HC Deb 06 May 1858 vol 150 cc181-95

, in rising to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the subject of tenant right in Ireland, said he felt very deeply the overwhelming responsibility of the question which he had undertaken to submit to the House, knowing the immense amount of property belonging to his own constituents, and those of the adjoining counties, which depended on the decision of that question, and knowing, also, the great talent and ability with which the subject, in a somewhat different shape, had, on previous occasions, been brought before the House and the country. The particular proposition which he meant to submit to its consideration differed very much from that which was embodied in the Bill which had lately been introduced by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire). That measure dealt with the future improvements which a tenant might make upon his land, and recognised as the property of the tenant any existing improvements which he might have effected by means of his labour and capital, whereas the question to which if successful in his Motion, should invite the favourable attention of the Committee to be appointed, related simply to improvements which had already been carried into effect, with the sanction of the landlord, and which were recognised by him, in accordance with the custom of tenant right in the north of Ireland, as the property of the tenant. It might please the House to legislate solely for the future, or solely for the past; or they might protect by law both the past and future interests of the tenant, as he hoped they would. As to the form of his notice, it had contained, in the first instance, no reference to Donegal. He had, however, been induced to make special mention of Donegal in his Motion, in consequence of the violations of the custom to which he alluded, which, it was alleged, had recently taken place in that county, and in accordance with the prayer of a petition which he had presented from that county, signed by 3,400 of its inhabitants. His reference to that county, however, was more as an illustration of the nature of the grievances of which he had to complain than anything else. The House, however, had recently had under its consideration the occurrences in Donegal of which complaint had been made, and had referred the subject of some of these complaints to a Select Committee. For this reason, and because he had been told that so pointed a reference to Donegal seemed to imply the imputation of greater culpability to the landlords of that county than to those of the adjoining counties, which he was not aware that they, as a body, deserved, he now proposed to alter the terms of his Motion, by leaving out Donegal and confining the inquiries of the Committee which he asked for, to "the alleged recent violations of tenant right in certain northern counties of Ireland." The custom of tenant right prevailed as far back as the Plantation of Ulster by James I., although some authorities even traced it back to the old Brehon laws. In the first documents relating to the Plantation of Ulster, it was clearly proved that the advantage of the commonwealth was as much an object as the benefit of those upon whom lands had been conferred. The "Concise View of the Proceedings of the Irish Society" contained certain articles of the original Plantation, as published by James I., which clearly indicated that it was the design of the founders of the colony that the settlers who should be taken over should themseves be prepared to build their houses, and undertake all needful improvements, such as in this country, at least, the landlords usually provide.

The celebrated Pynnar's Survey which was published in 1619, gave a detailed and interesting account of the same settlement. On account of their short comings, the Irish Society's original charter, of 1613, was forfeited in the court of the Star Chamber some twenty years after. However, it was again renewed in the reign of Charles II., in terms of the original grant, so that the entire plantation was still under the original conditions. During all that time as the House would observe, the occupiers had a continuing interest in their own improvements. That was what mainly characterized the custom. The tenants had expended their capital in building houses and reclaiming the waste uncultivated lands, and they were permitted to enjoy these houses and lands the fruit of their own industry at easy rents which left thorn a fair margin of profit. What was true of the Irish Society's plantation in Londonderry was equally true of the other northern districts then planted; and hence the origin of the custom. The Report of the Devon Commission contained a curious document, brought before them by Mr. Beresford, agent to the Irish Society, showing that, in 1766, nearly one hundred years ago, the tenant right custom was well known and understood. In stating the terms on which, alone, the Irish Society would renew the leases of their tenants, they laid down certain conditions, of which the following was first:— That the present leases be surrendered upon or before Michaelmas, 1767; in default thereof, no regard shall be had for the future to what is called tenants' right, or shall any such leases be thereafter renewed on any terms whatsoever. Arthur Young, in his Travels, showed the agricultural condition of the north, as well as other parts of Ireland, the scale of rents and prices which then prevailed. From his testimony, and other records of the last century, it is manifest that tenant right had existed in Ulster ever since the settlement of the country, and the peculiar custom of allowing tenants a continuing interest in their holdings had been acknowledged by landlords, and acted upon ever since that time. To show