MR. MAGUIRE, M. P.
, has given notice that, on the meeting of Parliament in February next, he will move for a Select Committee of the House to inquire into the management of the Estates of certain London Companies.
As the present Government are pledged to bring in a good Land Bill, the Tenants of the London Companies should get up all the information they can to enable Mr. Maguire to bring their case specially before the House. Much has already been done by the Memorials of the Magherafelt people to open the eyes of the English and Scotch Members, to the grievances of the Company's Tenants, in not getting what the Crown originally intended they should get—namely, Perpetuity Leases, at Moderate Rents.
The Companies are now swallowing up the Tenant-right by increased Rents, and draining £100,000 a year out of the County to be spent in London—thus realizing the worst features of absenteeism.
The Tenants on these Estates have a right to ask now for that which has been so long denied them, and, if they ask for it, Parliament will give them redress.
The Government have the power, and, it is believed, the will, to buy up the interest of the Companies and give the Tenants Perpetuity Leases on paying a small sum for interest on the money advanced. It is well known that this is Mr. Bright's plan, who is now a leading Member of the Cabinet. Thirty-five years would thus make all the Company's Tenants Owners in Perpetuity, Free of Rent for Ever. This plan would be similar to the lending of money by the Board of Works, that is to say, thirty-five years to pay back both the principal and interest.
For example, if the purchase money of a Tenant's farm would come to £300, and if the Treasury advanced that sum to pay the Company, the Tenant could repay the Treasury both principal and interest by paying an instalment of £15 each November for thirty-five years, and he would have his Rent to assist him in making up this sum. In nearly every case the present Rent would pay the yearly instalment.
The matter is now taken up in Parliament by a Member from the South of Ireland, as the Members for Derry would not do it; but, on the contrary, they did all in their power in May, 1867, to oppose and defeat the Memorial of the Tenants of Magherafelt. The Estate of the Marquess of Waterford was originally the property of one of the London Companies, and is now about to be Sold in the Landed Estates Court. The Tenants on this Estate should Petition Parliament to advance the money to purchase up the Property, 698 and a Memorial addressed to Her Majesty's Lords of the Treasury on the subject, will receive great consideration.
Mr. Maguire requires full information from all the districts of the County; and any information or correspondence addressed to Mr. Glover, Solicitor, Magherafelt, will be immediately attended to, and received with thanks. Every Tenant should now be at work, and give every information in his power.
§ 21st December, 1868.
§ He (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) thought he had now shown how that Motion for a Royal Commission had assumed its present shape. His hon. Friend had described the first arrangement between the Crown and the Corporation with respect to the plantation of Ulster; but he had said nothing about the O'Neils, the Tyrones, and others, who, having been in rebellion, were driven into the woods and wilds; and the country being in a state of devastation and ruin, it became necessary that some parties should be found who would bring it into cultivation. It was true that the charter of the Corporation had been seized by the Star Chamber, and they were mulcted in £70,000; but they afterwards had the charter restored, and they paid £10,000 to free them from that charge of £70,000. He did not, wish, however, to go back so far into history, and he was surprised that the hon. Gentleman had done so; but it must be admitted that the Irish Society had succeeded, by means of the London companies advancing money, in bringing the northern part of Ireland into a state of cultivation and of prosperous industry. Great misapprehension prevailed in regard to the Irish Society. The Motion before the House was ambiguously drawn; it said the Irish Society were simply trustees, and had not fulfilled their trust; and throughout his speech his hon. Friend had carefully guarded himself from saying what the Irish Society's trust was, and for whom they acted as trustees. He entirely differed from his hon. Friend's opinion that the Irish Society had been of no benefit to the North of Ireland. With respect to the 1,500 acres of land called the Sheriff's Mountain, about 150 years ago the Bishop of Derry managed to get hold of those 1,500 acres, and he let them at a cheap rent to the Corporation of Derry. That land belonged to the Irish Society, who were kept in ignorance on the matter; but when the Corporation of Derry sought to obtain a renewal of their lease on the same terms the Bishop wanted 699 higher terms; whereupon the Corporation informed against the Bishop and laid the transaction before the Irish Society, who came again into possession of their lands and recompensed the Corporation of Derry. That was the history of the transaction. The Irish Society had at all times been placed in a most difficult position. [Mr. MAGUIRE: Hear, hear!] Its organization was exactly the same now as it was at first. The Governor must be an Alderman, and is elected annually by the Court of Common Council, in open court, while the Deputy Governor, who is not an Alderman, is elected for one year only by the Irish Society, and approved by the Common Council. So that the Governor can at any time be called to account if he have not acted impartially and in accordance with his duty. The original charter was granted by James I.; it was seized by the Star Chamber in the reign of Charles I., a fresh charter was granted by Charles II., and under the latter charter the society now acted. In 1613 the lands were divided into twelve portions, and the twelve London livery companies each drew by lot for a portion; but the Cities of Londonderry and Coleraine and the fisheries and the townlands were declared to be indivisible, and were not divided on that occasion. Several of the companies had sold their allotments—the Haberdashers' Company sold theirs to the Beresford family, the Goldsmiths' Company sold theirs to the Earl of Shelburne, and the Vintners' sold theirs to Mr. Conolly, but most of the City companies still retained the apportionments allotted them. The Irish Society devoted for some time nearly the whole of the proceeds of the rents of the towns and fisheries to improvements in Londonderry and Coleraine. At one time there was a division of what was called a surplus among the companies; but some thirty years back the Irish Society decided that they would carry out greater improvements at Londonderry and Coleraine and not divide for the present any further sum among the City companies. Then in the year 1838 a lawsuit occurred with the Skinners' Company; and by the judgment of the House of Lords on appeal it was distinctly stated that the Irish Society held a trust for public as well as for private purposes; that there was no power (except the Crown and the Corporation of the City of London) to call 700 them to account for carrying out their trust, and that they themselves were the judges of the mode in which they should carry it out; and that it rested upon their discretion how far they would expend the surplus rents on improvements in the towns of Londonderry and Coleraine. What had been the result? Why, that Londonderry from that time had increased enormously, and had been immensely improved. It was said it had not advanced at the same rate as Belfast. But the situation of the two cities was very different, the distance of Belfast from Liverpool being 158 miles, while that of Londonderry was 245 miles from that port. The Irish Society had greatly promoted the improvements which had been carried out in Londonderry. They had contributed £3,000 to the waterworks, so as to enable the Corporation of Derry to supply the inhabitants with water free from charge; they had granted a sum of £10,000 to the Bridge Commissioners, to be paid at the rate of £1,000 a year, for freeing the bridge from toll; and, when in 1864 the Corporation of Derry had obtained an Act of Parliament to make new streets and other improvements, the Irish Society not only gave the land required for the new street, but contributed £5,000 towards the improvements, and also £1,000 towards the new market. They had, in order to develop the trade of the port, aided the Port and Harbour Commissioners by grants amounting to £7,000 since 1857, towards the formation of the various quays, the graving dock, the tidal basin, the patent slip, and other improvements in the harbour. And they had subscribed £1,000 towards the Magee College, and endowed there a chair of Natural Philosophy, with £250 a year, besides giving £250 a year towards the general