§ MR. MAGUIRE
craved the indulgence of the House while he brought before it a question of very great and grave importance, not only to the people of Ireland, who were immediately interested in the solution of the question, but also to the people of England, who were directly as well as indirectly interested in the prosperity of Ireland. The question was not one of sentiment or feeling. To those whom he represented it was, without exaggeration, a matter of life or death. The demand he had to make was one to which Parliament ought to accede. There was no Member who represented a popular constituency in Ireland, no representative of any of the three southern provinces, who would not say that the state of things in that country was most unsatisfactory, and that it was the duty of Parliament to 571 inquire into the cause of that condition of things. He asked no immediate and direct change in any law affecting the rights of the property and industry; he simply asked for inquiry. The question was not only important, but full of difficulty and delicacy, and he therefore asked that it should be referred to a Select Committee, consisting of the best, the wisest, and the most experienced Members; that evidence should, if necessary, be taken to ascertain distinctly what was the real state of Ireland, and how far it was influenced by the condition of the laws affecting the tenure of land; that the Committee should weigh that evidence, and make a Report to the House; and, although there should be no legislation this year, as it was almost impossible there could, they might, at least, during the present Session lay the foundation, through that Report, for future legislation. Inquiry did not pledge the House to legislation; but the natural result of inquiry, he maintained, would be legislation; for he believed that inquiry must lead to the irresistible conclusion, that the people of Ireland had no chance of prosperity without a wholesome change in the law of landlord and tenant. But if the majority of the Committee should decide that there was no necessity for legislation, he should, to a certain extent, having proposed that mode of inquiry, be bound by their decision. At the same time, he felt the fullest conviction that the more they inquired, the more were they likely to arrive at the real cause of the misery and the mischief existing in Ireland, and that it would be the duty of Parliament to apply a substantial remedy for the grievances of the people. But why legislate for Ireland, and not legislate for England? In order to understand why legislation was imperatively called for in one country and not in the other, it would be necessary to glance for a moment at the different circumstances of the two countries, and the vast difference between their relative resources. There was a great and broad distinction between England and Ireland. It was humanly impossible to find two countries linked together so different the one from the other. England was one of the most powerful, the greatest, and the most progressive countries upon the face of the earth; but he confessed that he felt great pain when he contrasted her glorious condition with the miserable condition of Ireland, which they were told was part and parcel of the same Empire. 572 Every day new sources of enterprize, industry, and progress were being opened in England, and he had only to take a single fact to show the wonderful difference between the two countries. In 1862 they might say that the hum of the loom was no longer heard in Lancashire, and there were 500,000 persons dependent upon the charity of the affluent or the rates of that impoverished and embarrassed district. At that time, and the year before, there were indifferent harvests in England; but what practical effect had the cotton famine and indifferent harvests upon the finances of the country? Why, instead of diminishing her wealth, the trade and commerce of the country so far expanded that we had an increased revenue, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to produce and carry a popular Budget. Ireland at that time had three bad harvests, but instead of participating in the prosperity of England, she was steeped in poverty, and there was a rush of her despairing people from her shores. What caused England to be so prosperous in the midst of her temporary adversity, or rather local calamity, was that she did not depend entirely, or in any great degree, upon her agriculture; whilst in Ireland it was directly opposite. In the north of Ireland there was one great branch of industry, and he would gladly see it extended to other parts of the country, because it would help to render the country independent, or nearly so, of agriculture. There had been three bad harvests in Ireland—in 1860, 1861, and 1862; and the consequence was that every class was deeply embarrassed, except those who were interested in some branch of manufactures which did not depend upon local consumption. No one was more fully alive than he was to the value of manufactures, and the absolute necessity of endeavouring to promote them in Ireland. Every class in Ireland, whether resident in town or country, was greatly affected by the state of agriculture—its success or its failure; and he contended it was the bounden duty of every Irishman, apart from all political and religious feeling, to endeavour by every means to establish in various parts branches of industry, in order to make the country less dependent on the result of the harvest. He had himself taken some steps in that direction, with the view not only to promote his own interests, but the interests of the community of which he was a member. At pre- 573 sent an indifferent harvest in Ireland was felt by all classes, including those engaged in trade, commerce, and those branches of manufacture which supplied the necessaries or the comforts of life. But a failure of the harvest was a fearful blow; it not only depressed the entire population, but it paralyzed almost every branch of native industry. This was because the circumstances of the two countries were so entirely opposed—the one being independent of her agriculture, the other being almost wholly dependent upon it. And this was the difference which he would have Englishmen bear in mind, for it was the justification of the demand for exceptional legislation. But look at the difference between those engaged in farming operations in the two countries. An English farmer was not so dependent on the land for his means of livelihood as the Irish farmer was. If a farmer in England was compelled to adopt another mode of gaining a livelihood, or was driven from his farm by an unjust landlord (and he was glad to say there were few unjust landlords in this country), was he thereby reduced to beggary or emigration? Nothing of the kind; he went into the neighbouring town, distant perhaps two or five miles from his farm, and there found employment, if not for himself, certainly for the members of his family; and if he had a little capital in his possession he found many ways of turning it to account. But how different was the case of the Irish farmer! The evicted Irishman had no resource open to him, no alternative save emigration or beggary. If he remained in the country, not having means or energy to emigrate, he crept with his wretched family into the next town, and soon sank into a state of abject misery, and it too often happened that his wretched children swelled the ranks of its criminal population. It being then the fact that the people of Ireland were almost wholly dependent upon the land, the question was, how was that land circumstanced; what was the state of its agriculture; what was the position of those who tilled the soil, and what was the general feeling of the community with reference to those laws which regulated the relations between landlord and tenant? What was the condition of Irish agriculture? He would simply appeal to an eminent authority—one who ought to be an authority with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin and his friends—to Judge Longfield. 574 That eminent authority lately described it as being "in a very backward state." He would likewise appeal to the testimony, not only of the Irish Members, but of any English Gentleman who visited Ireland, as to the state of Irish agriculture, and the striking contrast which it presented to the appearance and condition of the land in England. All must agree with Judge Longfield that agriculture in Ireland was in a very backward condition, and he could assure the House on good authority that the soil was not half cultivated, leaving out of consideration altogether the large tracts of waste lands. The farms and estates in the country were practically not half cultivated. Supposing that they could get, not to say one-half, hut even one-third more out of the soil than at present, was it not worth the consideration of Parliament whether they could not devise some means by which the people would be induced to make an effort to obtain from the soil the largest possible amount of produce? The importance of increasing the produce of the land would be admitted on all hands, because it would not only add to the prosperity of the Irish people, but increase the wealth of the Empire. The dwellings of those in the agricultural districts were miserable, their food was of the meanest description, and, according to the farmers' own account, their prospects were most dismal. That there were many good and generous landlords in Ireland was what no one would venture to deny; but, on the other hand, there were hundreds, he was almost afraid to say thousands, who were not actuated solely by a spirit of justice, but who regarded the people upon the soil merely as a means of raising a good interest upon the money they had expended. It might be said that Ireland had been materially benefited by the new race of landlords, but he denied that. [Mr. WHITESIDE: Hear, hear!] If, then, there were bad landlords of the old class and bad of the new, and that those who were the real wealth of the country were at the mercy of these men, it became the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin and that House, not only for the sake of Ireland, but for the sake of England's honour, to interfere, and compel bad men to do by law what good men did by the inspirations of conscience. Unfortunately, many of the new landlords, as well as of the old, had adopted the practice of clearing their properties 575 for the purpose of increasing the size of their farms. The unsatisfactory condition of Ireland was attributed by some to the existence of a surplus population, by others to the smallness of the farms, and by a third class to the want of capital. He was firmly convinced that Ireland was perfectly able to support, in decency and happiness, a population fully equal to its present number. He could quote many authorities of high rank to prove that Ireland, with its mild and temperate climate and fertile soil, was well able to support five and a half millions of people. Even supposing, however, that the population was superabundant, the evil was one which was adjusting itself day by day, and he would venture to assert that five years hence the present population would be diminished by fully one-fifth. He felt convinced that if the American war were to terminate during the present year, the emigration from the shores of Ireland would be unparalleled. In that belief those who were best acquainted with the country, and with the feelings, desires, and aspirations of its people concurred. Therefore, assuming for the sake of argument, that the population was too great for the resources of the country, which he emphatically denied, and that the surplus population was the barrier to the country's improvement, that evil, imaginary as it was, would soon cease to exist. Then as to the prevalence of small farms, it would be found that the majority of the small farms were situated in the north of Ireland. Fully one-half of the small farms of Ireland were to be found in the province of Ulster, and in that province there was comparative prosperity. No doubt that fact was in some measure attributable to the linen trade in that province—a condition which placed its inhabitants comparatively above the disastrous influences of a bad harvest. But hon. Members connected with that part of the country knew perfectly well that there was a custom existing in that province, not, perhaps, recognized by law, but which was regarded as binding upon the landlords, and practically acknowledged by them, and that the state of things in the county of Antrim, as far as the protection extended to the tenant was concerned, was very different from the practice which prevailed in Tipperary. Besides, the number of small farms had enormously decreased, while the number of large farms had correspondingly increased. So that evil, if it ever 576 was one, was being steadily diminished. Then it was said that nothing could be done for the Irish farmer so long as he lacked capital—that want of capital was the great evil of the country. He maintained that the unfortunate condition of Ireland was not in any way attributable to a deficiency of capital. This had been abundantly demonstrated. As a proof that there was no deficiency in this respect, it had been shown that Irishmen had purchased £25,000,000 of Irish property during the last dozen years. At the present moment the joint-stock banks of Ireland contained deposits to the amount of £14,000,000, and it was well known that these deposits had been made not by the mercantile classes, but mostly by those engaged in agriculture, who were thus compelled to hide in the banks what they dared not invest in the land. But was there not a more valuable capital still—was there not the labour of the people? It was the capital of the greatest value, without which all other capital would be useless. It was the capital that enriched other countries, and would enrich Ireland if it were expended on its soil. Not only did the capital in the banks lie dormant and unproductive to the farming class, but the intelligence, energy, and labour of the people were paralyzed by the operation of an injurious law. The present condition of Ireland was, in reality, owing to the absence of any security in the tenure of the land, and to the absence of security in the enjoyment of the fruits of labour. The real cause of the state of things was a want of security of tenure to give enjoyment of the fruits of industry, and to induce tenants to expend money or labour upon the soil or in the soil—a want of inducement to do more than merely drag from the soil what could be easily taken from it, or to place upon it those miserable habitations which were, in too many instances, a disgrace to a civilized country. Then it was said that there was no use in Irishmen struggling against the designs of Providence, for that the climate of Ireland was unsuited to tillage. The late Viceroy of Ireland had laid down the dogma that Ireland was intended by nature to be the mother of flocks and herds. He regarded that doctrine, however, as the most pernicious which had for a long time been promulgated by any one high in authority. It was preached to those who were only too ready to receive it, and to act upon its fatal promptings. He alto- 577 gether denied the truth of that dogma. It was a daring misinterpretation of the designs of that benevolent Providence who fitted the soil for the people and the people for the soil. It was not because they had one or two, or three bad seasons in Ireland that there was no hope for the country, but to banish the people, and for a brave peasantry to substitute fat oxen. It would not be uninstructive to those who were inclined to take a despairing view of the climate of Ireland and contrast it with another country in which the peasantry were prosperous and contented, notwithstanding that its climate could bear no comparison to that of Ireland. That country was Switzerland. Take a valuable authority—Sismondi says—It is Switzerland that must be seen, to judge of the happiness of peasant proprietors. Switzerland has only to be known, to convince us that agriculture, practised by those who enjoy the fruits of it, suffices to procure great comfort to a very numerous population, great independence of character, the fruit of an independent situation, and great exchange of what is consumed; the consequence of the well-being of all the inhabitants, even in a country where the climate is rude, the soil but moderately fertile, and where late frosts and uncertain seasons often destroy the hopes of the labourer.And he goes on to describe the interior of the cottages of the peasantry, who have to gather their harvests amidst the ravines and on the mountain sides of Switzerland, as being full of comfort and abundance, such as to excite the envy, not of the poor Irish farmers, but of the sturdy English yeoman. Kay, in his Social Condition of Europe, speaks in the same way (pages 13 and 14)—It would astonish the English people to see how