the vast improvements which had been made, he might state that it appeared from a presentment of the grand jurors of Londonderry, dated in 1697, that the total annual value of the property in that county amounted to £11,800. At the present time, according to Mr. Griffith's survey, the value was over £220,000. He took it that that vast difference was the result of the capital and industry of the tenants; but he did not intend to argue therefrom that the rentals should be calculated upon the original basis of value. In the discussion upon the Tenants' Compensation Bill, it had been argued by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Radnorshire (Sir J. Walsh), and by the noble Lords the Members for Tiverton and Cockermouth (Lords Palmerston and Naas), that because that Bill laid down the broad principle that the tenants' improvements should be held to be the tenants' property, it therefore followed that the tenants desire to reclaim for themselves the value of all their improvements, and to reduce their rents to what the land would be worth in a state of nature. This, he contended, proceeded upon a false construction of that Bill, for it recognized the existing rents, as the measure of the landlord's present rights. And, in the same way, he admitted the gradually increasing rents which had grown up under the custom to be fairly due by the tenant, while they left a reasonable margin, short of a rack rent. In this view there was no desire to reduce the rents which were now paid when these had grown up gradually in conformity with the custom. But the object of the Bill was to prevent any future increase of rent without leaving a sufficient margin to cover the tenants' own improvements. It might not be known to the greater part of the Members of that House that, in the parts of Ireland where the tenant right custom prevailed, there was a well recognized interest at present existing in the tenants. The tenants were permitted to sell their interest when convenient or necessary, but subject, in some instances, to the consent of the landlords; and the custom had been recognized by Courts of law. The tenants' interest in his farm was as marketable a commodity as any part of the produce of the farm, and was admitted by common consent to be as much his property. But that species of property had this inherent infirmity, that it was not recognized by the Courts of law as against the landlords—and the result was that, substantially, nearly the whole of that large property, valued at £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 sterling, was administered, not by the ordinary Courts of law, or by the County Courts in Ireland, but by the landlords, through their agents in the landlords' office—in fact, there was a separate administration of property in the landlords, office, according to the whim or caprice of the landlords or agents, and not according to the rules of law. It depended wholly on the will of the landlord, and not on the rules of law or the decision of competent Judges, whether, for instance, the creditors of a deceased tenant should be paid their just debts in the ordinary way, or whether the farm, constituting, perhaps, his whole property, should be handed over to his family. In this way he had known many instances of what might be called gross injustice committed through the machinery of an agent's office. He apprehended that the House of Commons, which was so jealous of the administration of the law and of the rights of property, would be slow to recognize such a right as virtually set at nought the laws of the land. The copyhold tenure in England was somewhat analagous to the tenant-right custom in Ireland. In the old feudal times, when the occupiers of the soil were mere serfs or villcins, the slaves of their lords, instead of receiving wages for cultivating demesne lands, these serfs or labourers had portions of land assigned to them, out of the produce of which they were to support themselves and their families. These lands they occupied at will. But, in course of time, when they had occupied and improved the same lands for generation after generation, it was held by the courts of law that they could not be removed out of their lands by their lords, as long as they fulfilled the conditions of their tenancy, because, though they held at the will of the lord, it was still according to the custom of the manor: so that here a custom, which the landlord might have altered or violated with impunity at any time before it was held to be binding on himself, was found to prove effectual for the protection of the property which the poor bondsman had created by his own extra labour and industry. From feudal times the tenants of copyhold estates in England held them at the will of the lord of the manor, and according to the custom of the manor. The copyhold system conferred rights by mere custom on men who were not at first even free men, simply because they had cultivated the land for themselves and improved it for themselves. That description of property had been dealt with from time to time by Parliament, and had been recently assimilated to the rest of the tenures of this country. How, then, could it be argued that injustice would be done to the landlords by dealing out to those whose forefathers had been persuaded to settle in a new colony and expend their capital in reclaiming uncultivated lands, the same measure of justice which had been previously secured by mere bondsmen, who had no independent rights when they began to make improvements? He appealed to them earnestly to deal as liberally by the tenant-farmers of Ireland as they had dealt with the villeins and copyholders of the feudal system. Again, in almost all continental countries, the occupier of the soil was to a certain extent, the owner of