expenses. They had also recently founded a commercial school at Foyle College, with five exhibitions of £50 each to Trinity College, Dublin, and had contributed to a large number of schools and educational establishments. It was a principle of the Irish Society not to carry out any of the improvements themselves, but to advance money for the purpose, and to insist that the works should be constructed in the most thorough and effectual manner. It was true the Irish Society was a shifting body, as it always had been since its 701 creation; but after full consideration of the subject, having himself been a member more than once, he had come to the conclusion that it was for the interest of Ireland that the society should not be a permanent body. A small body constituted as the Irish Society was, if permanent, would be very open to jobbery. He had watched the speech of the hon. Gentleman, and he had never once hinted that during the long-continued control of the Irish Society its members had in any way jobbed either for their own benefit or for that of their families. It was true, as the hon. Gentleman had stated, that the members of the society go over to Ireland, inspect the various improvements that are being carried on, receive deputations, and after the business had been completed, perhaps, make a short trip through the country. But he forgot to add that this was at their own expense. And it was for the interest of Ireland that a large number of persons connected with England should visit it, and anything that could induce a greater stream of English gentlemen, even if they were London tradesmen—though that was sometimes received with a sneer, but he would not further allude to the matter—could not but contribute to the advantage of both countries. It was true the trades had changed in Londonderry. There was once a very active trade there known as that of "sewed muslin," which had been superseded; but even his hon. Friend had alluded to the large factories occupying so prominent a position in Derry which employed several thousand hands in the manufacture of shirts. He had himself been delighted to visit one factory in which 400 sewing machines, all worked by steam power, were employed in a manner that reflected great credit on the enterprise and energy of those who conducted it. He felt confident that the Irish Society never wished to engross the credit of the great improvements that had been made in Londonderry, the population of which had increased from 14,000 in 1841 to 20,500 in 1861, and was now estimated at 24,000. Coleraine had been alluded to, and it had been asked why the improvement in its condition had not been as great as in Londonderry? But it should be borne in mind that the River Bann was very different from the Foyle, which was a magnificent river thirty-one feet deep at high water, and from twelve 702 to fourteen at low water, and that vessels of large size could come up to the quays. The Bann, on the other hand, had a bar at its mouth, which impeded the navigation, but great works were now being prosecuted for its removal, and the Irish Society had voted £10,000 for that purpose, to be given in sums of £'1,000 a year. The people, however, who were most interested in the works, and who had raised money by debentures for carrying them on, preferred that the society should pay down £3,000 at once, perhaps thinking that if the works were advancing successfully they could come to the society again. The Irish Society had expended£2,500 in erecting the town hall of Coleraine, and had recently built extensive schools and teachers' residences, at a cost of nearly £4,000, for the education of 400 children free of charge, and he (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) had had much pleasure in being present at the opening of these schools in the summer of 1868; the society had also contributed £1,000 and £200 a year to the Coleraine Academical Institution. There was one great advantage connected with those places, which his hon. Friend had thrown in parenthetically, but which he thought worthy of more prominent mention, and that was that peace and order were to be found there, security and quiet possession were enjoyed by the owners of property—advantages not to be found in every part of Ireland at the present moment. Well, that order and security had been in a great measure created by the connection between those two places and the City of London. It was often said that the Corporation of London reaped great advantages from these large estates and these towns. But the Corporation of the City of London proper had never advanced one shilling for the estates or for carrying the improvements into effect, nor had it ever received one shilling profit therefrom; it was the London companies who had been assessed by the City of London for these purposes; and the arrangement between the Crown and Corporation was to this effect, that while the companies should find the money the Corporation should regulate the government of the estates. It was in no niggardly spirit of making profit that the engagement was undertaken by the City of London. There was no question of gain with the Irish So- 703 ciety—they were merely trustees for carrying out a great trust not for their personal benefit, but to promote the prosperity of the North of Ireland. The Irish Society, therefore, could not be charged with interested motives—they worked in the most unselfish spirit. The hon. Gentleman had moved for a Royal Commission on the ground that there were complaints against the society; but he did not state that those complaints had come from any official body in Ireland. Complaints might be made against any body of men, no matter how faithful to their trust; and when it was said that if the management of the society was good they would have nothing to fear from a Royal Commission, that seemed to him verymuch like the consolation of a lawyer to a man put on his trial, that as he was innocent he need not be concerned about the result, for a trial would only clear up his innocence at once and for ever. But the Irish Society and those who made the complaints were not on a footing of equality, and he strongly objected to the granting of a Royal Commission of Inquiry in their case. His experience led him to believe that no specific charges could be brought, and that the whole of the opposition to the society consisted of indefinite grumbling. He should like, therefore, to hear from the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether any complaints had reached him as to the mode and manner in which the Irish Society had exercised their trust. No such complaints he believed had ever been made, and if there had been any they had certainly not been transmitted by him to the Irish Society, who were the parties most directly interested in the matter. This being so, it was certainly placing the society in a false position for the hon. Member for Cork to come down to the House and make charges against it which had until that night not even been mentioned, and upon the faith of these charges to ask the House to grant a Royal Commission. The defenders of the society could not be expected adequately to reply to such accusations, made suddenly and without warning. Much had been said respecting the merits of perpetuity leases, and he was ready to meet the arguments based upon that system at once. He had no hesitation in declaring boldly that perpetuity leases, whether in Ireland or elsewhere, 704 were a curse, rather than a blessing. The only effect of such leases was to divorce the landlord from the land, to take away any interest he might have in the management and improvement of the estate, and to prevent him exercising that control over its cultivation which was most beneficial both for the landlord and tenant. In the town of Derry, for instance, the stranger would come upon dilapidated buildings, and if he asked for information upon the subject he would most likely be told that they were the result of the management of the Irish Society, whereas the real truth was that they were the result of perpetuity leases, over which the society had no control. In fact, the perpetuity leases might be picked out by the tumble-down houses and dilapidated homesteads which characterized that holding. There could be no greater mistake than to imagine that perpetuity leases contributed to the improvement of a holding. It was perfectly correct to say that the Irish Society would not grant perpetuity leases; but, at the same time, it was only right to mention that they had no stated rule for restricting the number of years of a lease. They had been in the habit of granting them for so long a period as eighty years, and were prepared still to grant them for long periods should a case be made out making it desirable to do so. It was the custom of those representing the society in Ireland to hear deputations courteously, but never to grant the requests made or carry out any resolution whatever before their recommendations had been reviewed by the chamber in England. This prevented their being overcome by the urbanity of their Irish suitors. He felt that this was no ordinary Motion. He felt that if the Government agreed to it at the present time its effect would be very much to prevent the progress of those improvements which were now being carried out so successfully under the auspices of the society. Confidence would be shaken in the society, and people would be apt to imagine that it would not long remain a permanent body. Moreover, the carrying of such a Motion just now would excite undue hopes, not only among the tenantry of the Irish Society but among the tenants of the livery companies and of the landed gentry having estates in the neighbourhood. 