intensely the peasants of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland labour in their fields. The whole of the farmer's family assists. It is not unwilling drudgery, but a toil in which they feel pleasure; for they know the harder they labour the greater will be their profits, and the better means of subsistence. There is always something to be done. When they can work in the fields they are opening drains, breaking up lumps of earth, spreading manure, digging, cleaning, weeding, sowing, or gathering. When they cannot work in the fields they are putting the farm-yards and farm-buildings into order, whitewashing, repairing walls, mixing or preparing manures, or doing something in preparation for their out-door occupations. They do all this, be it remembered, for themselves, and they take real pleasure in the work, and do it ten times better and more expeditiously than the poor, hired, ignorant peasants who have nothing to look forward to but to remain peasants for ever.He (Mr. Maguire) was not going to ask Parliament to accomplish a revolution, 578 and convert the tenantry of Ireland into a peasant proprietary, as had been done in many countries with great advantage to the happiness of its people and to its real strength. That such a change would be beneficial he thoroughly believed; but he knew that the slightest approach to such a proposition would be repugnant to the feudal notions of that eminently landlord Assembly, and that he should be cried down as a revolutionist if he asked for its consideration. Why, then, did he refer to this state of things? Simply to show what security of tenure, by whatever name it may be called, or by whatever management it may be secured can effect. Arthur Young said that the magic of property had the power of converting sand into gold. He said—Give a man the secure possession of a bleak rock, and he will convert it into a garden, give him a nine year's lease, and he will convert a garden into a desert.The farming classes of Ireland, however, did not ask to be peasant proprietors, nor would any Irishman prefer such a demand on their behalf. What they asked for was security for their industry and their capital, and the opportunity of expending both without risk. About two months since he had attended a meeting in Dublin at which several Roman Catholic bishops were present, and, though the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for Ireland might object to a Roman Catholic bishop, or, indeed, any bishop taking part in such mundane matters, he thought that bishops and clergymen alike were only performing their duty as citizens in identifying themselves with any movement having for its object the amelioration of laws injuriously affecting the prosperity of their country. They were intimately identified with the people, and none knew better the evil that was mainly at the root of the misery and discontent that existed. One of the Prelates then present was the Right Rev. Dr. Keane, with whom he had the honour of an intimate acquaintance. Dr. Keane was a bishop as remarkable for his saintly life and noble charities as for his deep devotion to the interests of his country and its people. On the occasion he made a most powerful appeal in favour of justice to the industrious tenant, and proclaimed it as his opinion—an opinion held by every Catholic bishop and priest in Ireland—that the land question was the great question of Ireland. A passage from his speech would afford an admirable illustration of 579 the evil operation of the existing system, and the necessity for a change. He said—In this want of security is to be found the secret of the tenant's unwillingness to improve, and of the imperfect cultivation and consequent impoverishment of the country. As an illustration I will cite one case, with which, from personal knowledge, I am thoroughly acquainted. A farmer holds about one hundred and twenty acres of land on which there are thirty acres of reclaimable waste. I said to him, 'Why, with your large family of children and servants, do you not try to make that ground more productive? His reply was immediate and clear, 'I would this day begin the work if I were sure that the fruits of my labour and of the sweat of my children were to be my own. At present I am paying for that waste about five shillings an acre; it is worth to me about seven and sixpence; thus I have by it two and sixpence a year. If I improve that land, as I may do, so as to raise its producing value to twenty-two shillings and sixpence an acre, what can I expect to gain by it more than I do now, when the landlord will be sure to step in and raise the rent to a pound, thus leaving me only the present profit of two and sixpence. I have no notion of making property for the landlord by the sweat of my children.'To the present day that district is a waste. Need you be told that similar eases are to be found in every part of Ireland. The Archbishop of Cashel also delivered an address of the most earnest and forcible character, in which he said that no one in his senses would expend his capital in improvements without security if he had freedom of choice in the matter; but the Irish peasant had no freedom of choice, no option—land was to him a necessary of life—as necessary to him, said the Archbishop, as the air he breathed, as the food he eat, and he could no more do without the land than without them. There were tenants who, notwithstanding the precarious nature of their tenure—at will—could not resist the desire to improve, and who did improve; but there were others who were discouraged from improving, to the injury of the estate and of the community at large. It was clear that protection was necessary for the protection of the confiding tenant who did improve, and that it was equally necessary to induce the more cautious tenant to improve his land and his house and farm buildings. This protection could be given by leases and full compensation for all permanent and suitable improvements. One of the greatest evils of the present land system was that there were so few leases. He asked for a Committee with a view to consider what means could be adopted to encourage the granting of leases, or to secure the rights 580 of the improving tenant. It was true that in the north of Ireland there was a greater security, and if all Ireland were in the same condition as the northern portion he would not have to call the attention of the Imperial Parliament to this subject. A Committee was required to ascertain the best mode of encouraging the granting of leases. Leases would give a certain amount of security, and would help to defend the honest man against the rapacity of a dishonest landlord. Let it not be said that there were no evictions now in Ireland and no cruelties practised against improving tenants. Let one case, and that a recent one, serve as an illustration. Within the last month an action was tried at Tullamore, having been removed by the defendant from Meath on the ground that he could not obtain a fair trial in that county. In that action it appeared that the plaintiff was one of thirteeen improving tenants, holding at will under the defendant, Mr. Knox. In 1861 notice to quit was served upon them, but they were told that they need not trouble themselves, as they would not be interfered with. In 1863 notice was again served upon them, which was followed up by a demand for possession in September, but they were still told not to fear anything, and an action of ejectment was brought, which they were advised not to defend, as they were perfectly secure. In January, however, the whole of these thirteen improving tenants, with their families, numbering altogether nearly 100 souls, were turned out of their homes by the sheriff, assisted by 200 armed police and soldiers. In the action against the landlord the law was powerful, and a jury of Protestant magistrates mulcted Mr. Knox in £300, damages and costs. But that result was only brought about by the folly of the landlord, who had gone stupidly to work, and exposed himself to a conviction of fraud. If he had simply served notices and followed them up by ejectments in the usual manner, the tenants would have had no ground to appeal to the intervention of the law. And he might thus have got rid of 13,00 as easily as of thirteen. Clarke, the plaintiff, was an improving tenant, who had raised the value of the eighty acres he held fully £2 per acre. But Mr. Knox could not sell his interest to a Mr. Dias until he had got rid of the tenants—cleared off the human incumbrances. This was the terrible policy of the hour, the result of panic or of greed. In his own 581 county he (Mr. Maguire) knew of a case in which fifty-five families were turned off the estate of one of these improving and consolidating landlords. He had heard of a case in Tipperary where the gentleman who had purchased a property would not keep one of the tenants upon it, as he said he wanted cattle, and not men. He warned the Irish landlords that nothing could be more fatal than such a policy. Whenever the war in America ceased, and that great country turned the ensanguined sword into the ploughshare, and directed the energies of her people to the pursuits of peace, the consolidating landlords of Ireland who now rely on continued high prices for provisions, would find to their cost that American beef, and pork, and butter, would meet them and undersell them not only in the markets of England, but in the markets of their own country. Their conduct would bring its own punishment, but not before another million of the Irish people had been exterminated. In 1845 Lord Derby showed that the strongest difference existed between the two countries. It was the rule in England for the landlords to do everything but cultivate the soil; it was the rule in Ireland for the landlords to do nothing but receive the rents. No doubt there were exceptions; but they did not legislate for exceptions, but for the rule. In 1860 the House attempted to legislate on this subject. Every statesman who had dealt with this question during the last twenty years had laid it down that the customs of Ireland were different from those in England. The Devon Commission, twenty-one years ago, reported that it was the custom in England for the landlord to do everything for his tenant, while in Ireland the tenant had everything to do for himself; and the law did not secure him any reward for his industry. He believed that the Government acted in good faith when they attempted to legislate in 1860. They brought in several Bills, and passed three of them into law. He gave them credit for good intentions, but they were too timid to grapple with the real state of Ireland. They regarded rather what would be said by England than what was required in Ireland. Judge Longfield, in a recent remarkable address which he made in Dublin, said the Government had been too timid in dealing with the question; and the existing laws were inadequate to the exigencies of the times; and that the Legislature had done too little from fear of 582 doing too much, But the Irish Members were obliged to accept the Tenants' Compensation Act, as it was proposed by the Government. The principle for which they contended was admitted; but the Government were warned that it would not work. And the fact was that only three instances were known in which that Act had been adopted. At the time the Act was passed he (Mr. Maguire) stated that it was too cumbrous, that its machinery was too clumsy, that the provisions made did not include a single adequate inducement to the tenant to make improvements. Besides, the veto of the landlord would prevent any improvement being made by a tenant. At the time that he suggested that useful and necessary improvements ought to be undertaken, even without the consent of the landlord, he was thought to hold some very revolutionary notions. But Judge Longfield, who was neither an agitator, a demagogue, nor an advocate of rash and crude doctrines, expressed the same opinion. He (Mr. Maguire) proposed that a case, in which the landlord objected to an improvement suggested by the tenant, should be referred to the assistant barrister, who, if be found the improvement really of a substantial nature, useful to the tenants, and beneficial to the estate, should allow it to be made, notwithstanding the opposition of the landlord. That Amendment was largely supported; but it was defeated. Yet Lord Derby held a like opinion. In 1845, he spoke in the following words in the House of Lords:—In England the right was secured not only by law, but by the custom of the country, which was equivalent to law, and compensation was awarded for improvements, made not only without the consent of the landlord, but it made, without asking his leave for a single one of them.That custom, which had the force of law in England, applied to various improvements and outlay of a very limited duration…In a great part of the south of England, where there were largo quantities of copse-wood and faggot-wood, nothing was more common than to drain with that faggot-wood. The tenant, even the tenant at will, never asked the opinion of his landlord whether he should drain a particular field—he drained it. The work might last twelve, fifteen, or twenty years, and it may not be permanent though durable. And yet without asking leave of the landlord, being a tenant at will, on being ejected by his landlord, would summon him for compensation, and the custom of the country would compel him to pay the tenant. But that was neither the law nor the custom in Ireland, and he asked their lordships to apply that by law in Ireland which by custom had the force of law in England.583 Judge Longfield said it might happen that, from caprice or mistaken judgment, the landlord might refuse to enter into any contract with regard to improvements. In that case Judge Longfield was of opinion that the tenant ought to have the right to summon the landlord before the Court of Quarter Sessions, and secure the carrying out of these improvements, unless good cause was shown to the contrary; adding that to prevent abuse it might be necessary to affix a limit to the amount which at one time might be chargeable upon the land as compensation for improvements, and that a provision might also be introduced exonerating the landlord's successor from liability on the termination of the lease, provided he granted a new lease for the term of thirty-one years without any increase of rent. What was required for Ireland was a law to make the bad or indifferent landlords do by compulsion of law what others did as a matter of wisdom and humanity. One of the best landlords in Ireland was the Earl of Devon, who gave leases wherever they were demanded, recognized the right of the tenant to sell his improvements, and gave all kinds of encouragement to his tenantry. He (Mr. Maguire) had heard tenants of Lord Devon, with tears of gratitude on their cheeks, pour down blessings on his head, and hold him up as a model of what a landlord should be. Again, the Earl of Carysfort, speaking to the Rev. Mr. Redmond, said—I wish to impose not an extraordinary, but a medium rent, in order that the good years may answer for the bad; and I wish my tenants to have leases, that they may be encouraged to improve their holdings and to enjoy their improvements, because I do not wish to deprive them of them or to benefit by them.As the priest said, these words ought to be carved in letters of gold on a pillar raised in honour of this nobleman. It was surely not too much to ask that the bad or indifferent landlord should be made to act in the same spirit as the good landlord. He wished the Committee to inquire into the whole subject, and to see whether any improvement could be made to stem the tide of emigration which was weakening the strength of Ireland and of the Empire, If the population of Ireland were diminished by two millions of people more, the power of recruiting there would be lost; and what then would become of the military strength of the kingdom? Some gentlemen from Ireland secretly rejoiced in their hearts, he believed, that the popu- 584 lation of their country was becoming less; but he knew they were wrong. A friend of his, carrying on a large trade in the city in which he resided, and supplying many towns in the south of Ireland to a distance of 100 miles from Cork, told him that the diminution of the population was more and more affecting trade. The young, strong, and vigorous, who formed the strength of all other nations, were leaving Ireland. There were, it was true, two sides to this emigration question. He freely admitted that emigration was a benefit to an individual if he could improve his condition by quitting his country; but how many suffered moral shipwreck—were ruined on reaching America! How many young girls, once the light and ornament of their humble homes, were now walking as painted prostitutes in the streets of the great cities in America and the colonies. They fell victims to their helpless position. Without money or friends in a strange