it, and had all the motives for improving the property which sprang from a direct participation in such improvement. And that was the principle, sought to be introduced into some of the Bills relating to tenant-right in Ireland several years ago. Even in some parts of India, and especially in the Presidency of Madras, the same principle had been recognised by the East India Company in their dealings with the ryots, and he trusted that the House would not be less favourable to the rights of the Irish tenants than the East India Directors had been to those of the ryots in India. The science of agriculture had of late greatly increased; but unless power was given to tenants to apply that science to the increased production of the soil for their own benefit, they would be found lagging behind, and the improvements of agriculture in Ireland would be impeded. It was impossible for the landlord, or any one not in actual occupation, to keep lands up to the highest degree of fertility. That could only be done by the actual occupier; and it would be done only when he bad a right to the full benefit of the required improvements which would give him the necessary motive to expend his labour and capital. But he regarded this not merely as a question between landlord and tenant, but as a constitutional question—as one involving the regular development of the resources of the country and the rights of labour—as one intimately connected with the market for labour in Ireland; so that the population, instead of seeking employment abroad, might be able to find it at home, and he at all times available when required for the service of the State. Instead of that, we had them now seeking employment in the colonies of America and Australia, in numbers varying from 100,000 to 300,000 annually, and leaving their native land destitute of both la- bourers and recruits. The chief objection taken to the claim he now advocated was, that it interfered with the rights of property; but what right of property had the landlord in the possibility of the land being so improved as to yield a greater return; if he so chose, he could borrow capital from the public exchequer and make the improvements himself; and even that was an exceptional privilege given to him, contrary to the ordinary principles by which the supply of capital is regulated. But when he failed to do so, he submitted that to allow him to claim the benefit of all improvements that were made by the tenant, except under the stipulations of a lease, was rather an interference with the property of the tenant than with that of the landlord. He had no feeling of hostility to the landlords of Ireland, although advocating so strenuously the rights of the tenant. On the contrary, he freely admitted that in the tenant-right districts, speaking generally, their moderation and liberality to their tenants were praiseworthy. As a rule, they recognized the right which he now contended for. They had sanctioned it from the first, without any constraint of law, but from a sense of justice. They profess, one and all, to have no desire to encroach upon the tenant's interest, or deal with him harshly; and surely it could be no injury to them to render legal that which they were already accustomed to grant. When he compared the conduct of Irish landlords, permitting a large amount of valuable property to accumulate for generation after generation in the hands of their tenants, outside the pale of law, and wholly unprotected against their claims, and compared it with the conduct of other classes—of merchants and traders, for instance—speculating with other people's money, and ruining their creditors, or even of tenants, as sometimes happened, decamping from their holdings and leaving their rents unpaid, he regarded the tenant-right landlords of Ireland as deserving of their admiration. But though this property in improvements had been recognized by the landlords as one belonging to the tenants, it had from time to time been subjected to encroachments, and evictions had taken place in nearly all the counties of Ulster. He had a long list of evictions and other encroachments with which he would not trouble the House. He would only mention two or three cases of recent occurrence, which had been publicly proclaimed through the newspapers, and had caused much feeling and excitement in various parts of the country. For the evil of these tyrannical proceedings is not to be measured by the loss inflicted upon the immediate sufferers. A painful feeling of insecurity and apprehension is spread far and wide, which it is impossible to calculate, which destroys the peace and comfort of families, and prepares them for leaving their native land. The most inexcusable evictions, however, had taken place in the county of Donegal. Within the last two years there had been evictions on the property of a noble Lord (Earl of Leitrim) of tenants from houses which had cost the occupiers from £2,000 to £3,000. It might be said these persons were to blame for building houses without the guarantee of a lease; but it was well known that in that part of Ulster the landlords, if tenants for life, were not empowered to grant building leases till within the last two years, and also that the tenants had been accustomed to lay out money on buildings with almost the same security as if they had a lease. A passage from the will of the late Lord Leitrim, as published in the Northern Whig, laid down in a very forcible way the kind of intercourse that existed between landlords and tenants in that part of Ireland. It set forth that— Inasmuch as his son had all his property in Ireland, and had been born there, he wished him to consider himself as an Irishman, and not to look down on his countrymen; that he should have an affection both for England and