705 At present even the one idea of the tenants of the district was to become possessed of the land beyond the control of the landlord. He maintained that before the Irish Society was placed upon its trial, as was proposed by this Motion, it should be asked to give explanations respecting its management. The Irish Society was not afraid of inquiry; it was ready, as it always had been, to make a full disclosure of its affairs and defend its expenditure, which had occasionally been augmented by law charges incurred in defence of its rights. The explanation of those expenses was that for centuries the society had been obliged to defend its rights in courts of law—rights which had been assailed by persons who happened to have the money necessary for raising such actions. For instance, the income from the salmon fisheries of the Bann and the Foyle fell from £1,000 a year to about half that sum through the depredations of poachers, and the society had to prosecute. Now poachers in the case of Irish fisheries were not of the class of English poachers of game; they were men of wealth, and when prosecuted they contested the right of the society to the exclusive possession of the salmon. Sometimes the society hit a friend and sometimes a foe. Once they prosecuted an hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Hervey Bruce), who thought he had a right to plant a few stakes in the river. Expense, then, had been incurred in this way, but the revenue from the fisheries had risen to something like £4,000 a year. Another heavy expense arose in connection with the fort and lands of Culmore. It had been part of the original arrangement between the society and the Crown that the society should pay the Governor of Culmore £200 a year, besides allowing him to enjoy the lands in the vicinity of the fort, consisting of about 300 acres which were vested in the society, the Crown appointing the Governor. In 1690 the fort was in ruins, and when Colonel Michelmore asked the society to recommend him for the appointment, the society concluded that a ruined fort needed no governor, and petitioned the Crown accordingly. Still, down to very recent times, there had been a Governor of Culmore Fort appointed by the Crown who had received £200 a year from the society and enjoyed the 300 acres of land without even being required to know the 706 geographical position of Culmore. In 1856 the Earl of Strafford, the last holder of the sinecure, being old and infirm, he (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) with other members of the society waited on Lord Palmerston then Prime Minister. Need he say the deputation was received most courteously. Lord Palmerston heard their case with great patience, and although he could not, of course, commit himself to the society's view of the matter, he promised to give special attention to the whole subject. His manner was so frank and courteous that the deputation feared the result; but in 1860, when the Earl of Strafford died, the Governorship of Culmore was put an end to, and the society was thus saved its £200 a year. But what of the lands? The Government drove a bargain with the Irish Society to pay £12,000 for them to the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods and Forests and Land Revenues. In order to pay that sum the Irish Society had to borrow money, and now they were indebted to that amount. The inhabitants of Londonderry had an idea that those lands did not belong to the Crown; and his own view was they were really a portion of the tract of land originally allotted by the Crown to the Irish Society, and that these 300 acres which had never ceased to be vested in the Irish Society together with £200 a year of the society's money were apportioned to maintain the Governor of Culmore Fort for the security of the town the Crown having the power to appoint the Governor, but having no right to any part of the lands. The Irish Society were most glad to get rid of the Governor, not on account solely of the £200 a year paid to him, but because the whole place was going to wrack and ruin; and since then they had constructed new waterworks for the town of Culmore, had built large schools, had contributed to the building of a church, had embanked the river, and were building a pier for steamers. The whole place wore a different aspect since the Governor had been removed, and the Irish Society had been able to carry out their plans, which they had been waiting to do for 150 years, and never had the opportunity until Lord Palmerston refused to renew the appointment of Governor of Culmore Fort. The Irish Society had always used their utmost endeavours to promote the prosperity of 707 Londonderry and Coleraine. At the present time steamers leave the Foyle once a week for Canada and once a week for New York, and twice a week for Liverpool, for Glasgow, for Morecambe, and for Belfast, returning an equal number of times from these places, and the whole of Londonderry was bustling with trade. There was the greatest difference between the aspect of the place now and that which it presented thirty years ago. This, therefore, was not the time to issue a Commission of Inquiry upon the random Motion of a Member from the South of Ireland. As to the sneer that the society was composed of traders, and that the people of Derry and Coleraine could do much better without the society's control, let it be remembered that the society spent six-sevenths of its income in Ireland, and by so doing had aroused the jealousy of the neighbouring landowners, because the Irish Society had acted as a spur upon them, and caused them to make improvements, which they would not otherwise have done. These gentlemen very naturally said—"It is all very well for you (the Irish Society) to spend all your money upon improving your estates; but we, who are simply landed proprietors, have to support ourselves and our wives and families out of the produce of our lands, and we cannot therefore afford to lay out so much capital upon our estates as you can upon yours." The Irish Society hit hard in many ways, and did not expect to receive honour in all directions; but they were satisfied with the result of their labours. Any one who compared Londonderry and Coleraine with what they were twelve years ago would be surprised by their rapid progress; and that was to be attributed to the enterprize and activity of the merchants of Derry and Coleraine, aided, in every way, by the Irish Society. These men were the descendants of those who, at great cost, had preserved order and peace in the district; and if similar peace and order could be introduced into the South of Ireland that would be better than attempting to teach the people of the North of Ireland what they could obtain from the Corporation of the City of London. The hon. Gentleman who had brought the matter forward might have found a much better field for his exertions in the work of preventing scenes of riot, disorder, and rowdyism 708 which occasionally occurred in a district with which the hon. Member was well acquainted. He called upon the Government not to be led away into attempting to deal impartially between two parties, one complaining and the other refusing, as if there was any equality between the Irish Society and the gentlemen from the South of Ireland.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