place, bewildered and helpless, they yielded to the tempter, and were lost for ever. There was a curse on those who, directly or indirectly, had brought ruin not only on the bodies but on the souls of thousands of girls belonging to his country. He wanted to keep these young people of the country at home; and he did believe that that could not be done until the farmers had a security that if they improved their land the rent would not be raised to an impossible standard, or that the houses they built, and the improvements they made, would not become the property of their landlords. If the present condition of things were to continue, the country towns would be brought to a state of collapse, become an assembly of ruined habitations, and the trade would be destroyed, because of the departure of vast numbers of the people from the country, and of the inability of those who remained to spend money on the ordinary comforts of life. He did not wish to deprive the landlords of a single right, or to make peasant proprietors of Irish tenants, but he wanted Parliament to inquire how security and confidence might be given to the Irish farmer. He did not desire to call before the Committee theorists and revolutionists, for it was not his intention to touch the rights of the landlords, though he wished the rights of the poor man to be protected, for they ought to be as sacred, and they were not protected at the present moment. Let not the question be bandied about from Government to Go- 585 vernment, or from party to party. It was a thing to be grappled with, and the Ministers who could not grapple with it were unworthy to occupy the place of power. Let them rise up to the dignity and responsibility of their position. They were ready at any time to sacrifice their hold of power on some wretched, trumpery foreign question; but here was an evil at their very door, and would they not have the courage to deal with it? With regard to the law of distress, he would suggest that it should be abolished, unless in cases where a landlord gave a thirty-one years' lease. That would constitute one inducement to grant a lease, and the Committee would consider what other inducements could be offered. He had now concluded the explanation of his case. He had made use of no glittering rhetorical language, but, speaking as a plain man to an intelligent Assembly, he had endeavoured to state his views clearly and distinctly. He took issue with the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who had said that tenant's-right was landlord's wrong; for, tested by the north of Ireland, tenant-right was not landlord wrong. If, carried away by momentary warmth, in the course of his observations he had said anything which might be thought as meant to offend any class, party, or person, he assured the House that such was not his intention. The deepest interests of his country were involved in the question; and, if it were fairly settled, the people of Ireland, instead of leaving the soil of their forefathers and being scattered as exiles over the earth, would remain at home, and having acquired a stake and interest in the country, would become its protectors against invasion, and the defenders of peace and order. But if the settlement of the question should be neglected then the life blood of the country would drain away, and the Parliament and Government that declined to interfere in the matter would stand as judged and condemned before God and man.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
, in seconding the Motion, said, he was well aware the House might feel that the subject was one upon which he had no right to address them. In the first place his hon. Friend, who, from his intense sympathy for his countrymen, his knowledge, position, and experience, was so well qualified to bring it before them, had almost exhausted it. But besides that the question was an Irish and a legal one, and he (Mr. W. E. 586 Forster) was an Englishman and no lawyer. He should, therefore, have contented himself with one or two words of emphatic agreement with his hon. Friend if he had not heard—though he scarcely believed it possible—that the Government did not intend to grant this most moderate request. Under these circumstances, therefore, he trusted that they would allow him to make a few remarks, especially as the House, the vast majority of whose Members were neither Irishmen nor lawyers, had to govern Ireland and to deal with questions of law. He approached the subject, then, from an English and from an Imperial point of view, and he declared that, in his opinion, the case of his hon. Friend was irresistibly strong. In 1860, the Government of the noble Viscount, sensible of the long acknowledged evils arising from the unsatisfactory condition of land tenure in Ireland, and that they would be left no longer without a remedy, brought in a Bill; and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) in his speech—which he (Mr. W. E. Forster) had lately had the pleasure of reading—gave the reasons why they took that step. The Bill passed; but it was universally admitted to have proved a dead letter. There were Members in the House who had prophesied that it would fail, and their prophesies, though disregarded at the time, had turned out to be true. That being the case, his hon. Friend now came forward and said that men of eminence and knowledge on the subject had made practical suggestions which would render the Act of 1860 operative; and he simply asked the House to grant him a Committee to test those practical suggestions with a view, in the event of their being ascertained to be well founded, to enable the Government to frame a Bill which might carry with it every assurance of success. But it was said, why did not the hon. Gentleman bring in a Bill himself? No doubt, he might have done so, but surely the course which he had taken was a more reasonable one. In a word, the case for the Motion appeared to him so plain that he could not understand why the Government should hesitate to give it their sanction. Was it because the evil was less pressing now than it was in 1860? In reality it was worse. There was greater distress and greater discontent; and the small farmers were flying from the country faster than they were four years ago. There might be differences of opinion as to how far emigration from Ireland was desirable, though he 587 must say it seemed a heartless reply, when the country was becoming under-peopled on account of the misery and starvation of its inhabitants, to quote statistics showing that the result might be better for those that remained at home. At any rate they ought not to be driven to wholesale expatriation from any faults of legislation. Besides, the class that was going way was precisely that which a wise Government would wish to keep at home; for were they not the hardworking, saving men, who took out not only their strong arms, hut their capital? The fact was that farming at present did not and could not pay in Ireland. It could not compete in the world's market with those to whom we had opened that market by reason of the restrictions under which it lay. It might be said that this was the result of free trade. His hon. Friend, however, had not said so, for he knew too well that whatever embarrassment free trade might have caused the farmer, it had saved the labourer, who would have starved without it. But there was after all, in farming, no free trade in Ireland. Free trade in farming meant freedom in the whole operations of farming. It did not mean merely the right of the consumer to buy where he pleased, but it meant also the right of the producer to plant, and sow, and reap, without restraint. But there were legal conditions attached to the occupation of land in Ireland which prevented the application of the tenant's capital to the soil without a reasonable fear that it would be taken from him. Therefore he (Mr. W. E. Forster) contended that there was not free trade in Ireland. Let it not be said that the restrictions to which he alluded had no existence hut in imagination. They had been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) who had brought in the Act of 1860. In introducing the Act of 1860, the present Secretary of State for the Colonies said—This is the foundation of all legislation on this subject—that the law and practice as they exist in England and Scotland have differed from the law and practice as they have existed in Ireland.In Ireland the landlord did not effect improvements himself but left them to the tenant. Judge Longfield stated that that Act would have succeeded if Parliament had been a little bolder. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) would perhaps say that if the House agreed to this Motion, it would only excite false expectations in Ireland. But those expectations already 588 existed. Did any one imagine that a man in the position and speaking with the authority of Judge Longfield, could come forward and say, "This Act does not work, but I will show you how, by introducing a few improvements, it might be made to work." Did anyone imagine that Judge Longfield could say that without creating expectations? The House was often delighted with good jokes from the right hon. Baronet—for he sat on a Bench from which good jokes oftener proceeded than good measures—but if the right hon. Gentleman would come forward and assert that Judge Longfield's speech had created no expectation, the mere assertion would be about the most desperate attempt at a joke the House had ever heard. His hon. Friend (Mr. Maguire) had alluded to a remark which had been made from the Treasury Bench, by way, he supposed, of reply by anticipation to any Motion of the kind now before the House—the remark of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), that "tenant's right was landlord's wrong." His hon. Friend had rightly said that antitheses were dangerous, especially just before an election, when they could be made of more use as "cries" against you than in your favour. But forgetting for the moment the noble Viscount's magnificent disregard for electioneering considerations, let them just think what was the meaning of this remark. What was tenant right? So far as he (Mr. Forster) understood the statements of Judge Long-field—who had long presided over a Court which brought him into the most intimate contact with the relations subsisting between landlord and tenant—he did not ask for fixity of tenure, or compulsory settlement of rent, which were the two things it was often supposed to signify. He understood Judge Longfield to mean simply and solely the right of the farmer to carry on his business in the only way in which he bad a chance of doing it with success—the right of the farmer to be allowed to invest his capital in the soil in building and draining, without fear of his landlord fining him for so doing, by raising his rent, or punishing him by ejecting him—the right of the tenant, in short, to be delivered from his fear of being robbed of his capital by his landlord. The very Act which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) had passed was really an acknowledgment that such robbery might take place. But he supposed that the right hon. Gentleman would say that that 589 Act went as far as the rights of property would allow. The present state of the law gave the landlord, who would make no improvements himself, the power of acting like the dog in the manger and forbidding the tenant to make them. Well, it was not now asked that the landlord should be deprived of the power of preventing the tenant from effecting improvements. How far, then, would Judge Longfield go? What they asked was that, to quote a very good phrase of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil), the presumption should always be in favour of compensation; that the tenant should have a right to make improvements without being obliged to serve his landlord with three mouths' notice; and that his landlord should not be able to fine him by raising his rent, or to punish him by ejectment, without compensation, until at least reference had been made to some impartial tribunal. Such was their request. It only needed the refusal of such reasonable demands for a few years to raise far more awkward questions—questions which, because they had not been answered, had led to important social changes in France and Germany; questions which, because they had been practically answered in England, bad enabled the relations of landlord and tenant to remain in this country as they were. Those, however, who wished for the continuance of those relations in England had good grounds most earnestly to hope that such questions on the matter should not be even mooted in Ireland. Besides, had not property its duties as well as its rights? And could there be a clearer duty resting on the owner of the soil than that if he did not or could not himself improve it, so as to make it more productive of human food, he should not prevent its improvement by others? Well, that was all that was asked; and he (Mr. Forster) could not for a moment suppose that the House, composed though it was of a majority of landowners, would say that it was determined to assent to any state of the law that would enable landlords not only to neglect but to transgress their duties. But it might be asked, was there any need for a special law of landlord and tenant at all? ["Hear!"] He perfectly agreed with those who cheered that question. He thought it would be well if there had been fewer laws respecting landlord and tenant, and if their relations had been left to the principle of 590 supply and demand, as in England. But the position of the parties was not the same in the two countries, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) had admitted, when he brought in his Bill of 1860. He had occasion to visit Ireland during the crisis of the famine, and the poverty, and suffering, the hunger, and the scenes of woe wide-spread over the country, which he then witnessed, would haunt him till his dying day. He felt then, and he felt now, that every one who had any power, however humble, in that House or the country, was bound to use it in order, if possible, to find out how far that misery was caused by the state of the law, and how far its continuance depended on it. He was very far from saying anything against the conduct of the landlords, in which he was glad to say there was much to admire. He had seen what they did on that occasion, and the sacrifices they made for their tenantry. But he could not forget that they were the inheritors of an unjust settlement; and however much he might wish to sweep the past into utter oblivion, he could not help asking himself whether causes were still at work that had in any degree contributed to the catastrophe of 1848? Even admitting that the state of Ireland was the same as that of England, the question of landlord and tenant in the former country could not be left to the natural law of supply and demand. Before that could be done they must not only free the demand, but they must unfetter the supply. When they were enabled to say that there were no restrictions upon the sale or use of land, and when they had swept away all remains of the feudal system, then, but not till then, they might with safety leave the soil to the rule of supply and demand. Make the land as free as consols or any other article, and then they might leave it to the operation of economic laws. But they had special legislation already. Twenty years ago Chief Justice Pennefather declared from the bench that the whole law was framed in the interest of the landlord, and that that of the tenant had never entered into its consideration. This, be it remembered, was the language of no demagogue, but the solemn statement of the Chief Justice of Ireland. No doubt attempts had since been made at legislation somewhat more in the interest of the tenant; but no one would deny that the balance was still greatly in favour of the landlord. His hon. Friend had referred to the law of 591 distress; and it was absurd to talk of leaving the relations of landlord and tenant to the principle of supply and demand, when the laudlord was allowed by that law a remedy greater than that of any other creditor. Mr. Jonathan Pim, in recording the transactions of the Society of Friends during the famine, said that thousands of active and energetic farmers had been driven from the country by the action of the law of distress, and Mr. Pim was a politician of very moderate views. Judge Longfield, like his brother, the hon. Gentleman opposite, was a Conservative. Such men were entitled to be heard on this question, and he hoped their opinions would have as much weight in the deliberation of the House as they had in the country. The question, as had been well observed, was not one of sentiment or mere feeling. It was not like that other Irish question (the Irish Church) which the House had before it, one that they could possibly stave off, or one that they might debate whether or not it was an intolerable