HC Deb 05 May 1852 vol 121 cc266-99

Order read, for resuming the further Proceeding on Amendment proposed to Question [31st March],"That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

And which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

Further Proceeding resumed.


said, he was resolved to use all legitimate means to stay the fur- ther progress of this Bill, because he believed it to be a mischievous and ill-designed measure, unsound in principle, and likely to prove exceedingly injurious in operation. The object of the Bill professed to be to insure compensation to the tenant for the improvements he might have effected in his holding; but he had gone through the Bill with great care, and had been totally unable to discover that it bad been constructed with a view to any such object: the principle of the Bill was, in fact, nothing less than to insure a compulsory valuation of land—to insure a compulsory interference with the contracts between landlord and tenant, and to take out of the hands of the landlord all power as regarded the disposition of his own property. The Bill held out no sufficient guarantee of the landlord's rights, and the details of the Bill were totally at variance with the principle on which it professed to be founded. Certainly the word "compensation" did occur frequently in the Bill; but it was held out as a threat to the landlord if he did not choose to accept the terms dictated to him by a tribunal of tenants, and agree to the arbitrary valuation of rent which would be fixed by the machinery of the Bill. An appeal to the Barrister was allowed, and either of the parties might demand that the matter be referred to a jury: but who could believe that a jury of tenant-farmers in Ireland was a fair tribunal to decide a question of rent? The seventh section seemed drawn exclusively for the benefit of the lawyers, the arbitrators being left to decide upon their own opinion of the increased value created, which would be certain to lead to great confusion. He regarded the measure as an unjustifiable interference with the right of private property, and which would deprive the landlord of all power as respected contracts for land. This Bill was one not to give compensation to the tenants, but to eat up the proprietary of Ireland. It was brought forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite merely to unsettle those relations between landlord and tenant which they had the audacity to profess that they were attempting to settle. This was an interference which he was persuaded that the British Legislature, with its accurate appreciation of what was just between man and man, would never sanction. The clauses of the Bill embodied a principle which was irreconcilable with the custom of England. There could be no doubt that one of the greatest grievances under which Ireland had long suffered was agitation; and it was equally clear that this Bill would rake up the old question of landlord and tenant, which had already been too long a vexata qucestio in Ireland. The persevering with the measure would merely excite extraordinary expectation on the one hand, and the greatest alarm on the other. Even if this were a modest measure as regarded the tenant, it might create some apprehension in the breasts of even those landlords who had performed their duty to their tenants. But it had not been brought forward with a sincere determination to persevere with it—it was brought forward for electioneering purposes. The principle which it professed to embody was not the tenant-right of Ulster, nor anything like it. He had some personal knowledge of that province, and of the working of tenant-right there. Tenant-right had conferred many benefits upon the people of Ulster. Ulster tenant-right amounted to this: it implied a power on the part of a tenant to determine his tenancy, and to sell the good-will of the premises which he had occupied to the incoming tenant; and that right existed in the north of Ireland, in all sorts of tenancies, whether under lease or at will, and also whether or not improvements had been made by the tenant. A tenant had there the right of selling his interest in his tenancy for the highest sum that it would fetch in the market. Evidently there was something to be sold, and which the tenant claimed he had a right to sell; and that something was called tenant-right. That right differed under different circumstances: in some cases the tenant was permitted to sell his interest in it for ten, in others for fifteen, and in others for twenty years. But, after all, this tenant-right in Ulster was nothing more than the good-will possessed by the tenant in his holding, owing to the confidence which existed between himself and his landlord. When that confidence was known to be great, the tenant's interest sold for a large sum; and when it was impaired, the price which the good-will would fetch was proportionately diminished. Now, that confidence grew up between landlord and tenant, not because an Act of Parliament was passed to promote it: that confidence rested on higher ground; it was the result of the mutual honour, integrity, and high character of landlord and tenant. It was the result of the feeling entertained on the one hand by the landlord, that the man who had sought to cultivate part of his property would faithfully discharge the duties of a tenant; and on the other by the tenant, that his landlord would acquit himself honourably towards him. If tenant-right did not prevail in other parts than Ulster, it was because that sort of mutual confidence did not exist elsewhere than in that province. Gentlemen from the south of Ireland complained that this system of tenant-right did not exist there; that, however, was their own fault. The confidence between landlord and tenant in that part of Ireland had been greatly disturbed by the political agitations which had so long prevailed in that country: the seditious, he would even say the rebellious, meetings which had taken place in Ireland, had almost destroyed that confidence which ought to exist between landlord and tenant. And it was from the absence of this that, notwithstanding the north of Ireland was less fertile, the relations between landlord and tenant were of a more satisfactory character, and the people were generally in a more happy and prosperous condition. This Bill could not increase confidence. Its object was merely to stir up the people for a time with some wretched pettifogging view to electioneering purposes. He would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they were performing their duty to their country in thus fomenting agitation, and stirring up that flame which had slept since the famine; and in awaking civil and religious discoid in the country only for the base object of answering an electioneering purpose. He did not know that a man could commit a more grievous crime towards his country; and he hoped that it was not too late for hon. Gentlemen opposite to review and retrace the course upon which they had entered.


said, that he should pass by the unjust imputations which the hon. Gentleman had cast upon the portion of the country to which he (Mr. Monsell) belonged, with the single remark, that if tenant-right had in the north of Ireland produced the beneficial effects which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Conolly) attributed to it, that was one of the strongest possible arguments for attempting an alteration in the state of the law in those parts of Ireland where it did not exist. The mutual confidence alluded to by the hon. Gentleman did not exist where tenant-right did not prevail. Many of the objections which the hon. Gentleman had urged against the Bill, would, he thought, have had great force if the House was then discussing the third reading of the Bill. He (Mr. Monsell) objected as strongly as any hon. Gentleman could do to a system of compulsory valuation, which he believed to be utterly absurd, and one that could not be carried out by law; if attempted it would have precisely the same effect as the decree of the French Convention, that the food of Paris should only be sold to the inhabitants at a certain rate. That produced famine; and the attempt to carry into effect a compulsory valuation would lead to the cessation of all attempts at agricultural industry, which must be founded upon the rights of property. But he contended that compulsory valuation was not involved in the principle of the Bill; and though, perhaps, the hon. Gentleman might refer him to the wording of some clause in the Bill which might appear to sanction such a system, that was but a detail which could be altered; the principle of the measure was an entirely different thing, and it was in favour of the principle that he spoke. In order to show the House the urgent necessity that there was for a Bill of this description, he would call their attention to the opinions of those who had been most conversant with the state of Ireland. Dean Swift (100 years ago), Arthur Young, Lord Clare, and the Commission which sat in 1834, all had described in strong terms the misery which had been produced in that country by the state of the relations between landlord and tenant. Before the Committee which sat in 1839 on the subject of Crimes and Outrages, Mr. Kemmis, the Crown Solicitor, stated that three-fourths or more of the outrages which occurred were attributable to disputes about land. Sir Mathew Barrington, who was Crown Solicitor for twenty-five years, also traced almost every outrage to the same cause. It appeared, therefore, that there had been a system working in Ireland, for a great number of years, with precisely the same unfortunate results; and the inference therefore seemed to be, that it should be altered, unless it was maintained that there was something so adverse to civilisation and industry in the Irish people, that the result was their fault, and not that of the law. Mr. Kay, however, in his work on the social condition and education of the people of England and Europe, stated that the Irish became the most energetic, orderly, and successful colonists; and this statement was corroborated by Count Strelitzki and Mrs. Chis- holm. It might, perhaps, indeed be asked why the system, which was the same in Ireland as in England, did not work equally well in both countries. But because a system was adapted to the English, it did not follow that it would be equally well adapted to a people of a character so entirely different as the Irish. And, besides, there was a gross fallacy in the observation. There was the same system theoretically, but who would say that there was the same practically?—there was uniformity but not unity. He wished to attain a real practical unity between the two countries, which could only be done by carrying out the principle of this Bill, which was simply this, that the tenant should have an indefeasible right to the value of all those improvements which he is obliged to make in Ireland, and which the landlord would be obliged to make in England. This principle was in accordance with that of the civil law, which declared that the cultivator when he vacates his holding is entitled to the full value of the beneficial improvements made by him; with the custom of Brittany in France, and with the laws of Denmark and of Massachusetts. By assenting to the second reading, the House would do more than recognise that principle. He regretted that the measure which the Government proposed to introduce upon this subject was not ready, for he deprecated all delay, which was dangerous, if for nothing else, because it produced precisely the results which the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly) had described in somewhat strong language. The present time was eminently suited for the fair consideration of any measure which the Government might introduce; and notwithstanding that the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Napier) entertained conscientious opinions different on many points from those of the majority of his countrymen, he did not believe there was any one in whom all persons in Ireland who knew him placed more implicit confidence. For his own part, he (Mr. Monsell) should be ready to do all he could to forward the settlement of this question. He should vote for the second reading of this Bill.