, as Member for the City of Londonderry, was most intimately connected with this subject, and he had great pleasure in supporting the Motion so temperately brought forward by the hon. Member for Cork. He believed that the time for inaction had passed, and that the time for action or at least inquiry had come. It was necessary to notice one or two points connected with the history of the Irish Society. When King James made up his mind to ask the City of London to help him in colonizing a considerable portion of Ulster, the City wisely inquired what facilities there were for colonization, and whether it would be wise and prudent to accede to the request? The result was a meeting between the Lords of the Privy Council and a number of the Common Council, and an agreement was drawn up by which the City undertook to encourage the plantation of a considerable portion of Ulster. Ultimately a charter was granted by the King, which was subsequently recalled by another King, which charter was again re-granted by the Protector, and ultimately Charles II. granted the charter of the 11th of January, in the eighteenth year of his reign, which was the present title-deed of the Irish Society. According to that charter, the society was formed for furthering the plantation which King James projected in Ulster, and for the better ordering, directing, and governing all manner of things for and concerning the said City and citizens of Londonderry, and the county of Londonderry, and the plantation to be made within the same, and the other businesses belonging to the same. He would say that, as a matter of law, the charter in itself imposed a trust upon the Corporation of London. This view was fully borne out by the decision given by the late Lord Lynd-hurst, in a suit brought at the instance of the Skinners' Company against the Irish Society for an account, on the 709 ground that the Irish Society was a trustee for the Skinners' Company among other London companies. The defence then urged was that the Irish Society were trustees not for the London companies, but for public objects; and on that plea the London companies were defeated, the decision receiving additional weight from the concurrence of Lord Campbell, Lord Langdale, and Lord Cottenham. The ultimate result of the decision was that the Irish Society were declared to be trustees for public objects, and that, after having satisfied these public objects within their discretion, the surplus ought to go to the London companies. But the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the affairs of the society, two of whom were Mr. Justice Patteson and Sir George Lewis, in their report said that if the Irish Society discharged their duties to the people with whom they were brought into privity and contact, it was utterly impossible that there should be any surplus at all. The objects for which they were trustees were so vast and various that they could never be satisfied by the funds at their disposal. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had said that no complaints had been made from Derry. This, however, he denied, for he himself was an incarnate complaint against the conduct of the society. He had been sent to Parliament for two purposes—amongst others to assist, first, in disendowing and disestablishing the Irish Church, and, secondly, to assist in disestablishing and disendowing the Irish Society; and though, as far as he was personally concerned, he would have been satisfied to postpone the lesser subject for a Session, no feeling of jealousy should induce him to withhold his support from the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Cork. Now, the very constitution of the society was radically bad and defective. The society consisted of a Governor, a Deputy Governor, and twenty-four assistants. Of these the governorship only was a life office, as was also that of secretary. Of the twenty-four assistants twelve retired every year, so that, as had been truly said, a man no sooner began to understand the business which came under his management than it was withdrawn from his control. But this shortness of office did not, as the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken seemed to imagine, 710 put jobbery out of the power of the assistants; it only gave them less time in which to perpetrate it. If they held their offices for life, they might job more leisurely, instead of hurrying over it as they were now compelled to do. Indeed, it appeared to be nothing short of a race for the Irish Society stakes, to be run within two years from the day of appointment to office. The result of this short tenure of office was, also, that the Governor and the secretary were absolute monarchs of the society. The Governor for the time being had the business almost entirely in his own hands; and, indeed, in former days, whenever a vacancy occurred in Derry or Coleraine, a resolution was almost invariably passed, advising the Governor to contest the seat, and to this resolution was invariably added a very agreeable rider—that the contest should be carried on at some one else's expense. But the society had so mismanaged their affairs that no one now-a-days could possibly stand a worse chance. Another reason, too, operated upon the people of Derry. They believed that a fluctuating body like the Irish Society was also open to the objection that the new members were enabled to disregard the pledges made by their predecessors. A citizen of Derry coming to London would see strangers, instead of the old familiar faces. When the members of the Irish Society were told of what the inhabitants of Derry had been promised, they said—"You are under a mistake. It was Jones, not Smith, who made that promise, and we cannot be bound by it." Now, if the society were a permanent body, possessing a knowledge of the locality, and of the wants, feelings, and interests of the people, such an excuse would not be possible. Another reason why the people of Derry regarded the Irish Society as totally unfit to discharge its duties was the absence of any proper guarantee for the selection of the best men to serve upon it. He did not wish to say a word against the City of London—for one reason, because all its Members sat on that side of the House, and also for the good service it had always done to the cause of civil and religious liberty; but its Common Council was not exactly an assembly of Solons, though probably the duty of consuming any surplus was one which they were eminently qualified to discharge. No doubt there were in 711 the society men fit to manage the affairs of any corporation, and among them his hon. Friend (Mr. Reed); but it by no means followed that the first twenty-four men taken from the Common Council would be the best men to discharge these duties. A deputation frequently visited Derry. That was right and proper enough—first, that the deputation might improve the people of Derry, and next that they might improve themselves—and they were more likely to get improvement than to bring it. The deputation met men of all classes and opinions, because on this question the citizens, whether Liberal or Conservative, were as one; they promised to do all that was good in the future, but when they returned to London they forgot all their promises. The Irish Society was an exception to the rule—Cœlum, non animum, mutant qui trans mare currunt;for when in Derry they were bursting with liberality, but in London they changed their minds, and the old Adam became too strong for them. In 1856 the Mayor, Aldermen, and burgesses of Derry presented a memorial to the society which stated the case in minimis. Notwithstanding, they said, the peculiar local advantages enjoyed by Derry, situated on the banks of a navigable river, and in the centre of rich and cultivated soil, inhabited by a peaceful and industrious peasantry, the City had not kept pace with others less favourably situated, and this was attributable not to the want of enterprize or the influence of race, but to the want of such a tenure of land as would encourage the investment of capital, particularly in manufacturing works. Through the liberality of Lord Donegal in granting perpetuity leases, Belfast had become very prosperous; Liverpool had grown rich under the same conditions, and the inhabitants of Derry asked for the same privileges. The result was that the Irish Society held a court in the Corporation Hall of Derry, at which nineteen members were present, Mr. Alderman Humphrey being Governor, and they undertook that renewable leases should be given upon payment of additional rent, according to the value of the land. The inhabitants were delighted, but the next they heard was that, on the return of the deputation to London, it had been found that the court was not properly constituted, and 712 thus the promise was not carried out. The people of Derry also complained that they had no control over the governing body, had no voice in their election, and also that the Corporation of Derry could not make the commonest by-law without the authority of the Irish Society. This was a real Irish grievance; and if the people of Derry were more clamorous than they were, instead of being peaceable and orderly, probably their complaints would have been listened to long ago. He admitted that the administration of the society had improved, and the length of the leases had been extended from sixty to eighty years; but while in London a man would be justified in building on land with a sixty or eighty years' lease, no man in Derry would do so if he could help it. The worthy Alderman who had spoken said that the Irish Society was a spur to other Irish landlords. The fact was that it was a beacon and warning to them; it was more niggardly than other landlords; and it was sufficient to tell a landlord—"The Irish Society won't do such and such a thing," for then he did it directly. The