insult and sign of conquest. It was not a question that the Home Secretary (Sir George Grey) could dispose of by saying that if they attempted to settle it, they would make a revolution, or that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could put aside by agreeing to an abstract proposition, "that the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland was unsatisfactory," and by pointing to a future when an attempt might be made to render it satisfactory—that future being the "better time coming," the not distant future, as he hoped, of which the right hon. Gentleman would himself be the guiding star. This was a practical question, affecting the daily toil and the actual means of obtaining a livelihood of hundreds and thousands of their fellow-citizens—a question which, if they did not meet it in that House, would very soon have to be met on the hustings. He was at a loss to conceive the reason why the Government meant to refuse the Motion, and thus to throw aside those considerations which were generally supposed to influence men on the eve of an election; he was at a loss to conceive how they could be so blind to the signs of the times, or so deaf to what the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Brand) must have told them. He should have thought they would rather have welcomed with thankfulness the means which the Motion had offered them of getting out of their difficulty. He was at a loss to conceive how they could take 592 a different course unless they were acting under some influence or from some motives that were not apparent and not professed. There could be no doubt as to the feelings of the Liberal party in Ireland. He did not believe there was an Irish Liberal Member that would come forward and oppose the Motion of his hon. Friend, or a Liberal Irish constituency that would sanction such a step. The noble Viscount still professed to lead the Liberal party in this kingdom but if he disregarded the unanimous wish of the Liberal party in Ireland, in this most reasonable matter, he (Mr. Forster) could only say as a humble Member of the Liberal party of England, that he disavowed the leadership of the noble Lord, and he protested against the war thus raised between the Liberal party in Ireland and that in England. The question was one on which Ireland appealed to England's sense of duty and justice. It was a question far beyond considerations of party; and if the wishes of the Liberal party were disregarded, perhaps the sooner they crossed the House the better; for then they might have a leader who agreed with them and with whom they agreed. Ireland's suffering was England's shame and Ireland's discontent was England's danger. We prided ourselves on being the freest, the most prosperous, and the most powerful nation in the world; but it was somewhat lowering to our pride to recollect that it was the fault of our legislation that kept hundreds and thousands of our fellow-countrymen in the most wretched and depressed condition of any Christian and civilized community in the world. His hon. Friend had spoken of emigration. They could not stop it. He (Mr. Forster) did not wish to stop it. He knew that the destiny of the people of these islands was to go forth to till, to cultivate, and to occupy new soils. We could not stop emigration, but this at least we might struggle to do—this at least we might hope and strive to bring about—that when the Irish emigrant left our shore, he might leave it with no feeling of disloyalty towards the Queen, but with a feeling of loyalty towards the throne and attachment to the Government. They might talk of Canadian fortifications, but better than any fortresses, better than this recent paltry Vote for the defence of Quebec, would it be to build their defences upon the hearty affections of Ireland's emigrants. Much had been heard of late of the hatred of Irishmen in America to- 593 wards this country. He believed those reports were much exaggerated—but still he believed that feeling existed to some extent. It might be unreasonable, but it was not altogether without reason, for after all it arose from principles which ought to have produced feelings quite the reverse. It arose from a perverted patriotism—because the Irishman thought they had ill-treated Ireland, and when he hated England, let it be our endeavour to bring back that patriotic feeling, and to convince him that he can best display it by loving our common country. Surely, then, the Government would not now, when they had an opportunity given them of expressing their sympathy for the sufferings of Ireland, and their desire to do what they could towards finding a remedy by a cold cynical refusal of this Motion, shut the door of hope to the poor and uneducated peasantry of that unhappy country.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the Laws regulating the relations between Landlord and Tenant in Ireland, with a view to their more equitable adjustment,"—(Mr. Maguire,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ LORD COURTENAY
said, it was not his intention to detain the House for more than a few minutes. He felt that it I might appear like presumption in one who had had the honour of a seat in the House for so short a time to rise to address the House on a subject of such importance and such difficulty. It had, moreover, on many occasions been discussed in that House and out of doors by gentlemen to whose expressed opinions it would be difficult for any one, and impossible for him, to add anything new in the way of argument. Nevertheless, be would ask permission very briefly to express the reasons which induced him to support the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, if it were pressed to a division. The hon. Gentleman had brought this subject forward with much ability, and, on the whole, with moderation of tone. He did not agree with the hon. Gentleman on very many of his political views, nor probably should he be able to concur with him in all his opinions on this subject; but at the same time it 594 appeared impossible to affirm that the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland were altogether satisfactory. The difficulty of the subject had repeatedly been admitted, and as long ago as 1845, in the Report of the Devon Commission, something in the same sense as the views indicated by the hon. Gentleman's Motion was recommended. It appeared clear that from some cause the Irish tenant practically did not stand in as good a position as regarded his landlord as the tenant in England; that much was expected of and had to be done by the tenant in Ireland which in England was expected of and done by the landlord; and that practically the tenant in Ireland was more at the mercy of his landlord, be he good or bad, than in this country. Until a very recent period—and to a certain extent even now—such improvements as draining, building, enclosing and reclaiming waste lands, &c., which in England were made by the landlord, in Ireland must be made by the tenant. It was true that the House would he told that at the present day, in the great majority of instances—probably in nine cases out of ten—there were good landlords, and considerable, or, at all events, some assistance was rendered by them—such as supplying slate or timber, while the tenant contributed to the rest of the outlay. This was true, and as far as it went was satisfactory, and it would be very satisfactory if we had arrived at a state of perfection, and there were nothing but good landlords. But he feared that neither in Ireland nor anywhere else was the perfectibility of the species to be seen or hoped for at present, and it was a grievance amounting almost to a crying evil, that the tenant should be entirely at the mercy of a bad landlord, and that an enterprising farmer, who had laid out money on his farm, should be liable to be ejected from it by a grasping or an avaricious man, and have no redress except through the tedious, uncertain, and expensive process of an action at law. Without presuming to say what direction legislation ought to take, he should like to see some legislation adopted to meet this evil, and he thought it quite possible that a Select Committee might strike out some suggestions for this purpose. It appeared to him that in discussing this subject there were two principles to be borne in mind. The first of these was that the tenant should have no right to demand compensation for any im- 595 provements, or so-called improvements, which had not previously received the sanction of the landlord. It would be manifestly unjust that the landlord should be called upon to pay for changes which he might not think improvements, and which had been made without his sanction, or even against his will. In the second place, in any future legislation the principle ought to be recognized that for what was called unexhausted improvements made by the tenant compensation was equitably due to that tenant, and should be given either in money or by an adequate term of occupation being extended to the tenant, so that he might be enabled to enjoy the land he had improved, or the house he had erected, for such time as might be supposed sufficient to compensate him for his outlay. The difficulty, of course, would be to determine what was an adequate number of years. But this and other difficulties might properly be considered by a Select Committee. This principle had already been fully and frequently discussed, and various Bills on the subject had at different times been introduced. A Bill was introduced two or three years ago by the right hon Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cardwell), in which the principle of compensation was introduced. He was informed, however, that that Bill was practically inoperative in consequence of its not making sufficient distinctions between early improvements cheaply and quickly effected and those which required more outlay of money, labour, and time. It would also appear that the time fixed in the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman was too short, in cases of reclamations in mountain lauds, to make the proposed compensation an equitable one for capital laid out. This appeared to him to be a most important subject, and, for the reason which he had ventured to offer to the House, he trusted that the Motion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan would be agreed to. Not long ago it was decided by a majority in that House that there was no reason to view with regret the diminution of the population of Ireland. How far that was satisfactory or consolatory to the people of Ireland it was not for him to say; but if the present Motion were not agreed to it was to be feared they might complain of the manner in which their grievances were treated in that House. They had come here for no boon, with none of that mendicant whine of which they had heard; they had come 596 for some recognition of that distress under which they were labouring from circumstances over which they had no control; they asked for sympathy, and Parliament had given them a discussion on the temporalities of the Irish Church. He had beard it said that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman was brought forward only with a view to the general election, which was imminent; but he did not believe this. At all events, such a motive could not influence his vote. The constituency (Exeter) which he had the honour of representing had no connection with Ireland, and as far as he knew had no special interest in her politics. He hoped he might be allowed to offer his thanks to the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) for the allusion in his speech to the efforts which his (Lord Courtenay's) father had successfully made for the welfare of the people of Ireland. As the son of an Irish landlord, whose family had been long connected with Ireland, he had ventured as his first utterance in that House to express his earnest conviction that the relations of landlord and tenant were not altogether satisfactory in that country, and that an inquiry into the subject could not fail to be of advantage to both parties. With this view he should support the Motion. He took this course, not as an advocate of what was commonly called tenant-right, but because he thought that the appointment of a Select Committee, even if it led to nothing, would yet do good as an earnest to the people of Ireland that the House of Commons was not disposed to turn a deaf ear to their appeals.
MR. E. F. LEVESON GOWER
said, he was induced to offer one or two observations because of the strong opinion which he had always entertained upon this question. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) and those hon. Members who had advocated this inquiry had laid great stress upon its harmless character, and no argument could possibly be more plausible. It was said that the truth was all they desired to elicit, and that by granting the inquiry no pledge of any kind was given; but he maintained that such an inquiry would raise expectations which could not but have an injurious effect. There could be no doubt that this inquiry pointed to tenant-right; and, inasmuch as be strongly believed that the agitation of the question would not only not be beneficial but would be positively injurious to the best 597 interests of Ireland, he did hope that the Government would oppose this Motion. He was ready to admit that in an electioneering point of view it might be better for the Government to grant the inquiry, but he would suggest to his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) that the motive which dictated their refusal might be the desire not to arouse ruinous expectations in favour of such an impracticable measure as tenant-right. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) had drawn a very eloquent picture of the difference in the prosperity of England and Ireland, and no Englishman could regret more than he himself did the existence of that difference. He should be extremely glad to see Ireland in as flourishing a condition as England. He did not think, however, that this Motion was one which, if carried, would contribute to its prosperity. It appeared to him that that country was in reality suffering from want of capital. It was a most remarkable fact that at the present time the capital of England was to be found invested in railways, mines, and every conceivable kind of enterprize in every corner of the globe; but what was still more remarkable was that little, if any found its way to Ireland. The absence of capital in Ireland was, he believed, in a great measure attributable to the insecurity of property in that country, and partly also to the agrarian outrages which had occurred there. The alarm which these outrages had occasioned was, he thought, greatly exaggerated. They were, he believed, confined to particular limited portions of the country, but it should be remembered that capital was timid, and that these outrages naturally prevented capital from flowing into the country. No one could feel more than he did that it was the duty of the Irish landlord to deal liberally with his tenants. The whole question was one, as it appeared to him, more involving a discussion of principles than of facts. Believing, as he did, that the granting of the Motion would not in any way conduce to the prosperity of Ireland, and would increase rather than diminish that apprehension of the insecurity of property which kept capital out of the country, he hoped the Government would refuse to accede to the Motion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan.
§ MR. C. MOORE
said, that he desired to see greater security given to the tenant for his outlay. The hon. Member who had just sat down said that the insecurity of 598 property in Ireland prevented the flow of capital to that country. He thought, however, that no measure would tend to the security of property unless it also tended to satisfy the people. The measure they had been discussing would not, he believed, prove in any way injurious to the landlord, and the rents would be better paid, in consequence of the increased industry and ability which the tenant would be encouraged to bring to bear on cultivation. At the same time it would conduce to quietness and a kindly feeling between the landlord and tenant. It was said that a measure of this kind meant confiscation of the landlord's property. The tenant received the laud without buildings, and if the tenant erected buildings at his own cost and by his own labour, to give compensation for those buildings could not be confiscation. On the contrary, to take those buildings from the tenant without compensation was the most cruel confiscation. As a landlord, nothing would gratify him more than some provision for the protection of the tenant. He believed such a measure would do more than any measure he ever heard of for the benefit of the country. It would introduce peace, and he hoped prosperity, into the country, and be of great advantage to the Empire at large.