said, before the House came to a division he was anxious to offer a few observations on this important question. In the first place, he must remark upon the strange fact, that every one of those who had advocated the measure had carefully avoided any allusion to its de- tails. No speaker had yet adverted to a single clause of the Bill, or had defended one of its provisions. He must say, in answer to what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House, that though he agreed with much that he said, and admitted that the principle of compensation to tenants was to be found in the Bill, yet he (Lord Naas) looked upon the introduction of that provision as a mere peg on which to hang other principles of the most dangerous and pernicious kind—provisions which would tend to destroy every existing right of property in the land in Ireland, and to invalidate every subsisting contract between landlord and tenant; which would in fact plunge the whole landed property of Ireland into one mass of confusion. He would assert that compensation to the tenant was not the leading feature of the Bill. The first principle of this Bill was the assertion that every improvement that was found in the land in Ireland was the property of the tenant; and the second was that the rents of the landlord were to be settled for the future, not between him and his tenants, but on a compulsory valuation made by juries; and he believed that if this Bill was carried, it would for ever put an end to anything like a valuable and real compensation for the tenants' improvements. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick had said that in general the laws regarding landed property in Ireland had worked badly. He (Lord Naas) admitted the fact, but denied that this measure would effect a remedy. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the misery and suffering of the Irish population being in a great measure attributable to the state of the law as affecting land; and he said that when the Irish emigrant went into foreign foreign countries he became industrious and prosperous—that he flourished in Australia and in America; but he (Lord Naas) would ask the hon. Gentleman whether either in Australia or in America such a law as he wished the British Legislature now to engraft on the relationship between landlord and tenant was in existence? He (Lord Naas) thought, if such a principle as that was attempted to be introduced in the Congress of the United States, or in any of the Colonial Legislatures, it would be immediately repudiated as a pernicious interference with the rights of property, which could never be tolerated. That compensation to tenants of which they had heard so much, was not, in fact, the leading principle of this Bill. The laws re- garding landed property in Ireland Lad, from time to time, been dealt with by that House, and by the Irish House of Commons; but they had invariably been dealt with by piecemeal; modifications were made in them at one time as a sop to the landlord, and at another as a sop to the tenant; and they appeared never to have been considered in anything like a comprehensive spirit. He believed the statutes respecting landed property in Ireland amounted now to the enormous number of 125; but this Bill left all that mass of legislation wholly unsettled; it did not consolidate the existing Acts, nor did it amend, or even repeal, any single one of them. On the contrary, it engrafted a new principle altogether on that heterogeneous mass of legislation. The Bill, in fact, attempted to Carry out the most unjust objects by means perfectly impracticable. It would be well to trace this Bill to its real origin. He did not believe, in reality, that the hon. Member for Rochdale was the inventor of this Bill; for the hon. Gentleman was a man well acquainted with landed property, was himself an excellent landlord, and had never before advocated all these principles—for the present Bill went much further than any Bill the hon. Member had previously attempted to introduce into the House. This measure, on the contrary, completely embodied the principles of a society which had attracted considerable attention in Ireland of late years—the Tenant League. The Bill in every particular was an embodiment of the principles advocated by that League—principles which he (Lord Naas) believed to be as dangerous and as communistic as were ever broached in the wildest times of revolution. He had taken the trouble to collect a few extracts from various speakers and writers belonging to the society, which would show the House what those principles really were, and that the Bill now under consideration was an attempt to give legislative effect to those dangerous doctrines. The Rev. Mr. M'Gennis, in moving a resolution at a public meeting in Belfast, May 3,1851, said— The nationalisation of the land he considered to be the proper solution of the question. He denied the claim of the landlord to the soil or the rent for his own purposes. The landlord was merely a public steward, and when he failed to discharge his duty faithfully, he should be deprived of his trust, and the nation should put another in his place. That should be the prime aim of that League. On June 3,1851, Pat Lawler, Esq., chairman of a meeting in Dublin, said— It was an outrage against the bounty of the Most High, and a blasphemy against the mercy and justice of the Omnipotent, for any man to say that the right over the soil was unreservedly his, or that he could do what he liked with the and. On December 9, 1851, the Rev. W. Dobbin, at a meeting in Annaghlone, said— We will assert, though it be with our last breath, that landlords were tolerated for the benefit of the people; and when they cease to serve the purpose for which they were formed, the exigencies of the times require that the institution should be abolished—that the right of the people to the creations of their own industry is a better right than that by which the landlords hold their estates. I believe it would be an unspeakable blessing to the community, did each individual hold his property in fee-simple under the Crown. The speeches delivered at public meetings by men connected with that League, all pointed to the same end, which was nothing less than this—that Ireland would never be prosperous and never improved until the property of the landlords was entirely handed over to the tenants. That was the principle that was embodied in this Bill. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite said "No, no;" but he thought he would be able to prove that it was so. The definition of tenant-right in the preamble of the Bill was not a correct one. The Bill commenced by reciting the present custom of tenant-right in the north of Ireland, which it defined thus: "A right of continued occupation is enjoyed by the tenant in possession, subject to the payment of the rent to which he is liable, or such change of rent as shall he afterwards settled from time to time by fair valuation." Now, if that was agreed to, it would prevent a landlord from ever resuming the occupation of his land. Besides, he maintained that the practice as defined in the Bill was not general in Ireland. It was not a true definition of the existing tenant-right. Under the tenant-right as it existed, the tenant was not compelled to submit to any valuation whatever. The recital on which the hon. Member for Rochdale founded his Bill was not a fair definition of the practice; and he (Lord Naas) was borne out in that by every Gentleman connected with the north of Ireland who knew what tenant-right was in reality. Then, the landlord's interest was to be valued and arbitrated upon.


said, there was no compulsory valuation of rent under the Bill.