great ground of complaint was connected with the case of the leases. He did not refer to agricultural leases, but leases for the purpose of building mills, factories, mansions, and houses, and for making docks and those other improvements which a commercial town stood in need of. He did not attribute the prosperity of Belfast entirely to the perpetuity leases of Lord Donegal, because Belfast had great natural advantages, calculated to make it flourishing; but Derry might be made, as far as its geographical situation would allow, a rival for Belfast, if a system of proper leases were established. Another ground of complaint arose out of the mode in which the funds of the Irish Society were distributed. A friend of his had informed him that a great deal of dissatisfaction prevailed among the Roman Catholics of Derry in consequence of the society refusing to contribute any money for the new Catholic cathedral there. The society gave, it is true, £10 to the national school, but they alleged that by their charter they were debarred from giving money for religious purposes, unless they were Protestant purposes. Considering that the Catholics formed the great majority of the Irish people, he thought that the sooner a charter 713 which imposed such a restriction was abolished the better. The Presbyterians and Nonconformists equally complained that to them the Irish Society dealt out their funds with a niggard hand, though they were lavish in the extreme to their Episcopalian brethren. At the same time the religion and the education of the majority of the people were excluded from the purview of the society's charter. He had a right to ask the House to consider this question, and the Government—which had just introduced a great measure, calculated, he believed, to advance the happiness and prosperity of Ireland—ought to use the same unsparing hand in dealing with this matter, and should cut down that upas tree, under the shade of which the people of Derry had been languishing for so many years. He had no hesitation in supporting the Motion; and, believing that many abuses existed, and that the Irish Society had mismanaged the funds at their disposal, he hoped that the Government would give a distinct pledge that some redress would be afforded in a matter which, in the opinion of persons of all creeds and political opinions in Derry, required prompt investigation.
MR. PEEL DAWSON
said, that as he represented the district in which Londonderry and Coleraine are located, he could not refrain from giving expression to the views which actuated many of his constituents. In most of the arguments which had been used in support of this Motion he entirely concurred. He was quite ready to acknowledge the anomalous and unsatisfactory relations which for a considerable time had existed between the Irish Society and their tenantry in Londonderry county; and, in his opinion, something more stringent than a gentle remedy was required, for the local dissatisfaction was not only not on the wane but increasing. The general objects of the society's charter had long ago been carried out, and the question now was whether the funds should still be limited to the sustenance and extension of the same system. The property of the Irish Society had very considerably increased. The accounts, it was only fair to acknowledge, were yearly published and duly audited, and in February last they showed only a comparatively small sum remaining to the credit of the society, after all the charges and charities had been met. But there 714 was a very large expenditure in management, which either appeared unnecessary or required explanation. This had been inquired into by the Commission of 1854, and their explanations were explicit and peremptory. He could not conscientiously depart from the recommendations of the Commission for the following reasons:—There had not been sufficient encouragement under the head of building leases; there was great and confessedly just dissatisfaction with the constitution of the society itself; there was nothing about it of a permanent character except the Governor, who held office for life, and the clerk during pleasure. Even the Deputy Governor only held office for two years; and just as the knowledge he had acquired was becoming useful his connection with the society terminated, and the management of the trust was confided to other hands. The deliberate refusal of the Corporation of the City of London to re-construct the society some years ago on a more permanent basis had caused great dissatisfaction. The inattention paid in London to deputations from Ireland was also a source of local irritation. He had, therefore, no hesitation in saying that there was, on the part of his constituents, a strong desire that a great and stringent change should be made, by so constituting the trust under which this property was administered that at least the people of Londonderry and Coleraine should no longer have cause to complain. There was one recommendation of the Commission from which he must entirely dissent—the transfer of the management of these funds to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland for the time being. He was not now speaking of the eminent individual who fills the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland. If he were he would speak very differently. But he was speaking of the office which must necessarily be held by a political partizan, and a member of whatever Government holds the reins of power. The very suspicion of abuse should be avoided; and as often the best intentions were open to misinterpretation, he could not willingly consent to the accumulation of so much patronage in the hands of a Government official whose duties were so liable to change as to render him in a certain degree irresponsible. He would rather see the Irish Society re-constructed on a more liberal basis. If that did not 715 meet the views of the majority, he would recommend that the funds should be placed under the care and surveillance of the local authorities, the Corporation of Londonderry, and the Town Commissioners of Coleraine, who were elected by the suffrages of the inhabitants. The hon. Member had not included in the terms of his Motion the condemnation originally threatened of those other guilds and companies of the City of London which possessed large property in the county of Londonderry. If these companies had been included in the indictment, he should have considered it his duty to take a larger and more active part in the debate; but as both the towns of Londonderry and Coleraine were ably represented in that House he should leave the debate in its further progress to them. Doubtless, it would be more to the advantage of the district if the estates were held by private individuals; but still he was bound to acknowledge that the administration of the property had almost uniformly been conducted in a spirit of liberality and of proper consideration for the welfare and interests of the tenants. He would only say, in conclusion, that if there was a fairer and juster dispensation of the funds of the Irish Society for local purposes, he felt confident, from the unexampled progress made by Londonderry within the last fifteen years, that that City would attain to a pre-eminence in commerce second only to that of Dublin and Belfast, and worthy its historical name. If the hon. Member should divide the House on his Motion, he (Mr. Peel Dawson) should have great pleasure in going into the Lobby with him.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, the chief complaint of the Mover of the Motion was a want of consultation on the part of the Irish Society with the City of Derry, and those interested in its prosperity. This was an old universal complaint, which Ireland had a right to make in many respects, and particularly against the Treasury. In reference to lunatic asylums, valuation, river improvement, and other matters, the parties by whom the expense was to be borne were not consulted and knew nothing about the course to be pursued. The first intimation they generally received was an imperative order to raise a large sum of money for a particular purpose, advanced without their sanction 716 by the Treasury, and thus £3,000,000 have been imposed on Ireland for local taxation during the last thirty years. It was not necessary to go so far back as some of the speakers had done. The county of Londonderry, and the district adjoining it, had been left after the rebellion of the three Hughs—Hugh O'Neil, Hugh O'Donnell, and Hugh O'Doherty—a depopulated waste—not a house of any importance remained—there had been no cultivation of the soil for years, and had the City of London not come forward to colonize it, the country must have remained in this state of barbarism and desolation. The Irish Society found settlers and capital and converted the country into a state superior to any other part of Ireland. He had been an intimate friend of the late Alderman Humphrey, who had