§ COLONEL GREVILLE
said, that he looked upon this as a landlord's quite as much as a tenant's question. He believed that security for property would be very much increased if tenant-right were settled upon an equitable basis. The noble Lord at the head of the Government told the House a few nights ago that "tenant's-right meant landlord's wrong." It was very easy to make an off-hand assertion of that kind, but a great question could not be disposed of in that mariner. Land in Ireland would become infinitely more productive if this question were settled on an equitable and satisfactory basis. What was tenant-right? Judge Longfield, in a pamphlet which he had published, said that some thought tenant's right meant fixity of tenure, others thought it meant compulsory valuation of land, while others held that tenant-right simply meant compensation for improvements made with the tacit assent of the landowner, and constituting a permanent addition to the value of the land. It was quite clear that if by fixity of tenure it was understood that the tenant was to hold his land against the will of the landlord such a measure could never be 599 proposed. It would drive the landlords from the country. Nor would any one propose a compulsory valuation. But the advocates of tenant-right said, with reason, that a difference existed between the practice in the two countries. In England the landlord did everything. He provided a dwelling house and farmbuildings, and the tenant obtained with these the beneficial occupation of the land; but in Ireland the landlord often let his farm without any of the conveniences that constituted a beneficial occupation, so that the law which was applicable to one country was not equally so to the other. That compensation for improvements made by the tenant with the assent of the landlord was a just principle was admitted by the Government of Lord Derby when Mr. Napier introduced his Tenant Compensation Bill. It was admitted by the Government of Lord Aberdeen, and afterwards by the Government of the noble Viscount, when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) introduced a Bill on the subject. That measure, though brought in with the best intentions, had been, unfortunately, inoperative, and had not realized the expectations entertained by the right hon. Gentleman. Nothing was, therefore, more natural than the request now made by the Irish Members, that this Bill should be referred to a Select Committee in order that they might inquire why the Bill had not worked. There could be no more competent authority on this subject than the learned Judge at the head of the Landed Estates Court in Ireland, who had been a Judge of that Court since the year 1848. That learned Judge was of opinion that something might be done. He (Colonel Greville) had taken great interest in the subject, and he agreed with Judge Long-field. No claim could, in his opinion, be more equitable than the tenant's claims to compensation for permanent improvements which in England would be made by the landlord. Let the House remember that it was only when a tenant was evicted that the question of compensation could arise. If the landlord should proceed to put out the tenant, do not let him appropriate to himself those substantial and unexhausted improvements which give an increased value to his property. All the Bills that had been brought in and sanctioned by different Governments contained clauses giving compensation for unexhausted improvements, and some of those measures had passed through that House. In 1855 the 14th clause of the Tenants' Improvements 600 Compensation (Ireland) Bill was supported by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Hugh Cairns). It gave tenants compensation for improvements made before the passing of the Act, and the hon. and learned Gentleman said it was his intention to support the clause. He (Sir Hugh Cairns) reminded the House that the other House had passed a Bill in 1853 containing a retrospective fixture clause, providing that any house built or other improvement made twenty-one years before the passing of the Bill might at the expiration of the lease be wholly removed by the tenant, unless the landlord paid him for it according to the valuation. Judge Longfield was of opinion that something should be done, and said he had little hope of seeing improved agriculture and a contented tenantry in Ireland so long as an artificial system of legislation existed which enabled the landlords to take possession of improvements without giving compensation for them. It was urged that such a retrospective clause would be unjust to those who had bought property in the Landed Estates Court; but those who had purchased land in Ireland of late years had done so with the knowledge that this question was still pending. The present Lord Chancellor, then Solicitor General, maintained in the debate on the measure of 1855 that the principles of that measure, both in the prospective and retrospective clauses, were consistent with equity and justice, not as a sword of offence, but as a shield of defence, to the tenant. His conclusions, the Solicitor General said, were supported by the opinion of—Sir W. Grant, no mean judge of equity and justice; by Lord Eldon, no weak Conservative; by Lord Redesdale, and by the universal consent of all writers and expositors of equity and natural justice.Another opinion very appropriate to the present discussion, and deservedly carrying great weight, had been expressed in the course of a debate in the year 1855 by the noble Lord now at the head of the Government with regard to the propriety of a retrospective clause. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) asserted that although as a principle it was wrong to alter existing bargains by retrospective enactments, yet there were circumstances peculiar to the holding of land in Ireland which justified such retrospective action. That was a clear and well-argued statement, and he (Colonel Greville) appealed from the off-hand assertion of the noble Lord in 1865, that "tenant's-right was 601 landlord's-wrong" to his sound and well matured argument of ten years ago. Bearing in mind the course taken by the Governments of Lord Derby and Lord Aberdeen, and the recommendations of the Select Committee of a few years back, it was impossible, he believed, for the noble Lord to resist the application now made to him. The property of the tenant ought to be as sacred as the property of the landlord, and in securing the property of the tenant and making him prosperous and contented the interests of the landlord were in reality preserved. Everybody knew that there was plenty of capital in Ireland stored up in the banks; but this would never be laid out upon land, so as to become reproductive, until proper safeguards were devised for the investment. In that event parties would make their own contracts, and landlords and tenants being in perfect accord, a totally different state of things would arise. In England there was a jealous watchfulness over the interests of the tenant, and according to local customs, having the force of law, the tenant enjoyed protection practically in many respects. The Irish tenant had not the advantage of these. It was the practice in England for the landlord to erect the necessary farm buildings, but that was not the rule in Ireland. In England and Wales there was a customary tenant-right by which growing crops, hay, &c., were secured to the outgoing tenant. These were secured by customary right in several counties in England and Wales, although they were not to be compared in value to the permanent unsecured improvements made by the tenants in Ireland. It was said in many quarters that exceptional laws for Ireland were bad in principle, and ought to be discouraged; but Judge Hargreave clearly showed that in Ireland there had been little else but exceptional legislation. The exceptional circumstances of the country, therefore, and an honest desire to render these better, ought to prevail over fancied advantages of uniformity, and should bear down mere unsupported allegations that measures of improvement were impracticable. He hoped that the justice which was meted out to England would not be denied to Ireland. It was said that what was asked for it would not be practicable to grant. The Government had not said so from their own mouth, but it had been said for them. He hoped the House would admit that a case had been made out for assenting to the Motion of the hon. 602 Member for Dungarvan, and that it would not be resisted.
§ MR. BRADY
said, he believed that the people of England were sensitively alive to everything affecting the welfare of Ireland. Indeed statesmen of all parties had been obliged to admit its suffering condition. There had been no material change in the regulations between landlord and tenant from the time of Burke to the time of the noble Lord. Yet the rental of the land had risen from £6,000,000 in 1780, to £13,000,000 a year at present. In the year 1780 the acreage of Ireland was estimated at £12,000,000 by Mr. Arthur Young, and its value at 6s. 4d. an acre, while in the year 1850 the value set upon it by a Government authority was 16s. 4d.; and by whom, he should like to know, had the value of the land, in that period of time, been so enhanced? By the poor tenants who laboured on it without receiving any encouragement from the landlords; yet still, as in years past, the relations between the two classes continued in a condition so unsatisfactory as to call loudly for redress, not only in the interests of Ireland, but of the Empire at large. It had been stated, in the course of the discussion, that there was a considerable amount of money in the hands of the tenant farmers in Ireland, and it might from that circumstance be supposed that prosperity reigned in the country, but the manner in which those poor people had lived, and the privations they had endured in order to store up a small reserve beyond their rent, were such as the people of England could scarcely comprehend. He knew an estate in which there were 300 or 400 tenants, and his belief was that they did not consume as much animal food in one day as was ordinarily consumed by ten or twelve persons in this country. The pig which they fed and the corn which they grew were sold to meet their rent, which they paid with a punctuality equal to that displayed by any tenantry in the world. They pinched themselves of nourishing food and of clothes, and yet they paid their rent. The wonder was how they could pay any rent seeing that the land was so bare. And it was bare because the tenants having no confidence in their landlords dare not lay out money on the land. When he was last in Ireland he met a man on the road, and got into conversation with him. He asked him whose land it was by the side of the road, "That is mine," said the man, "Then why do you not drain it, 603 and put it in a better condition?" "Well, said the man, "I have very little interest in it. I have had this land for thirty years. That piece which you see was a lake. I reclaimed it, and have got two crops off it, and now my landlord says I must pay the same rent as for the high land, and I do not think it right to pay for that which I made myself; so I am off for America." That was the result in many cases of landlord injustice. Every Government that had been in power from 1845, when the Devon Commission was issued, to the present time, had acknowledged the necessity of doing something. The Devon Commission drew a vivid picture of the misery and wretchedness of the people, and recommended the case of the tenants to the anxious consideration of the Government. But from that time to this nothing had been done. The people had deteriorated, and the land which supported 8,000,000 when he was a boy, would now scarcely support 5,500,000. The people were naturally irritated at the treatment they had received. It was a fact that the Irish emigrants to America carried with them feelings of enmity towards England. That fact, however natural, was much to be regretted, and he urged upon all Englishmen the duty of taking steps to promote the welfare of Ireland and to secure the friendship of her people. There was an ulcer preying upon the vitals of Ireland, and the cause of it was the unsatisfactory state of the relations between landlord and tenant. He urged upon the noble Lord and his Government to take this subject into their hands, and to provide the only possible remedy for the existing evils by giving such a fixity of tenure as would induce the people of Ireland to remain in the country and enable them to attain to a degree of prosperity which would be equally beneficial to this country.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, he thought the hon. Member for Dungarvan had rendered an essential service to the tenantry of Ireland; because, whether his Motion for a Committee was adopted or not, he had shown what was the effect of asking for the smallest possible modicum of redress from a moribund Parliament, which had twice refused to express its regret for the decline in the population of Ireland, which had passed the Act of 1860, and from a Committee of which, however composed, but little good for Ireland could be expected. The Motion would also show how little good had been done by lowering the de- 604 mand for justice to the tenantry of Ireland. The tenant-right agitation began in 1852, and its originators contended that either there should be no legislation at all between landlord and tenant or that the tenants of Ireland should have what had been granted in all other countries, fixity of tenure upon payment of rent. Those demands were thought to be excessive, and they were departed from. It was agreed to accept the simple tenant-right of Ulster as shown in Sharman Crawford's Bill. When the advocates of tenant-right demanded a strong measure it was believed that they were in earnest, and the Government thought it necessary to consider the question. Lord Derby's Government introduced a measure which, had it been passed, would have done much good to Ireland. It did not pass, and now such a measure would be stigmatized as revolutionary. Lord Aberdeen's Government, which followed, also produced a measure which would now be condemned in the same manner. The demands of the advocates of the Irish tenantry were again lowered, and Mr. Serjeant Shee proposed Crawford's Bill without the clauses which were considered to be objectionable. That proposition was not adopted, and the result was that of which the thin attendance that evening was an illustration. After the election of 1859 Crawford's Bill in its entirety was again proposed, and, as a sort of counterpoise, the Act of 1860 was proposed and carried by the Government. That Act, instead of improving the condition of the tenantry of Ireland, had made it worse. All the clauses in the Act were in favour of the landlord and none for the tenant. They were such as no man living would propose for England. Before 1860 the power of eviction by the sessions was restricted to rentals not exceeding £50, but by the Act the limit was raised to £100. Another unusual provision in the Act was, that if a tenant attempted to do anything which the landlord or his agent might choose to regard as waste, he could be summoned before a Justice of the Peace, and if he did not conform to the views of the Justice, he was subjected to fine or imprisonment. After that, the hon. Member for Tralee attempted to carry Crawford's Bill without the retrospective clause, but he failed, and nothing had been done since. All kinds of theories were started to account for the misfortunes, but he was sure that if the Committee asked for by his hon. Friend were granted, it would not 605 in any way tend to improve the position of the tenant. The House would not dot an "i" or cross a "t" to improve the evils of landlord and tenant. The lesson which the people of Ireland should learn from the past was, that they should adhere to the principles of political economy, and should demand some measure to abolish altogether legislation between landlord and tenant, and to place dealers in land upon the same footing as dealers in other commodities. [The Bill of 1860, by sweeping away all the feudal relations of landlord and tenant, had prepared the way for this.] The proper course for the Irish people to adopt would be to insist that all special laws for the regulation of the relations between landlords and tenants should be repealed, and that both parties should be left to their remedies under the common law. If that was done, there would be an end to evictions and distresses for non-payment of rent, landlords and tenants would stand in equitable relations to each other, and there would never be another debate upon this subject in the interests of the tenantry.