said, he thought there was. Now, on these false recitals, the hon. Member proceeded to legislate. The first and third clauses of the Bill completely embodied the theory of Mr. Rutherford, to which reference had been made. The first clause provided that all buildings and improvements producing increased value, made at the cost of the tenant, should be the tenant's property; and that no tenant having made such improvements should be evicted without being paid for his tenant-right, where the custom existed, and in districts where the custom does not exist, the value of his improvements. Then the third clause enacted that— In ascertaining the value of the tenant-right of any land, or the value to be allowed a tenant for improvements, it shall be presumed that all improvements have been made by the occupying tenant, or those from whom he has derived, save so far as it shall be proved on the landlord's part that such improvements were actually made by himself, or by those from whom he has derived his estate, or by those from whom the tenant has not derived; and the tenant shall be held entitled to be paid for the value of all improvements made by himself, or by those from whom he has derived, according to the rules hereinafter enacted. Now that was nothing more nor less than an embodiment of the principle laid down by Mr. Rutherford, in these terms:— The landlord's property is the barren soil; the tenant's property is all the additional value. This principle is the touchstone of tenant-right, and the foundation on which to rest the argument in favour of the tenant-farmer. Again, in the fourth clause, the principle of a compulsory valuation of rent was clearly laid down; it was perfectly true that this Bill would be worth nothing without that Clause, for in all arrangements between landlord and tenant, rent must be a guiding principle. If the landlord had the power of settling his own rent, the Bill would be so much waste paper, for he would say to his tenant—"I will let you the land under the old system for 15s. an acre; but if you take it subject to the provisions of Mr. Crawford's Bill, you must pay me 25s. for it." The League saw that plainly. He had a little book in his hand, entitled, The Catechism of Tenant Bight, which was published under the sanction of the Tenant League, and was generally circulated throughout Ireland, and which laid down the principle of a compulsory valuation of rent in very plain words. One question was, Would the mere legalisation of the tenant-right be sufficient, leaving the landlord at liberty to raise the rent? The answer to this question was, There must be fixity of tenure; for as long as the landlord was at liberty to raise the rent, the legalisation of the tenant-right was delusive, for the landlord might increase the rent to what amount he pleased, and might destroy the tenant-right by making it so worthless that nobody would buy it. And in the fourth clause of the Bill, he found this principle was carried out to the letter. If the tenant was served with notice to quit, or notice of ejectment, or if the tenant served a notice of surrender, it was provided that within ten days the tenant should serve upon the landlord notice of his claim in writing, and that arbitrators should be called in to settle the rent, or the amount of compensation, or such other matters as came within the scope of the Bill. If the arbitrators did not agree, the matter was to be referred to a jury at quarter-sessions. Therefore he (Lord Naas) repeated that compulsory valuation of rent, which was a novel principle in legislation—a most unjust principle, and one which he believed the House would never for a moment entertain—was the main feature of this measure.


complained that the noble Lord had misrepresented the provisions of the measure.


Well, then, I will refer to a speech of the hon. Gentleman himself: the hon. Member for Rochdale says, "From a consideration of all the circumstances, I have come to the conclusion that any attempt to secure the tenant-right, unless accompanied by a measure for the adjustment of rent, is now hopeless." After the declaration of that sentiment at a public meeting, the hon. Member, in now taking exception to his (Lord Naas's) opinion on that part of the Bill, was only attempting to blind the House. The truth was, that the effect of this Bill would be to make the landlord a mere rent-charger on his estate; and if it became the law of the land, they would never find a landlord who would lay out a shilling on his own property, and by "one fell swoop" every source of improvement would be shut up throughout the country. The hon. Gentleman said Ireland was ruined by absenteeism: he (Lord Naas) most sincerely regretted that he must admit that a great many proprietors did not reside on their estates; but he would ask, was there ever a measure so eminently calculated to produce absenteeism as that, seeing that it went to deprive the landlord of almost all motive for taking an interest in his estate? The landlord would then have neither power nor incentive to discharge those duties so neces- sary for his own and his tenant's welfare. He believed the effect of the fourth clause would be to offer a premium on bad husbandry, and a direct inducement to the tenant to reduce the value of his farm. He would have a direct interest in bringing down to the lowest possible amount the value of his land by bad farming, exhausting crops, and other kinds of deterioration, for that would result in a reduction of rent; and he (Lord Naas) believed that nothing would so soon reduce Ireland to the condition of a perfect desert as the operation of a clause like that. In the 10th Clause a most extraordinary enactment was to be found, which was nothing more nor less than a so called "equitable" violation of all past contracts. That clause, after reciting the necesssity for a readjustment of rent in consequence of lands having been let under a system of protective duties, provided that tenants under lease made previous to the repeal of the corn laws, and since 1815, might serve notice of surrender on the ground of their rent being too high, and claim compensation for improvements by arbitration, or the settlement of rent by arbitration. He contended that the effect of such a provision as that would be to smash every lease and contract, in respect to land, in Ireland, made subsequently to 1815. Such a wild revolution in the rights of property was hardly ever attempted. The 14th Clause gave the tenant, in fact, the power of getting rid of his arrears; so that the tenant who, through misfortune, or poverty, or neglect, would get into arrears, would have nothing to do but to call in arbitrators to decide how much of the arrears should be remitted—in short, to release him from all his liabilities. The last clause was the most sensible in the Bill—for in no other country would there be found men daring or wild enough to propose such a law—it provided that the Bill should only extend to Ireland. He would now make a few remarks on the general question. The hon. Member for Rochdale called on him to repeat the assertion he (Lord Naas) had made at Coleraine. He believed he had said nothing to-day that he had not said there. He did say at Coleraine there was a necessity for a law which would give a tenant compensation for the improvements he had made. He said so still. He said also that the question was under the consideration of the Attorney General for Ireland, and the Government, and the Bills providing for it were in a forward state of preparation. But he said—speaking in the presence of hundreds of persons affected by the question of tenant-right—that he utterly disapproved of the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale; that he considered its details were both impolitic and unjust; and that he should feel it to be his duty to oppose it in the House of Commons. It was rather difficult to reason with Gentlemen who came down to that House and proposed measures for enabling the tenantry of Ireland to forego all their engagements, and release them from all their liabilities. But these Gentlemen thought of no class but themselves, no interests but their own; there was a class in Ireland, the most numerous as well as the poorest and most miserable, on whom the whole brunt of the famine had fallen, and who, he believed, were as much entitled to a fair share in the produce of the land as either the landlord or the tenant; the class who lived by manual labour alone are entirely forgotten in this Bill. Hon. Gentlemen opposite took care enough of the tenant; he is to be protected and cherished; the landlord is to be sacrificed for his benefit; his property is to be valued by the tenant himself; but they never proposed that a labourer should have a valuation of his day's hire, or that those upon whose exertions, and upon whose strong arms, the prosperity of both landlord and tenant depended, should have the slightest participation in the benefits intended to be conferred by this Bill. It was entirely a measure for the benefit of one class, and its utter selfishness was apparent throughout. He had no fear that such a Bill would ever be sanctioned by the House; but he did dread the continuation in Ireland of an agitation which held out to the tenant-farmers hopes so chimerical that they could never be realised. He dreaded an agitation which taught the tenant to look on the landlord as his natural enemy, and to depend on a mere Act of Parliament for that protection and assistance which could alone spring from the cultivation of good feelings and mutual intercourse. He believed the agitation carried on by the Tenant League had had a material effect in lowering the price of land in the country. Capitalists would not invest money in property which was to be subjected to such rude and violent attacks. He would, in conclusion, ask hon. Gentlemen who had charge of this Bill to pause before they continued the unfortunate course they were now pursuing, by pretending to support a Bill whose objects are unjust, whose details are impracticable—a Bill which held out hopes and expectations that could never be realised—a Bill which he believed to be as vain a chimera as ever excited the feelings of a credulous and an excitable people.


