenant-right is worth from 20l. to 30l. an acre, whilst on others it sinks down to 167., or 10l., or even 5l. On some estates the tenant is permitted to sell his right to the land to the best bidder without any restriction as to the price or the person, whilst on others the landlord fixes the minimum price, and also requires to be satisfied with the purchaser. Those, therefore, who in resolutions and speeches clamour for a law to extend the Ulster tenant-right to the whole of Ireland, ask for that which is wholly impracticable.Whatever the hon. and learned Gentleman might think, it was evident that a variable custom could never become a fixed law. He (Mr. Moore) would not attempt to define what he believed to be incapable of definition; but he would do the next best thing, and describe the manner in which he found the custom usually at work. It was a custom by which the tenant in possession of the farm was permitted by the landlord to dispose of the goodwill and whatever interest he had in the farm to the highest bidder he could procure, provided always that the incoming tenant were a party approved by the landlord. He asserted that the custom of tenant-right, where it prevailed, never deprived the landlord of two powers—his claim over the rent, and his veto on the incoming 1126 tenant. It was clear, therefore, that even if the custom were legalised in its commonest form, it might at once be neutralised by the landlord refusing the incoming tenant who was proposed. The common law said that a man's enemy was not to pay his debt without his permission, because, otherwise, he might obtain a very unfair advantage; and would it not be equally contrary to the spirit of the law to say that a landlord should not choose his own tenant? Such a position rather resembled some of those Communistic doctrines of which they heard so much, than a just law, calculated to inspire confidence between landlord and tenant. As, therefore, it was impossible to legalise what was called tenant-right, they must look to some principle according to which the tenant might be compensated for any improvements he might make on the property;-— and he thought it was impossible to take up the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General without seeing that the object of the measure was to compensate the tenant for permanent improvements, made by his labour, and at his expense:—it proceeded, in fact, on the very principle on which Mr. Sharman Crawford rested his original Bill. It might be a question whether the compensation was sufficient or not, but that was a question of detail; and when the Bill went into Committee he would be ready to extend the principle to every case where, consistently with the rules of law and the rights of property, it could be extended. Though he approved of the principle of the Bill introduced by the Attorney General, he would by no means pledge himself to all the details. He thought the principle of the Bill was one of which there could be no dispute; it was the principle of giving to the tenant compensation for permanent and unexhausted improvements; and he thought that the House should give it a second reading. It was suggested that both Bills—that of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and that of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny—should be referred to a Select Committee; but these Bills contained conflicting principles, and it was the duty of the House to decide which they would adopt, and which they would reject, and not devolve that duty on a Select Committee. There was another ground on which they should come at once to a decision upon the point, namely, that if they entertained the Bill of the hon. and learned 1127 Member for Kilkenny, they would be exciting hopes that were destined to disappointment, and raising expectations too extravagant to be realised; and it would serve to keep alive an agitation that should be at once extinguished. There was another reason why they should decide at once and adopt the Bill of the Attorney General, and that was that time after time the principle of that Bill had been sanctioned by that House, whereas the principle of the Bill introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had, time after time, been rejected by the House. He objected to the criticisms passed on the Bill of the Attorney General by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He had made, for instance, some very minute criticism upon the 18th section, and had complained that the tenant was not allowed more than four years' rent of the land he had improved. His right hon. Friend the Attorney General, however, did the very same thing with the landlords when he dealt with them in the Land Improvement Bill; and what was just in the one case to the landlords, could not be regarded as unjust in the other to the tenants. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained, also, that the Bill contained so many complicated provisions that it would be impossible for the poor tenant either to make the improvements, or to incur the expense of the preliminary investigation. He confessed, even supposing that objection to exist, that he was surprised to hear it urged by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who himself stood godfather to the most complicated, complex, and cumbrous document that had ever been brought before the House in the shape of a Bill—he meant that commonly known as Mr. Sharman Crawford's Bill. The arbitration clause, which ought of all to be the very clearest in that Bill, was enough to take one's breath away to read it, and, in fact, was so complicated and involved, that he defied any one to understand it. Among other things it defined the landlord's rent as being a "just proportion" of what might remain of the gross produce of the land after every possible and impossible charge had been deducted. Who was to say what was a "just proportion?" A reverend leader of the party opposite had recently declared, in a letter to a noble Lord, that the utmost any landlord was entitled to was the just proportion of 1s. an acre. That was their notion of "a fair rent." He cautioned English and lords to be very guarded how they 1128 sanctioned laws for the sister country which they would not wish to see introduced into their own. The law of property in England and Ireland was essentially the same; and, if innovations were rashly admitted into the one, it would be difficult to exclude them from the other. Let them once sanction the legal introduction of this custom of tenant-right into Ireland, and then let the landlords of England bid adieu to their ownership—for they would establish precedents against themselves. There were many other points which he could urge in support of the Bill, and in contravention of the criticism of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, but he was unwilling in a first speech to trespass upon the patience of the House. In conclusion, he appealed to Irish Members, on whichever side of the House they sat, to approach the consideration of the question in a spirit of conciliation, mutual forbearance, and good will. For their common country's sake, let not their passions be excited by any appeal to topics, religious, sectarian, or otherwise, but let the great and worthy object to animate all be the common interest of their common country.