Ireland, seeing the interests of the two countries were so closely connected; but he was to remember that be could never be of consequence or be respected in England unless he was respected in Ireland, and that, therefore, he ought to visit his estates as often as he could, and cultivate, to the utmost of his power, the attachment of his tenantry. These sentiments were, he thought, deserving of the approval of the House. The tenantry believed they had a security equal to leases under the author of this will, and by virtue of their tenant-right claims. He (Mr. Greer) contended that it was the duty of the House to inquire how far it was in the power of the Legislature, consistently with the rights of the landlords, to deal with this grievance of the tenants of Ireland; and he proposed to give the Committee the power to consider the whole question, and to recommend such a measure as would settle it satisfactorily, consistently with the rights of all parties. It would be their duty to examine over what area the tenant-right custom prevailed, and what may be its average value, and what have been its social and economic effects and influences. It was said that the result of appointing a Committee would be to perpetuate the existence of small farms in Ireland. But the landlords were quite as much responsible for the smallness of farms as the tenants, and the landlords had no right to object to that which they had the means of preventing. The law invested the landlord with the right to covenant against subletting, and to enforce that covenant. If he neglected to do so, or if he cut up his estate into small farms to create 40s. freeholds, the tenants were not to be held responsible for the subdivision of the land, though he did not admit this to be such an evil as was alleged. But even then, the landlord would have full power to consolidate small farms and evict his tenants; but he should do so after giving a fair compensation to the tenants for their existing improvements. The Committee would have many subjects of inquiry referred to them, which had never yet been fully and fairly examined. The Devon Commission in their Report dealt with this subject at considerable length. The question of tenant-right was not specifically referred to them, but the relation between landlord and tenant was, and a portion of their Report referred to the evidence given as to the custom of tenant-right prevailing in some of the northern counties. The Devon Commissioners Report (page 14) was to this effect:— In the account given by witnesses throughout Ireland of the mode in which occupiers hold their land the most striking peculiarity is the custom prevalent in the northern counties, called tenant-right. The origin of this custom has been the subject of much speculation, but is now rather a matter of curiosity than of present interest. It dates from a very early period, having probably sprung up, as we have already noticed, as a natural consequence, from the manner in which property was generally granted and dealt with in that part of the country. Large tracts having become the property of public bodies, or of individuals resident at a distance, the landlords were well contented to let their farms to those who would undertake the cultivation and entire management, reserving to themselves a rent, but making no expenditure, and exercising little interference with the land. Under such circumstances it seems neither extraordinary nor unreasonable that a tenant, quitting a farm, either at his own desire, or from any difference with his landlord, should obtain from his successor a sum of money, partly in remuneration of his expenditure, and partly as a price paid for the possession of land which the new tenant would have no other means of acquiring. From this state of things a feeling of proprietorship appears to have grown up in the tenant, which continues in a great degree to the present day; and the extent to which it prevails may be seen by reference to various parts of the evidence taken in the province of Ulster. Under the influence of this custom the tenant claims, and generally exercises a right to dispose of his holding for a valuable consideration, although he may himself be tenant at will, and although he may have expended nothing in permanent improvements. In that passage the Report seemed to imply that when a tenant obtains by purchase or inheritance a highly improved farm, his right to sell it again should hardly be conceded, unless he have raised it to a still higher pitch of improvement. Now, such a doctrine seemed to be very unreasonable, because the essence of the custom was the reclamation of the ground and the improvements originally made thereon; and if the tenant had not himself performed those works, it came to the same thing, if the improved value be actually there, having descended from his father or been purchased from a stranger. The Report went on— We found that in various parts of that province, sums equal to ten, twelve, or fifteen years' purchase upon the rent are commonly given for the tenant right; and this not only where the rent is considered low, but where it is fully equal to the value. It is somewhat difficult to receive this statement in its full literal meaning. The farms so purchased must certainly have been considered of some value by the purchasers, who may fairly claim to have some voice in the decision of that point. In another part of this paragraph the Report conveys, I conceive, a very inaccurate impression. It suggests ten, twelve or fifteen years' purchase as the ordinary scale of prices; whereas the evidence they have published shows that the great bulk of tenant right property was estimated much lower—from two or three years' purchase up to six or seven—so that probably the average value would not