said, the noble Lord who had just addressed the House complained that the supporters of the Bill had not gone into its details so much as he could have wished; but the promoters complained that those who opposed the Bill had done nothing else than go into its details. The noble Lord (Lord Naas) decried the details of the measure from beginning to end, but shirked its principle, and touched as he would have touched red hot iron the subject which he (Mr. Moore) thought of the most vital importance to Ireland. The noble Lord admitted, however, that he was in favour of compensation for improvements, though he objected to this Bill. That being so, let the House come at once to a decision on the principle of the Bill, and afterwards amend its details in any way they might think fit in Committee. Last year they went into Committee on the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, with the solemn agreement that they were to alter in Committee every single word of that measure. The noble Lord said, if they passed this Bill it would leave untouched a mass of incongruous legislation having reference to this subject; but that was an argument which would equally apply to every attempt at legislation in that House. He (Mr. Moore) had the greatest respect for the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Napier), but he could not but think he was guilty of disingenuous treatment towards his countrymen who took a deep interest in this question. If the right hon. Gentleman had really agreed to the principle of his Bill, as he said he had, it would save the Irish Members great trouble and the people of Ireland great anxiety if he would state what were the modifications of the existing law which he was prepared to embody in his Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman had not even given an inkling that the Bill he had to introduce was likely to be less evasive and delusive than the promises which Irish Members had so often received on this subject from successive Governments. The antecedents of the right hon. Gentleman were not calculated to encourage such a hope. He had too high an opinion of the right hon. Gentle- man's character for consistency and honour to believe any such imputation for a single moment. Now every man who knew that his improvements were to be deemed exhausted at the end of nineteen years, would of course take care to exhaust them in that time. The point was that he should not exhaust them, but should go on improving. The right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had said that his Bill was of an enabling character, and intended to confer freedom of purchase. That sounded very well; but he thought there was much to suspect about the statement. He believed the Bill the right hon. Gentleman was going to introduce had nothing to do with the interests of the tenants, and that it was thoroughly and exclusively a Landlords' Bill. What he objected to was not the Bill, but the manner in which it had been introduced into the House. He opposed it because he believed that it was brought in under false pretences—that it stopped short at the very identical point it professed to legislate upon—and that it would give fresh licence to authority and greater impunity to power. What did the hon. and learned Gentleman mean by freedom of contract? Did he mean uncontrolled liberty to enter upon any contract whatever? Freedom of contract was a right limited by the public good; and the enforcement of a contract was only dealing out the measure of the just rights of the contractors. Contracts pernicious to society could not and ought not to be enforced. To return to an unrestricted licence in contracts would be to return to the rudest and most elementary forms of savage legislation. He confessed that one of the most formidable difficulties in the settlement of the Irish question was this, that every point raised, every suggestion offered for placing on a better footing the social relations of Ireland, was discussed and considered, not with reference to its intrinsic merits, but with respect and regard to the existing state of society in this kingdom. Now, he believed that England would be indulging in a far truer as well as a far higher notion of her national capacities and national virtues if she could be induced to believe that her greatness, her wealth, and her power, were not produced by her laws, but in spite of them. It was not her Church laws, her corn laws, her game laws to which she owed her prosperity; such laws might repress her for the moment, but she would have risen superior to them all. He wish- ed he could induce England to consider this subject in another light—he wished he could induce them to view it apart from that composition of feudal follies which disgraced their Statute-books. The question before the House was, whether the provisions of the Bill were consistent with the broad eternal laws of right and justice, and whether they were suited to the state of society in Ireland, which, be it remembered, was an exceptional state of society. Look to an agricultural county in England. What was the landlord there, and what was the farmer? The landlord was the representative of a property conferring happiness upon its possessor, holding an independent and honourable position, and surrounded by historic recollections. The farmer was scarcely less honourable and independent; he was the representative of the old yeomen, a time-honoured race. The reciprocal relations of both were twisted together by the congenial associations of native country and native race. These were the associations which bound them both together. What need have they of the written law to regulate and control their relations? Their contracts were not regulated by the written law, but by the law of the heart; and if the laws of Turkey were transplanted into this kingdom, those relations—those contracts—would remain the same. It was far otherwise in Ireland. The landlords there were aliens in blood, language, and religion. Their rights were founded in confiscation and rapine, and their most respectable hope was that the wrongs they had committed would be forgotten and forgiven. Now, what were the tenants? The tenants in his country were the descendants of a colony of convicts, exiled from their native land. The landlords had been the instruments of the law, the peasants had been the victims. The one hated the other with a just and natural hatred, for which they would both have to make atonement, and there was no sympathy of race between them; no feeling of humanity to unite them. Christianity itself seemed to be an element of repulsion; they hated each other for the love of God; and common misfortune, which is found to unite all other men, only served to disunite them; and they now sat upon the same raft, with hungry eyes, thirsting for each other's blood. It was a lamentable fact that here were two races of men, both rightly constituted, brought into dangerous collision, because both had been the victims of evil circumstances and evil systems, which had perverted in their minds the instincts of humanity and the precepts of religion. What was the Irish landlord's position on the soil? His original title was derived from confiscation. The tenant had no security, no property, in the land. He took a piece of waste land, he fenced it, he preserved it from exposure, he drained the morass, he erected the walls which sheltered man and beast. These might not be very scientific improvements—they were those which the capitalist would fail to accomplish, and they were the work of the tenant. What was the result? His property in them was torn from him—they were grasped and sucked into the omni-verous vortex of what was called property. Here was an instance. The tenant took a piece of mere moorland soil; the most scientific capitalist could not reclaim it; how did the honest peasant succeed? By devoting to it his labour from year to year, at the bare price of existence; that was to say, he invested all the difference between the fair wages of labour and that which would support human life with the commonest necessaries. At the end of twenty-one years, when he had created a little property of his own on the surface of the soil, he found the fruits snatched from the lips of himself and his children. [Mr. CONOLLY: IS he turned out?] He is turned out, unless he consents to pay an increased rent, and whether he was entirely evicted, or subjected to an increased rent, the crime was just as great, for he had still been robbed of the just fruits of his labour. That was his answer to the interruption of the hon. Gentleman. Well, then, Christianity, humanity, and common sense united in saying that this was an abominable wrong. It was then their object to redress it. Did the law, however, interfere on one side or the other? Suppose the tenant, two or three years before his lease determined, resolved on procuring from the soil the utmost amount of profit that it would return, and for that purpose proceeded to burn the surface, did the law stand neuter? No; he was liable to a fine of 10l per acre. The law would not allow waste. It was vain to show that he was only wasting what he had created. There was not one word in the Act of Parliament for improvements, but it interfered with waste. If it interfered at all it ought to interfere equally. If it came in to scourge the poor, it ought also to come in to shield the poor. But did the law deal out the same measure of justice to the rich man? He answered, No. A gentleman might take 500 or 1,000 acres of the richest land in Ireland; he might plant every acre with trees, and register them without the consent of the landlord; and when his lease determined he might call upon the landlord to pay him for every one of them; if he refused, he might bring him before a jury and the justices of the sessions, who would grant him compensation. Failing that resource, he might cut them down, leaving the land a mass of stumps of trees. The law did not call that a waste, because it was interfering on behalf of one of the privileged classes who made the law. The Irish people called on them to extend these laws. If it was wise to extend protection over the forests, it was equally wise to extend it over potatoes and corn. The origin of these laws was to encourage planting in Ireland; but if it were just and wise to encourage trees, how much more so would it be to encourage good husbandry in Ireland? Their legislation had trampled out the middle class in Ireland. The express intention of their laws was to divide the population into two classes: one to possess all the rights of property; the other, as Mr. Burke declared, to be drawers of water and diggers of turf. What was the consequence? The people were flying from them. It was no light matter for an empire to lose millions from among the most martial of her population, and that at a moment when danger was at their doors. They might look round when the day of trial came; they might look round for that gallant race which stood up between France and England at Quatre Bras and at Waterloo. If the population that were flying from them into a strange and hostile country were emigrating to their own possessions, they might derive consolation from the fact that there would be peace between them. But it was not so. They had found another world on this side of Heaven, where their first hope was to obtain a refuge from the Power which oppressed them, and their next was future vengeance.