§ MR. JOHN BALL
observed, that having for many years held a position in Ireland, in which it was his duty as much as it was his inclination to avoid becoming a partisan of any class, he had endeavoured to study the question which was now before the House, and he was intensely anxious to see this question involving such important interests, settled, as well for the sake of the two classes immediately interested in it, as for the sake of the general tranquillity of Ireland. There had been agitation upon this question; but that was natural, as great social evils were at the bottom of it. The right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had admitted the existence of this social evil in Ireland, and had endeavoured to provide a remedy for it; but it was with extreme regret that he found the measure of the right hon. Gentleman had altogether failed in its intention to legislate effectually for the evil, or to meet the just claims of the Irish tenantry. If he looked to this measure and not to the preamble of it, he would hardly feel justified in voting even for its second reading. The provisions of the Bill failed to carry out the intentions of the preamble. The preamble stated that the object of the Bill was to give security to the tenant for the improvements he should make on the land. Now, he was bound to say that 1129 the Bill entirely failed to provide that security. When the hon. Gentleman who spoke last warned English Gentlemen not to consent to the passing of a measure for Ireland which they would not tolerate in their own country, they should recollect that the circumstances of the two countries were totally and entirely different. It was the notorious fact that the management of property in Ireland was carried on in a way which was quite the reverse of the established order in England. In Ireland landlords in general did not develop the resources of their country, and they wore either unwilling or unable to take any active part in agricultural improvement, and to do that which every landlord in the other country thought it his duty to perform. Unless they could discover the means of alleviating the condition of the tenant class of the Irish population, they could take no effectual step towards promoting the prosperity of Ireland. The House should remember this startling and formidable fact, that, although the class of small tenant-farmers had been greatly diminished of late years by emigration, yet it had been proved before the Committee of last year that there were still in that country no fewer than 421,000 tenants whose holdings were less than thirty acres each. They should also remember that these occupiers of the soil were not living in that condition which alone can make a population contribute to the credit or prosperity of the country. Now, unless they could discover some means of elevating that class of the population, they could make no progress in regenerating the condition of Ireland. With respect to these 421,000 tenants, and for that class, this Bill was utterly useless. With respect to the other 150,000 tenants, they would be either unable or deterred from taking advantage of the provisions of the Bill by reason of the formalities required. The question was one of extreme urgency. The best and most active of the population were leaving their shores, and they said that they wished to retain them. How did you propose to do this? What inducement did they hold out in order to prevent the loss of that most useful class, who were engaged in the cultivation of the soil? The tenant is authorised by this Bill, should the landlord refuse to improve, to proceed with improvements after having given due notice. Then comes a most extraordinary provision. After he is engaged in these improvements, new parties in the shape of all persons interested are invited 1130 to come in, and any time before the certificate of completion is given, further notice may be required to be given. Well, if there is found a man who, in spite of all these formalities, proceeds, when he claims his certificate, he is obliged to give proof of his having given due notice, and of his having complied with all the formalities referred to. He is obliged to prove that his specifications are correct, and that the certificate corresponds with them. He is ohiged to prove that they have been duly published and posted, otherwise the poor tenant is debarred of his certificate. He cannot either obtain it until the clerk of the peace has duly published it. The Bill then goes on to say what are improvements, and anticipates the discoveries of science, by providing that nothing is an improvement which is not specified in the fourth clause of the Bill. A tenant may commence to drain with broken stones; having completed some of the work in this fashion, he suddenly finds that tiles are more profitable: he is debarred from his certificate by the variation from his specification. In the case of an appeal, if the tenant is dissatisfied with the decision of the Assistant Barrister, he is to go before one of the Judges of Her Majesty's Courts. For his part—though no one had more respect than he had for the Irish Bench—in such a case he would much rather go before a judge of a cattle show. They very probably, under this Bill, would have the twelve Judges sitting in Dublin to determine how a drain should be made. Another clause was most oppressive—the tenant was debarred from his certificate after a lapse of three years. Fifteen months of that were got over before the Court had complied with the formalities. Well then, the work would take, say from eight to nine months more, and