been Member for Southwark for many years, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. The Alderman had given up a great deal of his time to carry out, in the most favourable manner to Ireland, the objects for which this society was originally established, and had prepared a plan for disposing of the estates in the North which had been so highly improved; and after the famine had proposed to expend the produce in purchasing property in the West and there to carry out similar improvements. The Alderman had always received with good humour the grasping complaints of the City of Londonderry, and was much too sensible a man to attend to their preposterous demands. It had been stated in the debate that the Alderman had promised certain things which he had not performed. That assertion was perfectly unfounded. Although the meeting at Londonderry might not have been legal, Alderman Humphrey carried out every promise made at it—the extension of building leases, and new grants for the improvement of the City. The question, however, was what was the state of things now, and whether the society was discharging the duty with which it was intrusted; and he contended that Ireland ought to be grateful to the society, and particularly the county of Londonderry, and that the county and the country would have reason to deplore any legislative act which should terminate the existence of the society. The aspect of Londonderry was being changed by the construction of docks and quays and other improvements, all owing to 717 the liberal assistance of the Irish Society, whose estates brought in probably £12,000 a year, of which only about £600 was absorbed by the expense of the office in London and the journeys that it was thought necessary to make to Ireland. Of course, no ordinary landlord could afford to spend the difference between £12,000 and £600 in the improvement of the estate; and, remembering that the society did so, it was necessary to consider what would be the effect of carrying this Motion and of any action that might ensue from it. The object of the society was to increase as much as possible the resources of Ireland, and to improve the town under their management; and there was no difficulty in getting leases of sufficient length to encourage the erection of buildings necessary to the development of trade. He had no reason to believe that the policy of the society had been in any way changed under the successor of Mr. Alderman Humphrey (Sir William Rose). Almost every charge on the estate was borne by the society; it contributed to the support of all churches and schools, without favour or partiality; at least, he was not aware there was any limit to the amount that could be given to the Catholic churches. Complaints ought to be made in other quarters rather than against the Irish Society. His attention had been directed to an estate in the North of Ireland, the proprietor of which had drawn from it £1,260,000, and had never expended a penny in the neighbourhood. That would be a fair object of attack for the hon. Member for Cork, instead of singling out, as he had done, a body which he was hourly serving the country of which he was one of the representatives. He could not gather from the speeches made what was the object of the Motion, or what it was intended to do with the trust fund; and he could not see why an hon. Member (Mr. Dowse) should have sneered at Mr. Cox, than whom there never was a more attentive and honest Member. Admitting his own perplexity as to what should be done, and his readiness to acquiesce in any inquiry which the Government might think it well to institute of their own accord, he thought it would not be fair to the society to press this Motion, and he therefore advised its withdrawal.
§ MR. RUTSSELL GURNEY
, as being, by virtue of his office, a member of the 718 Irish Society, was in a position to lay some information before the House with reference to the manner in which that body discharged its various duties. The hon. Member who brought forward this matter had described the Irish Society as being merely trustees for public objects; but, in addition to discharging the duties of trustees for public objects, they had to deal with the surplus funds which remained over when the public j trusts had been satisfied, as the trustees j of the twelve companies whom they re-j presented. Their position as the representatives of the twelve companies had J been fully recognized by the learned Judge in delivering judgment in the suit which had been already referred to. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Dowse) had endeavoured to meet that point by referring to a Report of a Commission which sat upwards of fifteen years ago, in which it was stated that, if the public duties of the society were properly discharged, it was impossible that any surplus could remain to be applied to the use of the companies. But since the period when that Report was drawn up the circumstances of the society had greatly altered. They had then an income of only £7,000 per annum, and no doubt that sum might well have been expended in properly discharging their duties as public trustees; but their income had of recent years largely increased, and in a few years hence a very considerable surplus might be expected to remain after all the public trusts had been amply provided for. That surplus would not belong to either the public or the Corporations of Londonderry or of Coleraine, but to the twelve companies for whom the Irish Society were trustees. Having explained this part of the subject to the House, he should wish to advert to one or two other points which had been touched upon by hon. Members in the course of the debate. The real question before them was—Had the society fairly and honestly discharged the trust reposed in them by the terms of the original charter? He had been surprised to find the chief ground upon which they had been attacked was that they had confined themselves strictly within the four corners of the trust originally imposed upon them; and it certainly did not appear to him that they had deserved blame for having faithfully and honestly 719 conformed to the terms of the charter under which their property was vested in them. Even according to the statements of hon. Members opposite, it was evident that it was more than a century since the society had started on a new course, and from that period the prosperity of Londonderry had dated. It was a comfort to hear that the state of Londonderry was not so miserable as had been alleged by the hon. Member who brought forward this Motion, who affirmed that its deplorable condition was the result of the conduct of the Irish Society. In a recent speech the Mayor of Londonderry congratulated the Corporation upon the vast improvements that had been made in the condition of the City, and referred to the fact that large sums had been expended on building warehouses and manufactories, in building new streets, in making new quays—alarge proportion of the expenses of forming these latter having been contributed by the Irish Society—and in constructing new railways, which were brought into direct communication with the shipping. But while congratulating the City upon its commercial prosperity the Mayor did not forget to refer to the increased means which were afforded to its inhabitants for attaining literary and scientific information. It had been stated by some hon. Members that grants without measure had been made by the society to the Episcopalians, and. to the Episcopalians alone; but he would take the liberty of reminding them that no institution in Londonderry had received larger grants from the society than the Magee Presbyterian College. He had been looking over the accounts of the society for the last few years, and he found that during the past year the society had expended in Londonderry a sum of £2,369 upon schools; £1,300 upon charitable institutions and upon agricultural and farmers' societies; £9,657 for public improvements; and had contributed £1,200 towards the annual expenses of the Londonderry Corporation. While admitting that the time had arrived when it should no longer be permitted that the by-laws of the Londonderry Corporation could not take effect until they had been approved by the Irish Society, he thought that some slight control over the Corporation affairs should be permitted to the society in return for the sum they contributed to 720 the annual expenses of the Corporation. Such control could scarcely be objected to when it was recollected that, on one occasion, owing to the misconduct of the Corporation, their mace had been taken in execution, and had been redeemed at the expense of the society. Still, as a "sentimental grievance" was, by the custom of these days, regarded as more serious than any other, he should, as a member of the society, be perfectly willing to surrender the authority which it now exercised over the Corporation. He must say that he looked in vain for any fair