said, he was anxious before the House came to a division to address a few observations upon the subject of the Bill, the more especially as he had taken some part in this question. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down would pardon him for saying that, in the very eloquent speech which he had delivered, he had carefully avoided any discussion on the principles of details of the precise measure under consideration. Now, upon questions of this kind, which were intended to settle relations so important as those existing between landlord and tenant, it was necessary to take a sound practical view. He felt himself compelled to vote against the second reading of the Bill, not because he objected to the details of the measure only; for such was his opinion of the great importance of the question, that, if he did not object to the principle, he would waive his objections to the details, in the hope that they might be amended in Committee, and that they would be there enabled to devise a measure which would confer practical benefit upon the country. He should be sorry to believe that the description which they had just heard given of the relations between landlords and tenants in Ireland, was applicable to all the provinces. He was not so well acquainted with the province of Connaught; but in other parts of Ireland he could undertake to say that no such antagonism, hostility, and unfriendly feeling existed between the landlords and their tenants as the hon. Member had described. If that description was borne out by the facts, he should regard any attempt to improve such a state of things by legislation as completely hopeless. The hon. Gentleman said that the Bills introduced upon this subject by former Governments were a mere delusion. For himself he could say—and he was sure he might assert the same of the Duke of Newcastle and others who had preceded him in office, that they would never lend themselves to a delusion of any kind—but for himself he could say, that when he undertook this subject upon entering office, he did so with the bonâ fide view of conferring some benefit on the country. This difficulty, however, met him upon the very threshold, that they were endeavouring to do by Act of Parliament that which could only be done by mutual agreement. Then there was this other difficulty—that no Government who meddled with this question attempted to deal with retrospective improvements, or, in other words, to supersede existing contracts. The first Bill he introduced had only reference to prospective improvements. That Bill was referred to a Select Committee, upon which there were a great number of Gentlemen connected with Ireland. When the Bill came out of that Committee, it was too late to proceed with it during that Session. In 1849 be introduced the second Bill upon this subject, and that Bill also only dealt with prospective improvements. It was founded on certain arrangements which had previously been entered into between the landlord and tenant; and those arrangements were carried out by what he must admit was a complicated machinery. He would venture to prophesy that no Bill could be introduced which would be hampered by a complicated machinery, the satisfactory working of which would not in the end be doubtful. When he introduced that Bill to the House, his noble Friend the Member for Down immediately asked him whether or not the Bill contained provisions of retrospective improvement? Upon being answered that it did not, he immediately replied that that answer was quite sufficient, and that the Bill would not give satisfaction to the country; and, in fact, an opinion hostile to the Bill having been spread through the country, he did not think that he could carry it through the House with any hope of giving satisfaction; and indeed the extreme expectations which had been kept up outside these walls, rendered it impossible for them to legislate satisfactorily upon the subject. The hon. Member for Rochdale had now introduced his Bill; and it was presented to them as one which had received the general approbation of the tenantry, and the sanction of the Tenant League of Ireland. Now, the tenant-right which prevailed in Ulster was founded on mutual understanding and good will; and it was impossible to introduce such an understanding and good will by compulsory enactment; and if they could, to introduce everywhere a compulsory system of the kind, would be nothing more nor less than to punish every indulgent and moderate landlord. Suppose a gentleman whose land at a rackrent was worth 30s. an acre, was content to take 20s., in order to leave his tenants a wide margin, and in order that they might live comfortably and be well fed and clothed with their families: what would be the result? Why, that the tenant would sell his interest at the higher value, and the landlord would, after all, have inflicted upon him a rack-rented tenantry. The very preamble of the Bill was contradictory; it stated— Whereas, it has long been the practice in Ireland, that lands are let to the tenants occupying the same on determinable tenures, or at will, or from year to year, without written agreement, and without any suitable buildings or other neces- sary appendages for residing on and cultivating such lands, or any such sufficient allowance given or engaged to he given in consideration thereof, or in consideration of any expenditure necessary or proper to be incurred for draining or otherwise permanently improving the soil: and whereas the occupying tenants under such circumstances have just cause of complaint from their liability to dispossessment without any security for the value of their beneficial interest created by their capital and labour expended on the premises: and whereas it appears that as a remedy for the aforesaid causes of complaint a custom known by the name of 'tenant-right' has been established in the province of Ulster, and more particularly in those parts called the Ulster Plantation, according to which custom a right of continued occupation is enjoyed by the tenant in possession, subject to the payment of the rent to which he is liable, or such change of rent as shall be afterwards settled from time to time by fair valuation, with a right to sell his occupation to any solvent tenant to whom the landlord shall not make reasonable objection, and that such tenant shall not be evicted by the landlord without being permitted to sell his interest, or else being paid by the landlord the value thereof, as if sold to a solvent tenant; and whereas on the faith of this custom, in districts wherein it has been established, valuable improvements have been made, and repeated sales of property have taken place, and the present occupiers are now generally in possession by the purchase of former tenants' interests in the premises; and in accordance with the said custom increased rents have been assessed on and paid by tenants in consequence of the increased productive power and letting value of lands created by the improved culture of the soil under the said custom: and whereas by the demand and enforcement of excessive rents, through the means of an unrestrained power of eviction, tenants may be deprived of their just rights under the said custom, and of the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour and capital, without any adequate compensation for the same; and it is expedient to give a more effectual protection to such tenants; and whereas in other parts of Ireland where the aforesaid custom docs not prevail, there is no security for capital expended by the tenant, and divers evils have arisen therefrom, and it is necessary that speedy remedies be devised for the same. Why, if there existed such a custom and such a right as recited, no legislation was required, and there cannot be an unrestrained power of eviction. The two first clauses defined what was a landlord, and what was a tenant, and what was a fair rent—which was defined to be the landlord's just proportion of the money value of the gross produce, according to the market price of such produce, which the lands in the occupation of the tenant were capable of Yielding under a fair system of improvement and culture. Not to pursue those definitions, he would merely say that a lawsuit was contained in every one of them. Their object ought to be, as far as possible, to discourage litigation in Ireland, but least of all should they encourage it between landlord and tenant; and if they defined the rights of the two classes, both would be inclined rigidly to adhere to them. He should not allude to the method of fixing rents by arbitration. He felt that such a system was impossible, and if it were not, it would be the worst system that could be introduced. If the landlord was to pay for every improvement made upon the soil, they would have to adopt the Scotch system—where, if the tenant in occupation did not farm his land in a husband-like manner, there was a power of taking him before a court of justice; and if he did not find security for the proper cultivation of his farm for a given number of years—he thought five—the landlord was put in possession of the farm. Such a system would produce universal dissatisfaction. Suppose a person to be depending upon a farm, the rental of which was 500l. a year. The tenant might lay out 1,000l. upon the improvement of the farm, and then give notice that he meant to give up the farm. But if the landlord were not able to pay the 1,000l., which it was not likely he would be able to do, the tenant would then be entitled to hold his farm, and to pay no rent till the value of these improvements was paid. He was surprised that hon. Gentlemen who disapproved of every detail in the Bill should yet express an intention to vote for the second reading, in the hope that it might be amended in Committee. He could not take that course, because the two principles of the Bill—the retrospective compulsory improvement clause and the clauses for the compulsory valuation of rent—were what he could never approve of. If the measure were passed into a law, there was not a gentleman in Ireland who would know what his property was worth; and no man would buy an estate subject to such encumbrances as these. Hitherto, Parliament had acted upon the principle that, however heavy the charges upon the land in Ireland might be, at all events the proprietors should know what they were. That was a sound and just principle to adopt; but it was entirely abrogated by this measure. Though he had had no Bill of his own to present to the House during the present Session, yet it had been his intention to have submitted a measure to the late Government upon the subject, which, if carried into effect, would have accomplished very great changes in the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland. However, it was of no use alluding to those matters now: the question was in the very competent hands of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Attorney General for Ireland; and all he could say was, that he would be happy to afford that right hon. Gentleman every assistance in his power. He did not think any House of Commons would pass such a measure as the present; and he, for one, would vote against the second reading.