in case of an appeal, an additional five or six months would be consumed before he could get the decision of a Judge. Three years would very soon pass over in this way, leaving the tenant, after he had obtained a Judge's decision, debarred by the 12th clause of his certificate. But the 18th section of the Act was most objectionable, for by it any breach in the covenants of the lease debarred the tenant for ever from obtaining compensation for his improvements. This was one of the worst clauses in the Bill, and he could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had been led astray by some sinister influence while preparing it. The Bill, in common with all that had gone 1131 before it, but more signally than any of its predecessors, failed in this—that it was drawn from abstract ideas, and failed in accomplishing any practical good. If they wished to accomplish a practical object, they must lay down for their basis the proposition in the Roman Civil law—of which, being couched in somewhat barbarous latinity, he would at his own risk and peril attempt a version—that where a tenant shall, without being bound thereto by covenant, add to the buildings on his farm, or make new buildings, or by some other improvements add to the value of his farm, he shall be entitled to compensation. If they would lay down that principle, and not add any complicated machinery to carry it out, then they might hope to come to some final and satisfactory settlement of the question. But they would not stop future agitation—on the contrary, they would be laying the foundation of future agitation—if they conceded the principle and refused the power to realise it. He wished now to say one word on the question of arrears of rents. He would appeal to Irish Members to say whether anything could be so fatal to a proper adjustment of the landlord and tenant question as the system of allowing large arrears to be hanging over the head of the tenant. It was a complete bar to improvement; and it turned the freeman into a serf when they put him into a position where he could make no profits which would benefit himself. No Tenant-right Bill could be of any avail unless the system was ended. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville) in dealing with the question, proposed to limit the power of distress to arrears for one year; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in his present Bill, allowed distress for a year and a half. His (Mr. Ball's) opinion was, and he gave it on the authority of the report of the Devon Commission, that it would be as much for the advantage of the tenant as of the landlord, that a stringent statute of limitations should be enacted, prohibiting the power of distress for arrears over more than one year. He trusted he had avoided saying anything offensive to the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. He and his friends would support the second reading of the Bill for the sake of its preamble. ["No, no!"] Well, he spoke for himself. He would support the second reading for the sake of the declarations contained in the preamble; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman would allow both measures to 1132 go before a Select Committee, he thought they might come to a satisfactory settlement by the construction of a measure simple in its nature, and which would put an end to agitation for the future.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
reminded hon. Members that they had to meet again tomorrow at 12 o'clock, and that they had sat very late on the previous night. It was impossible that they, could go on sitting so late every night, especially when there was a morning sitting next day; and he must, therefore, move that the House do now adjourn.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the hon. Gentleman should remember that he had no day at his command; that Thursday was not under the control of the Government; and that Friday had already been fixed far a very important discussion. All he could do was to facilitate the discussion that night, and that he had done.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
begged also to rise to order. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. M'Mahon) was perfectly in order in speaking to the adjournment.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, that, in rising for the first time in that House to speak on a topic of great interest, he was exceedingly anxious to act in conformity with the wishes and usages of the House; and he believed that he should be acting strictly in accordance with the practice of the House if he stated briefly why he thought the House should not then adjourn. The question was one of extreme importance not only to the people of Ireland, but to the welfare and permanent power and prosperity of England;—and he did think that after the subject had occupied so much attention in Ireland, which it specially concerned, the debate should not be adjourned at that very early hour of the night; but that those Gentlemen who took a deep interest in the question should be allowed to sit there and consider it. He wished in the fewest possible words to call the attention of hon. Members to the real question be- 1133 fore the House—namely, whether or not the Bills under discussion should be sent to a Select Committee. The only reason that had been assigned why the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kilkenny should not be sent to a Select Committee was, that the Bills of the Attorney General formed of themselves an adequate remedy for the miseries created by the present state of the law