be found to exceed seven or eight years' purchase of the rent, though in some instances it was up to twenty years' purchase, and even higher. The Report went on:— Proprietors generally have been enabled to place a restriction on this tenant right, so far at least as to secure a power of selection with respect to the tenant, and to place some limit upon the amount to be paid; wisely judging that a tenant who pays a large sum of money—part of which he probably borrows—in entering upon a farm, will be crippled in his means for the proper management of it. This paragraph seems to indicate on the part of the Commissioners a desire to limit, if not ultimately to extinguish this custom. They speak of placing restrictions upon it with manifest approval; and they suggest the idea, without directly asserting, that these purchasers of tenant right, at what they obviously deem insane prices, have usually to borrow money to enable them to pay the purchase-money, and that they are pretty sure ultimately to ruin not only themselves, but those who are foolish enough to lend them money. Now, his (Mr. Greer's) experience led to the very opposite conclusion. He had observed that the purchasers of additional farms were usually those who had already made some profits by their farming, and who sought to employ their industry and capital on a wider field—that they were often the most successful farmers in the district, and if obliged sometimes to borrow money, were soon able to pay it off again. The Report proceeded:— Anomalous as this custom is, if considered with reference to all ordinary notions of property, it must be admitted that the district in which it prevails has thriven and improved, in comparison with other parts of the country; and although we can foresee some danger to the just rights of property from the unlimited allowance of this 'tenant right,' yet we are sure that evils more immediate and of a still greater magnitude would result from any hasty or general disallowance of it, and still less can we recommend any interference with it by law. This is the last paragraph of the Report relating specially to tenant right, and though it bears a strong though reluctant testimony to the good effects which have resulted from this ancient custom, it not only abstains from suggesting any means for strengthening or perpetuating the custom, but darkly hints, without sorrow or alarm, at its ultimate but gradual extinction. A "hasty or general disallowance" might, no doubt, be dangerous, but a gradual and judicious denial of it would, as they were left to infer, be sound policy, and would soon extinguish this troublesome anomaly. This was a doctrine calculated to excite the utmost alarm wherever the custom prevailed. It held out no hope of the sanction of law to protect the tenants' customary interest. It rather deprecated the arm of the law to be employed as an agent in putting an end to the custom, but gave it over to the landlords to be restricted and limited, and at length gradually, but surely, extinguished altogether. Now, the Devon Commissioners had so many subjects to report upon, that this matter of tenant right does not fill the twentieth part of their Report. They took a great deal of evidence on the subject which would be available and exceedingly useful to the proposed Com- mittee. But after dealing with it on the slip-shod and unsatisfactory manner to which he had adverted, he thought their own Report demonstrated that the subject required more thought and investigation than they had deemed it worth while to bestow. The Committee, if granted, might direct their attention to the extent of the area in which the custom prevailed, the average value of the interest which the tenants held under the custom, and the land subject to it, to the desirability of recognising the rights of the tenants, and to the manner in which those rights could be secured. He appealed to the justice of that House on behalf of a suffering and unprotected class, to secure them the fruits of their own industry; on behalf of the country at large, to permit the full development of its industrial resources and its material wealth; on behalf of the working classes to provide an abundant and profitable home market for their labour. That House was then showing a praiseworthy anxiety to better the condition and protect the interests of the Hindoo Ryot in its eastern empire; it had proved its care for the safety and protection of the Chinese Cooly when carried off from his native home. Above all, it had followed, with compassionate regard, the unfortunate negro doomed to a life of slavery, and had sacrificed the enormous suns of £20,000,000 sterling to emancipate the slaves in our own West Indian Colonies. He contended that those who were robbed of the fair and natural fruit of their labours were, to that extent, as truly slaves as the West Indian negroes. It was only a question of degree. He appealed to the well-known generosity of that House to consider the grievances of his fellow-countrymen, and redress their wrongs. He only sought for a Committee to inquire, consider, and report. The House would not be pledged to his views, nor even to those of the proposed Committee by adopting his Motion. The tenant farmers were naturally anxious about their position. He had presented many petitions on the subject. It was gradually becoming better understood in this country, and must soon be dealt with as justice required. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the nature, origin, and extent of the Tenant Right Custom in Ireland, the alleged recent violations of it in various northern counties, and to consider and report how far it may be practicable to protect, for the benefit of the occupying tenants, the property which has been created under that Custom.