regretted that an experience of five years in office as Chief Secretary for Ireland had not enabled the right hon. Baronet who had just spoken to make a more practical speech on this subject. Though he (Mr. Reynolds) had not the honour to represent an agricultural community, he represented a constituency which felt anxious for the passing of a measure to settle the vexed question of the relations between landlord and tenant; and he referred in proof to a petition agreed to by a public meeting held in Dublin, and presided over by the Lord Mayor. The question was one that had agitated Ireland, not for one year, nor for two years, but for hundreds of years, during which period, he was sorry to say, the existence of the feelings which led to the present agitation, could be traced in Ireland in characters of blood. Was the late Secretary for Ireland prepared to leave the country in that condition? He objected to the principle of this Bill; but the fact was, that in the Bill which the right hon. Baronet introduced some years ago, the same principle was contained, for provision was made for retrospective compensation on the understanding that it was not to exceed three years rent. Was he now prepared to leave Ireland in its present state? The right hon. Baronet had referred the House to the measures promised by the right hon. the Attorney General for Ireland; but what security had he that the right hon. Gentleman would not be on the bench before he could bring one of his Bills into Parliament? The right hon. and learned Gentleman had already passed more promissory notes of a political character than any other learned Gentleman in his position had ever done before, and he doubted if he would be able to pay them when "at maturity." It had oozed out that the witnesses before the Crime and Outrage Committee, of which the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Attorney General for Ireland) was chairman, declared in substance that the agrarian outrages in some northern. counties were traceable to the non-settlement of the landlord and tenant question. Every day that exodus which was depriving Ireland, not only of the property, but of the bone and sinew and intelligence, of the country, continued to a destructive extent; and this stream of forced and destructive emigration was caused by the refusal of the Legislature to do justice to the occupiers of the land. While the banks of England and of Scotland issued more paper than they were allowed by law to do, the banks in Ireland, on the contrary, issued 2,000,000l. less than the amount she was legally entitled to have in circulation. Why was this? It was because every source of wealth and prosperity in that country was dried up. He held in his hand an official return of the produce of the estates sold in Ireland under the Encumbered Estates Act, from the 25th of October, 1849, to the 31st of January, 1852. In Leinster the estates sold produced 1,325,896l.; in Munster, 1,698,487l.; in Ulster, 950.135l.; and in Connaught, 708,357l.; making, with the fractions, a total of 4,682,877l., and showing that in the province of Ulster, where the tenant-right prevailed, the number of sales were the least, except Connaught, which was in a most unsettled state. The number of landlords who had been sold out was 559, and the number of purchasers was 1,640. The number of acres actually sold was 6,698,328, the total number of statute acres in Ireland being 20,000,000; so that about one-third of the land in Ireland had been sold in order to realise 4,500,000l. He had selected the amounts produced in four counties in each province, which would put the point more clearly before the House. In the first three provinces there did not exist any tenant-right, Leinster—County of Dublin, 225,628l.; Meath, 320,000l.; Kilkenny, 148,000l.; Westmeath, 165,000l.; total, 858,628l. Munster—County of Cork, 626,785l.; Limerick, 424,371l.; Tipperary, 232,000l.; Waterford, 122,037l.; total, 1,405,193l. Connaught—County of Gal-way, 436,756l.; Mayo, 158,554l.; Roscommon, 77,807l.: Sligo, 19,000l.; total, 692,1172. He would now mention four counties in Ulster where tenant-right existed. Armagh, 35,000l.; Donegal, 38,405l.; Down, 102,015l.; Londonderry, 7,015l.; total, 182,535l. Here then it appeared that, while in the four counties in Ulster the estates sold produced only 182,535l., the produce of estates sold in four counties in the ill-regulated and impoverished province of Connaught amounted to nearly 700,000l. What was the cause of this difference? Was it not obviously to be traced to the fact that tenant-right existed in Ulster, and did not exist in Connaught, Leinster, or Munster? On an examination of the estates offered for sale in the Incumbered Estates Court, it would be found that those landlords whose estates were most hopelessly embarrassed, were those who had refused to recognise tenant-right, and who had treated their tenants with the greatest cruelty. The House must do something with these figures. The people would not bear the existing state of things any longer. They were being led on upon this question by their spiritual teachers, and they must ultimately prevail. The hon. Gentleman then read a statement, showing how the relative importance of the British nation, as compared with the United States, had sensibly changed within the last ten years. The increase of the British population from 1831 to 1841 was 2,668,572; whereas the increase from 1841 to 1851 was only 432,707. But the increase of population in the United States during those last ten years was computed at 6,204,133. And of what did the increase in the two cases consist? In Great Britain the increase was by births, whereas the increase in the United States was made up to a great extent of the male population of Ireland, full-grown men, who were driven by oppression from the land of their birth to seek shelter and protection in that country. He hoped the House would read the Bill a second time, so that it might be made a good Bill in Committee. They had been told to wait, but the people of Ireland were tired of waiting. A general election was approaching; and although he did not wish to hear the cry of "No Popery," or of "Protection," yet it was quite possible to raise a cry upon Sharman Crawford's Bill. [Derisive cheers.] Yes; and he would give those hon. Gentlemen who cheered full notice, that wherever he could by precept or example rouse the people of Ireland to a due sense of the value of that measure, he should not only deem it patriotic, but a religious duty on his part to do so. In conclusion he felt it his duty to caution the House against rejecting this measure of justice. This was not a question of a political or sectarian character; the Catholic clergy of the south and west had joined the Presbyterian clergy of the north, and were the leaders in every movement to force this question on the attention of Parliament. This was a combination not to be disre- garded, and that House might rest assured that neither peace nor prosperity could exist in Ireland until a full and ample measure of tenant-right was conceded.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had begun by complaining that the speech of the late Chief Secretary was not a practical speech; but though the hon. Member himself had addressed the House for more than half an hour, yet he had scarcely alluded to the Bill under discussion, or ventured to show that the principles which he assumed to be in the Bill were really there; but he avoided the question altogether, confining himself to an endeavour to influence by fears those Members whom he could not hope to persuade by argument. He had not attempted to show that the Bill was calculated to meet any one of the evils that existed in Ireland; but he held out a threat that he would raise a cry in Ireland on the subject. But the British Parliament was not to be influenced by such an appeal to their fears. The hon. Member then talked of the people being led on by their clergy, and all who knew Ireland knew that was too much the case; but still he believed there was more independence among the laity of Ireland than most people imagined, and he trusted they would not be led by their clerical agitators to make so absurd a measure as this the foundation of their support or opposition to candidates at the coming elections. He had threatened the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly)—the only threat, he believed, which the hon. Member was capable of carrying out—with being stopped by the shouts of a mob if he attempted to express his opinions in Ireland. He could only say, that, though the hon. Member might thus lend himself to a vindictive and a selfish agitation, yet he trusted that neither he nor any other man would so be able to submerge the principles of liberty and fair dealing as to prevent his hon. Friend from fairly and manfully expressing his convictions. He might also allude to the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Moore), whose talents few would deny, but who had, in his speech on the question, shirked both the principle and the details of the measure. The only reference he made to the Bill was to say, that he was prepared in Committee to alter every line and every syllable. This proved that his good sense fully appreciated the absurdity of its contents. He said he would vote for its princi- ple; but he carefully guarded himself from saying what that principle was, and from attempting to prove that it could be legitimately derived from the clauses of the Bill. In fact, the speeches that had been made on the opposite side were little better than election speeches. It was not a little remarkable that no one Member who professed to approve of and support this Bill, had attempted to show from its clauses, that it could cure any existing evil in Ireland. They all avoided it as an unclean thing, and indulged in popular declamation on other topics; they also all avoided a statement of the crying evils and dreadful oppression that were supposed to justify this extraordinary interference with social arrangements, and this arbitrary meddling in the contracts of free individuals. If landlords did cheat their tenantry and rob them of the just fruits of their industry, why was it not exhibited? Why were not instances adduced and cases substantiated, so that such infamy should be held up to the reprobation of the public? Nothing of this kind was even attempted, which he could only attribute to the fact, that such misconduct did not exist: certainly in his county such things were unknown, and would be universally reprobated if attempted. But this was altogether a selfish agitation. It was melancholy to see men thus sacrificing the dearest rights of Ireland—ready to destroy the privileges of property and the rights of industry, which were inseparable from them—sever the dearest relations of life, check the progress of industry and improvement—and all to serve their own selfish interests at the coming election. That was the clue to explain how it was that the real interests of Ireland were so often neglected. With regard to the Bill itself, he had no hesitation in characterising it as of a dangerous and revolutionary character—it was a middleman's Bill—embodying the principle of robbing the landlord and spoliating the cottier. He acquitted the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford) of any intention to effect all this mischief; but he did not acquit him of attempting to carry out a measure which was so mischievous and reprehensible; and he told him fairly that he was convinced the hon. Gentleman was not the author of this Bill. He was convinced he was not the author of the Bill; for in none of the measures heretofore introduced by the hon. Member, was there any attempt at so unconstitutional a principle as that sought to be introduced by the present Bill; but if he were not the author, he had no right, by legislation on a subject he did not understand, to endanger property to the value of many millions. He seemed to think he had a heaven-born right to meddle with other persons' affairs, and arbitrarily to decide how free men were to conduct their own arrangements. The author, whoever he was, while attempting to legislate upon what he called tenant-right, had not even made himself master of what the tenant-right claimed was: it was a subject which required more practical and local knowledge than the hon. Member seemed to possess. The author of the Bill had referred to the custom of tenant-right existing in Ulster, but he had not taken the trouble to make himself master of the details; and the consequence was that he had brought into question property to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds, which his constituents had received, and thought they enjoyed with perfect security; but which the author of this Bill, by his blundering allusions to it, had now put in peril. The definition of tenant-right in the preamble was inaccurate, and involved a principle of valuation which was not known or recognised where tenant-right existed in the utmost security. The real author of the measure he believed to be one of those clerical leaders before whom the hon. Member for Dublin wished to make the House quail—a Presbyterian clergyman of the name of Rutherford. Much confusion must have existed in the mind of the person who drew up the Bill; its language was everywhere contradictory and irreconcileable. Thus, in one part of the preamble it was said that tenant-right was a remedy for certain evils there set forth, whereas in another part of the same preamble it was said that tenant-right was no remedy at all, but that its operation was to enable the landlords to raise great and excessive rents. The definition of tenant-right in the Bill was such that he defied any one to point to any district in Ireland where such a custom as there described was to be found; and the effect had already been, as he had said, to raise the question in some quarters of the propriety of tenant-right altogether, thus disturbing the property of many of his (the noble Lord's) constituents. He readily admitted all the difficulties that beset the subject, and he must remind the House that it was one thing to permit the existence of what was already established, and quite another thing to establish the same thing by legislation in places where it did not before exist. He must remind the House that it was not the tenant-right which had made Ulster what it was; it was the habits and the qualities of the people of Ulster that had made tenant right. It would not, therefore, be transplanted into other districts without becoming wholly inoperative; for the absence of those habits of thought and social characteristics which had led to its creation in Ulster, would render it quite inapplicable amongst a population of a totally different character. [Cries of "Divide!"] He admitted that the House was entitled to express its impatience, but he hoped they would bear with him for a few moments longer, as he represented a constituency that would be considerably affected by this Bill. He had stated that the principle of this Bill was to rob the landlord, and to oppress the cottier; for the tenant, who frequently paid his rent to the landlord out of the labour of the cottier, was not responsible to the latter for his share in the improvements, while it was provided that if a tenant at will wished his rent reduced, he had but to give notice that he intended to leave the farm, claim for improvements, get his case before a jury, and then he could remain without paying rent at all until the claim was settled; and the House need hardly be reminded that, as every tenant was invited to claim compensation and to refuse any rent until the matter was settled, and had also the right to appeal to a jury, it was impossible for all these claims to be settled for several years, even if all the usual law business was suspended, and the assistant barristers and Judges were to devote their whole time to the disputes between tenants and landlords. But no such power was proposed for the poor cottier; his whole capital was his labour; his wretchedly ill paid and tyrannically exacted labour was the source of nearly all the improvements that were made. Was this to be protected? Alas! no; and this was no accidental omission, it was the real principle of the Bill. He had been often asked whether he would support this Tenant Right Bill; and when he asked the promoters, in return, what they intended to do in order that the poor cottier might have the benefit of it, he was invariably met with a burst of indignation. The cottier, indeed! He did not take in the tenant-right newsapers—he did not subscribe to the tenant-right fund—he did not vote for Members of Parliament: what claim could he have to benefit? And this was the morality of this unprincipled agitation, by which many hoped to obtain seats in Parliament. But even this did not represent all the injury done to the cottier. He is now poor, and often helpless: this Bill would make him hopeless. At present, in cases of gross oppression, he can appeal from the middleman to the landlord, and often with success. He looked to him for protection, and knew he was anxious for his welfare; but pass this Bill, and the wretched cottier would see his former patron at the mercy of the middleman, and actually see him forced to pay sums of money in consideration of the improvements created by his own ill-requited labour, whilst the middleman would deny him any share in the money thus obtained on account of his exertions. See how carefully the cottier is excluded. The definition of tenant shuts him out, and the iniquitous third clause expressly says that all improvements shall be presumed to have been done by the occupying tenant; thus asserting a fact against all evidence and truth, for the purpose of enabling the middleman to exact remuneration from his landlord for the labour of his cottier, who is deprived of all power of asserting any such claim against the occupying tenant. The Bill was a mere rechauffé of the old repeal agitation. The tenant-right agitation was led by the same men, and was worked by the same machinery and the same demagogues. These patriots would not work without money. All Irish patriotism was professional. They had had the insolence to assess his county to the amount of 940l. They held a public meeting, but the good sense of the farmers saw through their duplicity—the meeting was a total failure; they did not get as many pence as they had claimed pounds, and they have never ventured to show their faces in the county town since. The Rev. Mr. Rutherford, the real author of the Bill, had urged the tenantry "to combine, so that all the landlords would be in the poorhouse." That was the principle of the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, the clauses by which that principle was carried, could be readily pointed out. The men who promoted it were the mere agents of a body called the Tenant League, and he asserted the Tenant League was the remains of the old agitation with which Ireland was too familiar. He called on the House to reject so wild a measure; and he would, in conclusion, remind the House that all the wealth and progress of Belfast had arisen under the same laws that left the rich soil of the western counties sterile and wretched. It was not legislation that was required, but self-reliance, individual exertion, and enterprise. These real elements of national wealth, would be destroyed and driven from the land by such an enactment as this.