§ MR. ALDERMAN ROSE
said, having the honour of holding the position of Governor of the Irish Society, he ventured to offer a few remarks upon the subject before the House. In a recent debate they had heard an appalling description of the present state of Ireland from the hon. Member for the King's County. While differing from that hon. Gentleman as to the causes of those evils, he nevertheless thought it furnished a matter for the grave consideration of this country and the Government, It appeared to him that no Government could see the gradual diminution of the people, and the falling off in the agricultural produce of Ireland, without the most serious apprehensions of the ultimate results. The good Government of Ireland was, in his opinion, one of the most serious problems that could be solved; and he, for one, wa3 therefore prepared to support the Motion for inquiry upon this subject. The society with which he was connected was in the habit of granting long leases and premiums for substantial improvements. Now, what was called tenant-right appeared to him to be something so indefinite, so shadowy, unreal, and unsubstantial that he found it almost impossible to deal with it. He could not conceive a more inconvenient state of things than that a man holding, perhaps, as a tenant-at-will should erect a building which his landlord did not want, to which, indeed, he might 606 positively object, and then at the end of the quarter or of the year should demand to be repaid the money which he had expended upon it. Now, that was a state of circumstances which ought to be defined and provided for. The small farm system in Ireland was a failure. It was idle to expect any success in farming unless the holdings were considerable and the tenant in possession of capital. Farming, like commercial or manufacturing operations, must be carried on upon a certain scale in order to be profitable. No man could conduct a manufacture in his drawing-room or his bedroom with success, and the same principle applied to farming. If the system which prevailed in the north of Ireland of granting long leases and giving large premiums for improvements was extended throughout Ireland, it would be a complete answer to the demand for tenant-right. Ireland was being steadily depopulated, and its produce was failing, and it was the duty of that House to take into earnest and immediate consideration the means of remedying a state of things which must produce serious disadvantage and embarrassment to this country.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, the difficulty which he felt in addressing the House was, that up to the present time the debate was almost entirely one-sided. There was hardly a speaker that did not seem to coincide in the views expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan, and to consider the demand now made by his Motion as just, reasonable, and moderate. He (the O'Conor Don) confessed he felt himself almost unable to afford any further information to the House. Before, however, the Government expressed their views upon the subject, he felt himself bound, as an Irish landlord, to declare that he concurred in the views expressed by his hon. Friend, and thought it was most desirable that Parliament should come to some arrangement of this important question. Now, he had listened attentively to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Wexford (Mr. M'Mahon), without being able to understand what course that hon. and learned Gentleman desired should be adopted. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to find fault with all those who had taken an active part in the discussions upon this subject, because in his opinion they had not gone far enough. Now, so far as he had considered the question, he (the O'Conor Don) believed that it would have been 607 settled long ago if those advocates of tenant-right had not gone so far. Had, for example, the Bill of Mr. Serjeant Shee been adopted by the popular party in Ireland, he was of opinion that they would not have had any occasion for the discussion that evening. So far from the advocates of this question not going far enough, he considered that the demands went entirely too far which they had pressed upon the attention of Parliament. He could not understand what the hon. and learned Gentleman meant by his proposal to remit the landlords and tenants of Ireland to their common-law rights—nor had the hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out in what manner the existing evil could he met otherwise than by such legislation as might arise out of the full and searching inquiry that was now moved for. The importance of this question could not be denied. It had been recognized by statesmen of every party, and various measures had from time to time been proposed by different Ministers. The fact that the leading statesmen on both sides of the House had attempted legislation on the subject was a sufficient proof that the state of things existing in Ireland then was not satisfactory, and if not satisfactory then, he asked in what respect was it satisfactory now? In 1860 the present Secretary for the Colonies introduced a measure to remedy the great grievance of Ireland, but it was wholly inoperative. He (the O'ConorDon) maintained that the question was now in as unsatisfactory a state as it was at the time when his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies felt it his duty, on the part of the Government, to attempt legislation in regard to it. The question introduced by his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan might be considered in two lights—first, was the condition of things regarding the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland satisfactory? If it were admitted that that condition was unsatisfactory, then he asked whether Parliament could by legislation improve the condition of that country? With regard to the first point, the past history of the country showed that nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the state of Ireland. Then, arose the next question—whether Parliament could do anything by legislation to improve its condition. Upon the answer to that question, he admitted, rested the main force of all the arguments used against the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan. He knew it might be said 608 that, however unsatisfactory were the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland, they ought to be left to adjust themselves, as the interference of the Legislature could not accomplish any good result. The proposal before them was, that having legislated upon the subject in 1860, and legislated in operatively, and it being stated by practical men that the measure of 1860 could be made to some extent operative and accomplish some results, they should inquire if those statements were true before they permanently decided that Parliament could do nothing further upon the subject. He could hardly believe that Her Majesty's Government would refuse to accede to so fair and moderate a proposal. He admitted there was the greatest possible difficulty in dealing with the question, as shown by its past history; but he did not consider that on that account they were finally to decide that it was a question entirely beyond the control of Parliament, and that it was impossible to better the present state of things. He thought a great improvement might he effected in the existing law. Judge Longfield and other eminent men had expressed their belief that an improvement could he made. There was a greater evil arising from the present relation of landlord and tenant than the non-improvement of the soil, and that was the feeling of dissatisfaction that pervaded men's minds, that they were not justly and fairly treated; and whilst that feeling of discontent existed they would have no peace nor tranquillity in Ireland, nor the application of that honest industry which was necessary for the improvement and benefit of the country. It was a matter of pain rather than gratification for Irish Members to have constantly to bring their grievances before the House; and therefore it was that he was desirous of seeing the law settled, both for the sake of Parliament and the people of Ireland. He expressed his entire concurrence in the Motion, and his sincere trust that Her Majesty's Government would accede to so moderate a request as the granting of a Committee of Inquiry.
§ COLONEL VANDELEUR
said, he thought that the Government ought to grant the Inquiry asked for by the hon. Member for Dungarvan, though he did not concur in all that had been said by previous speakers as to the causes of the present condition of Ireland. A great deal had been said about tenant-right, but he had known times in Ireland after the famine of 1847 when tenant-right was worth nothing, when 609 thousands of acres had been left waste, and much land had been thrown on the hands of the landlords. The climate of Ireland had something to do with the condition of that country. Since the times to which he had just referred there had been a change in the value put upon land, which had caused much talk about tenant-right. Landlords were sometimes right in keeping the farms in their own hands, for in many cases too high a value was now set upon it by tenants who paid for the possession of a farm, money raised on loans which afterwards they were unable to meet, and had to sell out at a loss to enable them to return the borrowed capital. Great uncertainty had been created in the minds of tenants by the action of the Incumbered Estates Court, for land changed hands so frequently now that tenants, not knowing who their landlord might be, were unwilling to spend money on improvements. Twenty-five millions worth of property had been sold under it to a vast number of persons, many of whom were reselling the land, and those persons had been mainly instrumental in raising the agitation of tenant-right. The continual selling of land unsettled men's minds. He had heard of a case in which a tenant said to an agent, "Is it true that we (the tenants) are going to be sold?" "I am afraid it is," replied the agent. "Then I hope it won't be one of ourselves that will buy us," observed the tenant. The tenants on the estate to which he alluded were made happy when an agent told them that each man would be assisted to buy his own holding. Emigration was not caused altogether by the circumstances to which so many attributed it. The persons who now emigrated were members of families who had emigrated and sent home money to carry other relatives across the Atlantic. Much had been said about the improvidence of the higher classes in Ireland, and about family charges on land which they were so fond of creating; but the farming classes were not less improvident in making charges on their stock. It frequently occurred that a man left a charge of £200 or £300 for his son to pay, the latter having no money, but only the stock on his land. They gave bills, and then when they fell due they had to be sold up to pay them. He knew of a case in which a tenant of his own married a young woman with a tolerable fortune—£200; the father gave hills for the amount and broke, and so the unfortunate young man 610 was left with the wife and no fortune, and not only broke himself but broke others. These bill transactions had very often more to do with the difficulties of the Irish peasant class than the landlords' rents. The landlords' rents were often two, three, and four years in arrear. Everything had been going to the bad in Ireland for the last three or four years, until the last season. The oats had perished in the ground, and the sheep had died; but this last year there had been a reaction. The farmers were improving, but no doubt the small towns were suffering very much from decreased trade. The population of his own county (Clare) had fallen off 100,000 since 1841 owing to emigration, and, of course, the small towns had suffered from the loss of so many customers. He cordially supported the Motion of the hon. Gentleman because he thought inquiry would do good.
said, he should support the Motion, and that he could not agree with those who declared that "tennnt's-right was landlord's wrong," as the interests of both ought to be identical. He appeared in the double capacity of landlord and tenant and could declare that the state of both classes was unsatisfactory. What injured the one must injure the other. He believed that much mischief was caused in Ireland by land jobbers, and mentioned an instance in which one of that class had agreed to give an additional sum upon the purchase of an estate, on condition of the owner evicting the tenants. The owner took his measures in a very insidious manner, and obtained the services of the sheriff with a posse of police, who turned out the tenants and pulled down their houses. Fortunately the tenants obtained legal assistance, and one of them asserted his rights in a court of law, where the jury found that the landlord had acted fraudulently and unjustly. He had to pay heavy damages, and to compromise all the other actions by the payment of large sums. There was an inherent love of justice in Irishmen, and if they had confidence in the law, they would be content to appeal to it. All they wanted was fair play. He would conclude by paraphrasing a sentence from the writings of a late Roman Catholic prelate, by expressing a hope that the love of justice in Irish breasts would be as lasting as their hatred of tithes and the temporalities of the Church of England as established in Ireland.
said, he was sur- 611 prised that no one on the Treasury Bench had had the courage to answer the speech of the hon. Member for Dungarvan. He would not advocate any outrageous system of tenant-right, but the question was one which deserved careful consideration, being the most important at present affecting the interests of Ireland. He was delighted to hear the mild and temperate tone of the hon. Member who introduced this question, but the hon. Members for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) and Bodmin (Mr. Leveson Gower) had introduced a political aspect to the question, and had taunted the Government or thrown out insinuations against the Opposition side of the House. Now, he protested against both these modes of discussing the question. He only understood the remark of the noble Lord that tenant-right was landlord's wrong to refer to those wild and visionary schemes which had been occasionally put forward by those who from corrupt motives had encouraged a mischievous and indefensible agitation. He hoped that the Government would not be actuated in any course they might pursue this evening by the thought of a future election. The question was one to be considered fairly and impartially. This House would not for a moment entertain any proposal to abrogate the just rights of the landlord; and, on the other hand, the tenant farmers required no more than simple justice. As he understood tenant-right, it was the free and full enjoyment by the tenant of the fruits of the industry and the capital which he had invested in the land. It was said that tenant-right was unnecessary, because it did not exist in England. But exceptional cases required exceptional remedies, and Ireland was an exceptional case. The tenant custom of England and Scotland and the north of Ireland was really tenant-right, and what objection could there be to making an inquiry whether some means could not be taken to assimilate the custom and the right in the three kingdoms? In England the improvement of the land was effected at the expense of the landlord, while in Ireland it was effected at the expense of the tenant. Some persons contended that the Irish landlords ought to follow the example of the English landlords in that respect, but they had not at their disposal the vast means which such a work would require, and which would, in many cases, be equal to the value of the fee-simple of their estates; and, moreover, they could not devote the whole of their 612 resources to an improvement of their property, which would all descend to their eldest son, while they failed to make any provision for their younger children. His idea of tenant-right was, that it should be a fair transaction between landlords and tenants, and he felt convinced that a measure which would give effect to that principle would promote their mutual interests. Then, again, the system of settlements stood in the way of the landlords expending their money. There was plenty of capital in Ireland, but it was all locked up in the banks, and those who had it would not invest it in land. It was difficult to legislate for Ireland, because only a few understood the subject. He would not support exaggerated notions of tenant-right, but every proposal for a just reform was liable to disparagement from the exaggerated views put forward by ill-conditioned or designing men. What was wanted was a moderate measure, which would satisfy moderate men. At present, Irish landlords, for want of means, were often unable to carry out the necessary improvements on their estates; but, if so, why not allow the tenants to do them? It was a mistake to suppose that there was a want of capital in Ireland. All that was wanted was that the tenant should be able to lay out his money on such conditions as competent authority might consider sufficient to secure to the tenant the full enjoyment of the fruits of his industry and of his capital. They ought not to deal with this question in a political point of view, but for the benefit of the country. He hoped an inquiry would be granted, so that at least they might take the most competent advice on this subject. The Irish people were sick of these constant agitations, and desired to get rid of them to enable a generous people to enjoy the advantages which a munificent Providence had provided for them.