grounds for removing the society from its office of trustee. Recollect that if it were so removed, other trustees would have to be appointed, for the ultimate owners of these funds were certain private guilds. If it could be shown that the Irish Society had not fulfilled its trusts it ought to be deprived of them; but he contended that a good case ought to be made out before that step was taken. Three years ago, when Mr. Kennedy moved for Returns in relation to the trust funds and the management of the society's estates, strong allegations were made against the society; but he had been rather amused to-night at finding that no quotation had been made from those Returns, and that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) and those who supported him had been obliged to go back to remote times. They could not rely on the present time to make out their case. The hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. Serjeant Dowse) attributed certain changes in the length of leases to the debate on Mr. Kennedy's Motion. It would have been very strange if there was any connection between that Motion and the change, seeing that the latter had occurred four years before the Motion was made. He believed he was justified in saying that those who managed the Irish Society did not shrink from inquiry; they did not oppose it; but they did most strenuously oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork, and the terms in which it was made, because both contained a foregone conclusion which there were no grounds before the House to justify.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he had listened with much interest to this debate, and in the few remarks he had to make on the subject before the 721 House he would endeavour to be impartial, in spite of the warning of his hon. Friend, who represented the City of London (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence). In the first place, he thought all parties were agreed that the Government and the House had a perfect right to direct an inquiry in this case, if the circumstances were such as to require it. He would not enter into the legal questions adverted to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Russell Gurney), but would at once take it for granted that the Irish Society was a public company, fulfilling a public trust, which the Commission that sat fifteen years ago, described as a public charity; and therefore he held that Parliament was entitled to have a new inquiry into the constitution, management, and proceedings of the society. Consequently, the question reduced itself to this—whether there was a real and evident necessity for the institution of such an inquiry, which was for a renewed inquiry in addition to the one already made by the able Commissioners of 1854? After looking at the whole subject, and listening very carefully to the debate, it seemed to him to be quite clear that there were anomalies and defects, partly, perhaps, in the management, but certainly in the constitution of the Irish Society. As to the question of leases, which was one of management rather than of constitution, it was not for him to pronounce any opinion as to the view taken by the Irish Society; but there could be no doubt that the system pursued in the matter of leases was far from giving satisfaction to the citizens of Derry, many of the most enterprizing of whom were of opinion that it was detrimental to the progress of that City. With respect to the defects in the constitution of the society, there were clearly some points that both sides of the House considered to call for a remedy. Both sides condemned the two years' tenure of office. He had gone carefully through the evidence taken by the Commissioners, in 1854, and he found that Sir Robert Fergusson and other gentlemen spoke strongly as to the defects in the constitution of the society. So, again, in regard to the control exercised by the Corporation of London over that of Londonderry. The historical origin of that control was, indeed, sufficiently clear. But the learned Recorder had himself spoken of it as an antiquated provision which it 722 was impossible to justify, and it was a matter that evidently called for remedy. Again, that was an important point brought under the notice of the House by the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. Serjeant Dowse)—namely, that the Irish Society was restricted from applying any part of its revenues to any object pertaining to the Roman Catholic population. That was a state of things which both sides admitted to be indefensible, though the historical origin of those restrictions was, as in the other case, well known; and he was far from censuring the Irish Society for acting, as they believed, within the four corners of their charter. He thought the House ought also to recognize the fact that the noble Lord who formerly represented Derry (Lord Claud John Hamilton), and his hon. and learned Friend by whom he was happy to say that City was now represented, took similar views in respect of certain of the anomalies and defects in the present system. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) in his able speech had pointed out that the Commission of 1854 found great faults with the past management of the society, and went so far as to recommend the winding-up of the society and the substitution for it of another body; but the Commissioners suggested a mode of constituting such body, which he believed had not been generally considered satisfactory. The House could not, therefore, conceal from themselves the difficulties that would be felt in substituting an entirely new constitution for that of the Irish Society. The very fact that an inquiry had fourteen years ago been instituted into the way in which the Irish Society discharged the duties of its position was in itself an argument rather against than in favour of further inquiry; and he would, without entering at greater length into the subject, state the views with respect to it which the Government entertained. They were of opinion that there were in connection with the society matters of serious importance which could not be allowed to continue much longer on their present footing, and that it would be their duty to look more closely than they had yet been able to do into the question. The Government, moreover, thought that it would be for them to consider before any legislation should arise on the subject of the Irish 723 Society, by way of improving its constitution or otherwise, whether any further formal investigation, in addition to the inquiry of 1854, was necessary for that purpose. There was no occasion for proceeding with undue haste in the matter, and it would be the duty of the Government to satisfy themselves, as to whether the various points in connection with the society to which attention would have to be particularly directed were already ripe for amendment, or whether an impartial inquiry by a Royal Commission would be, before proceeding to deal with them, desirable. The appointment of such a Commission, should it be deemed essential to issue it, the Government ought, he thought, to keep in their own hands, and he trusted that his hon. Friend the Member for Cork would be satisfied with the statement of their views on the question which he had made, and not press his Motion to a division.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, that not being a member of the Corporation of the City of London, he had not that knowledge of the subject which was possessed by his hon. Colleague. He had, however, listened very attentively to the present discussion, and he concurred, he must confess, in the opinion of his right hon. Friend who had just spoken, that the affairs of the Irish Society were in a state which justified a demand for some inquiry. He at the same time strongly objected to the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork, and especially to the foregone conclusion which it involved, and to many of the remarks that had been made in the course of the debate. He understood that if the Government ultimately deemed it necessary to institute an inquiry it would not be a hostile one, but a fair, disinterested, and judicial investigation. Many of the statements of the hon. Members for Cork and Londonderry (Mr. Maguire and Mr. Serjeant Dowse) were high-flown exaggerations that would not bear the test of examination—such, for instance, as that in which the hon. Member for Cork talked about the enormous expense of managing the estates in Ireland—a sum amounting to six figures; but that, in fact, was the accumulated sum of many years, and they all knew that quite small amounts thus accumulated swelled into a considerable total. Let the hon. Member for Cork add up the amount of his weekly washing bill for years together, and he would 724 be astonished at the result. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not go to a division, but would accept the proposal of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who promised, if necessary, to institute a fair discriminating judicial inquiry into the whole question.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