wished to say, as some observations had been made respecting the course he had pursued, by the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Reynolds), that for the last two years, as an independent Member of the House, he had endeavoured to produce a good Landlord and Tenant Bill, believing such a measure to be essential to the welfare of Ireland, and he had therefore sat upon the Commission which had been alluded to, though little good had resulted from its labours, beyond those which arose from the continual discussion of an important subject. He had placed in the hands of two friends of his all the papers in his possession which bore upon the matter, and they had produced a book which he thought extremely useful, though he did not agree in all the views it set forth. As long as he thought the late Parliament would take up a Bill founded on the views enunciated in the book, he had not brought forward any measure in reference to the state of landlord and tenant in Ireland; but when he found they did not intend to propose any satisfactory Bill, he set to work to embody in some Bills the substance of the work to which he alluded, and he had at the present moment the draughts of three Bills prepared on the subject. The first was a consolidation of nearly 70 statutes relating to the law between landlord and tenant. The second had reference to the consolidation of leasing powers, and arranged the terms of letting land, so far as a contract between two parties was concerned; and the third Bill was to provide compensation for improvements to the industrious tenant, though the difficulty of arranging machinery sufficiently simple to be useful, and not conflicting with those fixed principles which he never would consent to disturb, was not to be lightly regarded. He had brought forward these Bills with no view to landlord interest, but rather with a sympathy for the industrious tenant; and he had framed them, he sincerely and unaffectedly declared, with every desire to do good to the Irish tenantry. These three Bills were now under the considera- tion of Government, and he need only say that he would not have degraded his office, his character, and his labours by bringing them forward for any electioneering purpose.