between landlord and tenant in Ireland. Now, what were those Bills? The two most material of his measures the right hon. Gentleman had told them were these: the one consolidated and slightly amended 200 old Acts of Parliament, and the other sixty. The other two were consolidations and amendments of divers measures introduced into Parliament during the greater part of this century. But if the 260 original Acts were but so many failures in the attempt to settle the question of landlord and tenant in Ireland upon a basis calculated to secure the welfare of the tenant as well as of the landlord, why should the consolidation do any more than they did? Those Acts were failures because passed by a Legislature which, looking chiefly to the interest of the landlords and the creditors of the land, neglected the interests of the rest of the community, committing the same mistake as the manufacturers in over protecting themselves, instead of looking to the general welfare of the community. Those 260 measures had produced this result-— they had totally destroyed that freedom of contract in dealing with the land which would have existed had they not been passed—they interfered with that general freedom of action which if allowed to exist would have secured the welfare of landlord and tenant; but as it was, the land was encumbered with the barbarous institutions of entails, and with mortgages and judgments, and registries, which more and more prevented the landlord from acting as a free agent with regard to his land, and giving such a lease as would induce a tenant to expend labour and capital upon the soil. The landlords of Ireland had had great advantages, many of them obtaining the land free of charge, and having the making of the laws; hut they had ruined themselves, necessitated the establishment of the Encumbered Estates Court, and reduced the tenantry to a condition truly disgraceful. The persons who passed those laws, looking to their own interest only, passed laws in violation of the fundamental principles of economical science, and the 1134 consequence was a state of things disgraceful to our legislation and to the civilisation of the age. It was urged that the Bill of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Serjeant Shee) interfered with the freedom of contract; but freedom of contract had been already interfered with, and, under the operation of these laws, neither landlord nor tenant could make or have such a lease as he would wish. Freedom of contract did not exist, and would not exist if these Bills were passed into law. All those laws with relation to landlord and tenant in Ireland, were in direct violation of the fundamental principles which Paley laid down with regard to the tenure of land. Paley said that the principal expedient by which agriculture could be promoted, was to adjust the laws of property as nearly as possible to the following rules: first, to give to the occupier all the power over the soil necessary for its perfect cultivation; and, secondly, to assign the whole profit of every improvement to the persons by whose activity it was carried on. He said that—With respect to the encouragement of husbandry; in this, as in every other employment, the true reward of industry is in the price and sale of the produce. The exclusive right to the produce is the only incitement, which acts constantly and universally — the only spring which keeps human labour in motion. All, therefore, that the laws can do is to secure this right to the occupier of the ground —that is, to constitute such a system of tenure that the full and entire advantage of every improvement go to the benefit of the improver; that every man work for himself, and not for another; and that no one share in the profit who does not assist in the production,"[Philosophy,xi. s. 2.]As the principles relating to industry were better understood, we should recur to the principle of freedom of action. In deciding whether the Bill of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Serjeant Shee) should be sent to a Committee, there was another reason which should not be overlooked—it should be remembered that the people of Ireland had returned a great number of representatives pledged to support the measure. Was it not due, in common courtesy to the national will of the people of Ireland, and to their representatives, that the measure should at least be considered in Committee? Legislation, with respect to Ireland, had looked too much towards the landlord, and too little towards the tenant; they had always applied to the tenants of Ireland a part of the well-known maxim of Arthur Young, "Give a man secure possession of a rock, and he will turn it 1135 into a garden. Make a man a tenant-at-will of a garden, and be will turn it into a desert." The latter part only of that maxim they had applied to the tenants of Ireland; they had made them tenants-at-will of the soil, and could they wonder that it had become a waste? If the same encouragement were given to tenants in Ireland as had been given to tenants in Prussia, Tuscany, and other parts of the world, might not the hope he entertained that the tenantry of Ireland would prosper like the tenantry of other countries, and that, instead of discontent and wretchedness prevailing, there would be the happiness and contentment which existed among the tenantry of England? To produce that result nothing unreasonable, extravagant, or unjust had been asked. All that had been asked was, that this Bill should be referred, with the other Bills, to a Select Committee. He and those with whom he acted did not ask for a Committee of Members pledged to support the measure, but a Committee consisting, not of Members influenced by the narrow, local, personal, or professional prejudices of Irish landlords or lawyers, hut of Members with the views of English statesmen looking to the welfare of the people of Ireland, and to the welfare of the people of England— for the people of England could never be permanently prosperous while the people of Ireland continued in their present state of misery—and, looking, also to the permanent welfare of the whole country, might advise such measures for settling the question of landlord and tenant as might consist with the principles of public policy and private justice.