§ MR. COX
said, it might be considered out of place for a metropolitan Member to offer any suggestions upon this subject, but his apology must be that he was a member of the Irish Society. What was tenant-right, and whence sprang that right? It appeared to him to have originated in the insecurity of a tenant holding land, the possession of which he was obliged to find the means of defending. It originated nearly 250 years ago, in the charter of James I., which he granted to the citizens of London, when he founded the new plantation in Ulster. The citizens of London guaranteed to their tenants, the old 613 soldiers and others who settled on the land, the right to hold the land so long as they had sufficient force to defend the possession of it, and they stated that they should not be put out of possession. That was about 250 years ago, and ever since the property of the citizens had descended from father to son, and had been dealt with in a peculiar manner by those who claimed the right to defend the possessions in Ulster. There was no reason why, in his opinion, this Committee should not be granted, for it was absolutely necessary that some decision should be come to upon the subject, having regard to both sides of the question. In proof of this he would shortly state what was tenant-right in Ulster. Within a few miles of Derry the Irish Society, some sixty-four years ago, agreed to demise to a person 500 acres of land, upon condition that he should build a house and improve the land. To that end a lease was granted, and the tenant entered into possession, and paid a rent of £250 a year. The tenant built the house and improved the land, and he then let it to another person at an improved rent of between £800 and £900 a year, and the original lessee received that increased rent for about sixty-one years. He (Mr. Cox) was at Derry just at the time when the lease expired, and notwithstanding what had happened, the lessee's representative on the expiration of the lease claimed some five or six years' tenant-right. It much astonished him, and he wondered what the Duke of Bedford would say if his tenants in Russell Square, when their leases had fallen in, claimed tenant-right. Such claims might be carried to such an extent as to almost confiscate the land. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Dickson) spoke of the Irish Society as absentee landlords. He (Mr. Cox) could tell him that the Irish Society, although absentee landlords, expended out of their rental of £14,000 a year the sum of £13,400 in supporting an agent's establishment, churches, chapels, schools, and other charities. That was what the Irish Society did, and if other absentee landlords did the same they would not hear of these complaints. He should vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I think that the silence of the Government is somewhat pusillanimous. They are placed in the position they occupy to govern the country, and a very important part of the country is Ireland. One of the most 614 serious considerations with respect to the Government of Ireland is connected with the present relations between landlord and tenant. We have had a discussion in this House about another grievance of Ireland—the Irish Church; but now we have to come to the bottom of all the discontent in Ireland—namely, tenant-right, and on this occasion the debate has gone on for about five hours, and yet not one single Gentleman on the Treasury Bench has vouchsafed to give to the House the slightest hint of what the Government intend to do. Am I not right, then, in saying that this silence is pusillanimous? I am quite sure that the Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench, with the noble Lord at their head, have an opinion on the subject; and, if so, why do they not express it? They ought to lead and not to follow the House; but they wait to hear declarations from all sides of the House in order that they may get safely out of an embarrassment. That is not my habit at all, and I will state what I think is the right course for the Government to pursue. If they follow my suggestion, I shall feel flattered at having given them a clue to escape from their difficulty. Ireland constitutes one of the greatest difficulties in the Government of the kingdom, and one of the failings of Ireland is the national error that the great cause of the misery of that country is the present state of the relations between landlord and tenant. The question then arises, how shall we deal with what I believe to be an error, though others may have a contrary belief. Is not a fair, honest, and impartial discussion the best thing for the purpose; and could there be a better tribunal than a rightly constituted Committee of this House? I do not mean a Committee like that appointed two Sessions ago in reference to Ireland, in which enthusiastic Gentlemen got all sorts of witnesses to give evidence in the sense of their own views; but I mean a Committee composed of men really entitled to the consideration and confidence of this House—men of judgment and character, and, more than all, of cross-examining power. I would ask the noble Lord, if he should consent to any Committee on this subject, to appoint a Committee of that sort, because with such a Committee composed of men of cross-examining power, or, as I once heard a learned Friend of mine call it, eviscerating power, a man with his notions about tenant-right and belief that he possesses some talismanic 615 means of settling all these questions, no sooner appears before it than his courage begins to ooze out of him, and you have him not only telling the whole truth, but utterly confounding himself when he is in error. I believe that this would be a great advantage to the people of Ireland and to the Government of England. I want to know what mischief could arise from the appointment of such a Committee. An hon. Member has said that a Committee on this subject would create needless excitement in Ireland, and that enthusiastic gentlemen in that country might fancy that their views were about to be carried out. But are there not such things as newspapers and reporters? And the very first day of the exhibition of Irish witnesses would disabuse the people of Ireland. I believe that their particular views on tenant-right would come out correct before the Committee; and I believe also that my view would come out correct. I must say that I should have a peculiar satisfaction in examining an Irish witness on the subject. I cannot believe that any harm would arise from such an inquiry, but I can see a long vista of good. I believe that at the present moment the hon. Member for Dungarvan utterly misconceives the opinions of his own countrymen about tenant-right, and that the feeling really at the bottom of most men's minds when they talk about it pretty much warranted the use of the noble Lord's expression that "tenant's-right means landlord's-wrong." ["No, no!"] Aye, aye, you may say "No;" but that is the very feeling which I want to get out by means of a Committee. I believe that those Irishmen who talk about tenant-right wish really to divest the landlord of his land. They wish that the tenant should be placed in the position of his landlord; and thus what they call the right of the tenant would be nothing but the landlord's wrong. In this belief I may be mistaken; but, if so, I want a Select Committee to disabuse me. The noble Lord himself (Viscount Palmerston) is a great Irish landlord; he is one who, I believe, exhibits the qualities of an absentee landlord in the best possible light. I should like the landlords who live on their estates to show such an example as he does. What astonishes me is that all the misery inflicted on the people of Ireland should be put upon the back of England. It is caused by Irishmen. Who are the landlords that do the mischief? 616 They are Irish landlords. Well, then, do not turn round and say, as I have heard hon. Gentlemen do, that it is all owing to bad Government, There is not bad Government in Ireland. I am here, Sir, to maintain that the Government of Ireland is as good as the Government of England. ["No, no!"] You say "No, no," but I should like you to prove the contrary. As far as my knowledge of the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland goes, that law is not very different from the law of England. I want a lawyer to point out to me the peculiar difference between the two. I do not believe that difference is very great. In England the law of landlord and tenant works well. Why? Because the tenant in England is a provident man, who does not undertake to do what he cannot do. He does not bid against his neighbour for land and so put himself in great difficulty. He makes an agreement or contract with his landlord which he believes he can fulfil, and which he does fulfil. But the Irishman—I say it boldly, without meaning offence—is improvident in these matters; and the real cause of the misery of the Irish tenant is his own improvidence. There may be—doubtless there are—bad Irish landlords; there are bad English landlords; but I do not believe that the Irish landlords, as a race, are worse than the English as a race. England flourishes in spite of that relation subsisting between her tenants and her landlords, and I want to know why that relationship is not compatible with the same prosperity in Ireland. The cause of the mischief is, as I have said, the improvidence of the tenant in Ireland, who enters into a contract which he cannot fulfil. But, Sir, I return to the point from which I set out. I ask where is the harm of inquiring into this subject, and endeavouring to enlighten the whole nation on a matter which vitally concerns her interest? And I call on Her Majesty's Government to shake off the tremor which besets them on this occasion, and to have the courage and the honesty openly to avow what they intend to do. Let them not seek to be led by the House, but take the part, which their position gives them, of leading the House on a matter of such importance as the present.
§ MR. MONSELL
, who was received with loud cries of "Palmerston," said, that if the noble Viscount had shown the least symptom of rising, he (Mr. Monsell) would 617 not have interposed a single moment, With regard to the speech of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), as well as that of the hon. Member for Bodmin, he thought they both exhibited the great difficulty there was in controversy when the terms are not clearly defined. Both seemed to have a notion that the object of the Mover of this Committee was to try to introduce some extravagant notion about tenant-right.
§ MR. MONSELL
At any rate it was the meaning of the hon. Member for Bodmin; but the real fact was, that he was tilting against a shadow. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) was perfectly distinct and precise in the demand he made. What he said was this—that a Bill was passed by this House five years ago, on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell), and he wished for a Committee to inquire whether that Bill had worked well or not; and, if not, that we should endeavour to amend it, so that it might produce the results which the right hon. Gentleman said, when he proposed the measure, he expected from it. Extravagant views of tenant-right, such as prevailed some years ago, had passed away like the Communistic views of Louis Blanc and the men of his school. What his hon. Friend said was, that he desired to have leases in Ireland, and wanted to arrive at some system which would make it the interest of the landlord to give leases. Take the case of Scotland. Lord Campbell said it was naturally a barren moor, but long leases had made it one of the happiest and richest countries in the world. The object he and his hon. Friend had was to devise some means by which the same system could be introduced into Ireland with a like result. Well, then, who was there in that House, who could, with consistency, oppose this moderate demand for inquiry? The hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Colonel Greville) had already quoted a remarkable speech made by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), who, unless he went back from the opinions he then expressed, could not oppose the Motion. His right hon. Friend the former Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) had said that he wouldLeave to the tenant possession of the farm, when improvements had been made, till such a reasonable period had expired as might be considered a compensating period for those improvements,618 That was precisely the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), and if a Bill were introduced carrying out that suggestion, they would be perfectly satisfied. No less an authority than Judge Coleridge had laid clown the important principle contained in the following, with reference to a suit tried at Derby in 1851—It seems to me a not unreasonable custom that a tenant who is bound to keep his farm in a good and tenantable manner, according to the rules of good husbandry, should be at liberty to charge the landlord with a part of the expense of draining although that draining may have been done without the landlord's knowledge or consent.So that there did, even now, prevail, in some parts of England, the principle his hon. Friend advocated; and where could be the harm of MI inquiry us to whether the same system could not be adopted, and the avowedly unsatisfactory state of Ireland be dealt with? It was all very well for England to talk of "Rest and be thankful," or of the quieta non movere principle; but Ireland was in a condition at this moment so distressed as to render its contemplation in the highest degree painful. They had a population running away—a vast amount of capital (there his Friend the hon. Member for Bodmin was wrong) locked up in the banks, the land in a great measure undrained and insufficiently cultivated. Let them, therefore, join together, and devise some means by which these evils might be remedied, and the relations between landlord and tenant placed in a better position.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, there cannot be a subject of discussion more deeply interesting to this great assembly than one which is connected with the welfare of Ireland, because no man can deny that Ireland is a most important part of the United Kingdom, that the prosperity of Ireland must be an essential ingredient in the prosperity of the rest of the Empire, and that anything which shakes or mars it must materially affect the interests and well-being of the whole nation. But in discussing this question it is most important that our attention should be fixed upon leading and fundamental principles, that we should not be carried away by superficial notions, and that we should not attribute great effects to insufficient causes. Now, there was much in the speech of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) in which it is impossible for me to concur. It has been said by hon. Gentlemen who 619 have taken part in this debate that the Irish love justice. I agree with them, and I am sure that upon reflection the Irish nation would not wish that to be done which would be pregnant with injustice. Now, if there be one thing more than another which a nation in my opinion is bound to respect and regard, it is the rights of property, because upon those rights every man, however rich or however poor, must find it his interest to rest and to depend. And if laws are passed which infringe the rights of property, depend upon it that in the main those laws would be injurious to the nation in which they are passed, however tempting and apparent may he the advantage which for a time may be expected to arise from their operation. Now, Sir, I cannot bring my mind to the conviction that there can be any justice, and therefore that there can be any permanent advantage in doing that which the hon. Member for Dungarvan pointed at in the latter part of his speech—namely, giving to one man the right of determining what should be done with respect to another man's property. The hon. Member said—as I understood him—that in his opinion the veto of the landlord ought not to be sufficient to prevent the tenant from making unauthorized improvements upon the property of the landlord, but that some tribunal should be created—quarter sessions, or some other, I forget what was passing in his mind—which should determine as between landlord and tenant what changes—for I will not adopt the word improvements, for they may not be improvements—but what changes the tenant should make upon the landlord's property, and what should be the conditions of rent and of period of occupation which the tenant should be liable to and have a right to with regard to the landlord. Now it seems to me that an arrangement of that kind would violate the fundamental principles of justice.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The noble Lord is in possession of the House, and if the hon. Member has been misunderstood he will have the power of explanation after the noble Lord.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