said, he should not follow the hon. Gentleman over the wide field which he had travelled with reference to the tenure of land in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman asked for a Committee to inquire into the system of tenant right as it existed in the north of Ireland. No doubt that was a question of importance; but there existed in the library of the House ample information on the subject. In the library there were four ponderous volumes the result of the labours of the Devon Commission. That Commission, formed of able and experienced men, had examined landlords, tenants, labourers, and individuals of every class, and had obtained the fullest information from that evidence. The hon. Gentleman, or any other Member who wished for information on this subject, would find every particular stated at full length in those volumes. The tenant right of the north of Ireland differed in this essential particular from any tenant right in England—namely, that it was not limited to claims for unexhausted improvements made at the expense of the tenant, but included payments by the incoming to the outgoing tenant for the goodwill or occupancy of the farm. Much might be said both for and against the custom. It often secured the landlord against arrears of rent, and it also secured the tenant compensation for improvements; but it also often acted prejudicially, for tenants often expended all their capital in buying up the tenant right before they entered on the occupancy, and then they were crippled in their future operations. At the same time it was a right which was so vaguely defined, and a matter so purely of personal arrangement, between the landlord and the outgoing and the incoming tenants, that it would be impracticable to deal with it by legislation. In the Province of Ulster the custom had grown up naturally and was likely to remain in its present form, for he had heard of no attempts on the part of the landlords and tenants in the north of Ireland to shake the custom. The hon. Gentleman had mentioned one or two instances, but he admitted that there was no general inclination to depart from it. What he (Lord Nass) wished to show, however, was, that as the custom existed, it was beyond the power of Parliament to deal with it in any respect. Tenant right varied in different localities. It varied in value from £5 to £20 an acre. Different sums were given for almost the same thing. The value differed whether a lease was given or not, and according to the character of the landlord. It varied with the price of agricultural produce, with the demand for laud, with the amount of population, with the locality, and with the state of the farm when the change occurred. It was impossible for the ingenuity of man to draw up an Act of Parliament to regulate a custom of so variable and changeable a character. Much valuable information could be obtained from the result of the labours of the Committee of inquiry into English tenant right which was presided over by Mr. Pusey. The opinion to which that Committee came was, that it was not possible to legislate satisfactorily for tenant right in England, and how much more difficult would it be to legislate for tenant right in Ireland, which comprised many more considerations in the calculation of its value than it did in England. He did not think that any practical end would be gained by granting a Committee. The information before the House was full and ample; legislation was not only impracticable, but might be most mischievous; for any attempt to legislate would tend to lower the value of tenant right as it existed in Ireland. He should therefore oppose the Motion.


said, the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Greer) having referred by name to two landlords in that county who were friends of his, he wished to say a few words. He objected strongly to the practice of introducing the names of persons in that House who were not present to answer for themselves. In no county was tenant right more established than in the county of Derry, and yet there were some landlords who had no tenant right on their estates. Unsuccessful attempts had been made by Governments of different politics, to legislate on the question, and the opinion of most men who had studied it was, that in attempting to deal with tenant right, they would damage the interests of tenants. For while the landlords were now content to let things remain as they were, if they came to legislate, the landlords, especially in an English House of Commons, would recover many rights which they did not now possess. It was not worth while to discuss this subject then, when there was an adjourned debate in the question now before the House; and he thought it would be better to proceed at once to a division, and negative he Motion.


said, he would appeal to his hon. Friend whether it was worth while to press his Motion. He (Mr. Fortescue) had a strong feeling in favour of the tenant right of Ulster. There might be objections to it, but he believed it to have been one main cause of the great prosperity of the north of Ireland. It had been a check on the evil of extravagant competition for land in Ireland. But in the interests of Ulster itself, he objected to the inquiry sought. Tenant right was so various, it was almost impossible to embody it in any scheme of legislation. The probable result of the Committee of Inquiry, if it was obtained, would be that it would come to the same conclusion as that which inquired into tenant right in England—namely, that legislation was impossible.


said, he also would advise his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion, because at present tenant right, as it existed in the north of Ireland, was accepted, and it was not desirable to weaken the efforts of the advocates for a general tenant right by bringing forward isolated cases like the one then before the House.


said, although the feeling of the House appeared to be against him, he should not withdraw his Motion. There was a strong desire in Ireland for an inquiry, and he had presented petitions in favour of it. The Devon Commission did not touch on many of the points on which inquiry was wished, and further investigation was necessary to enable the House to legislate on the subject.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 43; Noes 232: Majority 189.