, in reply to the taunt of the worthy Alderman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) that he had endeavoured to take from the Irish Society a fishery which belonged to them, and had failed in the attempt, wished to say that he entirely denied the accuracy of the statement. He had never sought to take any fishery from the Irish Society and failed to do so. There was, indeed, a fishery which he said was his, and which the society contended belonged to them. His reply to them was that he was ready to contest the point in a court of law; and the result was that after the use of some such grand language as that in which the hon. Member had indulged that evening they retired from the controversy and left him in possession of the fishery. There were also other fisheries in question, with respect to which he was not quite sure that he would not go into a court of law with them, especially as they seemed, after the discussion of that evening, to be getting into a more shaky position. But the worthy Alderman went on to say that the landlords in the vicinity of the society's property looked upon them with jealousy because of the way in which they treated their tenants. If, however, the members of the society resided on their estates, instead of only visiting them for a day or two in the year and dispensing their hospitalities at Government House, they would see that the neighbouring landlords had no occasion to be jealous of them. He was aware that their charities were on a scale beyond that of which the resources of any private individual would admit; but the Irish tenants knew how to value their princely munificence for public ostentation as compared with the daily kindnesses received at the hands of the resident proprietors, and he for one should not be afraid of entering into competition with the society for a tenant. In former times the society had miserably failed in their duties as landlords in the towns. He was quite aware, however, that they had become more liberal as time went on, and he hoped if they re- 725 mained in possession of their property they would continue to improve. He had, he might add, listened with great attention to the able and temperate speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork, and agreed with much that had fallen from the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and he trusted that after that expression of opinion on the part of the Government the hon. Member for Cork would not press his Motion. If he were to do so many hon. Gentlemen who on another occasion would vote for it might decline to do so, in the present instance, because of the attack which was now being made on property in another direction, and under entirely different circumstances.
§ SIR FREDERICK HEYGATE
said, he thought the question was one into which politics did not enter. All persons who knew Ireland and the Irish Society, however convinced they might be, as he was himself, of the purity and honour of the gentlemen who composed the society, must come to the conclusion that, as at present constituted, it could not have a practically useful existence. The hon. Member for Cork had moved for a Royal Commission; but it should be remembered that such a Commission was actually appointed in 1854 to inquire into the matter. That Commission recommended that the days of the society should be numbered; but it had further recommended that the trust should be referred to the Lord Chancellor, who was, in fact, about the worst possible person to whom such a matter could be left. He was glad that the Government intended to take the course which the Secretary for Ireland had indicated. The Irish Society seemed to be nobody's child. The estates were said to be of no pecuniary interest to the London Corporation; and certainly in the county of Londonderry the desire to get rid of the society altogether was unanimous. He deprecated the harsh language which, in the course of the debate, had been applied to the society, because he believed that, whatever might be said of the gentlemen who composed it, they were actuated by a desire to discharge their duties so as to benefit the property under their control. He trusted that the hon. Member would now withdraw his Motion. There was one point to which he would like to direct attention, and that was the use to be made hereafter of 726 the funds of the society. It should be remembered that the Irish Society was not constituted only for Derry and Coleraine, but for the whole of the county of Londonderry.
§ MR. DEASE
said, he had great difficulty in making up his mind on this subject, and he certainly had not heard in the course of the debate any arguments which appeared to him to be conclusive against the Irish Society, while it was conceded on both sides of the House that the society was an extremely good landlord, and expended large sums for the purpose of promoting the peace and prosperity of the territory under its dominion. Under those circumstances he could not vote for the Motion, if it were pressed to a division, more especially as they had held the scales impartially between the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians. If that body was to be now superseded, he should want some guarantee that the same impartiality would be observed by the body that was to succeed them. He hoped the hon. Member for Cork would accept the advice of the Secretary for Ireland and withdraw it.
COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, his hon. Friend the Member for Cork had brought forward this Motion in the most straightforward way, and he entirely concurred in what his hon. Friend had stated. Indeed, he should wish to vote for the Motion, but for one difficulty. His hon. Friend had put three or four Motions in connection with the London companies on the Paper, which amounted to attacks upon the rights of landlords and proprietors in Ireland. If, however, the present Motion were not intended in that light, and if his hon. Friend could explain away his previous Motions, he should have great pleasure in voting with him.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, he would only occupy a very few moments, as he would only notice one or two points. He should reply to the learned Recorder by quoting against him another Recorder. Doctors differed, so did lawyers. Mr. Stuart Wortley, late Recorder, was asked whether his view of the double decision was that the companies had no beneficial interest whatever in the funds of the society, and he answered that undoubtedly that was his interpretation of its meaning. In reply to the Member for the City of London (Mr. Crawford) who 727 accused him of adding many years together, he would only say that in ten years the society had spent over £20,000 in law, that they had received nearly £5,000 in fees to their own members; and that their excursions cost about £5,000 more. In reply to the worthy Alderman (Mr. Alderman W. Lawrence) he would say that he knew nothing of the letter or advertisement in the Derry papers, and only saw it like other persons. It was said that the society granted £2,000 to the waterworks of Derry; but what was the fact?—that for the water that passed through a portion of their ground, though it was taken from the Bishop's land, they demanded £5,000; which sum was cut down to £1,000 by arbitration. He might have mentioned this, and a number of facts, had he cared to enter into details; but he could not trespass too long on the indulgence which had been so kindly granted to him. He could, for instance, have shown how these model trustees dealt with the cemetery and other improvements originated by the Corporation. But he had stated quite enough to prove his case. Of one thing he was certain—namely, that the discussion had done good. The opinions urged by him and his hon. and learned Friend had been fully endorsed from the other side of the House. But the worthy Alderman had ventured to assert that he (Mr. Maguire) being a Member from the South, he had no right to deal with a Northern question, though it affected the interests of his own countrymen. That was a strange doctrine to lay down in that House. Surely he had a far greater right to deal with the interests of his countrymen—though he resided 300 miles from them—than a few Englishmen residing at a distance of some 600 miles from them had to control a fine City and dictate to a large and intelligent, and a highly spirited community. After the statement and promise of the Government, made by his right hon. Friend the Irish Secretary, it would be most unwise on his part if he pushed the matter further at present; and he therefore willingly left all further responsibility in the hands of Her Majesty's Government, and would therefore withdraw his Resolution.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.