No one would regret more than I should having misunderstood or unintentionally misrepresented what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I accept with pleasure his disclaimer 620 of the opinions which I conceived he had meant to express. But I have been quoted by him and other hon. Members as having made the assertions which many have taken objection to, that the right of the tenant was the wrong of the landord. Now, that is not what I said. What I stated upon the occasion to which I refer was this—that tenant-right, as I apprehend it to be understood in many parts of Ireland, was the landlord's wrong, and the tenant-right to which I then alluded was the right—I have just been discussing—proposed to be conferred upon him to deal with the property of the landlord without his consent and against his consent. That I consider to be the wrong of the landlord, especially when it is coupled with a reserved permission that, after a certain period, the tenant is to have the power to compel the landlord to pay for the changes which the landlord would not have made, and which he objected to being made at the time when they were made. Now, Sir, great complaints have been made, and in many respects justly, about the tide of emigration which has set from Ireland towards the shores of America. But how any change in the relations of landlord and tenant is to check that emigration has not to my mind been satisfactorily explained by anybody who has taken part in this debate, and least of all by the hon. Member who said that the great effect of the change contemplated would be to enable the small tenants to make improvements upon their holdings. Now, it has been well observed that no great agricultural improvements can be made except upon large holdings and with large capital. Everybody knows that the great majority of the tenants of Ireland have but small holdings of some five, ten, or fifteen acres, nor have they capital to improve any larger quantity of land which they might hold. But what does that condition of Ireland arise from? It is not from the mis-government of England. England has nothing to do with the subdivision of holdings, by which an immense and—as many people have thought—a redundant population has been created in Ireland. It arose from the very cause which is now held out as the remedy of the evils complained of—it arose from comparative fixity of tenure. It was fixity of tenure which led to the multiplication of holdings, to the immense population, and to the comparative backwardness of agriculture in Ireland. It is the long leases granted in the last century 621 for sixty-one years and three lives—lives which had the peculiar property of enduring for an immoderately long period—lives which frequenly outlasted the sixty-one years—that created the evil. The occupying tenants who held under those leases were the least improving people in the world—they never improved—and I can say from my experience that when leases of that sort fell out, and those who held them became tenants at will, it was then they began to improve, assisted, no doubt, in some degree by their landlords, but they had a spirit of improvement inspired into them which they never had at any period of the long holding, which might be compared to fixity of tenure, and which was greater than the thirty-one years lease that the hon. Member for Dungarvan said was sufficient time for any improvement the tenant might make. Now, Sir, I hold that to establish that which is commonly called tenant-right—namely, to give the tenant the power of making alterations without the consent of the landlord, and even against his consent, and then of charging the landlord arbitrarily with the cost of those alterations which he never wished to be made, would be a great injustice, and, in many cases, would really amount almost to a confiscation of the landlord's property. But, upon the other hand, it is no doubt to the advantage, not only of Ireland, but of the United Kingdom, that encouragement should be held out to the tenant to make those real improvements which, according to the practice in Ireland, the landlord is not in the habit of making, as the landlord here is. No doubt for that purpose the tenant should have security that upon a change of occupation he should be reimbursed for improvements of a certain kind which he might have made upon the land which he holds. But then I say that the fundamental basis of that right ought to be mutual agreement and consent, and when hon. Gentlemen say that these agreements are not made I really cannot imagine why. It seems to me to be the natural course of affairs between landlord and tenant, that if the latter should wish to make material improvements either in buildings, drains, or fences, or any other agricultural improvements, he should go to his landlord and say, "The holding which I have wants these alterations, which you do not like or cannot afford to make. They will improve the estate. Well, then, I will make them, provided you, in the event of your turn- 622 ing me out within a certain period before I have been reimbursed by the length of my tenancy, will repay mo a certain portion of my expenses before I quit your farm." What reasonable landlord would object to that? And what reasonable tenant would ask for more? Such an arrangement would be sufficient to provide for the improvement of the land, and adequately to guard the rights of property on the one hand, and the just expectations of the tenant on the other. Well, Sir, that was the principle of the Act of I860. It was the result of long discussions in this House—of several Bills that were brought in, which were modified and altered, but did not succeed. We did bring in that Bill in 1860 which passed into a law, and which provided for mutual and spontaneous agreements between landlord and tenant, calculated, we thought, to secure the rights of property on the one hand, and on the other to encourage the agricultural improvements of which every one were necessary to the prosperity of Ireland. We are told that Act has not produced the results we were entitled to expect from it. That is a fair and legitimate subject of inquiry. We can have no objection to an inquiry relative to that Act. Such an inquiry has a distinct object, and might, I think, be concluded within a reasonable period. The larger inquiry proposed by the hon. Member for Dungarvan, which embraces the whole arrangements of landlord and tenant, and all the laws of Ireland belonging to these relations, would be an inquiry of almost interminable length, and could not be expected to conclude in any reasonable time. The point of difficulty;—the point that requires investigation—is why that Act, with every appearance of being calculated to promote the tenant farmers' advantage, should have failed to do so. What are the circumstances which have prevented landlords and tenants from entering into the engagements contemplated by that law? Is it because the tenants, discouraged, have not made the application, or because the landlords have failed to enter into such engagements when applied for? What are the difficulties of detail or arrangement which tend to embarrass the operations of the Act? If there be such difficulties, let them be stated. We should be most happy to adopt any change consistent with the principles I have mentioned calculated to give to that Act an effective and real operation. Well, Sir, if 623 the hon. Member for Dungarvan would consent to allow us, instead of the Motion which stands in his name, to move the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the operation of the Act of 1860, we should be perfectly ready to do so; and if the Committee contained good cross-examiners, so much the better. No doubt it would bring out results that would tend to the advantage of the country, and if so it would be satisfactory to the Government and every person interested in the welfare of Ireland. I object to the extended Motion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, which would embrace so wide a range that we could not expect it could be completed within any reasonable period of time, and which, with his understood objects, would tend to establish principles to which I could not agree; but if he will consent to our substituting a Committee such as I have chalked out, to inquire into the operation of the Act—["Acts"]—well, the Acts of 1860, I should hope that would be satisfactory as showing a desire on the part of the House to investigate the causes which have prevented the development of agricultural prosperity in Ireland. And if the Committee can suggest any arrangement that may tend to mitigate existing evils and promote improvement we should be most happy that such a result had attended their labours, and be thankful to the hon. Member for bringing the subject before the House and giving us the opportunity of doing that which conduced to the public advantage.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that he wished, before saying how he received the proposal of the noble Lord, first of all to offer an explanation as to two statements made by the noble Lord. The noble Viscount had misconceived his meaning when he said that he would refer the question of rent to any tribunal. He had never said or supposed anything of the kind. Nor did he insist on leases of thirty-one years as satisfying every requirement of the tenant. He had expressed no opinion whatever on the point; all he asked was for some system that would encourage landlords to give leases, of whatever duration. As to the proposal made by the noble Lord, he in all frankness accepted it—that the Acts of 1860 should be referred to a Select Committee, with the intention to see why they had failed to work, and how they could be improved for the advantage of both landlord and tenant.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, he was very glad 624 that the noble Lord had made so reasonable a proposition. He had himself suggested the very same proposal to his hon. and learned Friend, and he had thought of proposing it as an Amendment at an earlier period of the evening. The Amendment he should have moved was in these words—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Act of 1860, and whether that Act could be amended in any and what respect.Such a Committee would enable them to get into the whole question. What he wanted was to ascertain how they should provide compensation to tenants for unexhausted improvements. He hoped this Committee would have men placed on it who, as his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) expressed it, would really eviscerate the matter.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
It is of great consequence that the House should know exactly what is proposed. I have my own opinion on the subject, and I have only to say this—those who think the very awful facts which the hon. Member for Dungarvan truly described as existing in the South and West of Ireland are to be obviated by an Act of Parliament are labouring under a delusion. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Scully) who understands the question, spoke of the Act of 1860 in the singular number, and now let the House exactly understand what is to be done. The Act, which might be regarded as a consolidation of the law of landlord and tenant, was prepared by the late Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Mr. Napier), aided by one or two other Gentlemen who understood the subject. They failed in carrying that measure, but it was afterwards carried by the practical good sense of the then Attorney General, Mr. Deasy. That Act was the result of years of inquiry in the time of Sir Robert Peel—the Devon Commission; in which 120,000 questions were asked. Every Act of Parliament passed on the law of landlord and tenant from the time when the Saxons first landed in Ireland down to the date of that Act was repealed, and the whole law was put into one Act. There was substantially no difference between the law of landlord and tenant in England and Ireland. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) would not establish a set of laws for one part of the country and another for another, and he was equally 625 confident that so enlightened a politician would not wish to contradict the principles of free trade in Ireland. I never could understand the policy of the statesmen who would seek to restore harmony between all parts of the United Kingdom by establishing differences between each part. I hope we shall have a law upon the principle of the Act which has been passed, giving every liberty of contract and removing every disability, which I think has been done already. But I trust we shall not, under any mistaken notions of relieving disability, give power to one to decide what another must do. I would entreat the House if it consents to this Committee to appoint one which understands the subject. If a Committee should sit down to overrule the present law, they will not only do no good, but inflict injury. It is a specific question to consider whether an Act of Parliament lately passed has been useful, and the inquiry may be brought to a safe if not to a satisfactory conclusion within a limited space of time. I think the Committee will speedily ascertain whether the last Act was useful, because it appears that no one cared anything about it. That which did not work could do no harm. I cannot help congratulating the hon. Member for Bradford on his manly and sincere speech, in which he informed the noble Viscount at the head of the Government that unless he consented to the appointment of this Committee, he (the hon. Member) and the important section of the House influenced by his ability and eloquence, would transfer their allegiance to the rising star of the Whig party, and were prepared to make the first Minister of the Crown the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who began the other night by making a statement of the principles which would recommend him to the party to which the hon. Gentleman belongs. He wished to call attention to the fact that the word "Acts" had been used in the Amendment, whereas he (Mr. Whiteside) believed, from what had fallen from the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Scully), that the proposed inquiry was only intended to refer to one Act, the 23 & 24 Vict. c. 153, which had reference to the tenure and improvement of land in Ireland.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, it was not for him to settle the form of the Motion. That duty lay between the noble Viscount and the hon. Member for Dungarvan.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he understood 626 that the noble Viscount and the hon. Gentlemen near him had settled the exact terms in which they thought the inquiry should be pursued. The question raised by the Motion about to be put from the Chair was whether the House intended to go into the whole question of the law of landlord and tenant, or whether they would confine the inquiry to one Act, relating to the tenure and improvement of land. If it were intended that the working of more than one Act should be inquired into, then he as well as the noble Viscount would be much mistaken if any termination would be brought to the inquiry by the end of the summer. If the inquiry were limited to the question they had been discussing it would be a useful inquiry.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
said, if the inquiry were to be made into the Act of 1860 that would fully meet the original Motion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, because the Act of 1860 was the code which constituted the law relating to landlord and tenant in Ireland. It would be idle to take objection to the original Motion in order to substitute that which would be exactly the same thing expressed in other words. He did not think there was any doubt as to what the noble Lord meant, as he was most clear, as he invariably was, in his expressions. The noble Viscount said if the Act which passed in 1860, regulating the mode by which agricultural lands might be let, had proved a failure, that would be a fair subject of inquiry. He (the noble Viscount) said the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire) might have an inquiry into the causes which led to the failure of the working of that Act, and that wa3 what the House distinctly understood should be the form of the inquiry. If the inquiry were to be in any other form than that, let them have the original form proposed by the hon. Member for Dungarvan.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, there could be no doubt that the Act passed by Mr. Cardwell was the Act under discussion; but on reference to the debates of 1860 it would be found that two Acts were brought forward together, and considered together, and it would be exceedingly difficult for the Committee fairly to consider the first Act without having the second also under their consideration.
said, the opinion of the hon. Gentleman who had just down was not the opinion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who had ex- 627 pressed his unwillingness to disturb the present law relating to landlord and tenant; and he (Lord Naas) thought the arguments of the noble Lord perfectly conclusive. The noble Lord said that a certain Act had passed in 1860, and that the failure of that Act would be a legitimate subject of inquiry.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Another Amendment proposed,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Acts of 1860 upon the relations of Landlord and Tenant in Ireland,"—(Viscount Palmerston,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Another Amendment proposed,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Act 23 and 24 Vic. c. 153, on the Tenure and Improvement of Land in Ireland,"—(Viscount Palmerston,)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
Words added:—Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Ordered, That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Act 23 and 24 Vic. c. 153, on the Tenure and Improvement of Land in Ireland.
And on Thursday, April 27, Committee nominated as follows:—
Mr. MAGUIRE, Mr. Secretary CARDWELL, Lord NAAS, Sir ROBERT PEEL, Mr. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD, Mr. LOWE, Mr. HUNT, Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Lord CLAUD HAMILTON, Colonel GREVILLE, Sir EDWARD GROGAN, Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN, The O'DONOGHUE, Lord DUNKELLIN, Mr. CAIRD, Mr. GEORGE, and Mr. BAGWELL:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.