§ MR. LUCAS
wished to say a very few words strictly on the question of adjournment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had truly observed that he had given every facility for the discussion that night. What was the object for which that discussion had been sought? A Bill bad been brought forward in a long speech by the Attorney General for Ireland; and the impression made on the most plausible statement of its contents was confirmed and strengthened on examining it—for it seemed to involve a confiscation of all tenant-right that existed in Ireland, and a confusion of all such property in future. On examination, it was found to he infinitely worse than had been suspected; it was calculated to excite the greatest possible discontent in Ireland, and, instead of healing the wounds of that 1136 country, to produce disturbance and breach of the peace, not only in the North of Ireland, but throughout the four Provinces—to create an aggregation of all the evils that existed, and an incitement to outrage and discord worse than the worst enemies of Ireland could desire. What, then, was the object with which this discussion was sought? Finding that the Bill contained such provisions as he had described, these with whom he acted wished to have an opportunity of making a statement to that House, which statement had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny—a statement to which, for its calmness, temperance, clearness, and fulness in examination of details, no objection could be made; and, before going down to the country, they desired to know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had any reply to make—whether they were to go down to their constituents after the recess arrived, and express the opinion which he and his friends had unanimously formed of the Bill, or whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman had anything in store to allay their apprehensions? What had been stated to-night had all been on one side. The case had been waved on the other side. There had been a speech from an hon. Gentleman on the other side (Mr. Ross Moore), who was perfectly competent to make out a case if the Bill had not been so exquisitely bad; but he did not defend it at all. He gave up the greater part of its details, which were practically its principle, and he endeavoured to make a foray against that side of the House, and had converted the discussion, which, in form, was a discussion on the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Bill, into a discussion on the measure of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny. What was sought was an explanation. He (Mr. Lucas) had had no experience of that House, but out of it he had never heard of a more extraordinary proceeding than that with reference to a clause which was now said to be a printer's error. When an explanation was given, it might appear that there were more printer's errors. He was inclined to think that the greater part of the Bill was a gross printer's error. Sure he was it was a gross blunder of some kind, and he would much rather the blunder were appropriated by the printer than by Government; but three times in two Bills the same form of words was repeated, once in the Leasing Bill, and twice in the 1137 Tenants' Compensation Bill; and that turned out to be a printer's blunder! The House was entitled to have an explanation of what this Bill really did mean. He and his friends were not anxious to take up this matter in a party spirit as against the Government. He did not know whether he would receive credit for sincerity, but he spoke as solemnly as a man could, and he could say that he would as soon take good measures from hon. Gentlemen opposite, as from any party. He was connected with no party; he looked only to those who had the wellbeing of Ireland at heart; he was looking to hon. Gentlemen opposite in the hope that, as they were throwing off so many old notions, and were abandoning obsolete politics, they might show that good disposition in regard to Ireland—that unhappy country, which had suffered more from those exploded politics, than any other part of the Empire. In conclusion, he would repeat that he, and those with whom he co-operated, were anxious to have an explanation from the Government on the subject of this Bill. The Government had shown a certain degree of unwillingness to have a discussion. Having an opportunity, they had not given any explanation, and had left him and his friends under an impression that their objections could not be answered. He appealed to the Government whether the discussion might not he continued on Wednesday? Those with whom he acted were ready to meet the Government then or on Thursday, or on any other day; but if the Government shrunk from explanation, and mistake or misapprehension were left to exist among his friends, and if great excitement arose in Ireland, he should only say that the fault would not lie at their door.
§ Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 92; Noes 57: Majority 35.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, C. H. W.||Bruce, C. L. C.|
|Astell, J. H.||Butt, G. M.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Chambers, T.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Chandos, Marq. of|
|Bateson, T.||Christopher, rt. hn. R. A.|
|Bentinck, G. P.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Cotton, hon. W. H. S.|
|Berkeley, Sir G.||Crook, J.|
|Booker, T. W.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Buncombe, hon. A.|
|Brisco, M.||Dunne, Col.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Fitzgerald, W. R. S.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||Miller, T. J.|
|Forster, Sir G.||Milligan, R.|
|Franklyn, G. W.||Montgomery, H. L.|
|George, J.||More, R. S.|
|Grogan, E.||Morgan, O.|
|Hadfield, G.||Naas, Lord|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Napier, rt. hon. J.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Newport, Visct.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Packe, C. W.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Herbert, Sir T.||Ricardo, O.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Hudson, G.||Smith, Sir F.|
|Johnstone, J.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Spooner, R.|
|Kendall, N.||Stafford, A.|
|Ker, D. S.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|King, J. K.||Stanley, Lord|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Stirling, W.|
|Knight, F. W.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Turner, C.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Vance, J.|
|Lockhart, W.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Loveden, P.||Whiteside, J.|
|Macartney, G.||Whitmore, H.|
|Maeaulay, K.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Maddock, Sir T. H.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Manners, Lord J.||TELLERS.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Brotherton, J.|
|Michell, W.||Taylor, Col.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ball, J.||Magan, W. H.|
|Bell, J.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Bellew, Capt.||Meagher, T.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Monck, Visct.|
|Bowyer, G.||Moore, G. H.|
|Brady, J.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Carter, S.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Murrough, J. P.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Devereux, J. T.||O'Brien, P.|
|Duffy, C. G.||O'Brien, Sir T.|
|Esmonde, J.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Fagan, W.||Osborne, R.|
|Fitzgerald, J. D.||Pellatt, A.|
|Fitzgerald, Sir J. F.||Pollard, U. W.|
|Fox, R. M.||Power, N.|
|Goderich, Visct.||Sadleir, J.|
|Goold, W.||Sadleir, J.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Scully, V.|
|Greene, J.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Greville, Col. F.||Shee, W.|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Stapleton, J.|
|Keating, R.||Swift, R.|
|Kennedy, T.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Keogh, W.||Warner, E.|
|Kirk, W.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Lawless, hon. C.||Whitbread, S.|
|M'Cann, J.||Scully, F.|
|M'Mahon, P.||Roche, E. B.|
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that, considering the great interest taken in this subject, and that it was important the matter 1139 should be fully investigated, and considering also that there was no prospect of coming to a definite conclusion upon the question before the recess, he was quite willing to accede, on the part of the Government, to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that both the Bills, namely, the Bill of the Attorney General for Ireland, and the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Serjeant Shee), should be referred to a Select Committee. He did not understand that there existed the same objection to the Land Improvement Bill and the Leasing Powers Bill; he thought they should pass as rapidly as possible, and not be referred to a Select Committee.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he should of course communicate with the hon. and learned Gentleman upon that point. His desire was that the Committee should consist of a fair proportion of Irish Members on both sides of the House.
§ MR. LUCAS
thought the Leasing Powers Bill should be referred to the Select Committee. It contained an important principle connected with compensation. He also thought it would be of great importance that the Committee should have the power of hearing evidence to show what would be the exact operation of the various clauses of the two Bills. If they did- not, they would be legislating in the dark.