replied, and complained he had been rather unfairly treated by hon. Members, who supposed that he was the tool of any man or of any body of men. For whatever good or evil there was in the Bill, he alone was responsible. There was no Bill without defects; and if the House went into Committee upon the Bill, he would gladly yield to any suggestions to improve it in detail.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 57; Noes 167: Majority 110.

List of the AYES.
Adair, R. A. S. Magan, W. H.
Armstrong, Sir A. Maher, N. V.
Barron, Sir H. W. Meagher, T.
Bass, M. T. Mahon, The O'Gorman
Bellew, R. M. Milligan, R.
Blake, M. J. Monsell, W.
Bright, J. Moore, G. H.
Burke, Sir T. J. Murphy, F. S.
Butler, P. S. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Castlereagh, Visct. Nugent, Sir P.
Cobden, R. O'Brien, J.
Cogan, W. H. F. O'Brien, Sir T.
Corbally, M. E. O'Connell, M. J.
Devereux, J. T. O'Flaherty, A.
Fox, R. M. Perfect, R.
French, F. Power, N.
Goold, W. Rawdon, Col.
Grace, O. D. J. Reynolds, J.
Grattan, H. Sadleir, J.
Greene, J. Scrope, G. P.
Heard, J. I. Scully, F.
Henry, A. Scully, V.
Higgins, G. G. O. Sullivan, M.
Howard, P. H. Tennent, R. J.
Howard, Sir R. Thompson, Col.
Keating, R. Wakley, T.
Keogh, W. Walmsley, Sir J.
Kershaw, J. TELLERS.
Lawless, hon. C. Crawford, W. S.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Roche, E. B.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Blandford, Marq. of
Anson, Visct. Bonham-Carter, J.
Arkwright, G. Booth, Sir R. G.
Bailey, G. Bowles, Adm.
Bailey, J. Bremridge, R.
Baillie, H. J. Bridges, Sir B. W.
Baldock, E. H. Brisco, M.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Brooke, Sir A. B.
Barrington, Visct. Brotherton, J.
Barrow, W. H. Bruce, Lord E.
Bennet, P. Bruce, C. L. C.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Buck, L. W.
Bernard, Visct. Bunbury, W. M.
Blair, S. Burghley, Lord
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hughes, W. B.
Carew, W. H. P. Hume, J.
Caulfeild, J. M. Johnstone, Sir J.
Cayley, E. S. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Jones, Capt.
Child, S. Kelly, Sir F.
Christopher, rt. hon. R. Knox, Col.
Clements, hon. C. S. Knox, hon. W. S.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Langton, W. H. P. G.
Clive, hon. R. H. Lennard, T. B.
Clive, H. B. Lennox, Lord A. G.
Cobbold, J. C. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Leslie, C. P.
Cocks, T. S. Long, W.
Codrington, Sir W. Lowther, hon. Col.
Collins, T. Lowther, H.
Colvile, C. R. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Conolly, T. Mandeville, Visct.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Manners, Lord C. S.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Manners, Lord G.
Damer, hon. Col. March, Earl of
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Morgan, O.
Davies, D. A. S. Naas, Lord
Denison, E. Napier, J.
Dod, J. W. Neeld, J.
Dodd, G. Newport, Visct.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Noel, hon. G. J.
Drummond, H. O'Brien, Sir L.
Drummond, H. H. Packe, C. W.
Duncan, G. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Duncombe, hon. A. Palmer, R.
Dunne, Col. Patten, J. W.
Du Pre, C. G. Pennant, hon. Col.
East, Sir J. B. Philips, Sir G. R.
Edwards, H. Pilkington, J.
Egerton, Sir P. Pugh, D.
Egerton, W. T. Pusey, P.
Farnham, E. B. Ricardo, O.
Farrer, J. Richards, R.
Fellowes, E. Rushout, Capt.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Sandars, G.
Floyer, J. Seymer, H. K.
Forbes, W. Smyth, J. G.
Fordyce, A. D. Smollett, A.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Somerville.rt. hn. Sir W.
Forster, M. Stafford, A.
Fox, S. W. L. Stanley, E.
Freestun, Col. Stuart, H.
Freshfield, J. W. Stuart, J.
Fuller, A. E. Sturt, H. G.
Galway, Visct. Tennent, Sir J. E.
Gilpin, Col. Thesiger, Sir F.
Gore, W. O. Thicknesse, R. A.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Thornely, T.
Granger, T. C. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Greenall, G. Tyler, Sir G.
Gwyn, H. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Halford, Sir H. Verner, Sir W.
Hamilton, G. A. Vesey, hon. T.
Hamilton, J. H. Villiers, Visct.
Hamilton, Lord C. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Hardinge, hon. C. S. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Hastie, A. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Hayes, Sir E. Welby, G. E.
Headlam, T. E. Whiteside, J.
Heneage, G. H. W. Worcester, Marq. of
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Wynn, H. W. W.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Hill, Lord E. TELLERS.
Hope, Sir J. Bateson, T.
Hotham, Lord Mackenzie, W. F.

Words added;—Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to:—Bill put off for six months.

The House adjourned at one minute before Six o'clock.