§ MR. GROGAN
objected to sending Mr. Crawford's Bill to a Select Committee, on the ground that it had been already rejected by the House because it involved a violation of the rights of property.
§ MR. O'FLAHERTY
regretted that the hon. Member opposed the moderate, conciliatory, and equitable course proposed by the Home Secretary. It would be a very one-sided proceeding to send up one Bill to the Committee, and to reject the other. As to examining witnesses before the Committee, he was of opinion it would be useless, as very few witnesses could be found who would fully understand the subject.
§ The SPEAKER
reminded the House that the debate had been adjourned, but that no day was named to which the adjournment was to take place.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till Wednesday, the 15th December."
§ MR. R. M. FOX
regretted that the Irish Members had consented to send the Tenant-right Bill before a Select Committee at all. He was convinced, from what he had seen of other Select Committees, the whole thing would end in nothing being done. Some explanation was due to the House of the extraordinary silence preserved during the debate by Her Majesty's Ministers.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, he had intended to follow the hon. Member for Carlow county (Mr. Ball), but that the adjournment of the debate was moved just after he sat down, and he (Mr. Napier) thought that, having spoken at length on introducing the Bill, it would only be fair to give hon. Members an opportunity of stating their opinions. He was quite prepared to answer the hon. and learned Gentleman in his remarks on the Tenant Bill. He might add, before he sat down, that having prepared abstracts of the Bill for the better comprehension of it, he found, on looking to one of them then in his hand, that the printer's error had not crept into it.
§ MR. KEOGH
remarked that it was a very extraordinary circumstance that the same mistake should have crept into all the right hon. Gentleman's Bills. The Bill would in effect be found a delusion, for when the right hon. Gentleman had laid it down that thirty-one years should be the compensating period of enjoyment, he sent the tenant who might be evicted before a tribunal which was limited in jurisdiction to four years' clear yearly value of the lands. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the preparation of those Bills had added many an hour of toil to a life not professionally unemployed. This certainly was the great age of concession and appropriation. The House would hear with surprise that the materials which had added those weary hours to the right hon. Gentleman's life, had been supplied by the pigeon-holes of Dublin Castle. Why did he say so? Because an hon. Member now in the House had a pamphlet in his pocket written by Mr. Tighe Hamilton, formerly Assistant Secretary at Dublin Castle, and dated at Nice on the 2nd of last month, which, when compared with the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, was almost section by section, and in every principle and proposal, the same. The labours of the right hon. Gentleman, 1141 united with those of his hon. and learned Colleague, who was so rigidly observant of nothing but sober facts, had terminated in putting into form the suggestions, the ideas, nay, the very words, of a gentleman who, far distant from England, felt bitterly, as others had done, that his literary efforts had been plundered without acknowledgment.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, that considering the attack which had been made on his character and on his honour as a gentleman, he was sure the House would allow him to move they should now adjourn, for the purpose of enabling him to answer a charge, of which, if he was guilty, he should deserve to be stigmatised as a man wanting in honour and in the principles of a gentleman, and not worthy of a seat in that House, which he had for some years enjoyed. On the honour of a gentleman, then, till that Bill was stated to the House —till it had been laid on the table—he had never even seen the pamphlet of Mr. Tighe Hamilton, or any Bill, or any paper relating to it. He never saw, he never read, he never heard of any such paper. But he would explain the circumstances connected with that pamphlet. In 1850 he asked Messrs. Vance and Ferguson to write the book which had been adverted to in the course of the debate. They wrote it in 1850, and, having been printed for private circulation, it was put in possession of several Members of the House. Mr. Tighe Hamilton had been examined before the Committee, of which he (Mr. Napier) was Chairman, and had given important evidence with respect to the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland, and in 1850 a copy of the book had been, therefore, transmitted to him. That book was published under his (the Attorney General's) own superintendence; he furnished a great portion of its materials, which were collected by his own industry; to the gentlemen by whom it was published he had handed all the papers in his possession; and it contained substantially his views upon that question. Sentence for sentence, and paragraph for paragraph of that book, would be found in the pamphlet of Mr. Tighe Hamilton, in 1852—whole passages and pages were taken without a word of acknowledgment. His Bill was, he owned, founded upon the first pamphlet, with the exception of the Land Improvement Act; but he was, upon the honour of a gentleman, quite guiltless of every part of the charge brought against him, and he 1142 trusted that, after the statement he had made, he should stand in that House as it had always been his pride and privilege to stand, as a Gentleman whose word and honour were unimpeached.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House do now adjourn."
§ MR. FULKE GREVILLE
deprecated the personal tone which had been imported into the debate; but, entering fully into the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman, and giving him the greatest credit for his labours and exertions in this matter, he must say that there was this to be said for the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Athlone (Mr. Keogh)—that the Solicitor General for Ireland did last night make observations with regard to several Gentlemen on that side of the House, and among others the hon. and learned Gentleman, at which he was not surprised that hon. Member should feel annoyed. He begged to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he would allow the second Bill of the Attorney General, the Leasing Powers Bill, to be referred to the Committee at the same time as the other Bills, because it did contain clauses which were open to the same objection.
§ MR. WALPOLE
had no objection to adopt the course suggested. As to the Land Improvement Bill, that, he understood, would be allowed to pass the second reading.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, the House must remember that if there had been any personal infusion of bitterness into this debate, it was originated by the hon. and learned Gentleman on the other side of the House (Mr. Whiteside), who had used last night, he thought, a rather strong term in speaking of the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Athlone (Mr. Keogh). What had the hon. Member for Athlone said this evening? It was true he had referred to the pamphlet of Mr. Hamilton, but he had not only referred to that pamphlet, he referred also to certain pigeon-holes in Dublin Castle. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Napier), with the sanctity which became a Member of the College—["Oh, oh!"]—well, then, with that want of sanctity—["Oh, oh!"]— well, with that boldness which became a Member for the University of Dublin, had asserted—and he (Mr. Osborne) believed him—that he did not take his Bill from that pamphlet. But it was well known that the late Government had left certain 1143 measures for the settlement of this question of tenant-right, if it could be settled by a Government measure. He was not underrating the exertions of the Attorney General. Three of his Bills he believed to be very good ones; but at the same time he thought the hon. Member for Athlone was justified in saying that the right hon. Gentleman had made use of the pigeon-holes. As to referring these Bills to a Committee of the House, he was sure there would be disappointment felt at the result of that Committee.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he would not detain the House one minute. He regretted nothing so much as that those measures which had been laid on the table with the best intentions towards Ireland, should have been made the subject of personal attack. He wished to state one fact, and he hoped he should be believed; he had been present last summer at the preparation of a great portion of these four Bills. They had been prepared in a great degree under his own eyes, and those of his hon. Friend the Attorney General. With regard to the pigeon-holes of the Castle, he was not in the habit of rummaging in pigeon-holes. But he could state that neither in the pigeon-holes nor out of the pigeon-holes had they found any Bill of the late Government, to enable him to prepare the Bills before the House. He staked his veracity on that statement. He was surprised that hon. Gentlemen had taken the course they had done on the large constitutional question to which they had addressed themselves. Not one word had been said on the merits of the Bills, with the exception of the quibble raised on the omission of one word. The hon. Member for Middlesex regretted that the Bills had been refered to a Select Committee. So did he. It was admitted that three of the Bills were unexceptionable, and regretted that the friends of Ireland had been the cause of preventing them becoming law.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
thought the discussion had become somewhat irregular. At that late hour, and after the arrangement which had been agreed upon, he thought the discussion should not proceed further.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHEE
admitted that he had agreed to the proposal to refer the Bills to a Select Committee; but he thought it would be of great advantage, if 1144 power were given to the Committee to send for witnesses and papers.
§ MR. GEORGE
protested, as an independent Member, against its being supposed that he assented to the principle of the Bills of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, many of the clauses in which were not to be found in any of Mr. Crawford's Bills.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn; —Debate adjourned till Wednesday, 15th December.
§ The House adjourned at half after One o'clock.